Duck

Belated Friday Nerd Blogging: Scottish Secession Edition

by on 2014-09-14- Leave a reply

I am not a fan of Scottish independence, so I thought we should get equal time from the Yes/Aye side:

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Tweets of the Week

by on 2014-09-13- Leave a reply

Though I've been blogging at the Duck of Minerva for more than 9 years, I haven't posted much content for several years. My last post here was
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Military Officers on Women in the Infantry: Five For, One Against

by on 2014-09-13- Leave a reply

Lance Corporal Kristi Baker, on patrol with 1st Battalion 8th Marines as a member of a Female Engagement Team.Contenders for the Marine Corps Association's Major General Harold W. Chase Prize, ($3000, publication, and a plaque) are supposed to "propose and argue for a new and better way of “doing business” in the Marine Corps. Authors must have strength in their convictions and be prepared for criticism from those who would defend the status quo."

Therefore it came as a surprise to many military professionals when the 2013 winner was Marine Captain Lauren F. Serrano, whose winning essay was an opinion piece that called for maintaining the status quo and excluding women from the infantry.

But in the month since her article was published, it's worth noting that five decorated military officers (Marines, Army, male and female, infantry and other specialties) have weighed in to dispute her claims, while not a single officer has written to corroborate or support Captain Seranno's opinions, which appear to have been formed absent  research, evidence, or personal experience. 
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Obama’s ISIS Strategy: A Clausewitzian Perspective

Obama’s ISIS Strategy: A Clausewitzian Perspective

by on 2014-09-12- 3 Comments

Much ink has been spilled over the last few days concerning President Obama’s speech on Wednesday evening regarding ISIS, as well as how his strategy
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Thursday Linkage

Thursday Linkage

by on 2014-09-11- Leave a reply

Well, this semester is off to a brisk start, and I can't say I'm fully recovered yet from #APSAOnFire, though the subsequent events near AU added considerable intrigue to what transpired. I watched the president's speech on ISIS tonight, and I think my wife summed it up best, he looked like he wanted to give the speech about as much as we wanted to hear it. I think Jeffrey Goldberg summed it up best when evoked the Godfather and Obama's desperate efforts to extricate the United States from the Middle East to no avail. However pedestrian the speech, at least Obama did not hype the threat to the United States from ISIS, as many o' armchair analyst are wont to do. As others noted, it's kind of amazing that Russia's transgressions in Ukraine are second fiddle to this.

In any event, I'm aiming to have something more to say on the NYTimes expose on think tanks in the service of foreign governments. In the meantime, let me link away to those who beat me to the punch as well as more on Steven Sailata's pre-firing at Illinois (including a statement from APSA), Kissinger's new book, more bad news on climate change and Ebola. I'm on a bit of a good global news slump, and it's a bit hard to take respite in cool findings from political science (though this one with an experiment and aid allocation by my colleagues and collaborators with AidData is pretty cool). that said, the upcoming people's climate march on September 21st is giving me cause for some optimism. By the way, many of you have probably got the TRIPS survey in your email so time to have your opinions counted...
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The First Year on the Tenure-Track: Wanting to Give the White Whale Back

by on 2014-09-10- 3 Comments

As a grad student, I used to the think longingly about the day when I would finally hold a tenure-track job.  I could almost taste the thrill of the teaching and the joy of faculty resources.  You mean, someone will pay for my copy of [insert software you’d like to use legally]?  And, textbooks will be free? I also fantasized about how wonderful it would be to not be under the thumb of my advisors.  Of course, I thought I could live like a queen on a faculty salary, too.  The tenure-track position was my white whale.

Three months into the job, however, I wanted to give my white whale back.  Everything in my life seemed like a mess – my relationship with my SO was rocky, I hated teaching, I just knew I would never get anything published, and I felt like I had no time for anything fun, ever.  I’ve talked to other first year professors over the years and I think this is a common position to be in during the first year on the tenure-track.  And, like all the other loads of unsolicited advice I’ve doled out on the Duck, I thought that I’d spread the word about the “first-year” blues.  Although everyone – EVERYONE! -  I’ve ever met is so thankful for the tenure-track position, a lot of us feel the learning curve is pretty steep.  Perhaps if I had had realistic expectations about what to expect that first year, I would have been better able to deal with all of the changes that come that first year.

There are some strategies I’ve heard for improving your transition from grad student to professor.  Here are a few of them.  Michael Flynn, a current first-year professor at Kansas State University was extremely helpful in providing me comments on this post.  His suggestions are also included below.  Hopefully, others can leave their advice in the comments section.

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NATO Puts Credible Deterrence Back in Place

by on 2014-09-08- 3 Comments

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The evidence that President Putin has lost Ukraine in the most important senses has been around for months--Ukrainians want to be western even more now, eastern Ukrainians in majority terms continue to want this as well, Ukrainians elected a pro-western President, the EU trade deal is going forward, and Poroshenko is pushing for NATO membership with NATO not ruling this out--but crucially what was not in place until recent days is credible conventional deterrence against additional territorial annexation by Russia.  In an even more substantial indication of Putin disastrously overplaying what not long ago was a pretty good hand, Russia's invasion/annexation of Ukraine was all NATO needed to renew and reinvigorate itself in addition to successfully reassuring eastern European allies and deterring Russia from serious intervention in them.  NATO is stronger and more vigorous than it was even 6 months ago, and Sweden and Finland are likely to join its ranks in the near future.

