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Sexism in Political Science

There is a discussion on PSR about sexism in political science, with most folks concurring that it is still an issue with some deniers pointing out that support groups for women are exclusive, too.  Um, yeah.  How to address such discussions?  I go to my standard operating procedure: what have I seen over the years?  The answer: a heap of sexism which has not gone away.

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Why Piketty Is Wrong about Debt Forgiveness

[UPDATE: This provides more detail and context than I do. Read it instead of, or at least in addition to, my post.]

Thomas Piketty has decided that because Germany was the beneficiary of debt relief in 1953 that they should extend the same privilege to Greece today:

When I hear the Germans say that they maintain a very moral stance about debt and strongly believe that debts must be repaid, then I think: What a huge joke! Germany is the country that has never repaid its debts. It has no standing to lecture other nations.

Before explaining why this is both normatively and positively misguided I would like to clear some brush by mentioning two things. First, everyone (including me!) agrees that Greece’s debt must be written down. In fact, a gradual disposal of Greece’s debt has been a part of bailout program since 2010 and more of it will be discharged in the future. Greece has not paid back a single cent on net. In the meantime the debt is being financed through rollovers whose interest is mostly being paid by the rest of Europe while Greece has received fiscal transfers equivalent to more than 100% of GDP. So it is not an accurate characterization of the situation to say that the Greek economy is being squeezed in order to pay back debt; it is being squeezed because its level of spending was not matched by its level of productivity. And in some ways it still is not, although it is now quite close.

Second, while it would be very nice to have an international bankruptcy mechanism that would allow us to discharge debt and reorganize national economies in an orderly fashion, governments are unlikely to cede sovereignty over this issue for understandable reasons. So ad hoc bargaining is what we’re stuck with for the foreseeable future.

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An American in Canada – Thoughts on Going Abroad for a Job

I never thought that when I started grad school I’d be relocating to another country. Then again, when I got the job in Canada, it did not really occur to me that I was “really” leaving the US – on my previous visits to Toronto, everything felt pretty familiar. Plus, as a scholar of transnational activism, borders were supposed to be made increasingly irrelevant. I still remember the moment the border agent stamped my passport and glued the work permit into its folds.  I had actually crossed a border for my job – politically, socially, and culturally.

While many things are the same, functionally, between the US and Canada in terms of academic life, here are a few things that I’ve noticed in my time in Toronto, some of which perhaps resonate with other abroad-Americans here and elsewhere. Continue reading

Greece: a Shakespearean Tragedy

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In the Greek bailout episode the Greek government has been behaving much like the self-pitying Antonio from “The Merchant of Venice,” while the EU has been posing as a rather heavy-handed Shylock. Despite being aware of the damaging consequences of a Greek default and potential exit from the Eurozone, the EU seems intent of having its pound of flesh. By subjecting Greece to additional austerity provisions, it may be risking the revival of the Euro financial crisis—this time with serious geostrategic implications.

For five years the Greek people have been dealing with a series of austerity measures that have crippled their economic prospects. The Greek economy has contracted a jaw-dropping 25% during this period, forcing Greece into a deep recession that now borders on depression, with a 26% unemployment rate and a debt level of 180% of GDP. The resulting loss of jobs and livelihoods has been staggering; tens of thousands of Greeks are barely getting by.

But on the eve of its default this week the Greek government capitulated and at the 11th hour informed the EU it would accept additional austerity after all, only to be told by the EU that its offer had expired. Adding insult to injury, a senior EU official stated “The previous program has expired. So now we need to start new negotiations as regards a new program.” Tragically, Greece may no longer be in the Eurozone by then. Continue reading

Organizing Collaborative Research Projects: Where Do I Begin?

The following is a guest post by Andrew Yeo at Catholic University of America.

Collaborating with friends, colleagues, and other scholars is a great motivator for research. But if you’re at a small research university with limited institutional resources, the hurdles to do collaborative research beyond co-authoring is higher. Small departments, limited budgets, the absence of relevant research centers/programs, and few ongoing sponsored research activities ultimately makes it harder for junior scholars to learn how to organize larger collaborative research projects.  If this sounds like your dilemma, read on!

