I know it has already been a week, but I'm still thinking about the Oscars. Not the fashion (boring!! predictable!!), or the hostess (boring!! predictable!!) or the winners (boring!! predictable!!), or the speeches (ok you get my point)- but rather a short list of questions I still need help with. Answers welcome.
2. How the hell did Joaquin Phoenix NOT get nominated for 'Her' and how DID Leonardo DiCaprio get nominated for 'WOWS'? Does this tell us anything about hegemonic masculinity....or more about pity for Leo?
3. Why were so many of the best pic nominations fixated on some distorted nostalgia (about slavery, HIV, they 'golden era' of American history/finance) and what does this tell us about our (in)ability to cope with the present?
4. Are strapless peplum dresses and backward necklaces ironic now?
5. If Mathhew Mcconaghey hadn't lost weight, would we care about his performance? Would he have won the Oscar? As Ted Kerr noted in his excellent post 47 Things I Talk about When I talk about the Dallas Buyers Club, "It is interesting how Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto get rewarded for losing weight, and acting sick, while people living with HIV have to fight to be well, appear well and be recognized. #everydaysurvival"
This is a guest post by Idean Salehyan.
There has been a lot of hand-wringing and debate lately as to whether or not academics are engaged enough with important policy questions (See Nicholas Kristof’s article in the New York Times and just a few responses, here and here). As this conversation was circling around the blogosphere, there was an impressive initiative to poll International Relations (IR) scholars about their views and predictions regarding foreign affairs. Such surveys have the potential to make a big splash inside and outside of academia.
For several years, scholars at the College of William and Mary have conducted the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) survey, which gauges IR scholars’ views of the discipline, including department and journal rankings, epistemology, and so on. This endeavor was largely inward-looking. Yet for the first time, the folks at TRIP conducted a “snap poll” of IR scholars to measure the collective wisdom of the field regarding current international events. The results of the first snap poll were recently released at Foreign Policy. It included questions on Syria, the crisis in Ukraine, and the U.S. Defense Budget. Key findings include that IR scholars do not think that Syria will comply on time (if at all) with plans to eliminate its chemical weapons; very few correctly predicted that Russia would send troops to Ukraine; and most do not believe that proposed cuts to the U.S. military budget will negatively effect national security. Additional polls are being planned, providing an extremely important tool for engaging policy makers and the general public.
This is guest post by Professor T.V. Paul*
On March 5, 2014, the Nawaz Sharif government completed nine months in office, despite Pakistan’s continued economic crisis, chronic power shortages, and escalating sectarian violence. The military and the ISI are yet to show any inclination to wrest control of power from the civilians. In November, 2013 Sharif was able to appoint General Raheel Sharif , who is known to be politically less ambitious, as the army chief and General Rashad Mahmood as the chairman of the less powerful joint chiefs of staff. This has given him a space to deal with internal problems as the army headed by General Sharif is expected to go along with civilian wishes. But this harmony with the military may not last for the government’s full term, as in 1999 also Sharif had a few months of honeymoon period with his then army chief, General Pervez Musharraf.
Early indications are that the military’s approach this time around is to allow the democratic process to continue without its intervention. This is largely because the military knows it will not be able to fix Pakistan’s lingering economic and internal security problems if it takes over power and that it will lose whatever legitimacy it has left in the eyes of the Pakistani people. Pakistan’s judiciary and the media have helped to solidify the democratic forces up to a point.
This activity comes after students are to have listened to a lecture (slides) on how international institutions promote cooperation.
In that lecture, I presented the epiphenomenal critique, which I think establishes an important baseline, then went on to discuss specific mechanisms by which institutions might solve coordination problems, collaboration problems, and problems of trust/fear of exploitation (the three primary explanations I offered for why states sometimes leave money lying on the ground). The first half of the activity sought to illustrate the epiphenomenal critique more clearly, while the second tests their understanding of the theoretical model I used to demonstrate the even
This morning, I woke up with a very nice notice about the 50th Anniversary Issue of Journal of Peace Research in my inbox. The issue is worth checking out – there’s some good stuff in there.
