With the tale end of this semester bearing down on me, this Duck is barely keeping his head above water. Fortunately, time has stopped and nothing has happened in the world. Ukraine is fine (no more Russian incursions). The global environment has put the threat of major disruption from climate change on pause. It's clear skies in Beijing. All the poachers of wildlife around the world have dropped dead. I wish. Read on for what's really happening.
The IPCC released the Working Group III summary report for policymakers on Sunday. I wrote about the Working Group II report on impacts on The Monkey Cage. Working Group III covers climate mitigation, that is the challenges of reducing greenhouse gases. Tonight, I read through the report and tweeted my sense of the main findings in an 11 part series that I embed below. My short take: there is not nearly enough in the 33 page document on barriers to implementation and international cooperation. I'm really looking forward to the release of the longer chapters. In the meantime, I encourage interested readers to take a look at five sectoral reports from my research group on the Major Economies and Climate Change.
As we hurtle to the end of the semester, here are some stories for the week that caught my eye:
- Felix Salmon on why wonk bloggery is the future of journalism
- From Kyle Dropp and co-authors, Americans who can't find Ukraine on the map are more likely to support intervention there. What does this say about low information voters?
- Kim Yi Dionne and coauthor review the strange raid of a US-funded AIDS effort by Ugandan authorities as part of the emergent state-backed homophobia campaign
- Rich Cincotta pours cold water on the idea that food prices drove the Arab Spring: local prices didn't increase that much
- Seymour Hersh suggests that Turkey might have been behind the chemical weapons attacks in Syria, as an attempt to draw the U.S. in
While Amanda is a glutton for punishment with both ISA and Midwest appearances, my wife and I are tag-teaming it - ISA for me and Midwest for her. In between diaper changes, Finding Nemo, and oatmeal, here is what I'm reading. Cambridge refuses to publish book on Putin for fear of libel, the IPCC Fifth Assessment report on climate change impacts is out, Japan cancels a whale hunt after ICJ ruling, China bags clean mountain air, no climate change at this year's G20, and more.
Greetings from Toronto. In advance of tonight's OAIS blogging awards gathering at 7:15pm in Sheraton Ballroom C, the Duck non-collective collective got together for a pre-soiree soiree. Folks were in good from. For many of us, it was the first chance for us to ever meet in person.
For me, this is a quick trip, as I'm headed back this am after a busy day of panels, the business meeting of the new ISA section on global health, and a lovely dinner sponsored by Bridging the Gap. With a toddler at home and a busy spring of travel, this Duck is needed to tag team on the toddler front before my wife heads to Midwest next week. Before I go, here are a few reads that caught my eye. Bob Gates on Ukraine, expats fleeing Beijing's bad air, new WHO report on deaths from air pollution, debates about the climate coverage at the new 538, and more.
With Crimea's secession and accession drama still unfolding, we wait with baited breath about whether we will bear witness to yet another war (Kimberly Marten's post on the Monkey Cage is sobering). Sure hard to believe that Steven Pinker is right with Syria blazing, the Central Africa Republic aflame, and Ukraine and Russia poised for conflict.
More parochially, I've been reading the story, perhaps apocryphal of the female job candidate whose negotiations for a job led to the school rescinding the offer. I've also been followed additional debates about underrepresentation of women in foreign policy and whether academics have anything to say. Krugman had some choice words for Nate Silver's new enterprise, reminding us of the importance of theory.
We're on spring break here in Austin, Texas so this will be a
short post as I'm just back from some SXSW events (trying to steer clear of the drunk drivers). Mostly, I'll link to some news from the blogosphere, including changes at the Monkey Cage (4 new additions) and Foreign Policy (Drezner and Lynch depart). I also link to some good exchange on RCTs and Bill Easterly's new book on experts and development. Oh, and Les Gelb goes off on all parties with respect to Ukraine (Crimea secession/join Russia referendum this weekend!). I'm also including a playlist of the bands I've seen at SXSW which I hope to add to.
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.
In the all Ukraine all the time edition of the Duck, here are some essential reads from this week. Will ad more in a bit.
- Dan Nexon channeling his inner Henry Kissinger on the Monkey Cage
- Henry Kissinger channeling his inner Henry Kissinger in the WaPo
- Joshua Rovner on why Russia's intervention in Ukraine is a blunder
- What will Germany, one of Russia's main trading partners, do?
- Obama administration issues new sanctions
- Crimea prepares for a snap referendum in 10 days on secession
- Bob Gates tells Republican critics of Obama and Ukraine policy to cool it
- Hillary unhelpfully compares Putin to Hitler (see Kissinger above)
- Lindsey Graham even more unhelpful on Twitter
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.
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.
Here, Dan bemoaned the coverage in the WaPo of the Ukraine crisis by one Scott Wilson. Wilson lambasted the Obama administration's strategy in
the Ukraine writing that:
This duck is a bit under water these days. We've reached the mid-semester pre-spring break moment of high activity and low energy (warm weather and SXSW beckon). In the meantime, I've flagged a few stories, a great Economist round-up on the health of the oceans (not good), a post by Chris Bertram on the changing face of blogging (more corporate, less fun), Rosa Brooks tells Sheryl Sandberg to take a hike (lean back, don't lean in), the air quality is so bad in Beijing that (the dogs wear masks) and more...
