Josh Busby

busbyj@utexas.edu

Joshua Busby is an Associate Professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin. He is the author of Moral Movements and Foreign Policy (Cambridge, 2010) and the co-author, with Ethan Kapstein, of AIDS Drugs for All: Social Movements and Market Transformations (Cambridge, 2013). His main research interests include transnational advocacy and social movements, international security and climate change, global public health and HIV/ AIDS, energy and environmental policy, and U.S. foreign policy. He also tends to blog about global wildlife conservation.

http://lbjschool.austin.utexas.edu/busby/

No reading list is perfectly inclusive. Here’s one small step I’ve learned to address that.

This is a guest post from Zoe Marks. Zoe Marks is currently Director of the Global Development Academy at the University of Edinburgh and Program Director of the MSc in African Studies; in September 2018, she will join the faculty at Harvard Kennedy School. Her research focuses on peace and conflict, gender, and inequality and has been published in various outlets, including African Affairs and Civil Wars.

As Steve Saideman wrote here last week, August is a time of dashed summer dreams, finding consolation in looming stability, and scrambling to get syllabi in order for the new academic year. Whether you are a new or seasoned professor, August is rarely a time to “perfect your class”. However, in the name of progress-not-perfection, I also try to remember that August is no time to forsake rigor and inclusivity in course design. Good intentions aren’t enough to address race, class, and gender biases in research and teaching.

An impressive — and sobering — array of academic research has emphasized the need to change the status quo in order to equitably publish, cite, recognize and reward women and non-white academics, colleagues in the Global South, and researchers from other marginalized and underrepresented groups. If you are one of the growing numbers of faculty trying to tackle this, you have probably come to suspect that expanding your reading list is not a magic bullet. (Paulo Freire and bell hooks warned us.) As we start a new academic year (in the Northern hemisphere) and incorporate new authors and topics into our courses, one small change can be a shot-in-the-arm for more rigorous and inclusive teaching: simply require students to cite underrepresented scholars in their written work. Continue reading

Backlash and Stigma: Rethinking Restraint in the Age of Trump

This is a guest post from Eric Van Rythoven. Eric Van Rythoven recently finished his PhD at Carleton University studying emotion, world politics, and security. His work is published in Security Dialogue and European Journal of International Relations.

There is a recurring frustration among observers of the Trump administration that commentary easily becomes distracted. Stories about the Trump family’s everyday nepotism and corruption may be important in the context of a so-called ‘normal’ presidency, but these are small marbles when compared to the administration’s catastrophic performance at Helsinki or the odious policy of child separation. For many IR scholars the message is clear: don’t focus on Ivanka’s clothing line, focus on what matters.

But what if stories like the decline of Ivanka’s clothing brand matter more than we think? In isolation, these kinds of stories appear as inconsequential distractions. Taken together, they form a broader genre of reporting focused on the rising personal costs of serving under Trump. This genre of reporting is important because it points to two crucial political processes occurring around the Trump administration right at this moment: backlash and stigmatization. I want to suggest that scholars should not only think about how these processes are significant features of contemporary politics, but how they can inform how we think about restraint in the age of Trump.

The idea of a backlash carries connotations of a reactionary and hostile mode of politics. For most of IR, the concept is conspicuously absent, in part because the field has largely ignored reactionary politics in general (see Mackay and LaRoche’s take on this problem). In Susan Faludi’s seminal study she describes backlash against feminist politics in the United States during the 1980s as a “powerful counterassault on women’s rights… triggered by the perception—accurate or not—that women are making great strides” in society. While individuals can occupy privileged positions in backlash movements, its force was derived from how its reactionary politics diffused across a variety of strata in popular culture in movies, magazines and television. Hostility to women’s rights was simultaneously everywhere and nowhere in particular.

Described in more generic terms, a backlash signals a visceral and reactionary episode where political claims are adamantly rejected, speakers are rebuked, and an issue becomes intensely controversial. These episodes can be politically significant for a number of reasons. They can mobilize new or latent social movements. They can create unexpected coalitions. They can shift debates to new discursive arenas. But most importantly here, a backlash can be a powerful source of social stigma.

