Category: Featured (page 1 of 130)

Syria: An Option Remains

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With the bombing of the UN aid convoy in Syria and fresh attacks on Aleppo after the Assad regime declared the ceasefire over, American and UN officials are in need of a Plan B. Now that trust between the U.S. and Russia is at a new low after Russia allegedly carried out the convoy attack, the situation on the ground Thas gotten even more grim. With the U.S.-Russian ceasefire accord in tatters, the time has come to put a Safe Zone in place for refugees.

In fact, a de facto safe zone is already in place in northern Syria. The Turkish military’s recent thrust over the shared border has begun to allow Syrian refugees to cross back over into Jarabulus. For weeks Turkey has been advocating that the U.S. and western allies work with it to install a formal Safe Zone. With no other realistic options remaining, this novel development has the potential to be a game changer.

The only viable option is to install a Safe Zone in northern Syria stretching north from Aleppo to the Turkish border and east to just west of Kobani.  The viability of the zone rests on Turkey’s ability to lead the effort and militarily guard the zone on the ground, and the fact that the Syrian regime does not at present fly in this area. The security and humanitarian reasons are compelling, from turning around refugee flight to establishing a sizable zone of stability and allowing the focus to be on eradicating ISIS with Turkey fully engaged. Continue reading

It’s That Time Again: A Call for New Guest Bloggers

We’re kicking off a new school year, and we wanted to send out an invitation for a new crop of guest bloggers. We’re really hoping the Duck will continue to be a place for diverse perspectives on international relations.

As you may recall from our last call to arms, here is our policy on a guest blogging stint on the Duck:

So here’s the new policy: anyone with a PhD in IR, plus some expertise in some substantive global policy issue area, and a willingness to post at least 200-500 words, at least once a week, can apply to become a guest for a six-month rotation. If you’re interested in a guest spot, send one of us a letter of interest (just as if you were proposing a one-off guest post) and we’ll consider you for our next rotation.

We look forward to hearing from you and hope to announce the new guest blogging crew by the end of the month.

Big Theory? The Past Is Not What You Think It Is

Today, Dan Drezner pulled on my chain more effectively than damn near any other scholar I respect.  I should keep quiet (not my strength) as I have an article* I am revising for resubmission that addresses this very argument–that big IR theory has gone away somehow.  But I cannot help but respond, partly because this article may not make it past the next stage and partly because by the time it does, people will have moved on (or not, as this argument keeps coming up).

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Unsolicited Job Talk Advice

Seems to be the time of year when folks post their advice for aspiring professors on how to succestressed-ducked at the job talk.   While there are other parts of the process–being interviewed one on one by various members of the department or getting grilled by a committee (something that happens far more in Canada than in the US), the most important (and probably not deservedly so)* part of the “fly-out” is giving a talk based on one’s research and responding in the Q&A.

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I Broke Up With Michel Foucault*

I broke up with Michel Foucault. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I sort of ghosted him. Let me explain.

When I was in grad school I fell in love with Foucault. He was just exactly what I was looking for- he made me see gender differently, and he helped me to finally piece together what I thought I was trying to say in my thesis. It was magical. He just really ‘got me.’ You know?

But then things changed. I was introduced to theorists like Judith Butler, bell hooks, Aimee Cesaire, and Frantz Fanon and I started to realise I just couldn’t be exclusive with Foucault anymore. He pretended class just didn’t exist and I hated that we could never talk about race. We would go out and talk abut gender with his friends, but when I took him to parties and my friends brought up patriarchy he got all weird. So I ghosted him. It’s awkward because he’s in so many old publications. I still call him sometimes, but we mostly don’t have anything to say to one another- he says I’ve changed, I say he hasn’t. Sometimes at conferences friends ask me about him. They’re like, ‘hey you’re close with Foucault, can you ask him x.’ And I have to politely tell them that Foucault and I don’t really talk anymore. I try to be nice and say ‘he’s great, but it was time to move on,’ or something like that. But what I really want to say is, ‘he’s really not that great. He turned out not to be as smart as I thought he was. And I got tired of everyone talking about him.’

Oh and since the break up a bunch of friends have tried to set me up with other theorists. They don’t understand that I’m happy just having solid friendships with a bunch of thinkers. Most of my Canadian friends tried to get me to date Georgio Agamben. ‘He’s amaaaaazing. Ask him about the camps and Zoe,’ they say. But we went out a few times and- between you and me- he’s a real misogynist jerk. Why do people love him so much? And don’t even get me started on Zizek. I’ve been set up with him a bunch of times by my white hipster friends and I finally had to tell them ‘yeah I know Zizek…and I’m just not that into him.’