I arrived in Geneva yesterday morning to give a couple of talks, and I pulled up Twitter on my phone to see events in the Ukraine exploding. I can't say I fully understand what's going on and the implications. Reflexively, I'm supportive of the protesters and their desire for tighter ties to the European Union. But, as one person said on Twitter, the Ukrainian president may be taking a page from Assad on this one. All I know is that this could get even more nasty without some diplomacy to negotiate a softer landing. I'm curious what Erica Chenoweth might have to say about this. Increased radicalization by the opposition threatens to remove the glow of legitimacy that non-violent protest often confers, but a determined autocrat may be able to use force to crush the protest if he really wants to. What tilts the balance might be the calculations of the cost of violent reprisals. It's unclear if the West's sanctions are enough to alter Yanukovych's perspective on this.
It's kind of amazing that this is all happening in the shadow of the nearby Olympics. Kind of casts a pall over the proceedings...In any case, here are some fragments of news that I followed to try to make sense of this, but mostly the imagery was what struck me.
International Politics Reviews is a new reviews journal bundled by Palgrave with International Politics. Michael J. Williams of Royal Holloway is the editor, and I’m an associate editor. I recently curated a recent roundtable exchange on Michael Levi’s book The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America's Future with contributions by me, Jesse Jenkins, Emily Meierding, regular Guest Duck Johannes Urpelainen, and a response from CFR's Levi himself. Palgrave has granted us ungated access to the reviews (right here), which will be up for several months. I wanted to continue the conversation here on the Duck, and my fellow contributors may also weigh in.
I came across this news story which underscored to me the challenges that the Chinese government has in confronting their air quality problem, what I previously likened to rapidly turning a supertanker. An official Chinese study described Beijing air as "barely suitable" for living, the second worst of 40 global cities.
In response to last year's "airpocalypse" and on-going concerns that pollution may constitute a threat to regime stability, the Chinese government is rolling out a series of measures to come to grips with its pollution problem and deal with the oft-reported weakness in the center's capacity to enforce regulations (see work by Liz Economy, Ken Lieberthal, Trevor Houser among others). In addition to stories of China's efforts to deal with pollution, the government may also be taking a more serious role in addressing poaching and the trade in ivory by its citizens. The following round of links address these issues.
This Duck spent the day in the car en route to the Brazilian consulate in Houston to get visas for a summer field course so I'm running behind in my linkage for the week. In the car, I had the amazing experience of listening to an audioversion of The Idealist, Nina Munk's magisterial account of Jeff Sachs and the Millennium Villages Project. I'm moderating a conversation with Ms. Munk on Monday. For those of you who follow debates in international development, I found her take on Sachs to be quite measured, far more nuanced than the media accounts I had read. At times, I found myself admiring Sachs and at other times was amazed by his naivete. Throughout, I was enthralled by the access Munk had to pull off the enterprise. I'll have more to say about it after Monday...
In the meantime, the Winter Olympics have started! Here is some news to accompany what promises to be a weird sporting event, given the live tweets of journalists who found their rooms in disarray, the campaign to kill stray dogs, a blockade on U.S. yogurt, the anti-gay laws, and the specter of terrorism. On top of that, the U.S. ambassador to Russia announced that he is done after Sochi. More curious, a call by the Deputy Undersecretary of State and the U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine was leaked on YouTube. At least the skiing and snowboarding tonight was fantastic.
Your humble blogger (I like saying that. Now that Dan Drezner no longer has a blog [sniff], I will say it for him)...Your humble blogger is in London, and after a red eye flight, a noon presentation, ten hours of a sleep coma, another presentation, I'm ready to provide you with your latest in belated Thursday links. Themes this week (surprise!) - HIV/AIDS spending, conservation, pollution, GDELT lives!
As sleet and ice descend upon Austin, Texas this Thursday evening, here are some stories in keeping with this wackadoo weather. Rick Perry and weed at Davos with Kofi Annan, Downton Abbey goes on safari, Putin warns gays to stay away from kids, GDELT goes dark, and scientific findings that may be flashes in the pan...
So, your humble blogger found himself subsumed by first week of class duties and fell behind on the job! To make amends, I've flagged some stories that caught my eye, which should make for some welcome weekend reading. My eye this week was mostly trained on energy and environment stuff (U.S. greenhouse gas emissions on the rise again - boo!), with a dash of global health (spending up by USG on global health up slightly - yay!) with a side of Springsteen and Fallon (Christie may not be born to run - classic!) Enjoy.
Apologies for the delayed linkage. This Duck has been in flight all day and just landed (insert joke here...). I'm attending the launch of the new AidData Research Consortium (ARC), which is a USAID funded research effort to use geospatial data on foreign assistance to ask and answer interesting questions. My bit is related to disasters and humanitarian assistance. I'll have more to write on the topic soon.
It's been quite a newsy week, aside from the Chris Christie drama on the domestic front (time for some traffic problems ...). On the foreign policy front, former SecDef Bob Gates' memoir is all the rage. Colin Kahl and Matt Kroenig are back at it in Foreign Affairs on the folly and wisdom of attacking Iran. Bill Easterly and Chris Blattman size up the study of development in light of Nina Munk's takedown of Millennium Villages. The National Security Archive released important documents about the Rwandan genocide. China's foreign health minister comes to grips with the country's pollution crisis that is one of the leading causes of death. New person to head PEPFAR and US HIV/AIDS initiative. And, how blue fin tuna went from cat food to sushi delicacy to near extinction. Links aplenty below...