In Goffman’s classic definition, a stigma is an attribute which is seen as “deeply discrediting” by a community. In effect, a person becomes tainted with a “spoiled identity” and becomes vulnerable to public ostracism and ridicule. Goffman argued that people can manage stigma in different ways (see Adler-Nissen’s great discussion). Facing hostility and rejection from their community, individuals often try to conceal, seek forgiveness, or reject their stigma.. (Fun fact: Ivanka’s clothing manufacturer chose the first option. Recognizing the growing hostility against the Ivanka brand, G-III secretly relabeled their inventory as ‘Adrienne Vittadini’ as way of concealing the stigma.)

While Goffman’s views on stigma overlap with the contemporary literature on shaming and transnational advocacy (for examples see Risse & Sikkink, Busby & Greenhill, and Murdie & Davis), it also differs in key ways. First, while the shaming literature often focuses on how transnational advocacy groups pressure governments, Goffman was far more concerned about how stigma accrues around individuals and affects their personal lives. Second, where as shaming is widely treated as a rhetorical maneuver Goffman was at pains to stress how a social stigma can be a crippling social, political, and economic liability. From being excluded from valuable networks of patronage, to being professionally blacklisted, the effects of a social stigma can be severe. Finally, constructivist models of shaming typically involve some form of identity conflict. As Risse & Sikkink write in their 1999 book, activists work to convince “leaders that their behaviour is inconsistent with the identity to which they aspire”. But as Goffman avers, an individual need not identify with the values represented by a stigma for it be effective in shaping behaviour. We can disagree with a stigma and still work to conceal it out of fear of social ostracism.

The interplay between stigma and backlash offers a compelling picture of the Trump administration. Facing backlash on policies from child separation to submissiveness on Russia, members of the administration have become increasingly stigmatized. Individually, stories about Allan Dershowitz not being invited to dinners, Kirstjen Nielsen and Stephen Miller being heckled at restaurants, Sarah Huckabee Saunders being refused service, Ivanka Trump’s clothing brand tanking, and even young Trump staffers not being able to get dates don’t add up to very much. Together, they point to a broader pattern of professional and social stigmatization.

The inclusion of Dershowitz in this list is intentional. He may not formally work for the administration, but even working as an arms-length advisor can be perceived as “deeply discrediting” and thus a marker of a “spoiled identity”. This is a crucial structural feature of backlash politics. Because it is an intensely emotional phenomena, it’s prone to what Hall and Ross call “spillover effects”. In these situations “strong felt reactions generated by one event or object color behavior toward unrelated stimuli by virtue of superficial resemblance or the timing of exposure”. Or, as the astute theorist of public opinion Walter Lippman once argued: “Emotion is a stream of molten lava which catches and imbeds whatever it touches. When you excavate in it you find. . . all sorts of objects ludicrously entangled in each other”. Anger directed at those responsible for child separation—such as Trump, Nielsen, and Sessions—can spillover to more marginal actors.

So why does this matter for IR? It matters because one of the acute concerns for IR types is the problem of restraint: how do we convince empowered political actors to exercise restraint when making complex and consequential decisions? There is a lengthy list of reasons why restraint in foreign policy and national security is desirable (for a sampling of the discussion see Thrall & Friedman, Schou Tjalve, and Steele). Sometimes it’s because a policy is poorly conceived or may have unintended consequences. In other cases it may lead to the violation of human rights, greater instability, exorbitant costs, or lasting damage to international alliances or institutions. Or it might just kill a lot of people.

The challenge for IR is that there is vanishing little evidence anyone in the Trump administration cares about these issues. Administration officials were warned, for example, about the traumatic effects of separating migrant families but proceeded regardless in order to achieve the desired deterrent effect of the policy.

A more effective way of appealing for restraint in the age of Trump may be as a strategy to avoid backlash. Here restraint appears as a move to protect one’s ‘brand’ against the identity-spoiling effects of backlash politics. Moderation of extremist policies doesn’t emerge out of a deeper fidelity to human rights, the national interest, or some ideal of public service. Instead, it becomes entirely self-interested move to avoid the social stigma that might permanently tarnish one’s career. To an extent we can already see the dynamics of this stigma at play: the White House is struggling to fill positions and former staff are being shunned by prospective employers. The task for scholars is to better understand the dynamics of stigmatization and how they can be leveraged in a more effective appeal for restraint where conventional institutions have failed.

Remembering Robert Gilpin and His Intellectual Legacy

This is a guest post from Peter Henne, Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont.

