Tomorrow, my great friend and coauthor Dursun Peksen and I will collect our $200 for winning the best paper award at the annual meeting of ISA-Midwest in St. Louis. The paper, which I’ve talked about a little bit before at the Duck, is actually forthcoming now at the Journal of Politics. Dursun has won quite a few prizes before but this is my first time winning any sort of best paper award. The award information says the prize is supposed to be in cash. I’m hoping it is because this will probably be the first time I’ve had access to cash with my name on it since I was a kid. I’m unsure what to do with my take of the winnings but I know the money has to be spent while I’m at the conference – otherwise, I’m sure I’ll rethink my plan of action and want to do something sensible with it. Here are my ideas:
(Note: This post is cross-posted at the Columbia University Press Authors' Blog)
Over the last couple of years, the US military has begun to employ FETs (Female Engagement Teams) in Afghanistan, characterizing their purpose as "to engage the female populace" of the country. The mission of these groups of female soldiers seems to be divided between victim services, trust building, influence seeking, and intelligence gathering. Many feminist scholars (e.g., Keally McBride and Annick T. R. Wibben) have expressed their deep concerns about both the effectiveness of FETs and the ideas about sex, gender, and warfare that their deployments suggest the US military holds.
My recent book, Gendering Global Conflict, is not about FETs specifically, but it does provide insight into this (and hopefully a number of other) problems of sex, gender, and war. It argues that, in order to understand fully how something like an FET became possible, we have to be able to see gender subordination and war-fighing as mutually constituted. Understanding that, it argues, provides insight into a number of other policy choices and theoretical assumptions in the security sector that might initially appear paradoxical when approached from a feminist perspective. The rest of this post discusses that with regard to FETs.
Two kinds of military intervention are being discussed and conflated by political elites (like Nicholas Kristof) and international diplomats. The first is an enforcement operation to punish a state for violating a widespread and nearly universal global prohibition norm against the use of chemical weapons. This is what Kristof refers to in the title of his Times op-ed, "Reinforce a Norm in Syria." The second is a humanitarian operation to protect civilians against a predatory government. This is what Kristof means when he compares proposed military strikes in Syria to intervention that happened in Bosnia and Kosovo and (tragically) didn't happen in Rwanda.
Well, it's useful to clarify which we are talking about since both kinds of operation involve very different tactics and different kinds of legal and moral reasoning. I discuss both at Foreign Affairs this morning:
[If punishing norm violators is the goal], the appropriate course of action would be to, first, independently verify who violated it.... Second, the United States would have to consider a range of policy options for affirming, condemning, and lawfully punishing the perpetrator before resorting to force, particularly unlawful force... Third, should the United States decide on military action, with or without a UN Security Council resolution, it would need to adhere to international norms regulating the use of specific weapons in combat.
But such a strike should not be confused with military action to protect civilians.
Always good to start out blogging with a non-controversial topic, like the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But just before the Israeli Knesset went into recess, they advanced a bill requiring that any land ceded in a peace process be approved in a national referendum. The bill could become a Basic Law--tantamount to a constitutional amendment--when the Knesset returns in the fall. My take on this is in the International Herald Tribune/New York Times:
The argument in brief: Far from undercutting the peace process, a referendum is necessary to the legitimacy of a two-state solution. Formal public support of a potential deal could, in fact, be one of the keys to long-term sustainability of peace. Supporters of the peace process should get behind the referendum proposal.
In a new piece up at Foreign Affairs on the killer robot debate, I attempt to distinguish between what we know and what we can only speculate about around the ethics / legality of autonomous weapons. The gist:
Both camps have more speculation than facts on their side... [But] the bigger problem isn’t that some claims in this debate are open to question on empirical grounds, rather that so many of them simply cannot be evaluated empirically, since there is no data or precedent with which to weigh discrimination and proportionality against military necessity.
So, instead of resting on discrimination and proportionality principles as with earlier weapons ban campaigns, the lethal machines debate is converging around two very different questions. First, in situations of uncertainty, does the burden of proof rest on governments, to show that emerging technologies meet humanitarian standards, or on global civil society, to show that they don’t? And second, even if autonomous systems could one day be shown to be useful and lawful in utilitarian terms, is a deeper underlying moral principle at stake in outsourcing matters of life or death to machines?
