It's mid-December, which means it's time to start garnering nominations for the 2011 Albies, in honor of the great political economist Albert O. Hirschman.
To reiterate the criteria for what merits an Albie nomination:
I'm talking about any book, journal article, magazine piece, op-ed, or blog post published in the calendar year that made you rethink how the world works in such a way that you will never be able "unthink" the argument.
I know that this was a super-boring year for those interested in the global political economy, so it's going to be tough to find good material. Still, please try -- this is, I believe, the only year-end Top 10 list that neither Time nor The Atlantic has comandeered. Here's a link to my 2010 list for reference.
The winners will be announced on December 31st. In the meantime, readers are strongly encouraged to submit their nominations (with links if possible) in the comments.
Following up on Newt Gingrich and his assessment of threats, I see that the New York Times has a William J. Broad front-pager on Gingrich's obsession with the possibility of adversaries using an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) against the United States:
[I]t is to the risk of an EMP attack that Mr. Gingrich has repeatedly returned. And while the message may play well to hawkish audiences, who might warm to the candidate’s suggestion that the United States engage in pre-emptive military strikes against Iran and North Korea, many nuclear experts dismiss the threat. America’s current missile defense system would thwart such an attack, these experts say, and the nations in question are at the kindergarten stage of developing nuclear arms.
The Missile Defense Agency, an arm of the Pentagon that maintains an arsenal of ground-based interceptors ready to fly into space and smash enemy warheads, says that defeating such an attack would be as straightforward as any other defense of the continental United States.
“It doesn’t matter if the target is Chicago or 100 miles over Nebraska,” said Richard Lehner, an agency spokesman. “For the interceptor, it’s the same thing.” He called the potential damage from a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack “pretty theoretical.”
Yousaf M. Butt, a nuclear physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, who last year did a lengthy analysis of EMP for The Space Review, a weekly online journal, said, “If terrorists want to do something serious, they’ll use a weapon of mass destruction — not mass disruption.” He said, “They don’t want to depend on complicated secondary effects in which the physics is not very clear.”
Mr. Gingrich’s spokesman, R. C. Hammond, did not respond to e-mails asking for comment. But the candidate, a former history professor and House speaker, has defended his characterizations as accurate. At a forum in Des Moines on Saturday for military veterans, Mr. Gingrich said an electromagnetic pulse attack was one of several pressing national security threats the United States faced. “In theory, a relatively small device over Omaha would knock out about half the electricity generated in the United States,” he told the veterans.
I'm neither a security expert nor a rocket scientist. After reading Broad's article, the Space Review annalysis, the rebuttal to that analysis, and Sharon Winberger's excellent FP write-up from last year, however, I'm reasonably confident that the threat posed by EMP is remote for the near-to-medium future. The scenarios in which an EMP would affect the United States rely on a) rogue states making serious leaps forward in their ballistic missile technology and nuclear engineering; and b) those same actors deciding that it's in their national interest to launch a first strike against a country with a reliable second-strike nuclear deterrent.
Nevertheless, I can see why Newt Skywalker would be concerned. Most of the taking-EMP-threat seriously essays harp on the devastating effect of such an attack. Surely, Gingrich would argue, even a small possibility of this actually happening justifies at least some investment into countermeasures and preventive actions. Indeed, Gingrich has explicitly made that argument:
Without adequate preparation, its impact would be so horrifying that we would basically lose our civilization in a matter of seconds.... I think it's very important to get people to understand now, before there is a disaster, how truly grave the threat is.*
Fair enough... let's be generous and say there's a 10% chance of this being a real problem over the next two decades. If that's the case, maybe Gingrich is right to bring it up as an underestimated threat.
Here's my question, however. If we're talking about threats to civilization as we know it, isn't there another possibility that has a much higher probability of occurring -- let's say, better than 50% at least -- and a similarly lax amount of preventive action? Like, say, climate change?
As Uri Friedman and Joshua Keating have documented for FP, however, Gingrich's assessment of that threat has changed recently. Last month, on this issue, he said the following:
I actually don't know whether global warming is occurring.... The earth's temperatures go up and down over geologic times over and over again. As recently as 11,000 years ago the Gulf Stream quit for 600 years. And for 600 years you had an ice age in Europe because there was no warm water coming up. And then it started up again. Nobody knows why it quit, nobody knows why it started up. I'm agnostic.
This is fascinating. On the one hand, you have a long-term cataclysmic threat to the planet that commands the consensus of an overwhelming majority of experts in the field. On the other hand, you have a long-term cataclysmic threat to the United States that commands nowhere close to the same level of consensus. Based on his rhetoric, Gingrich wants urgent action to be taken on the latter, but not the former. Why?
I'm not bringing this up to suggest that Gingrich is a buffoon. He could plausibly argue that a lot of people are harping on climate change while only Gingrich can call attention to the EMP possibility. It's possible that the costs of preventive action on climate change are much greater than dealing with EMP (though if that includes preventive attacks on Iran and North Korea, I'm dubious).
What I'm wondering is whether there is a partisan divide in assessing threats, as there is in assessing economic principles. I wonder if conservatives are far more likely to focus on threats in which there is a clear agent with a malevolent intent, whereas liberals are more likely to focus on threats that lack agency and are more systemic in nature (climate change, pandemics, nuclear accidents, etc.)
What do you think?
*Incidentally, this is the same logic I used to justify greater research into the threat posed by the living dead. Just saying....
Yesterday, in commenting on the eurozone crisis, Barack Obama said the two words all political scientists hate to see:
"Europe is wealthy enough that there's no reason why they can't solve this problem," Obama told reporters at the White House.
"If they muster the political will, they have the capacity to settle markets down, make sure that they are acting responsibly and that governments like Italy are able to finance their debt." (emphasis added)
By and large, political scientists hate the concept of political will. As I've said numerous times on the blog, "political will" is usually tantamount to saying, "if only politicians would completely ignore short-term political incentives and do the right thing!" Or, to put a finer point on it, "if only politicians stopped acting like politicians!" Because we as a profession tend to focus on structural forces and immutable preferences, "leadership" as a variable often (though not always) falls by the wayside.
Looking at the latest EU summit/eurozone machinations, however, I'm beginning to wonder if we need to think about "first image" explanations for what just happened. As the Wall Street Journal, Felix Salmon, Financial Times, Paul Krugman, and Economist are all reporting, it was pretty friggin' disastrous. Salmon provides the most complete autopsy -- here's a snippet:
[A]nother half-baked solution is exactly what we got. Which means, I fear, that it is now, officially, too late to save the Eur ozone: the collapse of the entire edifice is now not a matter of if but rather of when.
For one thing, fracture is being built into today’s deal: rather than find something acceptable to all 27 members of the European Union, the deal being done is getting negotiated only between the 17 members of the Euro zone. Where does that leave EU members like Britain which don’t use the euro? Out in the cold, with no leverage. If the UK doesn’t want to help save the euro — and, by all accounts, it doesn’t — then that in and of itself makes the task much more difficult.
But that’s just the beginning of the failures we’re seeing from European leaders right now. It seems that German chancellor Angela Merkel is insisting on a fully-fledged treaty change — something there simply isn’t time for, and which the electorates of nearly all European countries would dismiss out of hand. Europe, whatever its other faults, is still a democracy, and it’s clear that any deal is going to be hugely unpopular among most of Europe’s population. There’s simply no chance that a new treaty will get the unanimous ratification it needs, and in the mean time the EU’s crisis-management tools are just not up to dealing with the magnitude of the current crisis.
The fundamental problem is that there isn’t enough money to go around. The current bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, is barely big enough to cope with Greece; it doesn’t have a chance of being able to bail out a big economy like Italy or Spain. So it needs to beef up: it needs to be able to borrow money from the one entity which is actually capable of printing money, the European Central Bank.
But the ECB’s president, Mario Draghi, has made it clear that’s not going to happen. Draghi is nominally Italian but in reality one of the stateless European technocratic elite: a former vice chairman and managing director of Goldman Sachs, he’s perfectly comfortable delivering Italy the bad news that he’s not going to lend her the money she needs. He’s very reluctant to lend it directly, he won’t lend it to the EFSF, and he won’t lend it to the IMF. Draghi has his instructions, and he’s sticking to them — even if doing so means the end of the euro zone as we know it.
So, what explains this mess -- the inexorable structural problems of the European Union, or the lack of political leadership? At this point, I'm genuinely uncertain. For example, the facile explanation for British Prime Minister David Cameron's rejection of an EU treaty is catering to his domestic interests -- namely the British financial sector. Then, however, we get to this bit from the Economist:
After much studied vagueness on his part about Britain's objectives, Mr Cameron's demand came down to a protocol that would ensure Britain would be given a veto on financial-services regulation (see PDF copy here. The British government has become convinced that the European Commission, usually a bastion of liberalism in Europe, has been issuing regulations hostile to the City of London under the influence of its French single-market commissioner, Michel Barnier. And yet strangely, given the accusation that Brussels was taking aim at the heart of the British economy, almost all of the new rules issued so far have been passed with British approval (albeit after much bitter backroom fighting). Tactically, too, it seemed odd to make a stand in defence of the financiers that politicians, both in Britain and across the rest of European, prefer to denounce....
Britain may assume it will benefit from extra business for the City, should the euro zone ever pass a financial-transaction tax. But what if the new club starts imposing financial regulations among the 17 euro-zone members, or the 23 members of the euro-plus pact? That could begin to force euro-denominated transactions into the euro zone, say Paris or Frankfurt. Britain would, surely, have had more influence had the countries of the euro zone remained under an EU-wide system.
As for Merkel, well, my take on her leadership style has been documented already. She's dealing with an opposition that is castigating her for not taking swifter and more drastic action to resolve the eurocrisis. In response, she's pushing for changes that will take months, if ever, to accomplish -- and, if they are accomplished, have no guarantee of actually solving the problem. It doesn't seem like the eurozone has that time.
As for Draghi, well, one could attribute his range of half-hearted measures to his excessively cautious leadership -- after all the ECB is an ostensibly independent institution, so presumably Dragh has the greatest amount of autonomy. It's not that simple, however -- Draghi wouldn't have been selected as the new ECB head unless he demonstrated the kind of policy traits that made him acceptable to Germany in the first place. Oddly enough, although Draghi currently has the most freedom of action, the structures that ensured he would become the new ECB head ensured he would be the least likely person to exploit that freedom.
So, stepping back, there appears to be a role for the quality of political leadership as an explanatory factor for the current eurozone crisis. Properly defining that role, however, is beyond the capacity of this blog post.
What do you think?
Many of my posts from the past week are about just who is an ally and who is an adversary. This is a nice (albeit belated) segue into the G-20 open mic flap, in which French president Nicolas Sarkozy said what he really thought about Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- and Barack Obama didn't disagree.
There's obviously going to be much gnashing of teeth about this from the usual suspects, and much caterwauling about said gnashing of teeth from the other usual suspects. So perhaps it's worth stepping back for a second to appreciate the fact that, contra realism, most alliances in recent history are far more long-lasting than a particular leader's term of office. Obviously, certain leaders -- see: Castro, Fidel -- can realign a country from one great power to another. Geopolitical pressures can cause other countries -- see: India -- to realign during critical junctures. Still, these have been the exceptions rather than the rule since 1945.
The Netanyahu/Obama flap is clearly one of clashing ideologies and clashing personalities, but it doesn't really change all that much in the way of the US-Israeli alliance. The defense cooperation between United States and Israel is stronger and larger than ever before, for example. The fundamentals of the alliance remain unchanged. As Robert Blackwill and Walter Slocombe recently pointed out in their WINEP paper:
[T]he United States and Israel have an impressive list of common national interests; that Israeli actions make substantial direct contributions to these U.S. interests; and that wise policymakers and people concerned with U.S. foreign policy, while never forgetting the irreplaceable values and moral responsibility dimensions of the bilateral relationship, should recognize the benefits Israel provides for U.S. national interests
This argument has drawn criticism from the usual suspects, but it reaffirms my point that alliances rarely rise and fall due to individual leaders.
So think of dust-ups like the open mic gaffe as mild ripples in the flow of friendship between the two countries, while the stock of the alliance remains fundamentally constant.
[Um... does tha fact alone merit a blog post?--ed.] Good point. There are two other zombie-and-me events this week.