Robert Gilpin passed away recently. Most of us knew him as the author of War and Change in World Politics. Others knew him primarily from his work on international political economy. But I had another connection with him; Gilpin was a Vermonter, and an alumni of the University of Vermont (where I am a professor). This gave me the opportunity to meet with him in person, reminding me of the massive impact his work has had on my career.

In my Introduction to International Relations course I assign Gilpin a few times, in the sessions on realism, hegemonic stability theory and international political economy. My students’ observations that they “read a whole lot of Gilpin” brought me to the attention of Gilpin’s family (Vermont is a small state). They reached out, and asked if I would meet with him. I of course jumped at the opportunity.

We had a pleasant chat one morning earlier this year. Gilpin expressed sincere interest in my scholarly work; I of course could only dream of having a sliver of the impact he has had, so this felt good. We chatted about the Middle East, which is what I focus on. I brought my well-used copy of War and Change with me—dog-eared and frayed from repeated re-reading—and he graciously offered to sign it. I hoped seeing my (mostly awestruck) margin notes in his book would better express how much his work meant than anything I could say to him. Continue reading

#MeToo, Feminism, and Anti-Feminism: a reflection from Sweden

This is a guest post from Linda Åhäll, a Lecturer in international relations from Keele University, UK. Follow her on Twitter at @DrLindaAhall

This is the sixth post in the series on #metooacademia 

An Australian newspaper described #MeToo in Sweden as “the biggest Swedish women’s movement since women secured the right to vote almost a hundred years ago”. Here I offer my impression on events in Sweden during 2017 and examine: What is distinct about the #MeToo movement from previous movements for women’s rights and/or against gender-based violence? I identify three interrelated themes in the #MeToo debate: from rights to justice; from victims to perpetrators; and from gender equality to feminism as understanding logics of power. Together, these themes offer an opportunity to re-situate feminism as a key tool to expose power. However, I end on how #MeToo has also uncovered an increasingly stronger anti-feminism backlash that we must take very seriously. Continue reading

The #Metoo Movement and Postcolonial Feminist Dilemmas: Reflections from India

This is a guest post from Swati Parashar, an Associate Professor in Peace and Development at the School of Global Studies, Gothenburg University, Sweden. She tweets @swatipash

This is the fifth post in the series on #metooacademia 

#Metoo started as a twitter hashtag, but has no doubt become one of the most effective, visible and also controversial feminist strategies across time and space. While it has been embraced widely for its ‘impact’ factor, it has also revealed the faultlines and dilemmas in feminist strategies and activism. In this short piece, I want to draw attention to the significance of #metoo in the context of postcolonial India and the challenges it has presented to the feminist movement there.

Continuity over exceptionality

In several Western contexts, #metoo seems to have been more successful and has created its own strong vocabulary and visibility, almost making its appeal exceptional. In several other non-Western contexts, however, #metoo is part of a continuing trend of everyday resistance against gendered violence experienced by women and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators. #Metoo has emerged out of these local and global campaigns and also contributed to and strengthened them. At the global level, the #metoo campaign must be seen in continuity with the One Billion Rising which is one of the biggest transnational movements addressing violence against women. This movement originated in 2012 and argues that everyday domestic and sexual violence, which is experienced by at least one third of women globally in their lifetime, needs to be addressed as a pressing matter. Continue reading

#Metoo: The Realities of 25 Years and the Challenges Ahead

This is a post from the Duck’s Stephen M. Saideman, Paterson Chair In International Affairs, Carleton University.

This is the fourth in the series on #metooacademia

It is not surprising that #Metoo was the overwhelming choice for the Pressing Politics Panel. Not only has this been one of the big stories of the year, but the difficult situations facing women in their various professions have been of much concern for years. In my own corner of the internet, I have found that of the ten blog posts with the most hits, four are those that address sexism and sexual harassment in political science and international affairs. I don’t write those posts to get hits—I rarely have a clue about which posts will get more interest—but because I have seen enough harm over my 25 years or so as a professor. In this post, I first address the consequences for workplaces beyond the individual who are harming and being harmed. I then complain about the standard procedures. I conclude with some suggestions for what we can do. Continue reading

Pressing politics: #metoo and UK Universities

This is a guest post from Katharine A. M. Wright, a Lecturer in International Politics at Newcastle University. Her research focuses on gender and international security institutions, including NATO. In this blog posts she reflects on the issues raised by #metoo in relation to UK Universities. Follow her on Twitter @KAMWright.

