Sunday, June 26, 2011

Miscellaneous Links

1. What (legislative) bargaining looks like.  Note that one side of the debate has religious motivations, and yet that did not render the issue space indivisible or prevent agreement.

2. The unity government that the US pushed for in Iraq is in a state of paralysis.  Among other things, this is holding up negotiations over whether US forces will remain in Iraq.

3. Intellibriefs.  In case you don't have enough sources for commentary on current events.

4. Israel and Turkey mending ties.  Not unexpected in itself, but at least to me, it's a little surprising that it looks like reconciliation will be brought about by Israel lobbying against UN criticism.

5. Hezbollah moving missiles from Syria to Lebanon.  If Turkey asking Israel to protect it from UN criticism isn't strange enough for you, surely Lebanon being seen as a safe haven to which one might gravitate when fleeing upheaval elsewhere is a sign that this ain't your father's Middle East.

6. Intelligence squared debate on whether the US should spread democracy in the Middle East.  From 2007, but no less relevant today, even if some of the specific arguments have a different resonance now.

7. UK border agent puts his wife on terrorist watch list.  Good to know that no-fly lists are good for something.

Excellent Discussion of War in Afghanistan

Offered without comment.

Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Out as a Professor

There's lots of good advice out there for new faculty, including tons of books that are supposed to be really good (such as this one and this one).  But one of the best pieces of advice is to use time wisely, and reading self-help books didn't seem consistent with that one, so I didn't bother.

Self-help books may or may not be worth your time, but you'll find most people who've gone through it all already are glad to share their thoughts with you, often unprompted.  Listen to them.  And, at least at first, make a point of asking for advice.  Ask the same questions of the advanced APs and the tenured folks. They'll almost certainly have different, though equally valuable, things to say.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Those Evil -isms

In response to David Lake's recent piece condemning the -isms of IR theory, Brian Rathbun points out that all of the problems with that apply equally to rationalism.  Moreover, he contends, these days the rationalists have established a hegemony that refuses to acknowledge its own existence, which is even worse than the old debates between realists and their various critics.

I'm sympathetic to much of what Rathbun writes.  But I take issue with some of his points.

The Afghan Drawdown (updated)

Not quite what I expected.  Though I think the NYTimes is overselling how much of a victory this is for Biden.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Announcement on Afghanistan to come Tomorrow

Reports the NYTimes.  This article gives the impression that the only debate is when the 30k "surge" troops will come home.  There is no question that they will be withdrawn before 2012, also no question that the other 70k (roughly double the fighting force present in Afghanistan when Obama took office) will remain past that time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What is the Purpose of Academic Blogging?

Dan Drezner poses the question here.  He's mostly weighing in on events at HuffPo, but I thought I'd use the opportunity to talk about why I enjoy blogging, and why I think the field benefits from having academics blog.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Update on Pakistani Cooperation with bin Laden Raid

I've mentioned on here before that there was some confusion in the aftermath of the raid on bin Laden's compound about whether the Pakistani government had at least offered implicit support or not.

Some new information sheds light on that, indicating that the best answer is both yes and no.  As ever with Pakistan, the question is who you mean by "the government".

Why US Efforts to Export Democracy Will Fail

I recently discovered Jay Ulfelder's excellent blog, Dart-Throwing Chimp.  I wish I'd stumbled across it sooner.

I'd like to draw your attention to two recent posts in particular, though there's lots more worth reading than what I'm going to focus on below.  So go check it out.  This post will still be here waiting for you when you're done.

Poll: Upcoming Troop Reduction

This post concerns a new poll I've posted.  If you're interested, look below the fold for details.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Miscellaneous Links

1. New Lebanese government dominated by Hezbollah and its allies.  Government vows to end Israeli occupation.  But I'm sure they don't mean by force.  I mean, this is a democratically elected government, and democratically elected governments don't contemplate using force against other democratic governments, right?  And I'm sure the same goes for Israel.

2. Hamas rejects Fayyad as head of unity government.  Fayyad being the guy who has received praise around the world for bringing effective governance to the West Bank.  What a terrible choice.

3. AKP returned to power in Turkey.  But with a diminished majority, well short of what would have been necessary to push proposed reforms to the constitution.

4a. US taking advantage of power vacuum in Yemen to intensify air raids.  b. Yemeni opposition in power sharing talks with government.

5a. Clinton presses AU to turn against Qaddafi.  b. Germany recognizes Libyan opposition as legitimate government.