From 7-9 PM EST this Wednesday, I'll be the "Expert to Discuss How Theories of International Relations Could Salvage Humanity from Global Zombie Apocalypse" according to this press release. That's because I'll be delivering the Centre for International Governance Innovation's Signature Lecture on Zombies, the G20 and International Governance in Waterloo, Canada. Not any old zombie lecture -- the signature one. If you don't live in Waterloo, don't worry, you can sign up for the free, live webcast of the lecture.
As a warm-up for that lecture, however, might I suggest, the night before, watching Zombies: A Living History. It will be aired on the History Channel on Tuesday, October 25, at 8 PM. The filmmakers interviewed me for half a day, so I'll pop up now and again.
Here's the extended trailer:
Enjoy your weekend!
Late last month, Princeton University Press informed me that Theories of International Politics and Zombies had crossed the 10,000 sales mark just six months after its release. By commercial publishing standards, this represents a modest successs. By academic publishing standards, well, it's the kind of thing that makes this sort of behavior very tempting.
Why has it dome so well? Well,
I was extraordinarily lucky it has been marketed in many unusual venues. Still, I suspect the biggest reason for these numbers is that TIPZ is now being assigned in college courses (and in some rather disturbing instances, in lieu of college class sessions). Indeed, its popularity has led to juuuuust a wee bit of blowback from a few students and faculty.
Which leads me to the purpose of this blog post. Consider this an open request to both students and faculty who are using the book ij their classes. Is it useful? Not so much? Too many puns? Not enough? Are there ways to make it more useful for students? I've already received some very positive pedagogical feedback, but negative feedback -- i.e., anything that needs to be changed -- is welcomed as well.
I ask because, more likely than not, I'll be working on a
revised revived edition of TIPZ in about a year or so. Such a revision will, of course, add in more topical zombie references (Both comic book and TV versions of The Walking Dead, or MTV's Death Valley), recent policy developments (the CDC weighing in on the zombie menace), follow-on research, and a fleshing out of additional theoretical paradigms as well. Plus more drawings, because they're awesome.
So, let me know what you'd like to see in the new edition to make it even more useful in a classroom setting. And if you insist on telling me that the text is completely perfect as is, well, I can bear hearing that too.
With the passing of APSA and the dawning of Labor Day, it's time for people to go back to school and Think Deep Thoughts. In the realm of international relations theory, Thanassis Cambanis' essay in the Sunday Boston Globe Ideas section is a great starter course for thinking about the way the world works. His basic thesis:
Instead of a flurry of new thinking at the highest echelons of the foreign policy establishment, the major decisions of the past two administrations have been generated from the same tool kit of foreign policy ideas that have dominated the world for decades. Washington’s strategic debates - between neoconservatives and liberals, between interventionists and realists - are essentially struggles among ideas and strategies held over from the era when nation-states were the only significant actors on the world stage. As ideas, none of them were designed to deal effectively with a world in which states are grappling with powerful entities that operate beyond their control....
As yet, no major new theory has taken root in the most influential policy circles to explain how America should act in this kind of world, in which Wikileaks has made a mockery of the diplomatic pouch and Silicon Valley rivals Washington for cultural influence. But there are at least some signs that people in power are starting to try in earnest. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has openly integrated the search for a new paradigm into her policy making. In universities, think tanks, and the government, thinkers trying to grapple with this fluid world structure are finally getting attention in the circles where their ideas could shape policy.
Read the whole, provocative thing -- if you agree with Cambanis' arguments, then it certainly represents a data point in favor of Anne-Marie Slauighter's vision of how world politics operates.
My onlytweak of Cambanis' essay is that he repeatedly stresses the need for a new generation of strategic concepts and international relations theories to guide U.S. grand strategy, and then lists as examples the following:
Joseph Nye, a Harvard political scientist who served in the Carter and Clinton administrations and has advised Secretary of State Clinton, was one of the pioneers. In the 1990s, he coined the term “soft power,” arguing that sometimes the most effective way for America to promote its interests would be through influencing global health and the environment, or culture and education. His latest book, “The Future of Power,” counsels that America can preserve its influence if it reconceives its institutions and priorities to deal with a world where the energy is shifting from the West to the East, as well as from states to non-state actors. Michael Doyle at Columbia University, a seminal theorist whose idea of a “democratic peace” in the 1990s crucially inflected policy with the belief that democracies don’t fight each other, now talks about the notion of an age of the “empowered individual,” where lone actors can alter the trajectory of states and of history as never before. Stephen Walt, also at Harvard, argues that in the new era America simply needs to start by acknowledging its limits: that with less muscle and less extra money, the first step will be to streamline its goals in a way that so far politicians have been loath to do.
No offense to Joseph Nye, Michael Doyle, and Steve Walt -- these are Great Men of interntional relaions thought. The notions that Cambanis lists here, however, are not "new" in any sense. Which leads me to wonder whether Cambanis has defined the problem correctly. Is it that international relations theory has gone stale... or is it simply that the wrong set of existing theories are in vogue today?
What do you think?
I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending.
An interesting hypothesis!! So, there are three possibilities here. The first is that Bachmann was joking -- in which case, wow, that's a really tasteless joke given the loss of life and probably warrants a pretty big apology.
The second is that Bachmann is simply
nuts wrong. Doug Mataconis points out,
I’m not sure how this computes given the fact that the storm largely spared Washington, D.C. and New York, while hammering a red states like North Carolina and a heavily Republican area like Virginia’s Tidewater region.
Well, socialist-supporting Vermont got hit pretty hard too, but still, this is a fair point, and "Bachmann being wrong" seems like another safe bet.
The third possibility is the one I want to explore, however -- what if Bachmann is right? What if God really is using wrath to coerce humanity into implementing a particular set of policy preferences?
A God-fearing person would naturally decide to obey. However, this kind of coercive demand strikes me as a pretty massive intrusion into human sovereignty. The point of a democracy is for majorities of citizens and their elected representatives to decide matters of policy. Recent history suggests that neither sovereign governments nor their populations take kindly to coercive threats from other men. If we acquiesce to Divine demands now, don't we just let God win?
Bachmann's response suggests an obvious bandwagoning approach to the awesome power of deities: When God says jump, you should say, how high? And, indeed, if the Almighty really is omnipotent, this strategy has much to recommend it. Bandwagoning is generally recommended when the targeted actor is comparatively weak, has few natural allies, and believes that the targeting actor can be appeased with concessions. This seems to fit the Old Testament, monotheistic God to a tee.
On the other hand, however, might a balancing approach yield better long-term results? After all, God has a disturbing track record of making demands like this. We know from
Genesis the Old Testament that the Almighty has a tendency to, well, you know, smite humans on a semi-regular basis. There's the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, an awful lot of Egyptians, etc. This doesn't even include the number of times God demanded death (the sacrifice of Isaac, Ninevah) only to relent at the last minute. Sure, God has some good reasons in some of these instances, but from a threat assessment perspective, it's veeeeery disturbing.
Maybe the bandwagoning criteria don't apply. If one operates along the monotheistic assumption*, humans should ask if there is a possible ally out there to help resist God's will [Don't go there --ed.], an entity who is God's enduring rival [You're really going there, aren't you?! --ed.] , one who might have the necessary power to make God think twice about all that smiting?
It's time to wonder … would a temporary alliance with Satan really be that bad? [Yes it world!! --ed.] Winston Churchill once said, "If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons." Now I'm not sure I would even go that far … the whole selling souls thing sounds like a pretty big demand too. That said, a sober, realpolitik perspective would demand that making a deal with the devil has to be a policy option that stays on the table.
[How about a nice buck-passing strategy instead?--ed. Hey, I'd love to just force other creatures like, say, apes to go toe-to-toe with God, but I just don't see it happening.]
Readers are warmly encouraged to puzzle this out for themselves -- or, instead, to buy the very entertaining Biblical Games by Steven Brams.
*The monotheism assumption is important when thinking about how to cope with a venegeful god. If the universe turns out to be polytheistic, then the question becomes whether us mortals can sow dissension among the gods before someone releases a Kraken.
There's been some interesting blog commentary on my debate with Anne-Marie Slaughter, and I encourage international relations theory geeks to check it out. Over at the Monkey Cage, Henry Farrell makes an interesting intervention. You should read the whole thing, but here's the part I found particularly provocative:
Rather than seeing the international sphere as a space for inter-state power politics, or as a space for networked common action, we can think of it as a space for contagion.That is, think of it as a space where ever-multiplying and ever-ramifying sets of networked relationships across border serve not to enable problem-solving DIY diplomatists, but instead to transmit social influences in ways that are difficult to predict ex ante. This would mean taking seriously the kinds of complexity theory and network theory arguments that Anne-Marie mentions, but following them to a quite different set of conclusions than she does.
The world that complexity theory and network theory depicts is one where actions have highly unpredictable consequences. This follows both from theoretical arguments about processes of contagion across large scale networks, and from empirical research conducted via e.g. experiments....
Just because the world has become more networked, it does not mean that states can either (a) easily use networks to pursue their policy goals, or (b) turn over responsibilities to networks that will self-organize around socially useful tasks and responsibilities. To the extent that networks’ politics are predictable, they will conform to the same kinds of (frequently unpleasant) politics as do states. That is, they will be characterized by power inequalities (sometimes gross), actors pursuing their self-interest while entirely blind to the needs of others, and the rest of the shebang. To the extent that networks’ politics unpredictable, they will be unlikely to be useful tools of policy.
This is a story with far fewer helpful policy lessons than either Dan’s or Anne-Marie’s. It points to plausible developments in world politics, without providing any very obvious tools to deal with them.
I need to process Henry's arguments more before making a fully thought-out response. This is a blog, a two half-assed thoughts should suffice for now. First, Henry gets at something that was implicit in the exchange between Anne-Marie and myself: the notion that powerful actors possess considerable agency in world politics. Slaughter and I might disagree about who those actors are, but we assumed that power = agency. Farrell's point about contagion is that this presumption does not necessarily hold. And the policy implications of that suggestion are rather jarring, to say the least.
Second, however, my own theoretical predilections lead me to wonder whether powerful agents can halt/regulate/control the spread of contagion more . The Arab Spring suggests such possibilities. So far, the general unrest in the region has toppled a regime in Tunisia, partially toppled regimes in Egypt and Yemen, led to a civil war in Libya, and led to... something in Syria.
This is not insignificant, but it's worth remembering that the wave of unrest was much larger than those countries. Early protests in Iran went nowhere -- in no small part because the Iraniann state has gotten very, very good at cracking down. Led by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies have by and large kept populist demands at bay, going so far as to invite Jordan and Morocco to join the Gulf Cooperation Council.
I'm not trying to pull a Kevin Bacon here; the Arab Spring is Big Earthshaking Stuff. My point, rather, is that not every contagion proceeds unimpeded -- there are counter-contagions as well. When and how those counterwaves happen is worthy of consideration.
What do you think?
Anne-Marie Slaughter has responded to my musings about her new foreign policy frontier with a potent combination of vigor and logic, topped off with just a dollop of guile. I am happy to see that we share some vital zones of agreement -- namely, continued hegemony for the Boston Red Sox.
About lesser issues like the contours of world politics, we have some respectful disagreements. This is a fun debate, to have, so let's dive right in!
To summarize the gist of Slaughter's latest post: she argues that realists think of the world through a states-only, security-first, billiard-ball approach:
[T]he whole point of realism, as every first year IR student knows, is that structural realism (the school that holds as its bible Kenneth Waltz's Man, the State, and War) says that international relations analysts can treat the world as if it were composed only of states pursuing their power-based interests.
In constrast, Slaughter advocates a "modern/liberal-social" because such an approach will:
[factor in] all the important social actors, from tribes to democracy activists, focus on the relationship between those social actors and their governments, then assess interests relative to other governments that are themselves enmeshed in domestic and transnational social networks.
Slaughter asserts that the second perspective is the superior approach despite its greater complexity, because it permits a greater focus on the "social and developmental issues" that Slaughter believes will the the primary drivers of world politics over the next decade. As evidence for her more enlightened perspective, Slaughter compares her Twitter stream with my Twitter stream and concludes:
Going through these tweets actually offered an even more succinct contrast between how Dan and I think about foreign policy. Dan asked last week, addressed to all "IR tweeps": "Is there a better international relations song than Tears for Fears 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World?'" He got some great responses, but for me, his choice says it all about how, his protests notwithstanding, he sees the world. (Many a truth is spoken in jest.) By contrast (and again, with much less humor!), I tweeted a link on Monday to a in the Financial Times by the Israeli novelist Etgar Keret on the J14 protests and quoted the following passage: "In our current reality, the political cannot be separated from the social." The new foreign policy frontier is deeply social, as messy and unsatisfactory as that may be.