The disarmament camp argues yes to both; techno-optimists argue no. To some extent these are questions of values, but each can also be empirically evaluated by the social realities of international normative precedent. In each case, those cautioning against the untrammeled development of unmanned military technology are on firmer ground.
I am delighted to report that as of last Friday at 7:02pm I have completed final revisions on my latest book manuscript. This culminates a project on issue neglect that started with my observations about children born of war, emerged as a theory of "agenda-vetting," and involved a detailed NSF-funded study of the rise and fall of issues in the human security network. It also includes detailed case studies on several norm-building campaigns I've been following since 2007: the campaign to make amends to civilians harmed in legitimate battle operations, the campaign to ban infant male circumcision, and the campaign to ban the development and use of autonomous weapons.
I am told by the editor at Cornell University Press it should hopefully be on the shelves in time for next year's ISA conference. For readers who have long followed my work on this project, which coincided with the start of my blogging career, I offer below the fold the first few paragraphs of the book as a sneak preview.
Thanks to a very awesome grad student of mine, I just realized that last week marked the second anniversary of the start of the Bahrain uprising. Fueled by protests in Tunisia and Egypt, citizens of this small and very beautiful island state took to the streets to demand political changes. For two years, the protests have not completely dissipated but haven’t escalated to the point of civil war either. What explains this continued state of violent limbo?
and Failure leads to Fear, Anger and all that Stuff. In the renewed discussion of the Battle of Hoth and other failures of the Galactic
It bears repeating that nobody votes on foreign policy, and most folks don't know anything about it anyway (remember that a nontrivial number of Americans think South Korea is our greatest enemy). I'll quote myself:
[N]obody gives a damn about foreign policy. Theories of democratic responsiveness and empirical models of foreign policy choice need to begin with this fact. Nobody cares! That thing we do? The international relations bit? It's somewhat less important than professional bowling or HGTV. [Americans] only care about security--and their understanding of that is about as sophisticated as the Toby Keith song about the Statue of Liberty. ...
[O]ur brilliant little theories about how voters express their desires over foreign policy rest on the idea that voters have some utility over foreign-policy choices. That, in turn, may also be flatly wrong. When voters vote, their choices are likely wholly driven by domestic factors. If that's the case, there's no residual term--foreign-policy voting is in the error term. This means that foreign policy should be relatively unconstrained, both ideologically (except among a very few elites) and in its implementation (because nobody cares).
I make the same point more diplomatically and, at much greater length, in my dissertation. I should note that the professional bowling jest was an exaggeration, but foreign affairs is demonstrably less important to voting behavior than college football (e.g., e.g.. I also point out that sometimes it's okay to exaggerate for rhetorical effect.
Below the fold, I adduce new evidence that even the Council on Foreign Relations is somewhat ambivalent about foreign policy.
And, in fact, bargaining theory suggests that [abandoning the "platinum coin" option] strengthens Obama’s hand.
The International Feminist Journal of Politics announces its 2nd Annual IFjP Conference, May 17-19, 2013, University of Sussex, Brighton, England: (Im)possibly Queer International Feminisms
General Keynote: Lisa Duggan, American Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, NYU
Conference Theme Keynotes: Jon Binnie, Geography, Manchester Metropolitan University, Vivienne Jabri, War Studies, Kings College London; V Spike Peterson, International Relations/Gender Studies, University of Arizona; Rahul Rao, Politics and International Studies, SOAS
Other confirmed speakers: Rosalind Galt, Film Studies, University of Sussex; Akshay Khanna, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex; Louiza Odysseos, International Relations, University of Sussex; Laura Sjoberg, Political Science, University of Florida
The aim of this conference is to serve as a forum for developing and discussing papers that IFjP hopes to publish. These can be on the conference theme or on any other feminist IR-related questions.
Apply by January 31!
Call for papers
The New Books in Science Fiction and Fantasy channel of the New Books Network launched today. In its inaugural podcast, I interview Ken MacLeod about
In Spring of 2006, I was nearing the end of data collection on my investigation into the human rights of children born of rape and
Just in time for Game of Thrones' Season 2 (which happens inconveniently right in the middle of ISA), Foreign Affairs has posted this constructivist riposte
The transnational battle over gay rights took an interesting turn last week when the Obama administration announced that it would work hard to promote gay
Steve Walt, who won last year's prize, is judging.If anyone wanted to nominate a post from the Duck, that would be a nice thing to
They're updating this.
I have a report in the 2009 (they're a bit behind...just go with it) Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law on efforts to