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NGO Power Shift 2.0

In her seminal 1997 article, Power Shift, Jessica Mathews argued that a power shift was underway in international politics marked by a redistribution of power from states to non-state actors—mostly businesses and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Almost two decades later, NGOs are trying to foster a new sort of power shift, this time transferring power from the global north to the global south. This power shift was one of the substantive topics of discussion at the BISA NGO Working Group workshop I wrote about last week. The BOND report and subsequent presentations by academics, Amnesty International and Family for Every Child elaborated various perspectives on the nature and perceived extent of the power shift.

From the practitioner’s point of view, the perceived power shift is occurring as humanitarian, development and advocacy NGOs, often founded and headquartered in the global North, commit to four primary activities: (1) relocating their headquarters and operations to the global South; (2) supporting capacity development in the global South by transferring skills, knowledge and resources; (3) gradually withdrawing from service delivery to permit local actors to take over these roles; and (4) where Northern NGOs (NNGOs) remain primary actors, enhancing participation in all stages of program planning, implementation and evaluation. Continue reading

You Never Give Me Your Money/ You Only Give Me Your Funny Paper

I would like to cut through a lot of the rhetoric and discuss where we are with the Greece crisis and where we are likely to be quite soon. I will conclude with some thoughts as to why this has been an enormous failure on the part of Syriza and the intellectual left that has supported it, and it will come with a very high cost. TL;DR: Wishful thinking is no substitute for real analysis. The European North made its position on indefinite financing of the South (and East) clear before the euro came into being. In fact, that was a condition for the euro to come into being. It has not changed. The deal was fundamentally the same in 1997 as it is today and will be tomorrow.

Here’s where we are:

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Free Data, Get Your Data Here

For the past two years, Jon Monten, Jordan Tama, and I have been working with the survey team at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (Dina Smeltz and Craig Kafura) to revive the leader surveys that the Council used to run alongside their  foreign policy opinion surveys of the American public. Because of the expense and the difficulties of getting responses, the Council discontinued those surveys in 2004, leaving academics with really limited options for comparing public and elite attitudes. With the release of a Council report and a  recent piece ($, DM me for a PDF) in Foreign Affairs, we are happy to announce the return of the surveys and release of the public and leader data (currently SPSS format but other file types to be uploaded). In light of the Lacour scandal, we wanted to make that data widely available to scholars as soon as possible. I thought I’d use this post to talk about the challenges of reinvigorating those surveys. Continue reading

Submit your proposal – ISA-Midwest 2015!

After you have seen the fall foliage at ISS-ISAC, why not see beautiful St. Louis, MO in November?  ISA-Midwest – my FAVORITE conference – is November 19th – 22nd.  Deadline for submissions is July 1st.  This is a great conference for those interested in foreign policy or human rights themes.  It’s also a very inviting conference for junior scholars with lots of professional development opportunities.  Hope to see you there – I’ll join you for a drink at the amazing Three Sixty Bar.

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Submit your proposals!!! 2015 ISSS-ISAC Conference: Global Trends on War, Conflict and Political Violence

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Charli and I, along with a few other colleagues here in the Five Colleges are hosting this year’s joint annual conference of the International Security Studies Section and International Security and Arms Control Section of ISA and APSA. The conference will be held Oct. 8 – 10 — fall break weekend and peak fall foliage in New England!

The conference theme is Global Trends in War and Political Violence. Over the past century, we have witnessed episodes of extreme interstate and intrastate violence as well as periods of relative stability and decline in war and armed conflict. We’re looking for proposals from diverse theoretical, methodological, epistemological, and geographical approaches to examine the broad trends in interstate war, intrastate war, and political violence over the past century, the current state of these issues, and what future trends might look like. In particular, we’d love to see proposals that address the following sets of questions: What are the long-term trends on war, conflict, and political violence? What explains these long-term trends and how are these patterns changing? How effective are the norms, institutions, and practices designed to control and mitigate war and political violence? What are the likely future trends, and in particular, how will violence manifest itself in an era that seems likely to be characterized by further globalization, urbanization, civil war, and the emergence of new and varied non-state actors? And, how are factors such as climate change, resource scarcity, demographic stress, ethnic and religious strife, social and economic inequality, and environmental degradation, affecting, and likely to affect, longer-term trends in war and political violence?

