Category: Academia (Page 1 of 18)

What If Academia Had a ‘Scout Mindset’?

Exensor - Infrared Scout Camera - UGS 2 - Army Technology
Source: https://www.army-technology.com/contractors/surveillance/exensor-technology/attachment/exensor-infrared-scout-camera-ugs-2/

Imagine you are reading a theoretical social science article that is dedicated to making an argument (let’s call it Argument X). You get to a section of the article called “Alternative Explanations,” which discusses Challenges A, B, and C to Argument X. At the end of this section, the author writes: “Challenge B is the superior explanation, and Argument X is therefore disconfirmed.”

Or imagine you are reading the “Robustness Checks” section of a quantitative piece and the author concludes by writing, “The majority of these robustness checks failed and therefore the main hypothesis of this article is wrong.”

These are the kinds of things you might expect to read if academia had a “Scout Mindset,” a term taken from Julia Galef’s new book [Full disclosure: I haven’t finished the book yet, so these are initial observations]. But you don’t read these kinds of passages very often. And that’s a problem.

Scouts and Soldiers

In a recent interview, Galef describes a ‘scout mindset’ as:

“…my term for the motivation to see things as they are and not as you wish they were, being or trying to be intellectually honest, objective, or fair minded, and curious about what’s actually true.”

This can be contrasted with ‘soldier mindset,’ which is what most people have:

“…a lot of the time we humans are in what I call ‘soldier mindset,’ in which our motivation is to defend our beliefs against any evidence or arguments that might threaten them. Rationalization, motivated reasoning, wishful thinking: these are all facets of what I’m calling a soldier mindset.

I adopted this term because the way that we talk about reasoning in the English language is through militaristic metaphor. We try to ‘shore up’ our beliefs, ‘support them’ and ‘buttress them’ as if they’re fortresses. We try to ‘shoot down’ opposing arguments and we try to ‘poke holes’ in the other side.”

Sound familiar? Like many things it purports to be (e.g., a meritocracy), is it really the case that academia uncovers the best explanations or simply defends privileged explanations? The prevalence of soldier mindset seems especially relevant for academia because a career can be made on the basis of having the “right” argument. 

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A Gilded Age of Social Science: Big Data Governance, Neopositivist Social Science and Covid-19

This is a guest post by Dr. Adam B. Lerner, Assistant Professor of International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London and Deputy Director of the Royal Holloway Centre for International Security.

As an American living in London, I wake up every morning and check statistics: the number of positive cases reported the prior day in both the UK and US, the number of deaths, hospitalizations and vaccine doses administered, the percentage of the population fully vaccinated and the number of days until the government promises to re-evaluate the lockdown’s end. These numbers determine when I might see my family again, when I might receive a vaccine or even when I might be able to meet a friend for a much-needed outdoor pint.

Of course, beneath these numbers may lie unspeakable loss to families and communities. Nevertheless, their quantification and continual visualization and dissemination in mass media can also make them feel like talismans, ripped from context, critical reflection and, oftentimes, the lives of real people. Indeed, their dominance in public discourse of the pandemic reflects the encroachment of neopositivist social science on lives and livelihoods in new ways—ways that have crowded out numerous other important considerations. 

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Elite Experiments: Strengthening Scholarship while Bridging the Gap

This post was written by Simone Dietrich, Heidi Hardt and Haley J. Swedlund. Simone Dietrich is Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Geneva. Heidi Hardt is Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Irvine; a member of the 2015 International Policy Summer Institute cohort, and a 2021 Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow. Haley Swedlund is Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at Radboud University and a member of the 2019 International Policy Summer Institute cohort.

For decades, many International Relations (IR) scholars portrayed experiments with foreign policy elites as too risky, too costly, or too difficult to implement. Faculty mentors discouraged graduate students from wasting their time. In a new article in European Journal of International Relations, we argue that elite experiments are not as difficult to implement as many believe they are. However, they do require careful planning in order to get elites on board.

When are elite experiments worth the costs? What are some tips and tricks for successfully carrying out this method? How might this approach be helpful in bridging the gap between IR and policy?

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We want you to write for us!

This post from our partners at Bridging the Gap is written by BTG Fellows Danielle Gilbert and Erik Lin-Greenberg, who are now the new editors of the BTG Duck channel, coordinating contributions from BTG’s network of scholars.