Slaughter's historiography of realism is a touch problematic, but also a bit of a distraction, so I'll leave it to others to address that question. Instead, let's start with the Twitter evidence.
Slaughter is clearly a huge fan of microblogging (despite its negative externalities) and its social networking capabilities. As an earlier adopter of these technologies, I'm a fan too. I do think there's a danger of reading too much into this kind of data, however. If I really didn't care about the kind of social and economic issues that Slaughter embraces... well, I wouldn't be following her. Like any curious IR scholar, however, I do follow her. Just because I don't tweet/re-tweet about these things all that much doesn't mean I don't read/blog/write about them in other venues. Slaughter assumes that I manage my Twitter feed the same way she does, as a natural extension of her research interests. Trust me when I say that I value Twitter somewhat differently.
This might be a trivial issue, but it gets at a point I hinted at in my last post: there's a difference between what's visible and what's significant in world politics. Twitter is highly visible, for example, but I think it's significance might be exaggerated -- or, rather, online networks merely replicate offline power structures. The threat of coercion is often invisible -- but it's effects can be quite significant.
Slaughter's more substantive point is her contrast between old-school realpolitik and new-school modern social-liberal foreign policy approach. On this distincton, let me start by observing that another important modern strategy in world politics is the notion of issue-framing. If they're good, policy entrepreneurs will be able to take their issue and frame it in a manner most favorable to their preferred policy solution. When their policy problem is pushed to the front of the queue, they are therefore likely to win the argument.
I bring this up by noting that I don't accept Slaughter's framing of our dispute. She posits that only by adopting her international relations worldview is it possible to recognize the social and developmental issues that are bubbling under the surface in world politics. Because realists primarily care about guns, bomb, and interstate security, they ostensibly will miss these problems.
Now, I know a lot of realists, and I can kinda sorta understand how Slaughter arrived at this caricatured version of realism. Nevertheless, Slaughter conflates subject matter with how one models the dynamics of the subject matter. In his last memoir, even über-classical-realist Henry Kissinger acknowledged the importance of human rights issues in modern diplomacy and staecraft. I certainly agree that the economic, social and developmental issues that are near and dear to Slaughter's heart are matters of import for world politics -- indeed, this is a theme I've written and
rambled spoken about for quite some time. I suspect most realist IPE scholars believe these issues are important... or they wouldn't be studying IPE in the first place.
Just because I agree with the importance of these issue areas, however, does not mean that I agree with Slaughter's implicit model of how these issues get addressed. Anne-Marie places great faith in the ability of transnational, networked, non-state actors to bend the policy agenda to their preferred sets of solutions. I think that these groups can try to voice their demands for particular policy problems to be addressed. I think, at the national level, that social movements can force even recalcitrant politicians to alter their policy agenda (see: Party, Tea). Where Slaughter's optimism runs into my skepticism is the ability of these movements to a) go transnational; and b) supply rather than demand global solutions. I'm skeptical about the viability of transnational interests to effectively pressure multiple governments to adopt a common policy solution, and I'm super-skeptical that these groups can supply broad-based solutions independently of national governments.
There's a "two-step" approach to world politics with which Slaughter is intimately familiar: it posits that interest groups and social movements can influence national policy preferences, but that outcomes in world politics are driven by the distribution of power and preferences among national governments. In her embrace of a new foreign policy frontier, Slaughter embraces the first step and mostly rejects the second.
That second step is really important, however, as most social movements are keenly aware. Indeed, most of the protests that Slaughter keeps identifying on Twitter are not about solving problems on their own, but demanding that governments address or ameliorate their needs.
Slaughter can and will point to Very Important Initiatives like the Gates Foundation or the Summit Against Violent Extremism as examples of supplying such solutions. These can matter at particular points in particular places, but I'll need to see some powerful evidence before I think that these transnational groups are as potent as, say, nationalism as political force in the world. All of the social movements and all of the online networks can agitate for policy solutions, but they're not going to be able to alter fierce distributional conflicts that exist when trying to address many of the topline issues in world politics show no signs of abating. The kind of non-state actors that Slaughter embraces have not been shy in engaging issues like climate change, Israel/Palestine or macroeconomic imbalances -- but I haven't seen any appreciable change in global public policies as a result.
Now, it's possible that Slaughter will eventually be proven right. That's the cool thing about studying international relations, we keep adding new data with every passing day. So, here's my challenge to Anne-Marie -- name three significant issue areas in which these kinds of networked actors will significantly alter the status quo (and I look forward to Slaughter falsifying me to within an inch of my life.). Because I can think of far too many issues -- including those listed above -- on which their impact will be negligible.
One final point: I agree with Slaughter that the issues she cares about are important, and attention must be paid to them. That said, the realist in me is not quite ready to claim that the old security-focused approach to foreign policy is truly outdated. Yes, traditional wars are much rarer than they used to be. That said, we're just one unsteady power transition away in North Korea, China or Pakistan for traditional concerns about militarized great power combat to return to the main stage of foreign policy practitioners. I really hope Anne-Marie is correct about these new issues being the important ones -- because that means the horrors of great power war continue to stay a distant memory.
Over at Abu Muqawana, Andrew Exum and Erin Simpson provide a useful breakdown of the choices available for those
misbegotten fools young people thinking about getting a graduate degree in international affairs of some kind. Not surprisingly, the choice is highly contingent on a) your level of patience; and b) what you want to do with the degree afte you graduate.
Besides the criminal omission of The Greatest International Affairs Program in the World, I have only one cavil to their analysis. When they discuss getting a Ph.D. in the first place, they note:
[H]ere’s the dirty secret about DC. Everybody wants to hire PhDs, but most people don’t know anything about them. They won’t read your dissertation, they aren’t going to call your advisor (thank goodness), and most won’t know until it’s too late whether you’ve actually been trained in anything useful. So if you just want the credential, stop reading now and just find the cheapest, quickest program and git ‘er done.
And here I must dissent on one minor point and one major point. First, a small correction: if you're trying to get a job in DC and you're a newly-minted Ph.D., damn straight your advisor will get a phone call. This doesn't always happen, but it's more likely than not. I've been on the receiving end of several of these since arriving at Fletcher. True, one could always try not to list your advisor as a reference. The thing is, that is a massive red flag signaling that your advisor doesn't think all that much of you.
Now, the major point: if your goal is to just get the Ph.D. credential, do not "find the cheapest, quickest program and git ‘er done." Instead, just run away -- run away as fast as you can.
I've said this before and I'll say it again -- there is no such thing as grinding out a Ph.D. People who think that can "gut out" a dissertation will never finish it. Unless you love whatever it is you're writing about, you'll never finish. You'll hate the topic at some point -- and without the love, you'll find other ways to occupy your time than dissertating. This is particularly true at lower-ranked Ph.D.-granting institutions, because all of them aspire to be higher-ranked Ph.D.-granting institutions and believe the only way to do that is to "tool up" their students to within an inch of their lives.
This is one way in which a Ph.D. is different from a JD, an MBA or an MA. Coursework can be gutted out, as can exams. Writing 75,000 words on a topic requires something else, and anyone who tells you differently is selling you something.
Because most traditional Ph.D. programs start out with coursework, I'll understand, dear readers, if you don't believe me. To take advantage of the pedagogical tools of the Internet, however, here's the best video I know that captures this decision:
And, just to be clear, aspiring Ph.D. students: I'm the guy with the weird Scottish accent, the bunny is the Ph.D. program, and all y'all are the ones suffering from the blood and gore.
Unless you really want to kill that bunny, just walk away.
Darren McCollester/Getty Images
This past week Anne-Marie Slaughter launched a new foreign policy blog over at The Atlantic entitled "Notes from the Foreign Policy Frontier." This was greeted with general huzzahs across the foreign policy community, as Slaughter is a universally-acknowledged smart person. She is an exemplar of someone who can effortlessly transition from the scholarly to the policymaking world and back again. Her facility with new media is so good that her own bio undercounts her Twitter followers by 50%.
Slaughter's first post suggests the themes of her new blog -- let's take a look and see what she's up to, shall we? Here are the opening paragraphs:
The frontier of foreign policy in the 21st century is social, developmental, digital, and global. Along this frontier, different groups of actors in society -- corporations, foundations, NGOs, universities, think tanks, churches, civic groups, political activists, Facebook groups, and others -- are mobilizing to address issues that begin as domestic social problems but that have now gone global. It is the world of the Land Mines Treaty and the International Criminal Court; global criminal and terrorist networks; vast flows of remittances that dwarf development assistance; micro-finance and serial entrepreneurship; the Gates Foundation; the Arab spring; climate change; global pandemics; Twitter; mobile technology to monitor elections, fight corruption, and improve maternal health; a new global women's movement; and the demography of a vast youth bulge in the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia.
Traditional foreign policy continues to assume the world of World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the first and second Gulf Wars -- an international system in which a limited number of states pursue their largely power-based interests in bargaining situations that are often zero-sum and in which the line between international and domestic politics is still discernible and defensible. Diplomats and statesmen compete with each other in games of global chess, which, during crises, often shift into high-stakes poker. It is the world of high strategy, the world that Henry Kissinger writes about and longs for and that so-called "realist" commentators continually invoke.
Well, this is... this is... I'm sorry, I got lost among the ridiculously tall strawmen populating these paragraphs. I'll go out on a limb and posit that not even Henry Kissinger thinks of the world the way Slaughter describes it. Just a quick glance at, say, Hillary Clinton's recent speech in Hong Kong suggests that actual great power foreign policies bear no resemblance whatsoever to that description of "traditional foreign policy."
Slaughter knows this very well, given that she was Clinton's first director of policy planning. She also knows this because much of her writing in international relations is about the ways in which traditional governments are becoming more networked and adaptive to emergent foreign policy concerns. One could quibble about whether this is really a new trend, but Slaughter was correct to point out that states are doing this.
So, let's get to the main point of her blog post: what does Slaughter think about this new frontier?
21st century diplomacy must not only be government to government, but also government to society and society to society, in a process facilitated and legitimated by government. That much broader concept opens the door to a do-it-yourself foreign policy, in which individuals and groups can invent and execute an idea -- for good or ill -- that can affect their own and other countries in ways that once only governments could.
In late June, I spent two days at the Summit Against Violent Extremism (#AVE on Twitter), a conference sponsored by Google Ideas, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Tribeca Film Festival that brought together more than 80 former gang members, violent religious extremists, violent nationalist extremists, and violent white supremacists from 19 countries across six continents. They came together with 120 academics, NGOs, public sector and private sector partners. The conference grew out of a vision developed by Jared Cohen, the head of Google Ideas, when he served in the U.S. State Department's Office of Policy Planning together with Farah Pandit, who worked on countering violent extremism in the State Department's Bureau of Eurasian Affairs and is the Special Representative to Muslim Communities. But, despite their role, bringing together this range of "formers" is something that Google Ideas and the Council on Foreign Relations can do much more easily than any government could. The range of projects creating networks to help build on effective, early intervention programs already working around the world, such as Singapore's programs to deflect and deprogram Islamic radicals, will also be much easier to develop with a broader range of stakeholders, including some government participation, than they would be through government alone....
Skeptics argue that these kinds of initiatives are doomed to remain perennially peripheral and ineffectual. But, in case anyone hasn't noticed, the traditional tools of fighting, talking, pressuring, and persuading government-to-government really aren't working so well. Thirty years of urging reform produced next to nothing; 6 months of digitally and physically organized social protests and a political earthquake is shaking the broader Middle East. Twenty years of working toward a treaty to govern carbon emissions has barely yielded an informal "accord." Yet measures taken by 40 cities organized by the Bloomberg Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative will have far more impact.
