Month: May 2013 (Page 1 of 4)

Belated Conference Proposal Advice

A twitter friend of mine was trying to figure out how to put together his proposal for the International Studies Association’s Annual Meeting.  The ISA has gotten into a nasty habit of having a really early deadline.  So, folks are thinking about it today since the deadline is tomorrow.  I have had a fair amount of experience on the other end, organizing the program for the Foreign Policy section of the APSA about a decade ago, doing the Ethnicity, Nationalism and Migration section of the ISA [ENMISA] a few years back, and then this masochism year of the Foreign Policy Analysis section of the ISA this past spring and the International Security section (with Idean Salehyan) of the APSA for the meeting in September.  So, I have opinions (no surprise to anyone):

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Friday Morning Linkage

2404-1 Elvis Duckie

 

Elvis Duck because I’ll be drinking Bourbon in Memphis tomorrow night.

and… Continue reading

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Obama, Drones, and the Matter of Definitions

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Tobias T. Gibson, an associate professor of political science and security studies at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. 

In the buildup to President Obama’s speech at National Defense University on May 23, the administration suggested that the speech would clarify US policy on the use of drones in targeted killing. Although the president took pains to describe the limitations set forth by his administration, the speech provided little genuine clarity.

The working definitions of three very important words play a key role in undermining the putative “transparency” provided by the speech.  In a key passage, the President states that

Beyond the Afghan theater, we only target al Qaeda and its associated forces. Even then, the use of drones is heavily constrained. America does not take strikes when we have the ability to capture individual terrorists – our preference is always to detain, interrogate, and prosecute them. America cannot take strikes wherever we choose – our actions are bound by consultations with partners, and respect for state sovereignty. America does not take strikes to punish individuals – we act against terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people, and when there are no other governments capable of effectively addressing the threat. And before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured – the highest standard we can set. [emphasis mine]

These three key constraints on the administration may amount to very little in the way of genuine barriers to the use of drone strikes.

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(Peer/Non) Review

I understand that there’s been some recent blog-chatter on one of my favorite hobbyhorses, peer review in Political Science and International Relations. John Sides gets all ‘ruh roh’ because of an decades-old old, but scary, experiment that shows pretty much what every other study of peer-review shows:


Then, perhaps coincidentally, Steve Walt writes a longish post on “academic rigor” and peer review. Walt’s sorta right and sorta wrong, so I must write something of my own,* despite the guarantee of repetition.

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Call for Abstracts: Millennium Conference, 19-20 October, 2013

Civilization-Gods-and-Kinfs-ss1Millennium. Journal of International Studies
Annual Conference
“Rethinking the Standard(s) of Civilisation(s) in International Relations”
19-20 October 2013
London School of Economics and Political Science
Deadline for abstracts: 7 June, 2013

The theme of this year’s conference will focus on the standard(s) of civilisation(s) in International Relations. In recent years, there has been a renewed scholarly interest in the concept of ‘the standard of civilisation’ in examining international norms, practices and policies entrenched in world politics, including international law, human rights, the status of women, good governance and globalisation, global markets, the EU policy of ‘membership conditionality’, and state-building. These are only some of the key aspects of international relations that illustrate the crucial relationship between civilisation and standards of conduct in global politics. Continue reading

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Thursday Dinklage

If you are like me, you are pining for your next installment of Game of Thrones (and the Memorial Day week off was cruel, though not as cruel as the torment we have seen of late). In the meantime, I give you your weekly dose of Thursday Morning Dinklage. Top stories this week:

  • Steve Walt puts the flawed but necessary peer review process in perspective
  • Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s letter to oft-dead Mokhtar Belmokhtar for his unwillingness to be a good team player has been translated and is a classic (I sense a new Sahel version of The Office)
  • Belmokhtar’s group pulls off some new attacks in Niger
  • Great story on how Timbuktu’s manuscripts were saved

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Wednesday Addams Linkage

Wedneday A handful of links today, but with content.