The past twelve months have been fraught with challenges, yet they have also given rise to a host of new opportunities. We’ve faced a global pandemic, a contentious U.S. election, social and racial injustice, and assaults on democracy around the world. These experiences have led scholars to ask tough questions, have difficult—but critically important—conversations, and to rethink how we teach and conduct research. At the Bridging the Gap Project, we’ve tried to keep pace with these global shifts, including on our channel here at the Duck.

Beginning today, we’re the new editors of the BTG Duck channel, and we hope to build upon the great work of our predecessors Naazneen Barma and Brent Durbin. We look forward to publishing more content that helps scholars navigate the academia-policy space and to showcasing the work of members of the BTG community. We’re excited to feature posts about your research, teaching, and mentoring as they relate to policy and public engagement.

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Is “Camp Qual” really our best option?

This is a guest response to Simon Frankel Pratt’s musing on methods. Lucas Dolan is a PhD Candidate at American University’s School of International Service.

In a recent contribution, Simon Frankel Pratt offers an incisive conceptual dismantling of the quantitative v. qualitative dichotomy in social science research. Pratt points out that while “quantitative’ refers to a clear community of practice centered around statistically facilitated inductive causal inference, “qualitative” lumps together several distinctive research communities. Though not all named in the post, this implicitly includes interpretivists, relational and practice turn scholars, feminists, and critical theorists of all varieties. Importantly, “qualitative” also includes small-N positivists, who share a logic of inquiry with “quantitative,” but prefer to express their knowledge claims through ordinary language. Clearly then, “qualitative” research communities differ substantially from one another in terms of scientific ontology and in the logics of inquiry they utilize, but nonetheless many of them share certain affinities as a result of being outsiders in the field.

I agree wholeheartedly with Pratt’s analyses—both regarding the incoherence of the dichotomy and of the work it performs as an expression of disciplinary power relations. It is because of this that I was so confused by Pratt’s conclusion on the “what is to be done?” side of this question.

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The peace, women’s suffrage and reproductive rights activist you might not know: Aletta Jacobs.

Aletta Jacobs. Raise your hand if you have never heard her name! In our neck of the tulip fields, however, she is a celebrated professional: she was the first woman to be officially enrolled and graduate with a doctorate at the university in the Netherlands (shoutout to my employer – Rijksuniversiteit Groningen!) and the first woman to receive a medical degree. On top of those accomplishments, she was a women’s suffrage and peace activist, and helped establish Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, a Novel prize winning anti-war organization. To celebrate international women’s day, let me tell you her story. 

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A Marx Allergy

If you are allergic to, let’s say peanuts, you would always carefully check the packaging of the food you buy: does the factory use them? Can there be traces in the sauce? After an unpleasant experience that might have involved a trip to the hospital or an EpiPen, you would want to avoid a repeat performance.

This is almost the exact attitude of the Russian intellectual elite towards even a whiff of critical theory. Imagine growing up with endless rows of Lenin’s works in the book cabinets of your history teacher and being forced through Marxist and Leninist dialectics at university, not to mention scientific atheism or the mantra “religion is the opium of the people”. After Glasnost’ and the abolition of article 6 from the Soviet Constitution on the “guiding and leading” role of the Communist Party, the intellectual pendulum swung right, and it swung hard. All the “bourgeois” and forbidden intellectual currents came back, including some unsavoury kinds: the likes of Dugin brandish their Evola and Guénon, not to mention a Haushofer or Mackinder. 

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Remembrances from Sean Kay’s Students

This is the fifth in our series of remembrances on the life of Sean Kay. This post is from 15 of his former students. May way we all have the good fortune to shape the lives of students in the way Sean did. We will all miss you brother.

Kemi George ‘01

The loss of Dr. Kay has broken my heart, as it has so many other people. I only wish I could put into words how much this loss hurts and how much Doc (sorry Sean, but you’ll always be “Doc” to me), but I fear I can only manage a pale approximation. As all of his students know, he exemplified everything you could want in a professor. I remember so clearly his energy and commitment to all of us in his classes, and the way he could make his courses come alive. Even now, almost two decades later, I remember going on two field trips for Model UN, with Doc as our combination coach and chaperone. On the bus from Ohio to New York, he would talk about music (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was a favorite topic, especially given our state of residence at the time), alternated with stories of slapstick humor about his time doing research on NATO. He somehow had the time and energy to make a personal connection with all of us in ways that, now that I myself am a professor, I am genuinely amazed by.