This is the third post in a series on #metooacademia.

Sexual violence* is endemic and structurally imbedded in our higher education institutions. For those of us working on the ‘front line’ of the academy, this is increasingly difficult to ignore and never more so than for women in the academy. We hear stories from students and colleagues, about other students and other colleagues. As women in a disciplinary space where men are overrepresented, students and colleagues are more likely to seek us out and confide in us, placing an additional layer upon our responsibilities as scholars. This holds more true for women of colour. It has therefore felt perplexing for those of us who have been confided in to hear other colleagues question whether the University, and our discipline of IR more broadly, is a space impacted by the epidemic of sexual violence too. We are left wondering how ‘they’ cannot have seen it. In this blog post, I reflect on the institutional barriers to acknowledging sexual violence in Higher Education (HE) and link this to the personal cost of ‘complaint’. Continue reading

Pressing Politics Panel on the #Metoo Movement

This is a guest post from Sara McLaughlin Mitchell, F. Wendell Miller Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Iowa.

This is the second in the series on #metooacademia.

Like many female academics, I have experienced #Metoo moments. As a graduate student, I was invited to a visiting faculty member’s apartment expecting multiple people to be there. I found myself alone and being propositioned for sex. As a married assistant professor, a senior faculty member at a conference invited me to his room after we had been drinking together. In both cases, the professors respected my decision to say no to their propositions. As I began to advise more female students and faculty members, however, I noticed that my experiences were mild relative to what some of them experienced. Some of my students and colleagues were raped, some were assaulted or grabbed, while others were persistently harassed in a sexual manner. When my colleague, Arthur Miller, was accused of trading sexual favors for grades, an act that ultimately led to his suicide, my eyes became open to the broader dynamics of the #Metoo movement. Many students I advised were humiliated in my colleague’s office, facing a choice they should never experience. Some of my senior male colleagues knew about Art’s behavior which infuriated me. I didn’t initially post anything about the #Metoo movement because I felt that my experiences, while unpleasant on the harassment side, did not compare to students and colleagues who had been raped, assaulted, and placed into professionally inappropriate situations. Our discussions at the 2018 International Studies Association (ISA) conference, though, helped me to embrace my own place in the #Metoo movement. Continue reading

Pressing Politics: The #Metoo movement and the IR Discipline

This is guest post from Nina Hall, an Assistant Professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins SAIS (tweets @ninawth) and Sarah von Billerbeck is a Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading (tweets @SvBillerbeck). The authors would like to thank the other Pressing Politics panel co-organizers: Christine Cheng (@cheng_christine), J. Andrew Grant (@jandrewgrant), and John Karlsrud (@johnkarlsrud). We hope to host another Pressing Politics panel at the 2019 annual convention on a topic ISA members deem most pressing.

This is the first post in a series on #metooacademia.

How an ISA Pressing Politics Panel Tackled #Metoo

The International Studies Association (ISA) annual convention is one of the largest academic conferences for International Relations scholars, it attracts approximately 6,000 attendees from all over the world each year. This year the ISA conference decided that the most pressing politics issue to discuss was the #metoo movement in academia. In an innovative roundtable, six panelists from India, Sweden, the US, Canada, and the UK, discussed how the #metoo movement affected them and the academics institutions to which they belong.

This panel was the first of its kind at ISA: a small group of us had worked with ISA to establish a Pressing Politics panel for which the topic was held open until approximately a month before the convention, after which members voted for the topic in an online poll. Our aim was for ISA members to select a pressing, recent, issue that had come up since participants had submitted their conference proposals. We wanted an issue that would not be discussed otherwise at ISA, but that needed academic attention.

Our inspiration for the panel came from the 2017 ISA annual convention, which took place in the aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s travel ban on individuals from several Muslim-majority countries. Numerous scholars were prevented from attending the ISA annual convention, which provoked outrage and some ended up boycotting the conference. For those who did attend, discussions in hotel lobbies and hallways and at receptions and post-panel happy hours focused heavily on the ban. This is hardly surprising among a group of individuals who dedicate themselves to better understanding how the international system works, where and when cooperation happens, and why relations between states are good or bad. However, because the deadline for submitting paper and panel proposals is approximately 10 months before the actual conference, there were no formal panels or other fora available to assess, analyze, and debate this late-breaking event, something that many found frustrating. We wanted to establish the tradition of at least one Pressing Politics panel at ISA, to ensure we as the academic community debate and engage with the major issues of our times. Continue reading

Seven Reasons We Use Annotation for Transparent Inquiry (ATI)

This is a guest post from Paul Musgrave, Assistant Professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and  Sebastian Karcher, Associate Director of the Qualitative Data Repository at Syracuse University.

