Day: January 31, 2013

Thursday Afternoon Linkage: Zero Dark Thirty Catch up

Given the growing debate surrounding “Zero Dark Thirty”, it is now mandatory to have a strong opinion on the movie.

In addition to the excellent posts on this blog, including “Zero Dark Thirty” Debate Needs and Interrogation and “Zero Dark Thirty”: Touchstone Par Exemplar by Jeffrey Stacey the internet is awash with excellent commentary on the movie.

Why does it matter? The vast divide between those who love it and those who hate it tells us something about the politics of war movie-making and the way we look back on the war on terror. The New York Film Critics Circle named 0DT the best picture of 2012 and others defend the movie on the grounds that it is merely entertainment, not a documentary. In contrast, critics like Director Richard Rowley (of the forthcoming documentary “Dirty Wars”) calls it propaganda and an endorsement or normalization of torture while Slavoj Zizek asks how audiences would feel if the Holocaust was presented in the detached cool way that torture is presented in 0DT.

Does 0DT condone torture? Does it have a political position? Is it just entertainment? How does it compare to Kathryn Bigelow’s academy award winning “Hurt Locker”?

To help you answer these questions, follow the links: Continue reading

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A Quarter-Baked Note on Grand Theory in IR

Political scientists often say that ‘no one reads books anymore.’ I’d add that ‘almost no one reads book reviews.’

This is a shame. Although most book reviews are paint-by-numbers affairs, some smuggle in provocative claims or important statements about aspects of the field.* For example, in his Perspectives on Politics review of Miles Kahler, ed. Networked Politics: Agency, Power, and Governance, Zeev Maoz nails an important problem with one branch of work on social networks in international relations:

most network analysts would view the “networks as structures” versus “networks as actors” dichotomy as fundamentally flawed. The various chapters actually demonstrate this point. Even those authors who study networks as actors focus on the structure of the network and its effects on outcomes. Network analysis is capable not only of distinguishing between hierarchies and decentralized forms of connectivity but also of measuring them in quite precise ways.

On the provocative side, there’s Cameron Thies’ review (in the same issue) of two books, Christopher J. Fettweis’s Dangerous Times? The International Politics of Great Power Peace and Gilulio M. Gallarotti’s Cosmopolitan Power in International Relations: A Synthesis of Realism, Neoliberalism, and Constructivism. Continue reading

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The Societal Implications of Women in Combat

This is a guest post by Dorit Geva. Geva is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Central European University, and has written a book on conscription politics in France and the United States. Megan H. Mackenzie wrote an earlier post on this topic.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s announcement that some 230,000 combat jobs might open for American servicewomen in the armed forces is a watershed moment for the American military.  But the consequences will resonate beyond his announcement’s effects on professional soldiers.  Since the 1980s, the legal reasoning barring women from registering with the draft has been that women do not serve in combat positions.  Panetta’s surprise announcement will not only transform the career opportunities of women in uniform, but could affect every woman living on American soil. Continue reading

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