As a mentor and friend, he was irreplaceable. I know that he was a constant source of encouragement for me, and for others in the class of ’01 and ’02, and I honestly would not be where I am today without Doc’s continual support over the decades. My heart goes out to his family and friends. I wish I could see him again.

Carrie Wilkie ‘01

I took my first course with Sean Kay the semester after I changed my major to Politics & Government, which also happened to be his first semester teaching at OWU. I had struggled a bit to find my “home” in my studies after thinking I had it all figured out, as most of us think we do at eighteen. I was fairly confident in my choice with P&G, but that first course with Sean solidified my decision. It could be the fresh new approach he brought to his classes, or the approachability he brought to campus, but something about Sean’s nature simply clicked.

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Sean Kay Memorial

This is a guest post from Randall Schweller, Professor of Political Science at The Ohio State University and author of Maxwell’s Demon and the Golden Apple. This is the fourth post in our remembrance series on Sean Kay.

Sean and I shared two passions: international relations and the Grateful Dead. From the mid-1970s to early 1980s, I was the “Jerry Garcia” in a Grateful Dead cover band called Timberwolf that played in the tri-state area. Our keyboardist, Rob Barroco, later joined the Dead and Phil Lesh and Friends. Sean knew the Grateful Dead and hooked me back up with Rob Barroco in 2012, thirty years after I’d last seen him.

As a musician, Sean studied the guitar style of Bob Weir, the Grateful Dead’s rhythm guitarist. When I met Sean, he immediately proposed that we get together and jam, but for years we didn’t have a good reason to do so. 

Finally, when Sean told me that he was giving a talk at the Mershon Center on his book, Rocking the Free World, we both thought—okay, this is the perfect time to finally get together and rehearse a mini-set for a “captive” audience. He came down from Delaware to my house in Columbus, and we hastily threw together some songs. Our lack of practice shows in the performance, but I’ve never once had regrets. As Jerry Garcia preached, music, like life itself, must take risks and be in the moment, otherwise it’s lifeless and boring.    

Arguably the best bridge ever written—certainly in the repertoire of Grateful Dead songs—appears in “Black Peter,” a song about a boy on his deathbed:

See here how everything

Lead up to this day

And it’s just like any other day

That’s ever been

Sun going up and then

The sun going down

Shine through my window

And my friends they come around

Come around, come around

Our lives are composed of cumulative experiences that lead to the present moment. The day of our death is merely one more day in an eternally recurring series of days—every day mostly just like the one before and after it.  As the speaker in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes tells us:

The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course….What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Viewed in these stark terms, the world appears monstrous, our lives meaningless, reality an appalling afront to the vanity of human existence. How could the birds continue to sing at Auschwitz when the world seemed too horrible and sad for such simple moments of beauty? This is how I felt when I heard the news of Sean’s death. How could the birds sing and the sun shine when such a gentle, kind, beautiful soul was gone? How could the world continue to go on as if nothing had changed?

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Remembering Sean Kay

This is a guest post from Sahar Khan, an editor at Inkstick and adjunct fellow of Defense and Foreign Policy at the Cato Institute. She tweets at @khansahar1.  This is the third post in our remembrance series honoring the life of Sean Kay.

My cousin is a sophomore at Ohio Wesleyan University, and on November 13, 2020 she texted me, “I’m so sorry about Sean Kay.” Sorry? For what? Then she told me that he had passed away and forwarded me the email that the president of Ohio Wesleyan University had sent to the community that morning. I was in utter disbelief and couldn’t think of what to do except forward that email to Ahsan. As Ahsan and I spoke that day, shrouded in a cloud of disbelief, I kept thinking: how do you thank a professor like Dr. Kay?

I arrived at Ohio Wesleyan in the fall of 2002, ready to embrace my newfound independence and American life. I had envisioned my college life to be what I saw in Hollywood movies: full of friends, parties, easy classes, and cool places to hang out in. But reality was quite different and I felt kind of lost — and invisible. I had wanted to do pre-law and psychology but wasn’t sure anymore. I loved politics but didn’t really think of it as a practical field.

So, I ended up in Dr. Kay’s “Global Issues” class my second semester because I needed another class, and I figured reading political stuff would be fun. But that class — and Dr. Kay — changed my life. He made politics come alive. His lectures were like long conversations that were rich, passionate, insightful, and thought-provoking. I changed my major to International Studies that very semester, and took all of his classes like so many IS majors.