Outing myself as a skeptic, I'd make two points. First, Slaughter's weakness as an international relations theorist is to uncritically observe phenomena like the Summit Against Violent Extremism and then inductively generalize from them to extrapolate the future of world politics. AVE is happening, but I'm gonna want to see a lot more evidence that it's making a difference before calling it a success. There are a lot of issue areas where this kind of initiative will not substantially alter policy outcomes. Indeed, one could flip this around, look at new trends like sovereign wealth funds, national oil companies and and state-owned enterprises, and reach the exact opposite conclusions from Slaughter. I don't, but you see my point -- world politics is about a lot more than a Muslim woman setting up a Twitter account thanks to her microfinance loan.
Second, Slaughter's climate change example is a great one. I don't doubt that the initiatives she's blogged about likely have accomplished more than the two decades of UN negotiations. I also don't doubt, however, that those accomplishments are a drop in the bucket compared to what has needs to be done. Furthermore, I suspect these groups would strongly prefer joint government action to their own initiatives, as the only viable means to mitigate the effects of increased greenhouse gas emissions. In which case, they will function like good old fashioned interest groups, which is not all that new.
Slaughter believes that these "bottom-up" movements represent the future of world politics -- and she may well be right. My own inclination is that DIY foreign policy represents a poor and underprovided substitute for effective state action global governance. We'll see what the future holds.
Concluding her post, Slaughter says that she'll be, "looking at the world through a very different lens -- highlighting features of the foreign policy landscape that simply disappear if we examine only a world of opaque unitary states negotiating, pressuring, fighting, and ignoring each other." This is good, and highlights the value-added that such an approach can bring to thinking about world politics. I'll be looking at Slaughter's musings as well through my own lens -- one that is very wary of overhyped initiatives that do not accomplish nearly as much as suggested by their media hype.
Am I missing anything?
Earlier this week Walter Russell Mead blogged about the mortal danger facing a prominent international relations theory:
American fast food continues to worm its way ever deeper into Pakistani affections. Hardee’s recently joined McDonald’s in Islamabad and both are doing well, says the Washington Post.
Since McDonald’s is also thriving in India, an IR theory is about to be put to a test. The “McDonald’s theory” holds that no two countries with McDonald’s in them will ever go to war. Once you have a middle class big enough to support hamburger franchises, the theory runs, war is a thing of the past.
I wish. The 2008 war between Russia and Georgia dealt the theory a blow; an India-Pakistan war would be the end.
Whether or not that happens, the theory is a bust. Countries often become more militaristic as their middle classes rise.
A touch a touch, I do confess it!! It appears that the collective reputation of international relations theory has been tarnished, yet -- wait a second, who came up with that theory in the first place?
As it turns out, it was not some academic IR theorist like me, but rather a Prominent Foreign Affairs Columnist of Some Renown … kinda like Mead (but not really). Yes, it was indeed Tom Friedman who first suggested "The Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention."
Mead concludes that the theory is a bust, and Wikipedia appears to back him up:
(Actually, Wikipedia is underestimating how many times the Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Prevention has been falsified … according to Wikipedia. The Kargil War was in 1999, not 1998, and according to casualty estimates, there were more than 1,000 battle deaths, which meets the standard definition of a war.)
Empirical quibbles aside, this certainly falsifies Friedman's original "strong" hypothesis of "no two countries that both have a McDonald's have ever fought a war against each other." The thing is, international relations theories are kinda like … er … zombies. Even if you think you've killed them off, they can be revived.
Let's water down Friedman's strong hypothesis a bit. Is it true that, "two countries that both have a McDonald's are significantly less likely to fight a war against each other?" Mead thinks the answer is no, but my hunch is that it would be yes. A cursory glance at the scholarly literature suggests that no one has actually tested it, so … get to it, aspiring MA thesis writers!!
That said, even if the weaker version was true, would it be useful from either a theoretical or policy perspective? I think the answer here is no, and this is one important way in which academic IR theorists do better than, say, Tom Friedman. The comparative advantage of the Golden Arches Theory is pedagogical -- it's easy to explain to anyone. The problem is that McDonald's is really an intervening variable and not the actual cause of any peace. And while IR scholars sometimes roll their eyes at democratic peace theory, the literature has produced significant progress about the ways in which that hypothesis is constrained (in a world of democratizing states, for example).
Mead is correct to observe that this particular IR theory is in trouble. I'm marginally more sanguine about the state of academic IR theory overall, however.
MIRA OBERMAN/AFP/Getty Images
Your humble blogger has been rather persistent in pointing out the virtues of bridging the gap between international relations scholars and policymakers, and rather adamant in insisting why this hasn't happened:
Now I see in The Forum that James Lee Ray is also arguing that political science merits a greater role in foreign policymaking. The abstract for his article:
Foreign policy decision makers tend to rely on historical analogies. The “surge” in Afghanistan, for example, was inspired in part by the “surge” in Iraq. Processes for dealing with foreign policy issues involving the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were substantially different from those processes in the Bush and Obama administrations aimed at dealing with economic crises in 2008 and 2009. The latter processes were influenced extensively by economists, especially in the Obama administration. The decisions to send additional troops to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan involved relatively few political scientists. More substantial input from political scientists in the decision making process about the surge in Afghanistan might have produced more knowledgeable and informative analyses of relevant historical and political data in the form of structured focused comparisons of the wars and counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as analyses and interpretations of data on larger numbers of cases pertaining to broader phenomena of which the US interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan are examples. Perhaps political scientists deserve a role within foreign policy making processes more similar to that reserved for economists in processes focusing on economic issues.
Within the article itself, Ray is quite explicit in comparing the influence of political scientists to economists:
[I]t is probably safe to say that no President would consider appointing anyone but economists to the Council of Economic Advisers. So perhaps there could be a space for political scientists in foreign policy-making processes analogous to that niche for economists on the Council of Economic Advisers in processes set in place by the U.S. government to deal with economic issues?...
It is true, perhaps, that economics is a more coherent academic field of inquiry than political science, or than the subfield that deals with international politics. Perhaps for that reason, economists are better placed to offer advice to governmental decision-makers than are political scientists. Nevertheless, the argument here is that the greater deference shown to economists by government officials when economic issues are dealt with than that accorded to political scientists when foreign policy issues arise is not entirely justified....
If the argument here is valid, then perhaps there should be more space set aside in foreign policy-making processes in the U.S. government for political scientists. For example, perhaps National Security Advisers should be political scientists, for reasons analogous to those that have up to this time led to the appointment of nothing but economists to the Council of Economic Advisers.
I pretty sympathetic with Ray's conclusions, and therefore I really, really want to agree with his causal logic. It's just that I don't.
The gist of Ray's evidence is that the Obama administration relied on analogical reasoning in deciding on the Afghan strategy in 2009, and therefore concluding that a "surge" there would work as it did in Iraq. If more political scientists had been in the room, Ray posits, perhaps this cognitive failure would have been avoided. In comparison, Ray observes that the Iraq surge decision was lousy with advanced poli sci degrees (including David Petraeus, William Luti, Eliot Cohen, J.D. Crouch, and FP's own Peter Feaver).
There are a few holes in this analysis. First, I'm not totally sold on the cases used by Ray. True, political scientists played a large role in the surge decision in Iraq, which is conventionally viewed as having worked. The thing is, political scientists (Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol) played an even larger role in the decision to invade Iraq , which is conventionally viewed as having not worked. Ray's case slection is too circumscribed.
Second, had Obama consulted more international relations scholars, he would have received perfectly muddled advice. Ray himself acknowledges this:
The evidence just reviewed that is potentially relevant to the decision by the Obama Administration about the surge in Afghanistan tends to point in diverse directions. Some of it casts doubt on the prudence of the Obama Administration’s decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, while other findings could be used to support that decision.
Had Obama or his advisor consulted extensively with academic IR specialists, he still would have needed to exercise political judgment to determine which advice was worth following.
To be clear, I strongly favor having more Ph.D.s in political science in the loop on foreign policy decisionmaking. I'm just not sure Ray's case is all that persuasive.
What do you think?
Alex Wong/Getty Images
The rest of FP's hard-working, award-winning contributors will provide plenty of reactions to Obama's Afghanistan speech from last night. I don't have anything new to add that I didn't say, oh, about a year ago to the week.
So let's talk about.... Game of Thrones!!!
Set in a fictional medieval-type world (that looks juuuuust a bit like England) with a wisp of fantasy, there's a lot for culture vultures and international relations geeks to like. Based on a series of novels by George R.R. Martin, the first season on HBO just ended on a ratings high. Essentially, Game of Thrones consists of a lot of palace intrigue, a healthy dollop of transgressive sex, and a whiff of zombies. So you can see the attraction to your humble blogger.
Having finally caught up with the entire first season, however, I'm still puzzling out the show's applicability to current world politics. I think there are a few, but there's a bias in the show that does suggest some serious constraints [WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD].
On the one hand, Game of Thrones' best feature has been demonstrating the importance of strategic acumen in politics. The first season's protagonist, Ned Stark, is a stalwart friend, accomplished soldier, and dogged bureaucrat. He was also a strategic moron of the first order, which was why I didn't bewail his beheading in the season's climactic moment. Yes, it's a shame that the good man died. The thing is, he had so many, many opportunities to avoid that end, had he only demonstrated a bit more ability to think about how his rivals would react to his actions. Important survival trip: don't reveal all of your plans and information to your rival until you have engaged in some rudimentary contingency planning. Or, to put it more plainly:
On the other hand, I'm just not sure how much the world of Westeros translates into modern world politics. Realists would disagree, of course. Cersei Lannister makes the show's motto clear enough: "in the game of thrones, you win or you die." That's about as zero-sum a calculation as one can offer. In this kind of harsh relative gains world, realpolitik should be the expected pattern of behavior.
Which is also part of the problem with Game of Thrones. World politics is about the pursuit of power, yes, but it's not only about that. What do people want to do with the power they obtain? Social purpose matters in international affairs as well, and there's precious little of that in Game of Thrones. Sure, there are debates about dynastic succession, but there are no fundamental differences in regime type, rule of law, or economic organization among the myriad power centers in this world. I hope this changes in Season Two.
My favorite touch in Game of Thrones is the words of each house in Westeros. For House Stark, "winter is coming"; for House Lannister, "hear me roar"; for House Baratheon, "ours is the fury"; and my favority, House Greyjoy, "we do not sow." In case you were wondering, for House Drezner, our words are, "it is time to read." Alternatively, "Chinese food is coming."
Readers are warmly encouraged to proffer the words of House Obama, House Clinton, House Bush, House Saud, House Putin, House Chavez, or House Singh in the comments.
Your humble blogger is currently knee-deep in dissertation prospectuses (prospecti?), a rather curious literary form. Here at the Fletcher School, a dissertation prospectus is a Ph.D. student's attempt to describe his or her dissertation topic, including the central puzzle, the deficiencies in the existing literature, the proposed hypotheses and the testing strategy.
A prospectus runs about 60-80 pages and, to be blunt, is extremely painful to both authors and readers. It's painful for the authors because, after having spent most of graduate school ripping what they read to intellectual shreds, they discover that coming up with their own original arguments is actually a pretty challenging experience. It's painful for the readers because it's the academic equivalent of teenage poetry -- there's a lot of strong feelings and beliefs surging through the text in a thoroughly out-of-control and ungainly manner (and that's the final version of the prospectus -- you can only imagine what the draft versions of these documents look like). Indeed, the adolescence metaphor works astonishingly well -- I have engaged or witnessed many a conversation like the following:
Ph.D. ADVISOR: I think you should stop reading Wendt [or insert other trendy academic name here]. I don't like the way his arguments are shaping your argument.
Ph.D. STUDENT: But you don't understand!! I love him -- as much as love can be socially constructed!! He's let me see the world in a whole new way. He's the key to everything!!!
Ph.D. ADVISOR: You're writing a dissertation on cooperation among transnational criminal groups -- I just don't think his argument works here.
PH.D. STUDENT: How would you know which arguments work and which ones don't?! When was the last time you read someone who moved you -- the Stone Age?! I bet you've never read a piece of constructivist scholarship in your life. You don't understand me at all!!!!!
Ph.D. ADVISOR: Calm down -- I just think you might be better off if you read other people is all. This is just an intellectual crush. It will pass.
Ph.D. STUDENT!!! No!! Never!! I've never read anyone else who can speak to my topic like him. Wendt and I will stay together forever!!
Usually, the final dissertations look significantly better -- and thank God for that.