I called for this in my pre-summit Foreign Policy piece, and we now have two examples of Russia heeding the redrawn strategic landscape.  First, the incredibly harsh response from Moscow and a slew of empty threats of retaliation (with the expected nonadmission that Russia's aggression caused the NATO response in the first place) and second an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine that Russia called for, that was verbatim from Poroshenko's ceasefire proposals from last month, that occurred despite rebel/Russian advances on the ground, that caused Russia to admit and demonstrate it does have influence over the rebels, and that occurred before the NATO summit Wales even ended.  [Note in the Foreign Policy piece, I did not title it "How to Beat Down a Bully"; the editor did that without telling me in advance; the original title was "How to Oppose the Putin Doctrine"]
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Doubts on Doubts: Part Two

by on 2014-09-06- Leave a reply

In part one, I shared my views on whether international law is really law. As promised, this post cuts into the conversation on whether international
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Saturday Nerd Blogging: The Skynet Factor and the Killer Robot Campaign

by on 2014-09-06- 1 Comment

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A day late, but not a penny short: at the Monkey Cage this week I look at the interplay between science fiction references and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots:

The media might be forgiven for using such terms and images as click-bait. But some people have accused the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots of invoking “Hollywood paranoia” as well.  NBCNews tech writer Keith Wagstaff asked whether “hysteria over the robopocalypse could hold back technology that could save human lives.” At the conference, autonomous weapons proponent Professor Ronald Arkin criticized the global coalition for holding a position based on “pathos” and “hype.” Another expert, Nils Melzer of the Geneva Center for Security Policy began his slideshow with an image from “Terminator 2,” saying he would be taking an “objective” view rather than “demonizing” these weapons – a veiled jab at NGOs. Even earlier, Greg McNeal of Forbes Magazine criticized the campaign for “scare-mongering,” using Hollywood archetypes.

Is this fair? A closer look at the history and tactics of the global coalition tells a different story: a story of global civil society organizations maneuvering in a balanced way in a socio-cultural context in which they must persuade multiple stakeholders – governments, militaries, and the global public – to take a “far-out” issue dead seriously; and in which they face push-back by opponents who use claims of “hyperbole” in attempts to discredit them. In this version of the story, a number of common claims about the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots turn out to be myths.

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Friday Nerd Blogging: NATO Week!

by on 2014-09-05- Leave a reply

I have been lax in my Friday Nerd Blogging duties lately.  Partly because I have been so obsessed with NATO and its summit.  Now that the communiques are launched, it is time to relax and embrace that fave NATO song:

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Human Rights Research and Researchers in IR: Are We REALLY that Odd?

by on 2014-09-05- 3 Comments

Before APSA last week, I had the privilege of attending a small conference put on the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) Project at William and Mary.  The conference was a chance for researchers in different research areas to write about the policy-relevance of their issue area and compare research and researchers in their area to the larger IR community.  It relates to the discussion going on the last couple of weeks on ISQ's blog.  All of the participants had the opportunity to use the TRIP project data on journal articles in top-IR journals and survey data from IR researchers around the world.  I learned lot about how interactions with the policy/practitioner community differ across issue areas.

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Once more unto the (climate) breach

Once more unto the (climate) breach

by on 2014-09-04- Leave a reply

I just happened upon a Foreign Policy piece from May 6 of this year framing climate change as a ‘Clear and Present Danger’. To summarize, the author argues that Obama’s plans to address climate change are a political non-starter in the US: Republicans are generally more opposed to carbon control policy than ever and the public is out to lunch on the subject. The solution, according to the author, is to invoke national security and get the military—a key Republican constituency—talking about how much climate change imperils national security. As a scholar of international security who does research on climate change (in collaboration with Janelle Knox-Hayes), my interest was immediately piqued.

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ISIS and Biological Weapons: Black Flag, But Not the Black Death

by on 2014-09-03- Leave a reply

This is a guest post by Frank L. Smith III, lecturer at the University of Sydney and author of the new book, American Biodefense: How Dangerous Ideas About Biological Weapons Shape National Security.

The 2003 Iraq War aimed to stop rogue states from using weapons of mass destruction or giving these weapons to terrorists. Now we face ISIS, a terrorist organization that also claims to be a state. But what about WMD? Last week, Foreign Policy reported the discovery of an ISIS laptop that contained a jihadi fatwa on how “it is permissible to use weapons of mass destruction,” and, far more troubling, instructions on how to use biological weapons. So has the Islamic State become the triple threat that we supposedly invaded Iraq to prevent?

The laptop in question was captured in Syria earlier this year. Its previous owner was a Tunisian-turned-ISIS fighter who studied chemistry and physics at university. Along with a variety of other material on conducting jihad, “the ISIS laptop contains a 19-page document in Arabic on how to develop biological weapons and how to weaponize the bubonic plague from infected animals.”