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Tribute to Sean Kay

Sean Kay, a much beloved international relations professor at Ohio Wesleyan, died suddenly of a heart attack in November. Though I blogged about Sean in December, we will be publishing a series of memorials to Sean from former students and colleagues over the remainder of this week.

The post below is a guest post from Ahsan Butt, an Associate Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and a nonresident fellow at the Stimson Center.

Even two months after his death, Sean Kay’s passing still feels shocking. Sean was a vivacious, larger than life presence, and only 53 when he died. Just a couple of months before he passed, he wrote to Sahar and me, and mentioned, among other things, a stress-related medical scare earlier this year. But he indicated nothing especially serious or life-threatening. When Sahar emailed me that awful November morning, time froze. I could only greet the news with the word “What” said in different inflections, at different volumes, with different punctuation marks.

Sean was an absolute gem of a human being. I knew few people like him, in our profession or outside. Being an IR scholar was, in many ways, the least interesting thing about him. He was a dedicated family man, one who took the institutions of neighborhood, community, and town very seriously. He was an avid producer and consumer of music, playing regular shows in Delaware bars, collecting mountains of records – most reliably American or British rock bands whose heyday was the 60s or 70s – and writing a well-received book on the influence of rock on politics.

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Qualitative Research Does Not Exist

This is a guest post by Simon Frankel Pratt. He is a lecturer in the School of Sociology, Politics, and International Studies at the University of Bristol.

In the social sciences, research and data are often divided into the categories ‘quantitative’ and ‘qualitative’. This is incoherent and should stop. There’s nothing informative in this distinction in terms of the logic of enquiry, the mode of inference, or the way data are used to support claims about the world. There is nothing methodological about it. But it won’t stop because if it did, our discipline would further marginalise non-positivist research.

complained about this on Twitter, and I will expand on these complaints here. I’ll start with the philosophy of social science problems. But then, I’ll talk about power and hegemony.

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Gone Missing from Grand Strategy: Climate Change

This is a guest post from Jeff Colgan, Richard Holbrooke Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Climate Solutions Lab at Brown University. He is author of Petro-Aggression: When Oil Causes War, and tweets @JeffDColgan

A slew of new books on grand strategy and international order signal the renaissance these topics are enjoying among scholars. Alas, most of the current thinking does not pay nearly enough attention to climate change—the world’s most important global challenge. Specifically, we are not thinking hard enough about the tradeoffs states face while pursuing the three goals of peace, prosperity, and climate sustainability. 

Is Climate Really a Security Danger?

Treating a climate strategy as an optional feature of international order—a nice-to-have bonus—is no basis for any wise foreign policy analysis or advice about today’s global order. As Josh Busby points out, climate change is entirely different in kind from previous environmental concerns like saving the whales. He adds elsewhere that we need to get “beyond internal conflict” – i.e., thinking about climate change as a driver of civil wars – to thinking big about how climate change will increasingly reshape national and global security.

He is not alone. Erin Sikorsky argues for incorporating climate into threat analysis. Chuks Okereke has written about climate justice for years. Bruce Jentleson argues that climate change poses a first-order threat to the survival, health, and prosperity of the whole human species. Massively dangerous on its own, it also contributes to various additional threats, like future pandemics, loss of biodiversity, and (as Cullen Hendrix and Steph Haggard point out) food insecurity.

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Want to Improve Equity and Inclusion in Political Science? Address White Supremacy

This is a guest post from Anna Meier, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Note that this post was written before APSA released an expanded statement on the white supremacist insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Last week, the American Political Science Association released a milquetoast statement on the January 6 white supremacist attack at the U.S. Capitol that got buried in the onslaught of news coverage. It resurfaced on Twitter over the weekend to outrage, with many political scientists noting that the statement omitted any acknowledgment of racism or white supremacy but did mention that “both sides” needed to “do better.”

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On Inconvenient Findings

This post was written by Marie Berry and Milli Lake, co-founders and principal investigators of the Women’s Rights After War Project. Dr. Berry is Associate Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and a member of Bridging the Gap’s current International Policy Summer Institute cohort. Dr. Lake is Associate Professor in the International Relations Department at the London School of Economics and a co-founder of the Advancing Research on Conflict Consortium.

What happens when research findings challenge the work that policy makers are invested in promoting?