As you might surmise, this is not an easy literary form to conquer, and in most cases is just a hoop that should be jumped through as quickly as possible. Reading a bunch of these back-to-back can cause one to start muttering about how grad students ain't what they used to be and what-not. I am usually able to resist such mutterings by forcefully reminding myself that my own dissertation prospectus was such a bland and vague piece of crap ("I want to write something about sanctions") that I purged it from my hard drive as soon as possible in order to
thwart all my future biographers achieve some peace of mind.
Every once in a while, however, a Ph.D. student hits upon the delicate alchemy of fear and arrogance necessary to write an engaging prospectus that suggests an excellent dissertation. Maybe not even an excellent prospectus, but just a scintillating paragraph or two that suggests the student's intellectual trajectory is really, really promising.
This morning I stumbled across one of those paragraphs in a fascinating prospectus on international water boundary disputes (really!), which I now share with you:
While other water law studies have attempted to analyze the origins of water law, the study of water law in ancient societies tends to be cursory and rife with misnomers and mistakes. For instance, most cite the Hammurabi Code as the oldest water law, when with little effort it is easily discoverable that both the codes of Lipit Ishtar and Ur Nammu both contain water provisions, pre-date Hammurabi by at least 250 years, and clearly provide the normative underpinnings on which the Hammurabi Code was constructed. This study will therefore seek to build a solid historical foundation on which to ground further analysis of modern transboundary water law.
It's the phrase "easily discoverable" that tickled my intellectual fancy -- and, fortunately, the rest of the prospectus appears to back up the promise of that paragraph.
It's moments like these that forcefully remind me that, for all of the problems and pathologies with the modern academy, I really, really, really, really love my job.
Since May is Zombie Awareness Month, I thought I would be worth noting a factual statement in Theories of International Politics and Zombies that will have to be changed in the
revived revised edition of the book.
On pages 5-6 of the introduction, I wrote:
The government of Haiti has laws on the books to prevent the zombification of individuals. No great power has done the same in public—but one can only speculate what these governments are doing in private.
Are you prepared for the impending zombie invasion?Actually, had he interviewed a zombie expert, [Cough, cough!!--ed.] I'm sure the Fox News reporter would have learned that this is not all that surprising. Indeed, I found research on the political economy of disasters to be the most useful sources in researching Theories of International Politics and Zombies.
That's the question posed by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention in a Monday blog posting gruesomely titled, "Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse." And while it's no joke, CDC officials say it's all about emergency preparation.
"There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for," the posting reads. "Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That's right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you'll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you'll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency."
The post, written by Assistant Surgeon General Ali Khan, instructs readers how to prepare for "flesh-eating zombies" much like how they appeared in Hollywood hits like "Night of the Living Dead" and video games like Resident Evil. Perhaps surprisingly, the same steps you'd take in preparation for an onslaught of ravenous monsters are similar to those suggested in advance of a hurricane or pandemic.
Never Fear – CDC is Ready
If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine). It’s likely that an investigation of this scenario would seek to accomplish several goals: determine the cause of the illness, the source of the infection/virus/toxin, learn how it is transmitted and how readily it is spread, how to break the cycle of transmission and thus prevent further cases, and how patients can best be treated. Not only would scientists be working to identify the cause and cure of the zombie outbreak, but CDC and other federal agencies would send medical teams and first responders to help those in affected areas (I will be volunteering the young nameless disease detectives for the field work). (emphasis added)
One could argue that the offer of international technical assistance would be consistent with the liberal paradigm, in which a robust counterzombie regime was created.
The question is, would other countries welcome the assistance? Would other countries suspect the CDC of being the very progenitor of the zombie pandemic? Would Pakistan protest if Seal Team Six was dispatched to a Karachi suburb to put down an initial zombie outbreak?
These are Very Deep Questions, and I, for one, encourage further research in this area. In the meantime, however, I would like to applaud the Assistant Surgeon General and the Center for Disease Control for joining the State of New York in thinking about the unthinkable.
Indeed, I would encourage even more CDC transparency. For example, the scenario that's sketched out that the final episode of the first season of The Walking Dead -- could that, um, you know, actually happen?
Indeed, I would encourage even more CDC transparency. For example, the scenario that's sketched out that the final episode of the first season of The Walking Dead -- could that, um, you know, actually happen?
I know I said I would post by book choices for aspiring senators/presidential candidates yesterday, but current events forced a slight delay. So, you know the contest: "if you had to pick three books for an ambitious U.S. politician to read in order to bone up on foreign affairs, what would they be?" You now know (and are less than thrilled with) the readers' selections. Below are my choices.
My selections were based on three fundamental premises. The first is that politicians do not lack in self-confidence. This is an important leadership trait, but when it comes to foreign policy, some awareness of The Things That Can Go Wrong is really important. So my choices try to stress the pitfalls of bad decision-making.
The second assumption is that trying to force-feed social science principles onto a politico is a futile enterprise -- any decent advisor should provide that role. What's more important is exposing politicians to the different schools of thought that they will encounter in foreign policy debates. As with the zombie book, the idea is that by familiarizing individuals to the different theoretical approaches, they can recognize a realist or neoconservative argument when they hear it. They should then be able to recall how well or how badly these approaches have done in the past, and think about the logical conclusions to each approach.
Finally, these are American politicians, which means that they are genuinely interested in Americana and American history. Books that can connect current foreign policy debates to past ones will resonate better.
So, with that set-up, my three choices:
1) Walter Russell Mead, Special Providence. An excellent introduction to the myriad strains of thought that have permeated American foreign policy over the past two and a half centuries. International relations theorists might quibble with Mead's different intellectual traditions, but I suspect politicians will immediately "get" them.
2) David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest (for Democrats); James Mann, Rise of the Vulcans (for Republicans). Americans have a long and bipartisan history of Mongolian clusterf**ks in foreign policy. Each side should read about their greatest foreign policy mistake of the past century to appreciate that even the best and smartest advisors in the world will not necessarily translate into wise foreign policies.
3) Richard Neustadt and Earnest May, Thinking in Time. Politicians like to claim that they don't cotton to abstract academic theories of the world, that they rely on things like "common sense" and "folk wisdom." This is a horses**t answer that's code for, "if I encounter a new situation, I'll think about a historical parallel and use that to guide my thinking." Neustadt and May's book does an excellent job of delineating the various ways that the history can be abused in presidential decision-making.
Obviously, I'd want politicians to read more books after these three -- but as a first set of foreign policy primers, I'm comfortable with these choices.
If you want to hear more about this, go and listen to my bloggingheads exchange with NSN's Heather Hurlburt on this very question.
To recall the assignment:
[I]f a newly-minted U.S. Senator did want to seriously bone up on foreign affairs, what books should he or she read?....
[I]f you're educating a politician from scratch, you need something relatively pithy, accessible, relevant to current events, and America-centric....
I therefore call upon the readers of this blog to proffer up their suggestions -- if you had to pick three books for an ambitious U.S. politician to read in order to bone up on foreign affairs, what would they be?
Before I get to the reader suggestions, I heartily encourage the rich variety of responses in the foreign policy blogosphere: see Stephanie Carvin, Brian Rathbun, Andrew Exum, Rob Farley, Justin Logan, Will Winecoff, Phil Arena, and Steve Saideman, for starters.
A few of them challenge some of the underlying premises of my question. Arena asks, in essence, "does it really matter?" If IR scholars believe that structural, impersonal factors are what guide American foreign policy, then a reading list won't make a difference. Rathbun implicitly endorses this point in observing that us IR folk basically write books saying that the first image of leadership doesn't matter all that much.
There is an theoretical and empirical response to this. The theoretical response is that even the most ardent structuralist would acknowledge that there is a stochastic element to any political model -- indeed, in most tests, random chance explains more than the non-random model. What books leaders read falls into the stochastic category (we never know ex ante), so any attempt to influence on that factor is not trivial.
The empirical is that we have at least anecdotal evidence that books occasionally do affect the thinking of American foreign policy decisionmakers. Bill Clinton was famously reluctant to intervene in Bosnia after reading Robert Kaplan's Balkan Ghosts. I'd argue that Kenneth Pollack's The Threatening Storm was the most important book-length contribution to the 2003 debate about going to war in Iraq -- because it provided intellectual cover for Democrats supporting the Bush administration. Bush himself touted Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy as a book that influenced his thinking on the Middle East.
Exum also asks a fair quesion -- why books?
A lot of the reading material I digest comes from blogs as well as newspaper and magazine articles. A lot of it comes from scholarly and policy journals as well.... I generally find articles in International Security, Survival, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy, though, to be both accessible and thought-provoking. And asking a senator to read a few articles in Foreign Affairs each month en route back to his or her constituency actually sounds like a reasonable request. So I am not sure I would actually recommend a junior senator read a book so much as I would ask him or her to read a few carefully selected articles or scan through ForeignPolicy.com every other day.
This is a fair point -- if we could get our junior Senator/aspiring presidential candidate to read up on foreign affairs every day. I'm pessimistic about that happening, however, for the reasons I gave in the prevous post.
Also, here's the thing -- oddly enough, politicians want to tell everyone how many Very Important Books they read. Consider Condoleezza Rice's New York Times Magazine interview, in which she stresses that, "[George W. Bush] read five books for every one I read. He read something like 12 biographies of Lincoln in office." Bush is not someone who seemed worried that he wasn't egghead-y enough, and yet even he and his acolytes feel compelled to point out what's on his bookshelf. We might living in a Twitter age, but books still possess some totemic value of intellectual gravitas.
Picayune disagreements aside, I do encourage readers to click through each of the above links to see their book recommendations.
Below, however, is the aggregate list produced by my readers. At least three different commenters recommended or endorsed all thrirteen books below. [And what do you think of the list?--ed. I'm a big fan of many of these books, I confess I haven't read several of them, and there are a few that I think are mind-boggingly stupid. I suspect that would be the same response of any other IR scholar to the list below -- though which ones are "mid-boggingly stupid" would be a furious subject for debate.]
In alphabetical order:
THE TOP THIRTEEN FOREIGN AFFAIRS BOOKS EVERY ASPIRING POLITICIAN SHOULD READ
(As selected by readers of Foreign Policy)
Andrew Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War
Steve Coll, Ghost Wars
Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order
Robert D. Kaplan, Monsoon
Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers
Parag Khanna, How to Run the World
Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy
Walter Russell Mead, Special Providence
John J. Mearsheimer, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics
Joseph Nye, The Future of Power
Ahmed Rashid, Descent Into Chaos
Stephen Walt, Taming American Power
Fareed Zakaria, The Post-American World
Your humble blogger will be posting his book selections on Monday.
Let the fight/snark in the comment thread.... begin!!
[T]here was no mistaking the lightness of [Obama's foreign affairs] résumé. Just a year before coming to Washington, State Senator Obama was not immersed in the dangers of nuclear Pakistan or an ascendant China; as a provincial legislator, he was investigating the dangers of a toy known as the Yo-Yo Water Ball. (He tried, unsuccessfully, to have it banned.)
Obama had always read widely, and now he was determined to get a deeper education. He read popular books on foreign affairs by Fareed Zakaria and Thomas Friedman.
That last sentence provoked a lot of titters on Twitter among the foreign policy community. It's only a slight exaggeration to say that Tom Friedman's recent books have the same status among foreign policy wonks that John Grisham novels have in literary circles.
This raises an interesting question, however -- if a newly-minted U.S. Senator did want to seriously bone up on foreign affairs, what books should he or she read?
This is a harder question to answer that you might think. Here is a rank ordering of what a typical Senator cares about:
1) Getting re-elected;
2) Getting re-elected;
3) Establishing a domestic policy niche in order to claim credit... in order to get re-elected;
4) Starving the media of any opportunity to write a profile of their private lives... in order to get re-elected.
5) Foreign affairs
There's a reason foreign affairs is at the bottom -- in the post-Cold War world, the American public doesn't care and doesn't know much about international relations. Short of the presidential level, developing expertise or interest in that area does nothing for a politician's electoral chances -- and even at the presidential leve it's a mixed bag.
With this kind of mindset, giving a Senator a copy of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War and assuming they'll get really hooked on the story is faintly absurd. Many of my academic brethren might proffer up one of the more recent classics in international relations theory. To which I say, "BWA HA HA HA HA!!!!" Neither Kenneth Waltz nor Bruce Bueno de Mesquita would last as long in a politicians' hands as Thucydides.
