The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Back in the Saddle

August 19, 2009

OK, I’m officially back from hiatus after a long summer on the road plus the requisite settling-in period.

Getting off the grid for a month and grounding one’s experience in the practical aspects of life in a clunker with two kids gives one some perspective.

I spent the summer aloof from some of the major news stories of the season: Michael Jackson’s death and the charges against his doctor, the media spectacle’s supposed knock-on effects on events in Iran, the mud-slinging over health care reform.

And I came back to find a world I barely recognized:

1) Foreign Policy declaring the “death of machismo” (really? a glance at this summer’s blockbusters you’d be hard put to tell);

2) the US favorite in the Afghan election tainted by an alliance with war criminals (well, maybe this will help attract Britney Spears’ vote; she seems to like dark, dangerous men); and

3) (wait for it!) the recession is “over” (must have been the Clunkers for Cash program; too bad my clunker (above) is way too fuel-efficient to qualify at a whopping 22 mpg).

It’s taken a little while to shift gears. The thing about road-trips is that you spend most of your time in the vast empty spaces of the continent, and the rest of it in small-town America, where the agenda cycle is markedly different from that of the political blogosphere. So before getting back to regular posts on human security, military affairs and transnational activism, I’ll start by sharing a few political insights from the road in the next couple of posts.

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Charli Carpenter is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She is the author of 'Innocent Women and Children': Gender, Norms and the Protection of Civilians (Ashgate, 2006), Forgetting Children Born of War: Setting the Human Rights
Agenda in Bosnia and Beyond (Columbia, 2010), and ‘Lost’ Causes: Agenda-Setting in Global Issue Networks and the Shaping of Human Security (Cornell, 2014). Her main research interests include national security ethics, the protection of civilians, the laws of war, global agenda-setting, gender and political violence, humanitarian affairs, the role of information technology in human security, and the gap between intentions and outcomes among advocates of human security.