Of course, we’re also accepting proposals on a wider range of international security issues as well.

The submission deadline is July 1. All submissions should be made through the conference website portal.

Deterrence in Cyberspace and the OPM Hack

I have yet to weigh in on the recent hack on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).   Mostly this is due to two reasons.  First is the obvious one for an academic: it is summer! But the second, well, that is due to the fact that as most cyber events go, this one continues to unfold. When we learned of the OPM hack earlier this month, the initial figures were 4 million records. That is, 4 million present and former government employees’ personal records were compromised. This week, we’ve learned that it is more like 18 million.   While some argue that this hack is not something to be worried about, others are less sanguine.   The truth of the matter is, we really don’t know. Coming out on one side or the other is a bit premature.   The hack could be state-sponsored, where the data is squirreled away in a foreign intelligence agency. Or it could be state-sponsored, but the data could be sold off to high bidders on the darknet. Right now, it is too early to tell.

What I would like to discuss, however, is what the OPM hack—and many recent others like the Anthem hack—show in relation to thinking about cybersecurity and cyber “deterrence.”     Deterrence as any IR scholar knows is about getting one’s adversary to not undertake some action or behavior.   It’s about keeping the status quo. When it comes to cyber-deterrence, though, we are left with serious questions about this simple concept. Foremost amongst them is: Deterrence from what? All hacking? Data theft? Infrastructure damage? Critical infrastructure damage? What is the status quo? The new cybersecurity strategy released by the DoD in April is of little help. It merely states that the DoD wants to deter states and non-state actors from conducting “cyberattacks against U.S. interests” (10).   Yet this is pretty vague. What counts as a U.S. interest?

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Fostering partnerships between academics and NGOs

Last week, this duck crossed the pond to attend the British International Studies Association (BISA) NGO Working Group workshop on Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Global Governance. The workshop convened scholars of NGOs as well as NGO practitioners to consider the practice and changing landscape of global governance as well as the role of NGOs therein. A highlight was an interactive session during which we discussed the recent BOND–the UK membership body for organizations working in international development–report Fast Forward: The Changing Role of UK-based INGOs. The rich discussion generated plenty of ideas to talk about, but today I focus on just one: How can academics support and strengthen data collection and research methodology in NGOs?

This question, posed by BOND, is not unlike the heated debates currently occurring in the discipline on the policy relevance and public value of political science. Yet, to date, we have mostly debated how to be more policy relevant for policy-makers (who often fund our research), rather than how to work with less powerful groups like NGOs. What the Working Group discussion made clear though was that NGOs need us! The challenge is to figure out how to transfer capacities and skills to enable and support the work of NGOs. Here’s the NGO practitioner wish list: Continue reading

Why It Matters Whether the Charleston Attack Was Terrorism

As a professor of international relations, I often have to radically adjust my syllabi from semester to semester. International politics changes so frequently that last year’s hot button issue is often no longer relevant the next time I teach a class. I offer my course on Terrorism every other year and it’s on the agenda for this coming fall. The last time I taught this class was Spring 2014. ISIS had just emerged on to the scene (the closest thing to a formal announcement of ISIS’s existence was April 2013, and only announced the establishment of the caliphate in July 2014, after the class had concluded) and the split between al Qaeda and ISIS occurred during the semester. So, one of the things I’m doing this summer is preparing my syllabus and refocusing it to deal more with ISIS. However, last week’s tragic and disgusting massacre in Charleston has given me something else to incorporate into the class. I already spend a day on domestic terrorism, but given all the reporting on whether Dylann Roof’s heinous act should be considered terrorism, I’m probably going to work that question directly into the class.