Recently, the Qualitative Data Repository launched “Annotation for Transparent Inquiry (ATI)” as a method to add transparency to scholarly research. ATI is a new approach to communicating scholarly evidence that employs electronic annotations to specific passages in scholarly articles—a sort of amped-up academic version of Genius.com’s annotations to song lyrics.

The goal of ATI is to facilitate future researchers’ work by enabling easier access to underlying data while enhancing research transparency by letting authors share specific justifications for interpretive or empirical judgments and linking them to the specific sections.

ATI builds upon but goes beyond Andrew Moravcsik’s proposal for active citation to include specific frameworks for data display, storage, and retrieval. QDR, partnering with the software nonprofit Hypothesis, is developing standards and software to support this initiative.

An initial nine sample annotated articles are now available, with more on the way. As part of this effort, QDR is currently soliciting applications to participate in a second round of pilot projects. Authors of selected projects will be invited to a workshop to help shape the future of ATI and receive a honorarium.

In this post, Paul Musgrave, whose annotated International Organization piece (co-authored with Dan Nexon) was one of the pilot articles, and Sebastian Karcher, one of ATI’s creators, reflect on some lessons from the first round of pilots.

Continue reading

Climate and Security: Bridging the Policy-Academic Gap

In March, I argued that the connections between climate change and security are complex, contingent, and not fully understood.  Most of the academic literature has firmly focused on conflict onset with the broader security consequences largely understudied . For policy audiences, the nuance can be frustrating. It is difficult to know what to do with such complexity, other than talk broadly of climate change as a “threat multiplier.”

However, the policy community does not have the luxury of waiting for academics to reach some consensus on climate-conflict links that might never materialize. What’s more, they have other preoccupations other than conflict to worry about such as humanitarian emergencies, interstate jockeying over hydrocarbons freed up by melting Arctic ice, and people on the move for many reasons, climate among them. How can climate security academics who aspire for policy relevance seek to orient their work without compromising academic rigor?

This is the question I sought to address in remarks at a recent conference organized by the Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO), which accompanied the public event at the Wilson Center I blogged about several weeks ago. Here are my thoughts on bridging the policy-academic divide on climate and security, which represents a distillation of the wider theme I explored in the latest issue of the Texas National Security Review. Continue reading

A Jacksonian Moment in U.S. Foreign Policy: Will it Last?

I had the good fortune during my brief appearance at ISA to take part in a roundtable on “Jacksonianism” in U.S. foreign policy. Organized by Jon Caverley, the roundtable sought to assess whether the Trump presidency represents a new equilibrium in which a Jacksonian foreign policy orientation has if not pride of place a more vaunted position than it once had.

“Jacksonian” is the term Walter Russell Mead coined in his 2002 book Special Providence to reflect a foreign policy tradition that was inward looking, shunned international engagement, but prepared to aggressively defend US national security if the country was threatened. Jacksonians had largely been a rump faction in American political life, periodically emerging as a more potent force during occasional bouts of populist sentiment.

My remarks reflect my sense of the significance of the Trump phenomenon for foreign policy. I’m currently reading How Democracies Die, and I am not sure what worries me more, President Trump’s aggressive gamble to coerce Kim Jong Un to denuclearize or Trump’s steady effort to weaken the rule of law and democratic institutions here at home. Continue reading

A Global Response to Climate Change: In, through, and for Cities?

This is a guest post from Sander Chan[1], David Gordon[2], Emma Lecavalier[3], Craig Johnson[4], Angel Hsu[5], Fee Stehle[6], Thomas Hickmann[7], Jennifer Bansard[8], Paty Romero-Lankao[9]

Cities have been wildly successful over recent years in positioning themselves at the center of the global conversation on climate change. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently convened the Cities & Climate Change Conference (CitiesIPCC) in Edmonton, Alberta. The conference — hosted by a city that once advertised itself as Canada’s oil capital — brought together a diverse constellation of academics, practitioners, and policy-makers to shape a forward-looking research agenda centered around sustainable transformation to meeting global climate goals in, by, and through cities.