As a human rights scholar, I was really interested in the “A Social Science of Human Rights” piece by Emilie Hafner-Burton. While I'm happy to see human rights get a mention in this important issue, I think there is some significant literature that has been missed by Hafner-Burton's review. I want to bring attention to this not as a “wait, why wasn’t I cited?” but because the piece raises a few questions and makes some claims to which we already have some increasingly solid answers. Let me bring attention to a few of the statements from the review piece:
Everything is awesome! But I do wonder if the song from the Lego movie (see below) is not just a secret appeal to irredentism:
*I was a bit too quick to post last week and had to add quite a few recent events. Nothing changed my original analysis (BV 3/10/2014)
With my most of research right now heavily focused on cyber conflict, it might be useful to review all the news on the cyber situation between Ukraine and Russia. There have been many posts on the Duck and elsewhere (Monkey Cage macro post) covering the conflict (here, here, here, here, here), so I will refrain from summarizing the basics. The cyber situation on the other hand has shown a remarkable amount of restraint, defying conventional wisdom but also following directly in line with my soon to be completed book on Cyber Conflict and forthcoming Journal of Peace Research article (both with Ryan Maness). The restraint point was made early by Mark Clayton at the Christian Science Monitor.
Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine naturally prompted a lot talk about the limits of international law. Eric Posner noted: “ 1. Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine violates international law. 2. No one is going to do anything about it.” Julian Ku argued: “International law can be, and often is, a very important tool for facilitating international and transnational cooperation. But it is not doing much to resolve to Ukraine crisis, and international lawyers need to admit that.” For Ku, the current crisis supports the claims of Rationalist law-skeptics, international law works when legal requirements align with self-interest. Many others, including a good portion of my students see the failure of international law in Ukraine.
Today, I fly to give a talk at my alma-mater. As my advisor told me, it’s a victory lap. It feels good – 5 years post PhD, great job, excitement about the future, and my family still intact. However, the thought of going back also has me a little anxious: you see, I don’t have good memories about life in grad school. My university was great, my advisors were fantastic, and my colleagues were super smart. However, the whole experience was wrought with periods of anxiety, stress, and depression. In short, my mental health really sucked in grad school.
Keith Darden points out that if Crimea secedes from Ukraine, electoral outcomes in Ukraine would shift with fewer pro-Russia voters in the political system, and that would be bad for Russia. This is not unique to this case.
As the number of posts here suggest, lots of us are watching the fast-moving and somewhat unexpected events in Ukraine with great concern and interest. Others have expertly discussed the reasons for Russian military intervention in Ukraine and how the international community might respond to it (here, here, here, and here). I’d like to contribute a different angle to this complex story by inquiring into Russian narratives for its military action in Ukraine.
When Vladimir Putin requested the Russian parliament’s approval for authorization to use the military in Ukraine, he claimed Russia needed to act because of “the threat to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation, our compatriots, [and] the personnel of the military contingent… deployed in… Ukraine.” Putin also made this argument to President Obama during their March 1 phone conversation.
That Russia might be concerned about its security interests with the ouster of a supportive Ukrainian President Yanukovych isn’t difficult to grasp. Not only is Crimea important to Russia historically and for identity politics, but Russia’s only warm water naval base is in the Crimean city of Sevastopol. A pro-Europe government in Ukraine, turning away from Russia and controlling Crimea, can have negative impacts on these Russian interests. Concerns for these interests provide strong motivations for Russian intervention. Which is why the use of humanitarian arguments to also justify this intervention are puzzling. In addition to protecting its soldiers, Russia asked its Parliament to authorize military action in Ukraine to protect its citizens. However, at the time of the request, there were few stories in the Western media about attacks against ethnic Russians or Russian citizens in Crimea prior to the intervention. So why bother?
I don't have an answer for this, as I'm not sure how globally integrated Russia is in to the world economy at this juncture or vulnerable given its fossil fuel resources, but I see that the Russian stockmarket declined this morning as has the value of the ruble.
I know Russia experienced significant economic crises in the 1990s after the breakup of the Soviet Union that made it dependent on IMF support, but my sense is that the resurgence of the country's petro economy bolstered its international economic position. That said, I wonder if the markets can tame Putin in a way that politicians can't. My bet is that if Putin is willing to tolerate high costs, then no, but I'd welcome our readers with more regional knowledge to weigh in.
*The following post is written by Ryan Maness and myself.
Events are in motion that many thought were past us, part of a bygone era where conventional war still had a prominent place in deciding the course of nations. Having done a great amount of work on Russia’s strategic behavior and use of power (we have a book on the topic under review), we were a bit caught off guard too. Not by the course of events, but that our vision was focused on cyber conflict and thus were distracted from the real world developments.
