The Short-Termist Cost of Security

The Short-Termist Cost of Security

by on 2014-09-21- 6 Comments

It is no secret in the academic IR community that securitization theory, an approach developed in Europe as part of the Copenhagen School of security studies, has struggled to get traction here in the United States. While the approach is widely used elsewhere in the world, from Europe to Asia, American IR scholars have been very reticent reluctant to accept the merits of the approach. Which is a shame because the approach has the potential to offer significant insights. One possible objection to securitization theory might be that, since it argues threats are political and intersubjective rather than objective, the
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Tweets of the Week #2

by on 2014-09-20- Leave a reply

Welcome to the second edition of "Tweets of the Week." It was a busy seven days for news and my twitter feed provided much useful information -- in micro-form.

The Scottish independence referendum featured especially prominently in my feed. This was perhaps my favorite tweet about the final result:

Prior to the vote, my feed was filled with some great tweets about the #indyref. Here are a few of the shorter ones that I found especially helpful:

The Scottish referendum, of course, was not the only interesting issue in global politics this week. And, over the long
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Second Thoughts About the West’s (Weak) Opposition to the Putin Doctrine

by on 2014-09-20- 2 Comments


Russia may have agreed to a ceasefire with Ukraine the week before last, but in addition to regular violations of it by both Russian forces and pro-Russian rebels, it is important to understand that what not long ago was considered an irregular conflict has transitioned into open warfare between Russia and Ukraine. Most of the fighting ended in a ceasefire when President Poroshenko -- weakened by the West's refusal to provide lethal equipment and the failure of the NATO summit to address the Kremlin threat in a fully comprehensive fashion -- accepted Putin's terms.

This ceasefire is unlikely to hold, however, as Putin is feeling his oats. Not only did he ignore NATO warnings not to send regular troops into Ukraine, he undermined President Obama and NATO's efforts to reassure its Eastern members by abducting an Estonian intelligence officer the day the summit ended. With his regular troops, Putin has expanded and reinforced his position in the Donbass and has approached the port city of Mariupol. There are credible reports that Russian agents are at work in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, and Odessa.

If the West continues to react slowly and weakly to Kremlin aggression, Putin will face no serious obstacles to moving further west in Ukraine to Odessa and even the border with Moldova. Doing so would provide a land bridge to Crimea and Transnistria, the frozen conflict in Moldova that Moscow has nourished since the fall of the Soviet Union.
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Thursday Linkage: #Climate2014 Edition

Thursday Linkage: #Climate2014 Edition

by on 2014-09-17- Leave a reply

On Tuesday September 23, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is hosting a meeting of world leaders to discuss the issue of climate change. The aim is to build pressure and support for action in advance of the climate negotiations to be held in Paris in late 2015. In advance of Tuesday's climate meeting, activists are holding on Sunday, September 21st the People's Climate March, what aims to be the largest march of its kind with a core march in New York and satellite marches in major cities around the world. The hashtag #Climate2014 is capturing much of the news about the upcoming meeting and marches.

While the news in other spheres has been rather dire of late, activists I've talked to are optimistic that 2014 and 2015 may be the most propitious time for successful climate action in years. With the worst of the financial crisis behind us, there may be scope for real commitments and concerted action. There are dark clouds of course: emissions reached an unprecedented high last year and some key leaders, notably those from China and India, are skipping Tuesday's meeting, but there is also hope. In this set of links, I try to provide some context for the renewed sense of anticipation for this meeting and 2015.
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Britain’s Role in the World and Scottish Independence

Britain’s Role in the World and Scottish Independence

by on 2014-09-16- Leave a reply

[Note: This is a guest post by David M. McCourt, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California-Davis. His book, Britain and World Power Since 1945: Constructing a Nation’s Role in International Politics, has just been published by University of Michigan Press.]

On Thursday the Scottish people will go to the polls to vote on independence from the United Kingdom, with the prospect of a “yes” vote more realistic than many believed only a few weeks ago. This raises important questions for Britain’s role in the world, and by extension for the future of NATO,
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What Do Americans Think About Foreign Policy in 2014?