Recognizing the pivotal role cities have come to play in global climate politics, where they were almost invisible until the early 2000’s, we strongly support the aim of CitiesIPCCC to set a transformative research agenda on cities and climate change. However, we want to call attention that current approaches are likely to fall short and have limited value in responding to fundamental questions of social context and urban capacity.

In response, we argue for research that looks holistically at the global engagement of cities, the local context in which transformation takes place, and the institutional and political contexts in which cities are embedded. Continue reading

Are the Kids Alright? The March for Our Lives as a Social Movement

Tom Nichols, he of Death of Expertise fame, raised a few hackles over the weekend when he said marches really hadn’t achieved anything since the Civil Rights Movement.

He’s not a fan of kids being coopted by adults for the adults’ pet causes, which evades the question of the agency of Parkland survivors and other young people to galvanize and lead a national movement. Social movement scholars, including me, took to Twitter to challenge Nichols’ assertion that marches and movements had not achieved much since the 1960s. Based on my work on transnational advocacy movements, I chided him in a Tweet thread:

The 1999 G-8 summit in Cologne, Germany where the Jubilee 2000 campaign ringed the summit in their successful effort to get the IMF, World Bank, and major donors to write off developing country debt relief. I noted the 2000 International AIDS Conference held in Durban, South Africa, where the Treatment Action Campaign along with international supporters helped galvanize support for AIDS treatment access that culminated in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria and helped usher in an era of low-cost generic AIDS drugs.  Other examples came to mind, ACTUP and AIDS campaigners in the 1980s who challenged the medical establishment to fasttrack AIDS drugs in the developed word, the campaigns and marches to end apartheid, the Solidarity protest movement in Poland, among others.

Readers on Twitter asked what lessons does social movement theory have for the March for Our Lives march and wider gun safety movement. Here is my quick take from my work, which is more based on transnational advocacy movements rather than strictly the U.S. experience. Continue reading

Reactionary World Politics

This is a guest post from Joseph MacKay,  a Research Fellow in the Department of International Relations at Australian National University, and Christopher David LaRoche, a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto.

Growing nationalist and populist parties and movements across the developed West and elsewhere are prone to a common nostalgic rhetoric: the political consensus of recent decades has eroded national boundaries, traditions, and identities. The past, they argue, was better than the present. And what is most needful now is a return to that ideal past in the name of a future that, like the past, can be “great again.”

Although its details and implications vary, this narrative draws on the long history of reactionary thought. Reaction is an attitude toward social and political life marked by political, sometimes militant nostalgia. Like liberal progressivism or Marxian radicalism, reaction amounts to a politicized position on how history works, over the long haul. When William F. Buckley declared that National Review would “stand athwart history yelling stop,” he marked himself as a reactionary.

IR theory, we argue, has few tools for identifying and assessing reactionary politics. Why has IR theory traditionally spent so little time thinking about it? In a new Theory Note (now ungated!) at International Studies Quarterly, we explore the lack of reactionary thought in international relations, and its implications for how IR thinks about reactionary world politics. We write not as reactionaries ourselves, but because we are concerned this inattention may have ill-prepared the field for our current political moment. This post summarizes the project, and considers its implications for the field. Continue reading

Fear-Mongering about U.S. Power

This is a guest post from Clifford Bob, Professor and Chair of Political Science at Duquesne University. 

A free press is a major check on shoddy government policies and bad ideas, but if journalists refuse to think critically about government pronouncements, that civic function fails. Worse yet, if the media magnifies and exaggerates official errors, a veneer of objectivity is cast onto poor quality or biased government information.

We have learned this lesson many times in U.S. history, notably in the lead-up to the Iraq War. Robert Wright’s excellent Intercept article of last week makes this point regarding current New York Times’ reporting about Iran. Similar “media-abetted perceptual distortion” has been occurring with respect to Russia and especially “Russiagate,” as Wright suggests. A case in point is an article in Friday’s Times which included this scary headline near the top of its website: “Russia Could Have Switched Off U.S. Power, Officials Say.” The article itself is titled, “Cyberattacks Put Russian Fingers on the Switch at Power Plants, U.S. Says,” and in the print edition, the title of the frontpage article was “U.S. Says Hacks Left Russia Able to Shut Utilities.” Continue reading

The State of the Field in Climate and Security

After nearly fifteen years of study, what do we know about the relationship between climate change and security? I recently attended a Woodrow Wilson Center event organized by the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) on the state of the field. Along with Geoff Dabelko, Halvard Buhaug, and Sherri Goodman, I offered my take on the field (the video is embedded below).