No, if you're educating a politician from scratch, you need something relatively pithy, accessible, relevant to current events, and America-centric. Given those criteria, Friedman's oeuvre makes some kind of inuitive sense, no matter how wrong or ripe for satire it is. I mean, what's the alternative -- Three Cups of Tea?
Aspiring leaders of America can and should do better than Friedman, however. I therefore call upon the readers of this blog to proffer up their suggestions -- if you had to pick three books for an ambitious U.S. politician to read in order to bone up on foreign affairs, what would they be?
I have my own thoughts on the matter, but I'll hold off until Friday to post my selections. My choices are hardy written in stone, so I'll be reading this comment thread with great interest.
The latest issue of International Studies Review is a special symposium on theory and practice in international relations. Thomas Weiss and Anoulak Kittikhoun edited the special issue. The goal, according to them:
This special presidential issue addresses the theory–practice question across major institutions and global challenges. First, what is the influence of scholars on institutions? What accounts for influence or the lack thereof? What type of future engagement should exist for scholars on these institutions? Second, what are acceptable theoretical approaches to a given global challenge? What are the existing policies and practices, and do they coincide with dominant scholarly approaches? What relationship would be most useful between theory and practice on any issue?... [T]hese pages explore the impacts of scholars on policymaking and institutions as well as the limitations of theory in responding to global challenges. Stereotypes obfuscate the complex reality that scholarship matters.
The whole issue is a real treat, including great articles by Bruce Jentleson and Ely Ratner on how to bridge the scholar/policymaker gap, Ann Florini on international relations theory and the rise of Cina and India, Roland Paris on failed and failing states, Elizabeth DeSombre on global environmental politics, Andrew Hurrell on global governance, and
some zombie fanatic yours truly on targeted economic sanctions.
This looks like it should be a great way to get policymakers interested in the academic study of world politics, and vice versa. Of course, to be useful, it helps to be able to access the articles in the first place. And since all of these essays appear to be subscriber-only, it looks like
this is yet another brilliant self-inflicted wound demonstrating how academic journals guarantee their continued irrelevance in the policymaking world by hiding behind a friggin' paywall the bridging will be mostly on the academic side of the ledger.
Erik Gartzke, an associate professor of political science at UCSD and a man who's Google Scholar citation count makes me feel very, very small, sent me the following thoughts on political science and policy relevance. I reprint them, below, without edits or comment:
by Erik Gartzke
Dan Drezner's penchant for zombies may have yet another application. In the policy relevance debate, political scientists are like Renfield, Dracula's sidekick (or possibly like Thomas the Tank engine if children are present). We really want to be "useful." I know of no other discipline that is so angst-ridden about mattering, even those that don't matter in any concrete, "real world" sense. Obviously, what makes us different from poets, particle physicists, or Professors of Pediatric Oncology is that we study politics and occasionally imagine that this gives us some special salience to that subject. Policy makers, too, want us to be "relevant," though I think what they have in mind differs in important respects.
There are three ways that political science can be relevant to politics. On both sides of the debate, attention seems focused on only one of these roles. Interestingly, each side has chosen a different role to emphasize. First, academics could have expertise that is valuable in connecting policies to outcomes. We have lots of examples of this. Economists invented theories like adverse taxation and tools like GDP to help policy makers more effectively manage the economy. Unfortunately, there are very few insights or tools from political science, and those we do have are either very narrowly relevant (i.e. techniques for gerrymandering congressional districts to achieve affirmative action objectives), or very imprecise (i.e. nuclear balancing). Academic political scientists consciously _want_ this role, but the complaint from policy makers is that they do it poorly, providing policy guidance that is not expert enough, or overly nuanced and complex. This would seem to imply that political science should remain in the ivory tower, developing better tools. Instead, however, the argument appears to be that political science should give up these tools and practice a form of political consultation more comprehensible by the policy community. One then has to ask why, and what this will achieve. Is it the case, as many argue, that non-expert political scientists will be more useful? Why?
Interestingly, one of the critical exceptions to the general trend, and examples where political scientists have prospered in Washington as experts, involves pollsters. Survey methodology got its start in political science and has penetrated deeply into the political process, precisely because pollsters can provide valuable information to politicians and policy makers about cause and effect. Pollsters are now even regulars as pundits, asked to shill for policies and politicians on the basis of their expertise.
The second thing that academics can provide is thus credibility. We can "speak truth to power" or perhaps just generally speak the truth, at least as we see it. This could be valuable if policy makers themselves have become zombies, enslaved to a process that prevents them from stating things, even when obvious, that are unpopular or controversial. We see this happening in processes such as the Base Closure Commission, where outsiders helped to smooth a transition that was politically difficult. This kind of relevance is difficult, however, as politics is not really about the truth. Paul Pillar, one of the protagonists the debate ("In your face, political science!") found this out, much to his regret. One of the least zombie-like people in the national security bureaucracy, Paul was the perfect foil as author of the national intelligence estimate that legitimated the Bush policy of invading Iraq. In his, and his boss's moment to speak truth, they propagated a politically-expiedent myth. This kind of policy relevance really _is_ valuable to policy makers, especially since credibility is such a scarce commodity inside the beltway, and so valued elsewhere. The problem, of course, from an academic perspective is that selling credibility has nothing directly to do with expertise and everything to do with what, for lack of a better phrase, was once called "moral turpitude." The value in academics in holding forth in Washington may have as much to do on occasion with their _lack_ of contact with policy making, as with their putative expertise, at least in terms of credibility.
A corollary to this is the role of academistic consultants, some with faculty positions, others with beltway connections, that provide "research" that feeds the beast of the Washington policy machine. This can be financially rewarding, but the desire for funding leads to varying degrees of compromise, a zombification by extension.
The third contribution that academics can make to the policy community is one that all seem to agree upon, but which makes the least direct demand on political science as a substantive discipline. The intellectual discipline of first getting a PhD and then practicing as an academic gives one an ordered, logical mind, which can then be applied to tasks in the policy community, as well as to more purely intellectual pursuits. There is nothing wrong with this, but then again, there is nothing particularly unique about how political science does this that prevents scholars in other disciplines from applying themselves to policy making as well. Indeed, this is what we observe. Sociologists, economists, engineers and physicists (even the occasional poet) enter public service.
What makes political science different from most other fields is that we have failed to resolve our conflict with our subject matter. Poets report the human condition. They do not expect to alter it, at least not permanently. Physicians can make you better, so they do intervene, but their detachment is credible in the sense that they do not want to become illnesses. No physicist I know of hankers to _be_ her subject matter, though of course we are all of us made of matter. Political science alone wants to be different but engaged.
Imagine suggesting to a congressional committee that Congress should abandon the forecasting models of the OMB as esoteric and speculative. Try to suggest to someone like Paul Pillar that he should hanker after the "good old days" of pre-GDP census taking and data collection. Economics became policy relevant in the first sense because it developed tools that could help policy makers better connect their actions with outcomes. These are not perfect, as recent events illustrate, but they work better than the old way of doing things (i.e. whatever we did last time, or holding one's thumb up to the wind). The problem is that political science does not yet have "killer apps" like GDP. Optimists would say we are still working on these things. Pessimists would say that they will never come. I will not weigh in on that debate because in some sense it does not matter.
The real point, however, is that the debate does not matter. Either way, the search for policy relevance, as it is pursued by many in the policy community, makes no sense.
If you believe the optimists, then the correct role of political science is to get back in the kitchen (metaphorically) and cook up some good insights and tools so that we can eventually fulfill role number one. If you are instead pessimistic and despair of political science ever achieving much headway in terms of expertise, then you should still prefer us in our academic enclaves, only occasionally venturing down from the mountain, since this is what gives us our credibility as unbiased agents. The largely pessimistic perception of policy practitioners implies that they should treat political scientists like poets, or perhaps adherents of atonal music. Someone gets it, but thank God it is hidden in academic cloisters! This is perhaps what policy makers often do, as suggested by Paul Pillar's example of the debate between academics over perestroika witnessed by James Baker.
Another possibility is that those in the policy community wish academic political scientists were more like them for reason number three. This, however, does not make much sense. There can be no harm in making some political scientists esoteric if after all not everyone can move in policy circles. The training of academic political scientists still provides disciplined minds. Nor does it appear to be the case that there is a shortage of policy-eager political scientists to staff government bureaus and policy-focused beltway agencies and advocacy groups. In this light, academic political science may be accused of leading the youth astray, but no more than poetry or physics departments.
So what is it that makes many in the policy community so uncomfortable with academic political science, and for that measure why are political scientists so anxious about being labeled as not policy relevant? The best I can come up with again involves those zombies. Zombies eat the living. They move slowly, clumsily, if inexorably. People who run away can escape the zombies. So, the problem for zombies is that they cannot really catch unwilling prey. Academic political scientists, for their part, are strangely attracted to these undead creatures. They run, but not vigorously. Having your brains eaten is bad, but still, it is nice to be valued for something in which you have considerable pride....
Academic political scientists keep looking back to see if they can make eye contact with one of those zombies, maybe share a good anecdote, provide some advice, secure funding for the next research project...
There is the hint of the symbiotic relationship between predator and prey, political scientist and policy community. Each needs something from the other, even as both communities see the other as distant, alien. Policy practitioner-political scientists who disdainfully remark that they cannot even read the American Political Science Review would never see the need to make such a comment about a journal like Solid State Physics, or the Journal of Philosophy. Academic political scientists, for their part, should stop pretending that their main value to the policy community at present is in their expertise and fess up, if appropriate, to providing credibility or intellectual discipline (directly or through our students).
Becoming comfortable with this duality as a community also means embracing the differences that follow from that duality. Some of us should be in the ivory tower, just like physicists, chemical engineers, and art historians. In order for political science to fulfill the objective of expertise, it must --- like other fields of expertise --- become "expert", and unfortunately that really means becoming largely incomprehensible to all but those deeply enmeshed in the field or a particular subfield, at least for the purposes of "inhouse" debates. Others will work best in applying, interpreting, or otherwise interacting with the "real world" -- though if this characterization of non-academia were true, we would not need anyone studying (i.e. how does one know the real world and still hanker after insights that would connect his-or-her actions with the (unknown) implications of policy?). In any case, those of us on the academic side should stop teasing the zombies, just as the zombies should stop pretending that every academic brain is a ready meal. "Policy relevance" is a complex set of social phenomena that both attract and repel political scientists on both sides of the policy divide. Let some of us be more like our poet, mathematician or linguist brethren and become one with our academic-nerd nature. Others can prefer to engage Washington more directly, but they will make themselves, and their sponsors happier if they are candid about the fact that those within the beltway want your brains (or your soul), not your incites.
Your humble blogger is
media whored out taking a small vacation with the Official Blog Family at an undisclosed location somewhat removed fron the interwebs. Blogging will happen only if thew Official Blog Wife lets me near a computer be intermittent for the rest of this week.
In the meantime, for your consideration, I give you a link to an article from the February 2011 issue of International Studies Perspectives: Derek Hall, "Varieties of Zombieism: Approaching Comparative Political Economy through 28 Days Later and Wild Zero."
This paper argues that the frequent references to zombies in analyses of the recent global financial crisis can be harnessed as a “teachable moment” for students of Comparative Political Economy. I claim that two zombie movies in particular—Britain’s 28 Days Later and Japan’s Wild Zero—can be viewed as if they were allegories of two different national forms of capitalism that are integrated into, and affect, the global political economy in different ways. While 28 Days Later displays remarkable similarities to Marxist accounts of the origins and dynamics of capitalism in England, Wild Zero can be seen as an account of the post-1985 dynamics of the Japanese political economy and its engagement with Asia. This paper gives concrete suggestions for the use of zombie films in the classroom. It concludes with the argument that these two films help to explain why references to “zombie capitalism” cross ideological lines.
Enjoy devouring it!
This week I'll be
media whoring talking about Theories of International Politics and Zombies in a lot of venues. For example, I have an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education about what it was like to write a book about the living dead. Here's the opening paragraph:
Regardless of what parents tell their children, books are routinely judged by their covers. Indeed, many book titles encapsulate a premise so obvious that the text itself seems superfluous. I'm talking about the literary equivalents of Hot Tub Time Machine or Aliens vs. Predator. I should know—I'm the author of Theories of International Politics and Zombies.