The events in Ukraine fit a recent pattern of Russia’s coercive diplomacy directed toward the states of its former Soviet empire, more commonly known by Russians as the Near Abroad. Since the Soviet fall in 1991, Russia has been going through an identity crisis. Always regarded as a major power, it found itself weak after the end of the Soviet era, unable to even quell violence in Chechnya. It lost nearly half of its territory and population as the Soviet Union broke up into 15 independent states. Since then, Russia has been attempting to regain its status as a world power, or at least a regional power. Under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, Russia has used power politics strategies, mainly in post-Soviet space, to carve out its place and dominate a specific sphere of influence.
[Note: This is a guest post by Sean Kay, Robson Professor of Politics at Ohio Wesleyan University and Mershon Associate at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at the Ohio State University. He has long-researched and written on NATO policy and worked in the US Department of Defense during the first round of NATO enlargement planning. His forthcoming book is America’s Search for Security: The Triumph of Idealism and the Return of Realism (Rowman and Littlefield, 2014).]
Russia’s incursion into Ukraine presents the United States with a dilemma. The cries to “do something” are loud. The situation in Ukraine is, nonetheless, complicated and there is as much possibility that our efforts to do something can be well-intended but inadvertently make the situation worse.
Political scientists and historians have warned for over 20 years, since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, of the deep ties that Russia has to its relationship to Crimea. Scholars and significant policy figures like George Kennan and former Sen. Sam Nunn repeatedly warned against the risks of NATO enlargement – especially expanding too proximate to vital Russian interests. No less a Cold War hawk than former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, writes in his recent memoir:
Tyler Cowen discovers John Mearsheimer's seminal 1993 Foreign Affairs article "The Case for a Ukrainian Nuclear Deterrent". Since I know I won't be alone in teaching this piece the next time I put together an Intro to IR reading list, let's take a moment to see whether, as Cowen wrote earlier, "the expected rate of return from denuclearization has fallen".
International relations scholars disagree about a lot when it comes to nuclear weapons, and the belief, which I mostly share, that nuclear weapons mitigate the outbreak of interstate wars is not the only view. Even Mearsheimer in his article points out that "nuclear proliferation does not axiomatically promote peace and can in some cases even cause war." But more than a few IR scholars would agree that nuclear weapons are not in themselves causes of war and may even pacific effects on the international system. Sometimes, of course, pacific properties aren't desirable from a Washington-centric point of view. I suspect that the lesson quite a few leaders that American officials find to be distasteful or threatening took away from the examples of Iraq and Libya was that nuclear weapons can deter U.S. intervention. We should also be mindful that the more nuclear weapons exist the likelier it is that one of them will be used inadvertently. Nevertheless, although I have great respect for the work that Scott Sagan has done on nuclear accidents, the fact that Pakistan and India have been able to coexist since their declarations of nuclear arsenals has gone a long way toward convincing me that the risks are more remote than the pessimists have feared. (As a friend reminds me via email, the non-nuclear Kargil War is an important piece of process evidence in this regard.)
Instead of asking whether nuclear weapons matter in general, as Cowen does, we should ask whether they matter for Ukraine in its current situation. The answer is almost certainly not.
Lots of folks are speculating about what Ukraine/Crimea/Russia is like, including not Abkhazia. Right now, the analogies that come to mind for me are: coups d'etat and poker.
Over at the Monkey Cage, Henry Farrell suggests that President Obama is using the OSCE to give Putin an exit strategy. Farrell writes:
Obama’s “phone call with Putin on Saturday suggests that the United States wants to invoke the old-style OSCE. It notes that Russia’s armed intervention is inconsistent with Russia’s commitments under the Helsinki Final Act (the agreement that established the OSCE), calls for “the dispatch of international observers under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)...
If Putin wants an “exit strategy,” Farrell continues, this is it: “There is no reason why the OSCE could not help broker compromises over new elections and push the Ukrainian government to guarantee the rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine.”
My question to Farrell is, is this Putin’s possible exit strategy, or the United States/EU’s?
For some smart commentary on what's going down in
the Ukraine and how (not) to cover it, I point you to former Duck Dan Nexon on his personal blog (*and also cross-posted below). Dan knows a thing or two about the region having served in the Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia regional office in the Office of the Secretary Defense as a CFR International Affairs Fellow in 2009-2010.