Dan Drezner discusses China, Thucydides, and the limit of metaphor. It strikes me that Dan’s buried the lede here. The question isn’t whether Thucydides is applicable to the Sino-American relationship, or whether Tuchman is better, but rather why even Chinese IR professors have adopted the tropes of the Western professoriate. After all, China has its very own history from which to draw analogies, as smart scholars like Victoria Tin-bor Hui and David Kang have reminded Western audiences. The history of the Warring States period seems at least as likely to offer more appropriate analogies for struggles between rising and falling powers as the Hellenistic period. Then again, perhaps nineteenth-century Prussia is an even better example.

Jonathan Zasloff brings news of a new mayor of El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles and his somewhat quirkly, somewhat endearing choice of second-person pronoun.

And one final link, for quanty-duckies, below the fold:

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The Science of Teacher Evaluation Manipulation

Hopefully, another semester has come to a close for you and you’re catching up on some much needed research/sleep.   After I’ve doled out grades for my students, I usually get a nice big stack of evaluations of my teaching abilities, filled out by those very same students who squeaked by with a “C-“in my class. At my previous university, it was the ONLY way my teaching was evaluated; for better or worse, no senior faculty or peers ever evaluated my teaching content, style, or skills in the classroom.  A whopping 40% of my annual evaluation came from what my students recorded on bubble-sheets and, occasionally, their written comments.[1]

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Tiwesdæg: the Left-hand of Linkage

Hong Kong Rubber Duck

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Taking Liberalism on Intervention Seriously: a 12-Step Program

500px-Coalition_action_against_Libya.svgEditor’s Note: This is a guest post by Tim Dunne. He is Research Director of the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect at the University of Queensland and the past editor of the European Journal of International Relations. tl;dr warning: ~2400 words.

In a recent lively and provocative post, Stephen Walt argues that liberal imperialists are like ‘neocons’ only more human rights-friendly. They are alike in the sense that both ‘are eager proponents for using American hard power’. And combined, these two sets of protagonists have been responsible for bad foreign policy decisions ‘to intervene in Iraq or nation-build in Afghanistan, and today’s drumbeat to do the same in Syria’.

To help cleanse the US policy community of liberal imperialist tendencies, Walt offers ’10 warning signs that you are a Liberal Imperialist’. If you fail the test, as I did, then you have the option of (1) coming out as an interventionist (2) engaging in a form of realist immersion therapy by reading texts about why interventions fail. ‘And if that doesn’t work, maybe we need some sort of 12-step program’.

The question I want to pose is whether failing the test commits you to being a liberal imperialist? Or does the particular identity construction creak and crack under scrutiny, such that it is possible to adopt a liberal position on intervention that does not ascribe to the folly and naiveté that is attributed to it?

To help address this question I’m going to offer an alternative 12-step program that critics of liberal thinking on intervention may want to enroll in. My principle reasoning is that Walt’s ‘warning signs’ lump together – and obfuscate – critical debates and distinctions within liberalism, which is why many liberals opposed the 2003 Iraq War just as they oppose a military escalation in Syria today. Some even plausibly argue that Libya came dangerously close to an illiberal intervention on the grounds that the mandate of protecting civilians morphed into the goal of regime change. Yet what no liberal countenances is ‘another Rwanda’ in which the great powers (individually and collectively) failed to take the decisive action that was being called for by the UN force commander on the ground in Kigali. Avoiding the twin problems of indifference and recklessness has been the driver of the intervention agenda that the UN has embarked upon since the turn of the new century. And this agenda has been drive forward by the search for an effective capacity to respond to mass atrocities that is anti-imperialist. I develop this point in stages 9-11 of the recovery plan. Continue reading

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A Good Day To Remember Civil-Military Relations

Today is Memorial Day in this U.S., which leads to all kinds of silly debates about whether this holiday celebrates just the dead killed in America’s wars or the Veterans as well since there is Veteran’s Day in November (which is Armistice Day everywhere else).

The other silly debate that seems to occur around this time is about the draft.  Karl Eikenberry (former US general and then Ambassador to Afghanistan) and David Kennedy (retired history prof) wrote a NYT op-ed about the state of US civ-mil and what to do about it, including … bring back the draft.  Oy.

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Memorial Day Linkage

Army Ducks

Good mornin’ ducks.  Happy Memorial Day.

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Weekend Waterfowl

centurion duck

What’s worth reading this weekend? Lots of stuff. Here’s a list of a few things, from analytic to oddities. No drones, machetes, or tornados. But it would be silly if none of our resident experts weighed in on recent developments in these domains. Right?