So there it is. I ghosted Foucault and ended up happier for it. Sometimes at conferences I see academics with their theorist loves and I think they might be better off if they did the same.

*Inspired by the blog post ‘Fuck you Zizek

APSA Tweetup

As has become a tradition, political scientists who are active on twitter are meeting up at the APSA: Thursday, beer rubber duck7pm at Pennsylvania 6, a nearby bar.  The idea is to get a chance to chat with people you may “know” online but have not met in person.   I hope to see you there.

 

 

Testing to Twitter

Hey, our auto-tweeter hasn’t been working so I’m trying to fix it. This is a test…

We Need More Metal! The Political Economy of Heavy Metal

The following is a guest post by Dr. Robert G. Blanton, Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham

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For as long as it has existed, heavy metal music has been associated with controversy – the aggressive nature of the music and lyrics arouses seemingly constant suspicion and often deep dislike, and metal bands have long been the target of controversies and even legal actions (some unfounded, some not). Somewhat ironically, there is an increasing awareness of the beneficial impacts of heavy metal for emotional well-being and possibly governance. Indeed President Obama famously noted, “Finland has perhaps the most heavy metal bands in the world, per capita…and also ranks high on good governance. I don’t know if there’s any correlation there.” Given these benefits of metal, the important question for scholars and policymakers is obvious – what factors facilitate the creation of heavy metal bands within a society?

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Gearing up for the Academic Job Market: Don’t Dabble

There are many things worth dabbling in: Pokeman Go!, the arts, alternative medicine, old films, astrology, gourmet cuisine….the list could go on and on.  I really like when people, including graduate students, tell me they are dabbling in these things or other hobbies.  It’s probably going to help both their productivity and their overall happiness.

As much as I like “dabblers” in those types of things, here’s one that I’m really tired of graduate students saying they’re dabbling in:

The Academic Job Market

Every year, I get students that contact me saying that they are planning to “dip their feet in” or “dabble” in the tenure-track academic job market this year. And, every year, I’m left wondering why the heck they would even bother.  This blog post is a sort of plea to graduate students: DON’T DABBLE IN THE JOB MARKET.[1]

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Retired Generals are People Too!

This is a guest post by  Christopher Gelpi, Chair of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution and Professor of Political Science
Mershon Center for International Security Studies at Ohio State University

 

The appearances of retired Generals Michael Flynn and John Allen at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, respectively, have created quite a stir among those concerned with civil-military relations in America.  In one sense, the attention paid to these military endorsements is surprising, since the best available evidence suggests that the support of military officers has a substantial impact on the public’s willingness to support military operations, but little impact on their voting choices.

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A General Arms Race in US Conventions: Not Great But Unavoidable

LTG (retired) Mike Flynn has become a Trump advocate and appeared at the Republican National Convention.  General (retired) John Allen surprised many by not just speaking at the Democratic National Convention but giving such enthusiastic support to Clinton.  The big question is: is this problematic to have recently retired military officers take such public positions in the middle of a national election?  Yes.  But what can you do?

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A (Un)Dead Letter?: Zombies, Feminist Theory and the IR Classroom

It’s always exciting to see articles on pop culture gracing the pages of mainstream political science journals. And it’s always good to see international relations scholars being encouraged to engage more deeply with questions of gender in the course of their teaching. This issue of PS: Political Science and Politics gives us both: an article by Rebecca Susan Evans, taking Daniel Drezner to task for excluding feminist theories of international politics from his 2011 Theory of International Politics and Zombies:

[Drezner’s] light-hearted use of popular culture appeals to students, who appreciate his concise and witty summaries. Yet Drezner dismisses feminist perspectives on international relations theory in a way that indicates he does not understand them. Consequently, students are trained without any knowledge of feminism and with the impression that they do not need feminism.

If we were living in 2011, I’d be the first to say it’s a fair argument.

There’s just one massive problem however: Drezner already fixed this mistake a full two years ago in TIPZ: Revived Edition (2014) which already does everything Evans is criticizing him for not doing. 

Indeed, both the revised product and the process of scholarly engagement behind it actually demonstrate best feminist-friendly practice by a conventional mainstream scholar, not the reverse!  Continue reading

NATO Summit Ahead!