In the interest of getting Media Whore Week off to a good start, here's a brief rundown of reviews so far.
[A]n intriguing intellectual conceit to explain various schools of international political theory…. Drezner is fascinated with zombies–he’s seen all the movies and read the books–and writes with clarity, insight, and wit…. This slim book is an imaginative and very helpful way to introduce its subject–who knew international relations could be this much fun?
Whatever else it may be, an attack by bloodthirsty ghouls offers a teachable moment. And Drezner, who is a professor of international politics at Tufts University, does not waste it. Besides offering a condensed and accessible survey of how various schools of international-relations theory would respond, he reviews the implications of a zombie crisis for a nation’s internal politics and its psychosocial impact. He also considers the role of standard bureaucratic dynamics on managing the effects of relentless insurgency by the living dead. While a quick and entertaining read, Theories of International Politics and Zombies is a useful introductory textbook on public policy — as well as a definitive monograph for the field of zombie studies…. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Josh Rothman, The Boston Globe
Political science isn’t really a science at all – it’s more like a collection of disparate and even contradictory world-views. Daniel Drezner… has hit upon the perfect way to weigh those world-views against one another…. the detail with which Drezner can apply international political theory to the zombie apocalypse is striking.
Adam Weinstein, Mother Jones:
A light, breezy volume, TIPZ is a valuable primer in international relations theory for laypeople, and thank God for that—it’s been a long time coming. But Drezner’s real genius is that he’s written a stinging postmodern critique of IR theorists themselves…. It’s both a pedagogical text and a lampoon of pedagogy.
All of these reviews raise interesting questions, as does Charli Carpenter's recent post. I promise a response to these criticisms later in the week (just as soon as I can find Hosni Mubarak's soeechwriter, because that guy was comedy gold).
In the meantime, just buy the friggin' book already.
While I was obsessing about Egypt last week, I see that John Quiggin, William Winecoff and others have been having a rollicking debate about the status of American hegemony, the fungibility of military power, and Boeing/Airbus subsidies. OK, that last one is less interesting, but I strongly encourage readers to go through the comment thread to that blog post.
Essentially, Quiggin contends that:
[T]he decline of the US from its 1945 position of global pre-eminence has already happened. The US is now a fairly typical advanced/developed country, distinguished primarily by its large population.
Ergo, other large market jurisdictions, like the European Union, are equal to the U.S. in terms of relative power.
This cheesed off Winecoff and others into pointing out the myriad ways in which the U.S. power profile is a) still outsized; and b) largely shaped the current global order we live in; and c) allowed entities like the EU to focus on welfare maximization rather than security.
Dan Nexon, in a comment to Quiggin's last rejoinder, gets at one nub of the debate:
John’s pointing out, quite rightly, that military power isn’t necessarily fungible. He’s doing so in the context of economic and regulatory power, which is the most “multipolar” dimension of global power right now. His IR critics are pointing out that the US still has outsized influence across a number of domains, and that some of those domains involve international (economic) institutions. They’re both onto something.
I pretty much agree with Dan here. In the military sphere, the U.S. remains a hegemonic power. In the economic and regulatory realms, well, I wrote a whole book arguing that until recently we lived in a bipolar world, so I'll side with Quiggin on that score.
There's something missing from this debate that is worth raising, however -- a proper definition of power. For example, in his first post, Quiggin noted that "[advanced industrialized countries] might be said to have declined in relative terms. But this doesn’t seem to me to constitute 'decline' in any important sense." This is heresy to an international relations scholar, in that power is viewed as a zero-sum commodity.
Beyond that, however, it is useful to think about the power to deter change from the status quo vs, the power to compel change in the status quo. In a deterrence scenario, countries use their capabilities to ward off pressure from other actors, or from structural pressures. In a compellence scenario, a powerful government threatens to use statecraft to extract concessions from other actors, or use power to alter the rules of the global game.
Deterring pressure by others is different than applying such pressure to others. With military or economic statecraft, it is generally easier to defend than attack. Many IR scholars argue that the ability to deter is a necessary condition of the power to compel. Only after an actor has the ability to resist pressure from others will they contemplate whether they can be the actor to generate pressure. Countries possessing sufficient reservoirs of power should therefore have both greater autonomy of action and be better placed to apply pressure on other actors.
What the past few years have demonstrated is the relative decline of U.S. compellence power and the rise of other countries deterrence power. Certainly the recent uses of U.S. military force haven't yielded the expected results. In the economic realm, countries like India and Brazil can veto WTO negotiation rounds in a way that simply wasn't possible 15 years ago. Similarly, China can resist U.S. jawboning on its exchange rate policy far more than in the past.
On the other hand, neither U.S. deterrent power nor other countries' compellence power has changed all that much, even in the economic realm. The rest of the G-20 can scream as loud as they want, but quantitative easing is going to continue. China has tried to find ways to use its newly found financial muscle to force changes in the international system, to little avail. To be sure, Russia, China and others can compel countries on their immediate periphery, but even a glance at the 2008 Russian-Georgian war suggests that even modest efforts like these are expensive and messy.
So... we live in a world in which more actors have vetoes over systemic change but no actor has the ability to truly compel change. This leads to lots of talk about "G-zero worlds" and so forth.
Just to be provocative, however, I wonder if what's truly changed is the extinction of compellence power as we know it. The primary, ne plus ultra tools of compellence require a willingness to kill, jail or starve a lot of people. Recent flare-ups like Iran in 2009 and Egypt right now suggests that such actions are possible at the domestic level, but pretty damn costly; even authoritarian countries flinch at using brute force on a domestic population. Cross-border efforts are even more expensive in terms of both material and reputational costs.
This isn't the end of power, but it might be the end of one particular dimension of power. I'm not entirely convinced that this supposition is true, and am willing/eager to hear counterarguments. That said, I still hereby claim The End of Power as my title, so everyone else just back off, OK?
More seriously, am I missing anything?
My last post on the role of political science and political scientists in dealing with Egypt generated some interesting responses via the blogosphere, e-mail, comments, etc. Let's deal with all of 'em.
First, Apoorva Shah responds with the following:
I’m not blaming what happened in Egypt on political scientists, as the title of his blog post implies. Rather, I’m saying that the methods with which the political scientists in our academy study the world are so rigid that policy makers imbued in such scholasticism did not appropriately react and make immediate policy decisions when our foreign policy was on the line. Simply put, our administration equivocated. I think they were too confused by all the “variables” involved in Egypt: the protesters themselves, Israel, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hosni Mubarak, etc. In other words, their mental multiple variable regressions failed to produce statistical significance, so they sent mixed messages instead....
None of this is to say that we should shut ourselves off from structured thinking about politics and international affairs. In fact, it should be quite the opposite. Our political scientists shouldn’t be hiding themselves behind theoretical models. They should be studying more history, getting on the ground, doing qualitative research. But look at the syllabus of any graduate level “qualitative methods” class, and I guarantee you it will be just as mind-numbing as their quantitative methods courses.
Perhaps a few months or years from now political science will help us clarify what happened in Egypt over this past week, and it may even look back and dictate what should have been the correct U.S. response. But none of the academic work to date helped policy makers make the right decision when it mattered this week. And that’s the crux of this story. In crunch time, the political scientists failed to get the policy right.
On Shah's first point -- that "policy makers imbued in such scholasticism did not appropriately react" -- well, to get all political science-y, I don't know what the hell he's talking about. What evidence, if any, is there to suggest that Obama administration policymakers were paralyzed by rigid adherence to political science paradigms? Looking at the policy principals, what's striking about the Obama administration is that most of the key actors don't have much academic background per se. Tom Donilon is a politico, for example. Hillary Clinton is a politico's politico. I could go on, but you get the idea.
One thing all social scientists want to see is evidence to support an assertion. So, I'm calling out Shah to back up his point: what evidence is there that the U.S. government was slow to react because of adherence to "scholasticism"? Simply responding "but the response was slow!" doesn't cut it, either. There are lots of possible causal explanations for a slow policy response -- bureaucratic inertia, conflicting policy priorities, interest group capture, poor intelligence gathering, etc. Why is "scholasticism" to blame?
Shah's last two paragraphs are also confusing. Encouraging "structured thinking" requires an acceptance that theories are a key guide to understanding a ridiculously complex world. Area knowledge and deep historical backgrounds are useful too -- oh, and so are statistical techniques. The judgment to assess when to apply which area of knowledge, however, is extremely hard to teach and extremely hard to learn. And, just to repeat a point from that last post, some political scientists got Egypt right. Whether policymakers were listening is another question entirely.
A deeper question is why Shah's view of political science is so widespread. A fellow political scientist e-mailed the following on this point:
I think there is a deeper problem here. We political scientists/political economists may be aware of all of this, but I sense that it is too easy for outside observers to come to the conclusions Shah's post illustrates. Quick perusal of journal articles and conference papers, some textbooks, and a great deal of current graduate (and some undergraduate) education in the field can easily lead a rational and intelligent observer to conclude that political scientists are indeed only concerned with plugging cases into models, caring mostly about the model and little about actual political dynamics. (Have you seen conference presentations in which grad students lay out their dissertation models? Often sounds more like Shah's description than yours.) Practitioners may share your understanding of the role of theory, but they often don't do a good job of making this clear to non-specialist readers...and I think to themselves. I'm not sure what to do about this, but I suspect that Shah's kind of reading of the discipline is just too easy to come to and can seem quite reasonable.
Hmmm.... no, I'm not completely buying this explanation, for a few reasons. First, as I noted in the past, there are good and valid reasons why academic political science seems so inpenetrable to outsiders. Second, if this was really the reason that the foreign policy community disdains political scuence, then the economic policy community would have started ignoring economics beginning around, oh, 1932. Economic journals and presentations are far more impenetrable, and yet I rarely hear mainstream policymakers or think-tankers bash economists for this fact [Umm..... should they bash economists for this?--ed. I'll leave that to the economists to
construct clashing formal models debate].
Why is this? This gets to the third reason -- the fundamental difference between economic policy and foreign policy is that the former community accepts the idea that economic methodologies and theory-building enterprises have value, and are worth using as a guide to policymaking. This doesn't mean economists agree on everything, but it does mean they are all speaking a common language and accept the notion of external validity checks on their arguments.
That consensus simply does not exist within the foreign policy community, and Shah simply provides another data point to back up that assertion. Many members of the foreign policy community explicitly reject the notion that social science methodologies and techniques can explain much in world politics. They therefore are predisposed to reject the kind of scholarship that political scientists of all stripes generate. This might be for well-founded reasons, it might be simple
innumeracy hostility to the academy, or it might be a combination of the two. I'd love to have a debate about whether that's a good or bad thing, but my point is that's the reality we face.
Am I missing anything?
Pundits are clearly scrambling to figure out what the hell is happening in Egypt, and what Egypt means for the rest of the world. And I'm beginning to notice that some of them are blaming international relations theory for being asleep at the wheel.
First, over at AEI's Enterprise blog, Apoorva Shah argues that these events suggest the poverty of modern political science:
Did anything in academia foresee the unrest in Egypt, and more importantly, can something explain how Western foreign policy can appropriately react to the events? Of all the “schools” of IR thought—liberal internationalism, realism, isolationism, etc.—did any theory make sense of this and guide us on what to do next?
My amateur opinion is no. Because of an academic world obsessed with increasingly complex empirical analysis where every revolution is a mere data point and every country a pawn in the great game, our political science departments and the scholars they have trained (many of whom serve in and advise our current administration) were caught flat-footed, searching for some logical, rational approach to a particularly unique and country-specific event. While digging for the right IR theory, they instead produced a mishmash of mixed messages and equivocation.
If I’m wrong, please correct me.
OK... you're wrong. Let me correct you.
First of all, let's clarify the division of labor in political science a bit. Crudely put, international relations focuses on the interactions between governments and other transnational and subnational actors. Comparative politics focuses on the domestic politics within countries.
To put this in the context of Egypt, it's the job of comparative politics scholars to explain/predict when we should see mass protests and when those protests might cause authoritarian regimes to buckle. It's the job of international relations scholars to predict what effects the regime change/authoritarian crackdown would have on both Egypt's foreign policy and the situation in the Middle East.
Calling out IR scholars for not predicting the uprising in Egypt is like calling out a cardiologist for not detecting a cancerous growth.