What Do Americans Think About Foreign Policy in 2014?

by on 2014-09-15- Leave a reply

Today, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA) released their biennial report of U.S. public attitudes on foreign policy, drawn from a large national sample carried out in May of this year. This year, my co-author Jon Monten and I participated in the team that designed the survey and analyzed the findings. [As an aside, we also have been working with CCGA to revive the leader surveys that CCGA administered for many years. Jordan Tama, Craig Kafura, Jon and I presented our first set of findings from the leader surveys at #APSAOnFire. We hope to release a report this fall with the data to follow.]

So, what are the most surprising findings? Well, per usual, Dan Drezner beat me to the punch and picked up on several them. He and I are in agreement about a number of them, particularly the dip in support for international engagement among Republicans, the high perception that the war in Afghanistan was not worth it, and robust support for free trade and globalization. We also include a survey experiment to see if public attitudes could, as in past surveys, be moved to support U.S. use of force if supported by multilateral endorsers, either a U.N. Security Council authorized mission or a coalition of allies. Interestingly, across a range of possible scenarios, that did not seem to matter.
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Bad Advice on Making Academic Babies: opting in and out of heteronormative panic

by on 2014-09-15- 6 Comments

What I remember most about my post-grad Gender and Politics seminar were the extensive discussions we had about having babies. It was 2004, and debates about babies vs careers, and whether women should 'opt out' to raise families, were heated and divisive. Women were told in the 1980s and 1990s that the highest feminist aspiration was to wear oversize, terrible suits and work alongside men- as equals (or at least work alongside men, while accepting less pay and dealing with harassment). This was followed by the movement to denounce the double-day; the New York Times and Time Magazine led the charge in declaring that women wanted out of the work force, and were empowered by the choice to stay at home and raise children. Less than a decade later, it was declared that 'women couldn't have it all'- the career, family balance was a loose loose choice. We had been duped. The opt out luxury was always 'fiction' that only really applied to white middle-class women. Forbes pointed out that opt-out mom's were unable to catch up in their careers and Al Jazeera concluded that women weren't opting out, they were out of options. The opt out women 'wanted back in' (are you confused yet about what *good* feminists should want??). Perhaps the culmination of this back and forth comes in Linda Hirshman's book, 'Get to Work...And Get a Life Before it is too Late.' Hirshman calls 'opting out' a form of 'self-betrayal' (and also encourages women to only have one child).
Entangled within this debate were mixed messages about how to 'time' having children (note, there was no debate there about whether strategizing to fit children within one's career plan was itself a problem).
One article I read back in 2004 encouraged women to 'do the math' and take control over the timing of children so that they didn't 'forget,' have to rush to become a 'last chance mother,' or run out of biological time before they reproduced- ending up 'single and childless'.* The strategy went like this: pick the age at which you want to have a child (or your last child, if you want more than one), count back in years and account for how long you want to be married before you have children, count back more years and think how long you will date before you get married. The results- your long term birth plan.
Does it get more heteronormative that this? The article made several big assumptions, including:
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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 in mid-February. You can find maybe half a dozen posts in 2013 and 2014. It's a terrible record. Embarrassingly, I had to look up my username just to log in.

There are multiple explanations for my silence: the U.S. withdrew from Iraq, which was my original blogging muse. I became department chair. My hair is turning very gray. Blah, blah, blah.

However, in my own defense, I should note that I am a much more frequent
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Military Officers on Women in the Infantry: Five For, One Against

by on 2014-09-13- 3 Comments

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- 5 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 will face many challenges going forward. Some cite that he does not go far enough, others that he has not fully laid out what to do in Syria when he has to face a potential deal with Assad. I, however, would like to pause and ask about the motivations on each side of this conflict, and whether we have any indications about how the asymmetry of motivations may affect the efficacy of Obama’s campaign. Moreover,
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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- 5 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- 4 Comments


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 law matters.

Violations of international law lead many to question its effectiveness. Non-compliance especially by powerful states reinforces the instrumentalist view which characterizes international law as a strategic instrument of statecraft. States make laws that serve their material interests. Compliance takes place as long as it is convenient.

I am not going to downplay the negative implications of non-compliance for the international social order. But violations are only part of the picture. There are also
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Saturday Nerd Blogging: The Skynet Factor and the Killer Robot Campaign

by on 2014-09-06- 1 Comment










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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