In this blog post, I wanted to focus on five different causal pathways that I think represent the frontier of research on the study of climate and conflict, which include agricultural production and food prices, economic growth, migration, disasters, and international and domestic institutions. The study of climate and conflict is a narrower view on the broader field of climate and security, but it is the one that academics have focused most of their energy on.

In most of these accounts, climate hazards or variability affect the likelihood of conflict either through the effects on livelihoods, state capacity, and/or inter-group tensions. In some accounts, extreme weather or variability lowers the rewards to agriculture and/or other livelihoods and makes rebellion or violence more attractive.  These same processes can also deprive states of tax revenue and undermine their capacity to suppress violence and provide public goods. They can also exacerbate tensions between groups.

Whether climate changes and variability contribute to the increased likelihood of conflict has been the dominant focus of this literature, though I myself have a broader view of what constitutes security.  Continue reading

Remembering Lee Ann Fujii, a Friend and a Fighter

This is a guest post from Erin Tolley an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto.

Professor Lee Ann Fujii passed away unexpectedly in Seattle on March 2, 2018. This loss is personal because it has robbed me of a brilliant friend and colleague, but it is also public because of all that Lee Ann contributed to the discipline and to her scholarly community.

Lee Ann was an expert on race, ethnicity, and political violence. Her first book, Killing Neighbors: Webs of Violence in Rwanda, focuses on the social context of the Rwandan genocide. She shows the importance of individuals and interactions, a thread woven throughout all her work. The book is a painstaking compilation of insights from interviews with non-elites. Lee Ann focused not on the planners of the genocide, but instead on the joiners. This was consistent with Lee Ann’s rejection of hierarchy and the cult of prestige. Killing Neighbors shows that those who engaged in the Rwandan genocide were not always motivated by hate. Rather, they were often recruited by local politicians with whom they had personal relationships, and they participated in the genocide because they feared the consequences of not doing so. As Lee Ann points out, however, once these joiners were engaged in the conflict, that involvement became a key part of their identity and contributed to their ongoing participation. Continue reading

International Organizations and the Trump Administration’s New Budget Proposal

This is a guest post from Tana Johnson, an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University. She is the author of Organizational Progeny: Why Governments Are Losing Control over the Proliferating Structures of Global Governance (now available in paperback, Oxford University Press). Van Nguyen is an undergraduate at Duke University, majoring in Public Policy and Political Science. She is completing a senior honors thesis on inter-governmental institutions and immigrant integration.

Within its first year in power, the Trump administration has transformed the U.S.’s position toward several international agreements: it has exited negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), signaled its intent to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, and promised to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Full-fledged international organizations, like the United Nations or NATO, are numerous and costly – so, will they be next? If budgets are reflections of values, then the Trump administration’s new budget proposal provides clues. Here’s what you need to know. Continue reading

Trauma in Common: US Gun Violence and Violence in Armed Conflict

This is a guest post by Betcy Jose, Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Colorado-Denver

“This is a really good school, and now it’s like a war zone.” This is how one parent reacted when picking up his son from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL after a shooter murdered 17 students and staff. It is a description often used in the aftermath of mass shootings. At first blush, it seems a remarkable comparison to make, especially given that the United States is not embroiled in anything resembling a traditional armed conflict within its borders. The International Committee for the Red Cross, the international community’s expert on war and war law, states only two types of armed conflicts exist in international law. One is an international armed conflict that includes “all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.” The other is a non-international armed conflict, one that involves, “protracted armed confrontations [reaching a minimal level of intensity]… between governmental armed forces and the forces of one or more [minimally organized] armed groups, or between such groups arising on the territory of a State…” Even with tragically high rates of mass shootings in the United States, the kind of violence it experiences domestically would not legally qualify as a state of war.

But what about from the point of view of the victims of gun violence? Do their experiences, particularly those of victims of mass shootings, resemble in any way the experiences of civilians in legally recognized war zones? Here, the answer may be surprising if we focus on at least two issues related to gun-violence victims and war-affected civilians: the violence and harms they experience and their efforts to protect themselves from those harms and violence. Continue reading

Older posts

© 2018 Duck of Minerva

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