In recent years, a strong, ongoing initiative to “Bridge the Gap” between academic research and policy makers has gained salience in academic circles. For several years now, and with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and other funders, scholars of international affairs have doubled down on efforts to write for public audiences, engage with various actors in policy processes, and even work to revise tenure and promotion standards to increase the value of policy-relevant work. Through the Women’s Rights After War project and other work, we have been eager participants in these efforts. We view engaged scholarship as part of our commitment to democratizing knowledge more generally.

But what happens when the results of research challenge the status quo policymakers are invested in defending? When research findings fail to reinforce policy priorities—whether they are political, economic, social, or otherwise—such efforts to “bridge the gap” stumble. This tension was recently brought dramatically to our attention when a policy brief we prepared was deemed unsuitable for publication by the organization that commissioned it, because our findings were neither positive nor politically convenient. Our experience, and those of others, raises questions about what happens when researchers generate findings that prove inconvenient to particular policy communities and knowledge gatekeepers. For us, this experience also raised questions about whether pressure to make research findings legible and accessible to policy audiences can inadvertently marginalize research that poses the most obvious challenges to status quo paradigms. 

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My Yes and No Committees Approved the Writing of This Post

This post is written by Bridging the Gap Fellow Dr. Danielle Gilbert, Assistant Professor of Military & Strategic Studies at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not represent the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Department of the Air Force, or the Department of Defense. The author would like to thank the brilliant women of her yes and no committees for their time, feedback, permission, and encouragement to write this—you know who you are. 

Six women approved the writing of this post: my “yes committee,” my “no committee,” and the editor—who happens to be a mentor as well. It’s fitting that these women would find themselves involved in this paragraph, because they have a say on nearly everything I write or do in my professional life. Outside of my classroom, I seldom make professional decisions without them. They are absolutely crucial to my success. I need them, and you need your own committees, too. 

What are yes and no committees? While a “no committee” is the group of friends and mentors you turn to when you need help declining requests and opportunities, the “yes committee” is the designated hype squad that nudges you beyond your comfort zone. In short, the “no committee” reminds you that your time is valuable; the “yes committee” reminds you that your ideas are valuable.

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The lazy Orientalism of Wonder Woman 1984

WARNING: Minor Spoilers for Wonder Woman 1984 ahead

Like many Americans, I ended my Christmas day by paying $15 to subscribe to HBO Max and watch Wonder Woman 1984. The much anticipated sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman promised to make the horrors of 2020 fade for awhile. And it did, but only by replacing them with frustration and confusion. It…wasn’t a great film. You can read why, or just watch it yourself. But what really stuck out to me was the particular sort of Orientalism it contained, a lazy Orientalism oblivious to its political implications but still problematic.

Wonder Woman 1984 tells the story of Wonder Woman fighting against a super villain (sorry for the spoilers). But what caught the attention of this Middle East scholar was a sequence in which the villain meets with a deposed (I think) Egyptian King who wishes to return to power and kick the “heathens” out of his land. The villain helps him, but the guy already sold his oil to the Saudis (I guess he pumped it all out?) Then the villain raises a wall, cutting off the poorest people of Egypt from their water sources.

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The True Meaning of a Hot Christmas Prince

In the spirit of holiday cheer and Paul Musgrave’s great Foreign Policy piece “The True Meaning of Christmas Movies Is a Cozy American Worldview” as well as our common poli sci curse of “being unable to enjoy anything without analysing it to death”, here is my take on that red and green scourge that clogs your Netflix queue as well as your cable. I have watched a fair amount of those in my day (for research purposes, obvs), but might be missing something, so correct me if I am wrong. I can’t refresh my memory right away, as those movies lack dinosaur subplots and that’s the only type of videos my toddler would let me watch. Jurassic Prince: the Royal Baby, anyone?

You might guess what kind of plots a lot of those holidays movies feature: a hard-working (white) American woman gets swept away by the lukewarm charms of a vaguely European royal from an invariably Romanian castle. He teaches her about cucumber sandwiches, she shows him how to bake Christmas cookies, sticks it to the local stuffy female suitors and they live happily ever after. In other words, as Paul observed, the true meaning of Christmas can be found with the help of “cute but not hot” foreign dude with a received pronunciation accent in a quaint Ruritanian setting. The cuteness but not hotness trope seems to be a deliberate choice, just look what Hallmark did to Sam Heughan, yes, this Sam Heughan:

If you squint your eye, you would probably be unable to distinguish between all those bland, combed over to the left dirty blonds with blue eyes and personalities that usually don’t go beyond the ability to procure a Christmas tree for the hallway. They are hardly prime examples of the real American heroes that protect the country at Christmas in the Nakatomi Plaza.