There’s been enough written about whether the attack should be classified as terrorism. I tend to think it should–it’s clear that Roof was not simply trying to kill a select group of people but rather send a message (he left one person alive to ensure his “message” would get out) in an attempt to create political change. To me and many others, that’s terrorism. But I’m more interested in why it matters what we call it. Nine people’s lives have been horrifically cut short, so why should  we dicker over terminology?

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Much Ado About Nothing (Very Intellectually or Politically Important)?

The following is a guest post by Jeffrey C. Isaac, the James H. Rudy Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington.  

 

What constitutes important political science research? This question has been much discussed lately in connection with “When Contact Changes Minds: An Experiment on Transmission of Support for Gay Equality,” an article by Michael J. LaCour and Donald P. Green published in Science magazine.

The reason for the attention is straightforward: because the piece was apparently based on fraudulent data, the article has become a veritable scandal. In the face of strong evidence that the article’s lead author had engaged in repeated and willful misrepresentations, co-author Donald Green, a distinguished senior scholar, issued a retraction and dissociated himself from the piece, and Science magazine itself later followed with a retraction of its own.

Fraud is almost always a serious ethical infraction and in some cases it constitutes a crime. In social science, and in the scholarly disciplines more generally, fraud, plagiarism, and other forms of deliberate misrepresentation are particularly egregious.

Commentary on the scandal has centered on three questions: (1) how could LaCour behave in such an unprofessional manner, get away with it, persuade a senior scholar to sign on to tainted research, and have the work published in a top peer-reviewed scientific journal, without being exposed until after publication? (2) what kinds of collaborative research processes are involved in situations like this, involving scholars on opposite sides of a continent who are not well acquainted with one another, how common are such practices, and how common should they be? (3) what does this episode say about political science as a serious science that possesses the resources to critically evaluate and judge scientific contributions, to expose error much less fraud, and to credibly distinguish valid from invalid, and important from unimportant, knowledge claims?

Each of these questions is important. But I would like here to press a fourth: what is political science, such that its practitioners might believe themselves to have something interesting to say about politics?

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What’s at Stake in TPP?

President Obama’s difficulty in convincing Congress to grant him authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership without legislative amendment is a serious setback for his foreign policy agenda. Most commentary on the subject has focused on the trade deal’s likely economic impact — which are not negligible, most importantly for Asian partners like Vietnam, but likely won’t impact the US in discernable ways. Others discuss its geopolitical significance in breathless, but vague, tones. Take this recent NY Times article:

“If this collapses, Pacific Rim countries will be aghast,” said Shunpei Takemori, a professor at Keio University in Japan, the largest economy in the would-be trade zone after the United States. “China is pushing, and if the U.S. just stands aside, it would be a tragedy.” …

“If you don’t do this deal, what are your levers of power?” Singapore’s foreign minister, K. Shanmugam, asked in Washington on Monday. “The choice is a very stark one: Do you want to be part of the region, or do you want to be out of the region?”

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The Threat of the BDS Movement

Hello there! I’m very excited to be blogging here at Duck of Minerva for the next several months, and I’d like to thank all the full-time Ducks for the opportunity! For my first post, I thought I’d address something I’ve been thinking about ever since a student asked about it in my US Foreign Policy class this past semester. She asked about the BDS movement and whether I thought it had any chance of influencing Israel’s behavior towards the Occupied Territories and the Palestinians. Not having thought much about the issue before, I gave a typically hemming-and-hawing answer, but the more I think about it the more I think that the Boycott, Sanctions, and Divest Movement is, perhaps, the most significant threat faced by Israel today. (As an aside, this is not at all an area of expertise of mine, so what follows is more musing than academic treatise. I’ll post more serious  stuff in my area of academic expertise soon.)

Seriously, you ask? Yes, seriously. Seriously, you ask again? More significant than the rockets of Hamas and Hezbollah? More significant than Iranian nuclear proliferation? More significant than the civil war in Syria and the potential collapse of the Assad regime? Yes. Let me explain.