Tomorrow, the NATO summit in Warsaw starts.   What do we expect, other than jet-lagged Steve being more incoherent than usual?

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The True Costs of Brexit

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British elites have been wondering for decades whether the UK still had clout on the global stage, and now they know:  indeed, the country has an outsized influence on world affairs. But what a way to find out, sowing instability far and wide and suffering a never ending series of self-inflicted wounds. It is tragedy bordering on farce. And none other than Vladimir Putin is having the last laugh.

The UK is counting the costs of this fateful vote: in the plummeting value of the pound and large-scale stock market losses. Foreign direct investment in the UK will dramatically dwindle; multinational companies will move their headquarters; and a brain drain will ensue. British banks are likely to lose their “passport” to the rest of Europe. All of this will lead to less growth, higher unemployment, and reduced living standards. Prime Minister Cameron’s even worse sin was to subject Britons to several rounds of harsh austerity policies–they had to vote the UK out of the EU to get rid of him.

The major long term loss for Britain, however, will be its reduced influence as a world leader–its military capability being one of the chief casualties of unnecessary austerity. It has long punched above its weight globally speaking, remaining a fairly major world player long after Britain lost its empire, with the special relationship with the U.S., impressive military capabilities, financial leadership, and first-rate diplomatic skills. The UK was also an EU leader, one of the top three along with France and Germany. England could be left alone, with Scotland leading the way by leaving the UK and rejoining the EU. Continue reading

Brexit Hottake

We will have much, much time to ponder and study what happened yesterday… whether it was the weather that made the difference in London, why Cameron was such an idiot, and on and on.  I have a few quick reactions guided by and due to my faith in confirmation bias!

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Kill Webs: The Wicked Problem of Future Warfighting

The common understanding in military circles is that the more data one has, the more information one possess.  More information leads to better intelligence, and better intelligence produces greater situational awareness.  Sun Tzu rightly understood this cycle two millennia ago: “Intelligence is the essence in warfare—it is what the armies depend upon in their every move.” Of course, for him, intelligence could only come from people, not from various types of sensor data, such as radar signatures or ship’s pings.

Pursuing the data-information-intelligence chain is the intuition behind the newly espoused “Kill Web” concept.  Unfortunately, however, there is scant discussion about what the Kill Web actually is or entails.  We have glimpses of the technologies that will comprise it, such as integrating sensors and weapons systems, but we do not know how it will function or the scope of its vulnerabilities.

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Keep Your Political Interference to Yourself: A Case for Academic Freedom and Shared Governance

Hi, Ducks!  It’s me, Amanda.  It’s been a long time.  I’ve not blogged in awhile. There were many reasons for the break.  First, it was a busy spring: I finished up being the ISA Program Chair, got a new position I am excited about, and continued working on projects that I love.

It’s also been a very sad spring.  In fact, it was a pretty sad year at the University of Missouri, where I’ve worked for the past 4 years.

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Lame Counterfactuals and American Politics

This has been going around:

Why is this such a dumb counterfactual?  Let me count the ways:

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Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Brexit 2

As the summer is heating up, all the world’s eyes are on Britain. And that really is saying something for us Americans, what with the wild ride that Donald Trump is taking us all on. But even here, eyes are rapidly averting to the mother country and the high stakes of the debate as to whether it should remain a valued member of the European Union (EU) or leave. And now with this tragedy, the stakes are even higher.

Apparently the eyes of the British were fully on the presidential campaign here as well, til recently. Not only did the UK Parliament debate whether to bar Mr. Trump from entering the UK, but in addition he apparently had an outsized influence on the campaign for mayor of London. It appears Mr. Trump deserves credit for motivating a majority of Londoners to vote by wide margins in favor of the first Muslim mayor of Britain’s capital city.

It is the election of Sadiq Khan that gives foreign friends of Britain a little hope, as fears of immigration and alleged shenanigans in Brussels have heightened and thereby tempted Britons to exit from the most successful large-scale political experiment in history, aka Brexit. But the success of Mayor Khan bodes well for the British people keeping in mind the global leadership role the UK plays, and remaining forward-looking in voting to do what is best for Britain and stay engaged as a leading member of the EU. Continue reading

NATO Ministerial FAQ

This week is another NATO ministerial.  What is that?  Here’s a handy guide to the basics and why NATO is run like an academic conference.

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