My reaction is that he’s (1) choosing, as he notes, one particular domain of explanation–interest-group lobbying during process–and (2) treating ‘ideas’ as synonymous with ‘broad, public ideological forces.’ Neither of these, by themselves, really tell us very much about the relevant debate.

  • Roland Paris publishes part of his Perspectives on Politics review essay on the Afghanistan War at The Monkey Cage.

This is the start of a new collaboration between TMC and academic journals: “The goal is to have posts from authors whose research is featured in just released issues of political science journals provide a short guest post highlighting the research in conjunction with an agreement from the press to make that article available ungated for a specified period of time.”

  • Robert Art and Robert Jervis memorialize Kenneth Waltz in Foreign Affairs.

I’ve seen some pushback, both at academic blogs and in emails, to these kinds of testimonials on the grounds that they constitute ‘hagiographies.’ Either, the argument goes, Ken doesn’t deserve that because of his terrible influence on the field, or it’s just somehow wrong to single out particular works and authors as canonical. I find this genre a bit asesine. On the one hand, there’s a long tradition in certain international-relations circles of projecting every wrong of international-relations theory onto structural realism. This tradition is grounded in confused and superficial readings that have been passed down from teacher to student. For examples, this post uses dismissive language about Waltz’s belief in his “perfect theory” that are utterly and completely alien to Waltz’s approach to theorization. Or you have stuff like this, which, amidst some reasonable insights into disciplinary intellectual politics, embraces a radically asocial understanding of knowledge production–one in which a scholar’s ideas can only be influenced by canonical works if she has read those works. Continue reading

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Why the Dakotas?

ProhibitedMapFinal.jpg.CROP.article920-large

Slate’s new history vault published a gem from the Cold War last week. This map from January 1955 shows the areas in the United States that Soviet citizens could not travel.

This map shows where Soviet citizens, who were required to have a detailed itinerary approved before obtaining a visa, could and could not go during their time in the United States. Most ports, coastlines, and weapons facilities were off-limits, as were industrial centers and several cities in the Jim Crow South.

These restrictions mirrored Soviet constraints on American travel to the USSR. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had closely controlled the movement of all foreign visitors since World War II. A 1952 law in the U.S. barred the admission of all Communists, and therefore of Soviet citizens. (An exception was made for government officials.)

The Soviets’ decision to relax their controls after Joseph Stalin’s death in March 1953 left the U.S. open to charges that it, not the USSR, was operating behind an Iron Curtain. President Eisenhower and his foreign policy advisers decided to mimic Soviet policy as closely as possible: As of early 1955, citizens of either nation could enter approximately 70 percent of the other’s territory, including 70 percent of cities with populations greater than 100,000.

As a North Dakota native, my first question was why prohibit travel to all of western North Dakota and most of South Dakota? (hint: it’s probably not what you think…) Continue reading

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Friday Morning Linkage

sitting ducks

 

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Call for Papers: 2013 International Studies Association-Northeast Annual Conference

When: 8-9 November 2013
Where: at the Providence Biltmore, Providence, RI, USA
Submissions accepted 5 – 28 June 2013

The annual conference of the International Studies Association-Northeast (ISA-NE) will be held 8-9 November 2013 at the Providence Biltmore in Providence, Rhode Island. ISA-NE invites paper and panel proposals on any subject related to international studies, broadly defined. Topics might include international relations theory, international law and organizations, foreign policy, globalization, human rights, international development, conflict resolution, military/strategic studies, the environment, feminist and queer theory, gender studies, international political economy, and international political sociology, among others. ISA-NE expressly welcomes research from the full range of approaches to and philosophies of IR, including those using critical and postmodernist lenses.

We also encourage paper, panel, and roundtable proposals on subjects related to this year’s conference theme, Rethinking International Relations as International Hierarchies. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, theories of hierarchy, whether hierarchy/ies provides a more useful starting point for understanding global politics than the traditional anarchy problematique, and empirical analyses of international hierarchies. We especially encourage proposals from varied disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. We seek to showcase the work of advanced graduate students and junior as well as senior scholars, and we welcome innovative ideas about the format, structure, and content of conference sessions.

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