But here's the thing -- as Laura Rozen has observed, political scientists and those they've trained did call this one!! From her September 2010 story:
A bipartisan group of senators and foreign policy analysts is pushing the Obama administration to prepare for the looming end of Hosni Mubarak’s rule in Egypt by putting a new emphasis on Egyptian political reform and human rights....
“The bottom line is that we are moving into a period of guaranteed instability in Egypt,” said Robert Kagan, a foreign policy scholar with the Brookings Institution who co-founded the Egypt Working Group with Michele Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “So the idea [that] we can keep puttering on as if nothing is going to change is a mistake. ... What we need now is to move to deliverables.”
The pressure from the academic and political community comes amid widespread expectation that the 82-year-old Mubarak — who reportedly is seriously ill — may soon cede power to his son, Gamal.
If that's not enough, consider that Joshua Tucker blogged about the spread of revolutions last week, before Egypt blew up. Even before that, my fellow political scientist and FP blogger Marc Lynch's January 5th blog post:
For years, both Arab and Western analysts and many political activists have warned of the urgent need for reform as such problems built and spread. Most of the Arab governments have learned to talk a good game about the need for such reform, while ruthlessly stripping democratic forms of any actual ability to challenge their grip on power....
Meanwhile, the energy and desperation across disenfranchised but wired youth populations will likely become increasingly potent. It's likely to manifest not in organized politics and elections, but in the kind of outburst of social protest we're seeing now in Tunisia.... and, alarmingly, in the kinds of outburst of social violence which we can see in Jordan and Egypt. Whether that energy is channeled into productive political engagement or into anomic violence would seem to be one of the crucial variables shaping the coming period in Arab politics. Right now, the trends aren't in the right direction.
Not surprisingly, the Obama administration met with many of these people this week.
Finally, a small point I made earlier this week regarding Mubarak's options:
Everyone assumes that the Egyptian leader is a dead man walking, and given his speech on Friday, I can understand that sentiment. There are, however, remaining options for Mubarak to pursue, ranging from a full-blown 1989 Tiananmen square crackdown to a slow-motion 2009 Tehran-style crackdown.
Obviously, these aren't remotely good options for anyone involved. The first rule in political science, however, is that leaders want to stay in power, and Mubarak has given no indication that he wants to leave. (emphasis added)
Alas, based on this morning's events, it appears that Mubarak has selected the Tehran 2009 option.
So I think Shah is pretty much wrong. That said, I agree that there are profound limits on what IR theory can do in a situation like Egypt. Ross Douthat sorta made this point earlier this week:
[Americans] take refuge in foreign policy systems: liberal internationalism or realpolitik, neoconservatism or noninterventionism. We have theories, and expect the facts to fall into line behind them. Support democracy, and stability will take care of itself. Don’t meddle, and nobody will meddle with you. International institutions will keep the peace. No, balance-of-power politics will do it.
But history makes fools of us all. We make deals with dictators, and reap the whirlwind of terrorism. We promote democracy, and watch Islamists gain power from Iraq to Palestine. We leap into humanitarian interventions, and get bloodied in Somalia. We stay out, and watch genocide engulf Rwanda. We intervene in Afghanistan and then depart, and watch the Taliban take over. We intervene in Afghanistan and stay, and end up trapped there, with no end in sight.
Sooner or later, the theories always fail. The world is too complicated for them, and too tragic.
Douthat is sorta correct -- but it's precisely because the world is so complex that we rely on theories. While they're often wrong, they're vastly superior to the alternatives.
Consider that, instead of explicit theories, a lot of commentators are simply asking whether 2011 Egypt parallels 1978/79 Iran. This is a great question to ask, but the only way to answer it is to rely on explicit or implict theories of how revolutions play out and how the international system reacts to them.
Of course the theories will fail from time to time. Unfortunately, this is not rocket science, because rocket science is way easier than the social sciences. There are too many variables, too many idiosyncratic elements to each case, too much endogeneity, and so forth. But simply saying "the world is tragic" is a pretty lousy substitute to organizing foreign policy.
Shorter Logan: it's a big deal, and the insularity of policymakers is to blame.
Shorter Pillar: it's not that big a deal, and the eggheadedness of academics is to blame.
I have some sympathy to both sides of the argument here. Pillar is correct to point out the ways in which this gap has been exaggerated, and Logan is correct to point out that there's still a gulf to traverse between the two communities. Both posts are worth reading in full.
Then we get to Jacob Heilbrunn's intervention:
Should policymakers pay attention to academics? Should policy makers actually be academics? No and no. For the most part, policymakers should avoid them like the plague....
I would say that SAIS, the Fletcher School, and other such finishing schools for foreign affairs mavens have supplanted traditional political science departments, which became enamored of game and rational-choice theory. The only truly serious discipline in political science is political theory--Aristotle to Weber to Rawls. Is there much in international relations, by the way, that has not already been discussed by Thucydides--a dip into the Sicilian Expedition might have served George W. Bush well before he headed into Iraq (emphasis added).
Hah!! Fletcher wins!! In your face, traditional political science departments!! Heilbrunn has authoritatively--- no... wait, I can't do it. I can't gloat over a horses**t argument like this one, even if it advances my home institution.
I have to assume that the Committee on Social Thought has some of Heilbrunn's family hostage to produce that blog post. It's so rife with blanket assertions that I'll be warm all winter reading it.
First, as Pillar noted in his post, and speaking from my own experience, the training involved in getting a political science Ph.D. or other social science doctorate is actually pretty useful when stepping into the policymaking world. Even if the theoretical models and empirical results of political science might be contested, the mode of analytical thinking usually leads to some useful insights.
Second, I love Thucydides more than most IR scholars, and I teach him on a regular basis. Having read History of the Peloponnesian War every other year, however, yeah, there's actually a fair amount that's not in Thucydides that is part and parcel of modern-day international relations. There's very little on international political economy and/or economic interdependence in the text. The material on the democratic peace is interesting but radically incomplete. Last I checked neither Athens nor Sparta possessed nuclear weapons, which even realist lovers of Thucydides concede is a game-changer. I came up with those in less than five minutes, so I'm thinking that there's more if I bothered to ponder about it some more.
As for what's in Thucydides, there's so much fascinating content that no consensus exists about the key takeaway points. Ask five people who've read History of the Peloponnesian War about its central theme and you'll get ten answers.
Thucydides is a great text, and I want everyone to read it, but there's a lot more out there in the world. As for political theory being the only "discipline" in political science, I'll leave it to other political science bloggers to
open up a can of whup-ass and address Heilbrunn's argument.
Heilbrunn might be correct that institutions like Fletcher have more of an impact on policymaking than standard political science departments. Whether's that's as good of a thing as Heilbrunn thinks, however, is a seriously dubious proposition.
John Mearsheimer has the lead essay in the latest issue of The National Interest. Entitled "Imperial by Design," the main thesis is not going to shock anyone familiar with Mearsheimer's theoretical and policy writings over the past two decades:
The root cause of America's troubles is that it adopted a flawed grand strategy after the Cold War. From the Clinton administration on, the United States rejected [grand strategies of offshore balancing or selective engagement], instead pursuing global dominance, or what might alternatively be called global hegemony, which was not just doomed to fail, but likely to backfire in dangerous ways if it relied too heavily on military force to achieve its ambitious agenda.
The rest of the article details the flawed strategies pursued by the Clinton and Bush administrations, and then closes with this warning:
The United States needs a new grand strategy. Global dominance is a prescription for endless trouble -- especially in its neoconservative variant. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is populated from top to bottom with liberal imperialists who remain committed to trying to govern the world, albeit with less emphasis on big-stick diplomacy and more emphasis on working with allies and international institutions. In effect, they want to bring back Bill Clinton's grand strategy....
President Obama is making a serious mistake heading down this road. He should instead return to the grand strategy of offshore balancing, which has served this country well for most of its history and offers the best formula for dealing with the threats facing America -- whether it be terrorism, nuclear proliferation or a traditional great-power rival.
Mearsheimer's essay has drawn praise from others at FP, but I confess to finding it conceptually fuzzier than most of his other work.
He's positing that a global dominance strategy doesn't work, and that the post-Cold War era demonstrates that it doesn't work. To demonstrate this, however, he focuses the overwhelming majority of the essay on the Bush administration. Fair enough, except that he's arguing that Obama is copying Bill Clinton and not George W. Bush. Here is the entirety of Mearsheimer's discussion of the Clinton period:
Bill Clinton was the first president to govern exclusively in the post-Cold War world, and his administration pursued global dominance from start to finish. Yet Clinton's foreign-policy team was comprised of liberal imperialists; so, although the president and his lieutenants made clear that they were bent on ruling the world-blatantly reflected in former-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's well-known comment that "if we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future"-they employed military force reluctantly and prudently. They may have been gung ho about pushing the unipolar moment onward and upward, but for all their enthusiasm, even these democracy promoters soon saw that nation building was no easy task.
During his first year in office, Clinton carelessly allowed the United States to get involved in nation building in Somalia. But when eighteen American soldiers were killed in a firefight in Mogadishu in October 1993 (famously rendered in Black Hawk Down), he immediately pulled U.S. troops out of the country. In fact, the administration was so spooked by the fiasco that it refused to intervene during the Rwandan genocide in the spring of 1994, even though the cost of doing so would have been small. Yes, Clinton did commit American forces to Haiti in September 1994 to help remove a brutal military regime, but he had to overcome significant congressional opposition and he went to great lengths to get a U.N. resolution supporting a multinational intervention force. Most of the American troops were out of Haiti by March 1996, and at no time was there a serious attempt at nation building.
Clinton did talk tough during the 1992 presidential campaign about using American power against Serbia to halt the fighting in Bosnia, but after taking office, he dragged his feet and only used airpower in 1995 to end the fighting. He went to war against Serbia for a second time in 1999 -- this time over Kosovo -- and once again would only rely on airpower, despite pressure to deploy ground forces from his NATO commander, General Wesley Clark, and then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
By early 1998, the neoconservatives were pressuring Clinton to use military force to remove Saddam Hussein. The president endorsed the long-term goal of ousting the Iraqi leader, but he refused to go to war to make that happen. The United States under Bill Clinton was, as Richard Haass put it, a "reluctant sheriff." (emphasis added)
There are some factual errors in this account (Clinton did not pull out immediately after the Black Hawk Down incident -- in fact, he bolstered U.S. forces and then withdrew six months later). More importantly, however, the policies described in this section suggest that Mearsheimer is going Vizzini on the phrase "global dominance." There's very little in the quoted section that bears resemblance to the bolded statement -- at best, it looks imperial by accident rather than design. That doesn't sound like a global dominance strategy to me -- and nowhere in this section does Mearsheimer describe the strategic costs that came with Clinton's approach.
(Maybe one could argue that Clinton's reluctant successes in Bosnia and Kosovo paradoxically bolstered Americans' faith in the utility of force, and that this faith paved the way for neoconservatism to pursue a more militarized approach. But Mearsheimer doesn't make that argument, and I don't think it holds up terribly well).
Mearsheimer is warning us that Obama is trying to replicate Clinton's grand strategy (though he offers minimal evidence to support this assertion). His implicit argument is that Clinton's strategy was a disaster, but he provides no evidence to support this assertion, and I don't think it's obviously correct either.
Instead, Mearsheimer devotes page after page to chronicling the errors of the Bush administration's grand strategy. Which is fine, but after the 5,476th evisceration of the neoconservative grand strategy, diminishing marginal returns do start to kick in. Bush 43's errors of strategy, management and implementation are pretty sui generis, to the point where it's dangerous to generalize from the Bush administration to the entire post-Cold War era.
Maybe offshore balancing is the right grand strategy to pursue, the Clintonian approach was blinkered, and Obama's approach is flawed. These are good propositions to debate and argue. The tragedy of Mearsheimer's "Imperial By Design" is that all of these points are asserted rather than argued.
If David Brooks is announcing his Sydney Awards for the year, then it's time to start garnering nominations for the 2010 Albies, in honor of the great political economist Albert O. Hirschman.
To repeat and update the description from last year's nominations announcement:
I'm talking about any book, journal article, magazine piece, op-ed, or blog post published in the
20092010 calendar year that made you rethink how the world works in such a way that you will never be able "unthink" the argument.
The winners will be announced on December 31st. In the meantime, readers are strongly encouraged to submit their nominations (with links if possible) in the comments.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.