The Duck of Minerva

Duck of Minerva Roundup*

23 May 2022

What’s been quacking at the blog?

The Duck of Minerva opened for business in 2005, so it’s had a lot of time to accumulate duck-puns and stupid duck references.

Over the years, contributors embraced the Duckness of the Duck to different degrees. I can’t say for sure, but my impression is that Steve Saideman was one of the worst (or best, I suppose) offenders.

For my part, I’ve always been ambivalent about the matter. So I spent far too much mental energy on what to call our semi-regular roundup of blog content. In the end, I settled on putting the stupid duck reference in the subtitle.

If you were wondering, then: “what, seriously?” and “you’re welcome.”

Recent Posts

Posting at The Duck of Minerva waxes and wanes, but we’ve had a recent burst of activity.

Contributing editor Peter Henne asks “Will there be a Bin-Laden of Right-Wing Extremism?” He notes that there are “signs of communication and coordination among violent right-wing extremists” and also points to reports of an organized effort to turn Idaho into a grand experiment in fascism.

Peter contextualizes the question by comparing two different historical cases of transnational movements that spawned terrorist offshoots: anarchism and Islamism. Which case does contemporary right-wing extremism better resemble? Read his post to find out.

In a guest post, Lauren Rogers examines Berlin’s recent – and startling – decision to develop respectable military capabilities. (For short summaries of the sad condition of the Bundeswehr, read this Foreign Policy pieces from 2020 and this more recent Deutsche Welle article). She argues that we need to understand Germany’s Zeitenwende through the prism of ontological security: Putin’s actions upended dominant national identity narratives in Germany, especially those justifying contemporary German foreign and national-security policy in light of the Nazi past. What we’re seeing now, she argues, is an effort to construct new narratives about what that past means for the present.

It’s the return of the nuclear hawks! Staff writer Van Jackson is a bit alarmed by the proliferation of second-rate Curtis LeMay’s (or maybe they’re more wannabe Buck Turgidsons?) decrying Biden’s unwillingness to threaten Russia with nuclear war.

Former NATO Commander Philip Breedlove complained bitterly that the United States has “ceded the initiative to the enemy” and is “fully deterred” by fear of World War III, despite America being fully involved in the war at this point.  

MSNBC pundits are warning that we can’t let fear of Russian escalation affect what we do, other than make bigger and bolder threats ourselves. Some scholars are arguing that “The United States cannot continue to allow its nuclear arsenal to deter itself from fighting.” Again, America has been and remains militarily involved. 

Others insist that if Russia were to detonate a small nuclear warhead for any reason, the United States should “fire one of the new submarine-launched warheads into the wilds of Siberia or at a military base inside Russia.” That’s vertical and horizontal escalation! 

Not to be outdone, the Wall Street Journal has been running an endless stream of real headlines like “How Putin Exploits America’s Fear of Nuclear War” and “The U.S. Should Show It Can Win a Nuclear War.” So much for the nuclear revolution. 

Look, no one’s saying the United States wouldn’t get its hair mussed. But we can’t let Putin push us around by, uh, deterring Washington from letting Sweden and Finland into NATO? Preventing the transfer of high-tech U.S. weaponry?

In completely unrelated news, my colleague Matt Kroenig, who thinks full-spectrum nuclear superiority will allows the U.S. to prevail in any crisis, has received a prestigious appointment to the Congressional Commission on Strategic Posture. Check out the debate we hosted on this very subject – in which Matt takes on the duo of Matthew Fuhrmann and Todd S. Sechser.

Podcast Activity

The Duck of Minerva has its own podcast, as well as an affiliation with both Brent Steele’s The Hayseed Scholar and the PTJ-DHN joint, Whiskey and International-Relations Theory. This means we automatically generate posts whenever an affiliated podcast goes live; in theory, you could use the comments section of those posts to provide feedback.

We’re overdue for a new Whiskey and IR Theory episode.

The good news is that I’ve got a few “Whiskey Optionals” already recorded and awaiting editing. The bad news is that I’m a slow podcast editor.

Unless we break order for a short-fuse episode, the next installment will feature a discussion of Chinese international-relations theory with Astrid NordinQin Yaqing, and Yan Xuetong.

Future doings

With the spring semester mostly wrapped, I expect to turn to the book that I’m co-authoring with Stacie Goddard and Paul MacDonald.

The truth is that, thanks in part of a year-long sabbatical, they’ve been doing all the co-authoring. So I’ve got a lot to make up for.

In the past I’ve used blogging – both at The Duck and at Lawyers, Guns and Money – to help me think through book-related issues. So you might see some posts on the analytics of power politics.

Remember, we’re always looking for guest content. If you’re an academic in IR or a cognate field, on an academic track, or been there and done that, check out our submission guidelines.

The Newsletter

This is a repost of The Duck of Minerva newsletter on Substack. From now on, I’ll be marking the titles of posts from Substack with an asterisk.