This is clearly not good news. ISIS is bad enough already, and an Islamic State armed with biological weapons would be even worse. As the document on this laptop suggests, “the advantage of biological weapons is that they do not cost a lot of money, while the human casualties can be huge.” Plague is certainly contagious enough and infamous enough to fuel fear. Moreover, the spectre of WMD often creates considerable confusion to the detriment of sound policy – confusion that I explain in my book about “WMD” and other dangerously inaccurate stereotypes.
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The Academic Arrogant Self-Important Snooty Quiz

by on 2014-09-02- 2 Comments

As I was traveling back from APSA on Sunday, I completed all of the journal reviews that I had on my desk, ran some regressions for new projects, and then completed all the revisions my coauthors are requesting from me currently.[1]  With the remaining few hours I had on the flight, I noticed a Cosmo magazine[2] in the seat-pocket next to me and quickly went to work finding out what kind of female I am and how much I really know about Beyonce.  The quizzes got me thinking: we don’t have a lot of personality quizzes for us as academics but – based on my participant observations at this past APSA - we really need some.

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Doubts on Doubts: Part One

by on 2014-08-31- Leave a reply

Dear Readers, apologies for the radio silence. The last few months have been eventful. But I am back in the saddle and getting ready for my
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Obama’s “Lack” of Strategy Towards ISIS

Obama’s “Lack” of Strategy Towards ISIS

by on 2014-08-30- Leave a reply

The last two days have seen a maelstrom of media attention to President Obama’s admission that he currently does not have a strategy for attacking
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APSA Fire Update

APSA Fire Update

by on 2014-08-30- 1 Comment

Well, the main APSA hotel at the Marriott last night caught fire last night in what might be an act of arson, but we really
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In Exile at Home: Impressions from Europe

by on 2014-08-29- Leave a reply

I have been able to avoid this fate for almost 12 years now, but they finally got me. Being a citizen of Germany, I have been studying in the U.S. on student visas for the last decade and even though it has always been a bureaucratic nightmare, associated with significant financial costs, I usually managed to obtain the necessary documents to enter the United States. Until this summer, when the application for my work visa got delayed for reasons that I don’t need to get into here. Long story short, I had to leave the U.S. for three months, organize someone to sublet my apartment on very short notice, find an alternative source of income, new health insurance, cancel my attendance at APSA, etc. I had promised my daughter, who is staying with her mom in Ohio, that we would take at least two road trips during the summer (she wanted to go to New York City. “Why?” I asked. “Lady Liberty” she answered). Canceled. But hey, things could be worse. So, I decided to make the best of it and travel through Europe with Lise Herman, a Ph.D. candidate at LSE. In the next couple of posts I will report from our journey, tell you a bit about the mood in Europe, and touch some of the issues that the people, and especially the younger generation, are concerned or not concerned about.
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Why I’m Not At APSA This Labor Day

by on 2014-08-28- 9 Comments

changethedateEvery year at this time I receive several queries a day from colleagues, would-be colleagues and students asking me if I'll be "at APSA" - the Annual Conference of the American Political Science Association - and when we could meet up for a coffee.

Every year I reply several times a day:

"Sadly, I won't be at APSA this year because it conflicts with the start of school for my children."

This is more or less the truth but I confess it's not the complete truth. First, I've realized this canned response implies I might be there next year, whereas I've actually been AWOL from Labor-Day-Weekend APSAs pretty much since my second child hit grade school and it's time I admit that's not changing. Second, the "conflict" I described is less of a conflict every year as my kids get older, yet I'm still not coming back to APSA, so that's less and less the real reason for my absence.

The truer response to the question is that I skip APSA every year not because my son needs me desperately on the first day of school, but because I'm boycotting. I'm boycotting my professional organization for scheduling a conference so as to inhibit work-life-balance and pose an undue burden on parents in the profession, especially mothers. I'm boycotting APSA because they have done this year by year over the protest of their members. What began as an irreconcilable personal conflict for a parent of grade schoolers and partner to a dual-career spouse - what began, that is, as a simple work-life balance choice - has turned over the years into a political statement that I'll continue to make until APSA's policy changes.
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Thursday APSA Linkage

Thursday APSA Linkage

by on 2014-08-28- Leave a reply

Many of your Ducks are descending upon DC for the annual APSA conference which is appropriately timed at the beginning of the academic year and the school year.  I know I have been looking forward to starting the semester completely shattered from slogging through revisions on papers. It's all the more pleasing when my two panels are scheduled at the exact same time in buildings that are miles apart! The fate of the petition to move APSA to another more reasonable date will apparently be discussed so we shall see.

While considerable international news is being made (Russia's new incursions into Ukraine, Obama's efforts to get a climate agreement without a treaty), in the spirit of APSA, we have a far more important task before us: academic navel-gazing. So, here are some links from around the web about how to annoy political scientists, how not to annoy your professors, the many mistakes people make in titling papers, and the Steven Salaita pre-emptive firing at Illinois.

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