After all, it is still a cozy fantasy of an American dream, so one should be extra careful with the kind of baubles you decorate your imaginary Christmas tree. You should especially make sure that your foreign Nutcracker is not going to be too threatening to the homegrown ornaments, that you might still want to get back to if those pesky royals don’t let you blog. Yes, you read that right, I argue that those vanilla foreign princes should not be too imposing of a masculinity construct to diminish the appeal of the domestic commoner beaus.

As Paul rightly points out, the key demographic for those Christmas movies are women. Women who just need a reasonably forgettable dude with whom they can take care of the chores around the house. While there is a history of orientalizing, exoticising, and eroticising women for the male gaze, also in the spirit of the (not so cozy) American dream, the female gaze around Christmas seems to need a little fairy-tale respite that would not create unreasonable expectations and upset the balance in the household. That’s why those foreign princes are just cute, but not sizzling hot dishes that would tarnish the image of the cozy American worldview.

And if they do, John McClane will welcome them to the party. Pal.

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Voldemort, Trump, and the other usual suspects of Putin’s press conference

Klimentyev, RIA Novosti.

Sing it with me: It’s the most Putinist time of the year! For the 16th time the Dear Leader addressed the nation and the world from through their TV screens during a carefully choreographed almost 5-hour long annual press conference that could count as a State of the Union Q&A. there were some adjustments to the usual format: the lidded cup was still there, but almost no journalists in the actual room with Putin, his answers were televised from his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo. It’s almost impossible to go through all the press conference and not bore the readers to tears by the ritualised legitimation theatre, so I will concentrate on some of the IR-y stuff.

One of the most anticipated questions were about the bombshell investigation about Navalny’s poisoning that seems to point to a group of FSB operatives who had been tracking him for three years. Never fear: Putin successfully dodged every attempt to even get him to say Navalny’s name on TV and accused him of working for the CIA. Putin did, however, admit that He-who-must-not-be-named was under surveillance, but, apparently, if “we wanted to [poison him], we would have succeeded”, but instead he “let him be treated in a Berlin clinic on the wife request” instead. Interestingly enough, it didn’t even occur to Putin to deny the fact that Navalny was under surveillance or the fact that his security services are allowed to commit extrajudicial killings. 

What about Putin’s old friend Trump? I am not sure that any American Late Show missed the opportunity to report Putin’s telegram to President-Elect Biden where Putin is looking forward to “interactions and contacts”, but Trump, in fact, was barely mentioned during the press conference. Putin did assure that Trump has become an integral part of American political life and given that “50% of the population support him” there was no reason for him to seek asylum in Russia like Edward Snowden. The usual anti-Westernism, however, was on full display: Putin berated the NATO for expanding eastwards despite their promise not to, accused the UK for flying spy planes and, of course, accused the American State Department for vengefully leaking financial documents that alleged that his (ex?) son-in-law bought some company shares for a hundred bucks, instead of paying the market 380 million. Or, as Putin phrased it, “we are white and fluffy compared to you”, “prickly and aggressive types”. 

Putin also did not miss the chance to scold the “failure of the multiculturalism project” in Europe in relation to Samuel Paty’s murder in Paris. After implicitly praising the law that “protects religious feelings” in Russia (yes, the one that got Pussy Riot a 2-year sentence for asking the Mother of God to chase Putin away), he condemned murder as a response to those wounded feelings. He praised the multi confessional legacy that Russia inherited, because “there was no religious repression. In the Soviet Union, [all] priests were persecuted, but not selectively”. Yes, absolutely, all religious leaders were indiscriminately persecuted, especially the current Patriarch, who was posted to Geneva in 1971 as the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the World Council of Churches. smh.

In any case, to quote an Icelandic (!) journalist, it’s just some mass media that don’t like Russia and there is a war against Putin. Other countries are in a much worse shape because of the pandemic compared to Russia. An obligatory reminder from Putin about the real bad 90s so you would see how good you have it these days, here’s some extra cash ($60) for your children and happy holidays.

I sincerely hope that for some they will be.

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