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Surfing the Cesspool: Political Science Rumors and the LaCour Scandal

This is a guest post submitted by Chris Barker, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Southwestern College

For the past three weeks, “Political Science Rumors” (PSR) has been on fire over a falsified data scandal involving Michael LaCour’s research showing that the presence of a gay canvasser changes how respondents report feeling about gays. The scandal has achieved national prominence, with stories running in the New York Mag, NPR, the Chronicle of Higher Education, New York Times, and Buzzfeed. UCLA graduate student David Broockman (posting as “Reannon”) first broke the story on the PSR board in mid-December 2014, according to Jesse Singal. The moderator who runs PSR pulled the original Broockman post for undisclosed reasons; it has since been reposted to PSR. Through their initial reaction to the story, and through their continuing efforts to reconstruct what happened, PSR and its posters have become part of this story.

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Welcome New Guest Bloggers!!!

After much anticipation, nail-biting anxiety, rumors and speculation, we are finally able to announce our new team of guest bloggers!! Below are the eight amazing minds you will see posting regularly over the next six months.* Please make them feel welcome!!

Seth Weinberger is an Associate Professor in the Department of Politics & Government at the University of Puget Sound, where he teaches courses on global security, foreign policy, terrorism, constitutional law, and political philosophy. When not teaching, writing, or blogging, he can generally be found serving his canine master by repeated throwing a small, green, and felt round object.

William Kindred Winecoff  blogged at IPE @ UNC while in grad school, occasionally picking fights with Nexon, PTJ, and other Ducks. The transition to the faculty of Indiana University ate up spare time and reduced his blog-output substantially, but he’s eager to get back into the game and welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Duck. For more information see his website (wkwinecoff.info) and follow him on Twitter (@whinecough).

Wendy Wong is an Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto and Director of the Trudeau Center for Peace, Conflict, and Justice at the Munk School of Global Affairs. Her research focuses on the study of NGOs and the importance of the variations between NGOs and the role of foundations in human rights.

Maryam Zarnegar Deloffre is an associate professor at Arcadia University. Her current work focuses on how humanitarian NGOs develop common standards and mechanisms for defining, monitoring, and regulating their accountability in the global sphere.

Tom Gregory is a lecturer at in the department of Politics & International Relations at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His research focuses on contemporary conflict, critical security studies and the ethics of war.

Lord Mawuko-Yevugah is based in Ghana at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration. He started his career as a journalist, and has since gone on to focus on political economy and international development.

Cai Wilkinson is Senior Lecturer at Deakin University in Melbourne Australia. Cai’s research focuses on societal security in the post-Soviet space, with a particular focus on LGBTQ rights in Kyrgyzstan and Russia.

Annick Wibben is an Associate Professor at the Unviersity of San Francisco. Her research straddles critical security studies, international theory, and international relations. Her work especially focuses on methodology, representation, and narrative.

*please note that these bloggers were chosen after we put a general call out for guest bloggers several months ago. We did receive some applications from excellent graduate students; however, we have a policy of not including grad students as regular or guest bloggers on the Duck at this time (please see our ‘policies’ for more info). Continue reading

Partly Missing the Point: Rethinking US and EU Sanctions on Russia

Recently, Suzanne Nossel published a piece critical of US and EU sanctions against Russia. A number of her points make sense. For US-EU sanctions to really isolate Russia and thus have a chance to change Russian behavior in the short term, they need to have the participation of other major states in the system like China and India. Without those states, the isolation effort is doomed to fail. Moreover, the effect of US-EU sanctions will fade over time as Russia deepens economic interaction with non-participating states. The marquee example is the May 2014 deal for Russia to provide $400 billion in gas to China over 30 years (Russia and China announced a second deal in November 2014, but as one analyst notes, that second deal is not a deal on price or timelines, but rather a agreement to discuss further). Nossel also rightly notes that sanctions did not prompt Putin to change direction but rather to impose counter sanctions. And as the continued violence in East Ukraine suggest, Putin has not dropped his military support for separatists or changed his mind about implementing the Minsk II agreement. The sanctions, at least in the short term, has also lent superficial veracity to Putin’s narrative that the West seeks to prevent Russia from regaining its national greatness.

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Friday Nerd Blogging: Jumping the Shark

A friend of mine mis-typed Sharknado and found this:

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