Over at the Monkey Cage, Henry Farrell suggests that President Obama is using the OSCE to give Putin an exit strategy. Farrell writes:
Obama’s “phone call with Putin on Saturday suggests that the United States wants to invoke the old-style OSCE. It notes that Russia’s armed intervention is inconsistent with Russia’s commitments under the Helsinki Final Act (the agreement that established the OSCE), calls for “the dispatch of international observers under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)…
If Putin wants an “exit strategy,” Farrell continues, this is it: “There is no reason why the OSCE could not help broker compromises over new elections and push the Ukrainian government to guarantee the rights of Russian speakers in Ukraine.”
My question to Farrell is, is this Putin’s possible exit strategy, or the United States/EU’s?
In the Monkey Cage’s recent symposium on gender and political science, David Lake writes how important it is that our scholarly networks become less gendered, how male scholars must make an effort to mentor women in the field. In my view, the importance of mentorship cannot be understated. Without the support of several scholars in security studies, not all but many of them men, I may have indeed decided that this field was not for someone like me.
In my first year of graduate school, I was beginning to see myself as more of an “IR theory” than a “security studies” student (yes, whatever that means). But in May of 1997, our department administrator called me into her office to talk teaching assistant assignments. “We’d like you to be a T.A. for Warner Schilling’s class,” she said. I was thrilled, but terrified. The course was “Weapons, Strategy, and War,” and if there was one thing I was absolutely certain about, it was that I did not know enough about weapons, or strategy, or war to be teaching anyone anything about those topics. And, having taken this course with Schilling, I knew that this was not for the faint of heart. I would have to guide undergraduates through the basics of shot and pike, of column and line, of counterforce and McNamara curves. I very simply was not qualified.
In my email inbox last week was a notification of a fellowship opportunity. Since I have a sabbatical coming up shortly—okay, in a couple of years, but time flies, right?—I eagerly skimmed the details. It’s a fellowship squarely in my field. The funding is pretty generous, probably enough to help me buy out some extra time at my institution, and finish the damn book that is core to my next promotion. But at the end of the description, there sat the deal-breaker: “visiting scholars are expected to be in residence for the entire year.”
To my mind, the situation in Syria has prompted an incredibly thoughtful debate within the political science community, one that undermines the idea that scholars have become irrevocably detached from policy. Ian Hurd and Charli Carpenter have written excellent pieces on the legality of chemical weapons and military intervention. James Fearon contributed this superb piece on the strategic dilemmas involved in the US response. And once again, The Onion has shown us all that it is the smartest game in town when it comes to foreign policy.Much of the conversation has concerned the question of interventions in civil conflicts, asking under what conditions interventions are successful and if those conditions apply in Syria. But like Jon Western and others, I’m thinking about Syria not as a case of intervention in civil conflict and more about it as a case of deterrence and compellence.
With all of the focus on APSA, there’s been little discussion of another Labor Day ritual—the Revising of the Syllabus. In truth, I should have begun this ritual a few weeks ago. Now that the panic dreams have kicked in—you know, the ones where you show up to class on the first day without a syllabus and thus lose all authority over your students for the rest of the semester…you do get those too, right?—I know I must take action.
My first task is to revise my introductory-level course on security studies and, luckily, it’s in pretty good shape, thanks to some major overhauls I did over the last two years. But although I’m only engaged in minor tinkering, I at least try to reflect upon the major assumptions that shape the syllabus. First and foremost, there is the mother of all assumptions: what is security, and what do we mean by security studies?
Over at the National Interest T.X. Hamnes has a nice critique of AirSea Battle, seemingly the Pentagon’s reigning strategy…sorry, operational concept…for dealing with a rising China and the problem of Anti-Access/Area Denial (for the official overview, see here). I expect I’ll be writing a bit on ASB during my time at the Duck, so I won’t try to engage in every debate in the first post. For now I’ll limit myself to one question Hamnes raises: does it make any sense to talk about an operational concept as isolated from strategy?
Always good to start out blogging with a non-controversial topic, like the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But just before the Israeli Knesset went into recess, they advanced a bill requiring that any land ceded in a peace process be approved in a national referendum. The bill could become a Basic Law–tantamount to a constitutional amendment–when the Knesset returns in the fall. My take on this is in the International Herald Tribune/New York Times:
The argument in brief: Far from undercutting the peace process, a referendum is necessary to the legitimacy of a two-state solution. Formal public support of a potential deal could, in fact, be one of the keys to long-term sustainability of peace. Supporters of the peace process should get behind the referendum proposal.