6. Syrian army extends campaign.

7. War may be averted between North and South Sudan after all.

8. US stopped North Korean ship allegedly shipping missile technology to Burma.

9. You can find frequent updates on current conflicts at Goldstein's new blog.

10. Blogging Intro to IR.

11. For fans of the other HBO series that every political scientist should watch, here's the short answer for why we had to endure such suffering last night.  The long answer has something to do with Ned's failure to appreciate that dictators who provide a minimal winning coalition with plenty of goods can hold onto power no matter how terrible they may be, but that doesn't fit so neatly on a jpeg.

12. The first HBO series every political scientist should watch is, of course, the Wire.  Speaking of which, here's David Simon's response to AG Eric Holder's recent request/demand for a sixth season.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rat Choice Apologetics V

Why Model?

This post continues the gradual shift towards discussing general issues associated with formal modeling rather than issues specific to "rationality".*

I've said some of this before.  But, hopefully at least, this will be the clearest statement I've offered of my views on what we can and cannot ask of theoretical models.  This will also, hopefully, help to set up future discussions, such as some posts on addressing specific criticisms of common modeling assumptions in IR (like the focus on dyadic crises) and a post comparing the use of game theoretic models to computational models.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Joys of Peer Review (updated)

I'm still really backlogged with various things, so I won't be picking back up with the posts on rat choice or Europe for a little while yet.  But I thought some of you might find the following to be amusing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Public More Supportive of Afghan War

I didn't want to admit in public that I expected this (forget the misleading headline and note that support is up 12 points since March), having already made some statements that were too hasty (some of which I later felt were at least partially vindicated) in the wake of the capture of OBL.  But with the safety of this new poll being released, I'm now comfortable saying I did in fact have serious doubts about claims that his capture would open up a window of opportunity to accelerate the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Miscellaneous Links (updated)

1. Update on the troubled marriage between the US and Pakistan.  Most important point: though Pakistan is denying it, it appears Pakistan has finally begun a military operation in North Waziristan now that the US has complied with requests to remove troops from Pakistan.

2. Obama administration to make an announcement later this month on troop levels in Afghanistan.  Gates and military commanders want a larger fighting force, other elements of the administration are pushing for a more rapid draw down.

3. Republican opposition to the war in Afghanistan is growing.  Between this and the previous link, one might expect to see the administration announce a more rapid withdrawal than initially planned later this month.  I remain skeptical, for reasons I've discussed on here many times before.

4a. Netanyahu accuses Syria of diversionary foreign policy.  b. More on Syrian protests.  c. Here too.

5. Deadliest day for US forces in Iraq in more than two years. Not that there have been tons of signs that things are about to get a lot more violent in Iraq for some time now or anything.

6. Tenuous truce in Yemen.  Me thinks Saleh may find you can't go home again.

7. Libyan rebels retake Western town.  Things are going great, as long as you don't read between the lines.  Like when British Foreign Secretary Hague insists the rebels are committed to democracy, but at the same time is pressing the rebels to clarify what a post-Qaddafi Libya would look like. Not that anyone is worried about that, of course.

8. Reversal of democracy or (temporary) plateau?

9. Dawning of a new age of fossil fuels?  (H/T Brandon Valeriano)  If true, what are the implications for Middle East politics?

10. Jon Stewart, on fire.  The last line is the best, but the whole thing is great.


UPDATE: Added an additional links (numbers 3 and 9).

Friday, June 3, 2011

Domestic Opposition and Libya

Does the resolution just passed by the House matter?

Yes and no.  But I'd argue that it's more yes than no.  Or at least, to the extent that the answer is no, it's not for the reasons the NYTimes suggests.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Miscellaneous Links

I'm back from a brief hiatus during which I was visiting my family.  Regular posting should resume soon.  In the mean time, some links.

1. Former Mossad chief Dagan: An Israeli strike on Iran would mean a war that Israel cannot withstand.  Favorite quote: "...sometimes good sense and a good decision don't have anything to do with being elected."  Crazy talk.  We all know that that leaders of democracies avoid wars they can't win precisely because of electoral concerns.  I mean, we do know that, don't we?

2. UN accuses both sides of Libyan conflict of war crimes.  But only Qaddafi's count.  The opposition's crimes are "less numerous", so it's all good.  I mean, Qaddafi's the bad guy, and we're fighting to replace the bad guy with the good guys.  Like usual.  Simple enough, right?

3. According to Newsweek, Americans are mad as hell, which makes a revolt possible, but thankfully, Americans are also really optimistic, and "expectation is...the country's saving grace" (H/T Brandon Valeriano.)  Silly you.  You probably thought that complex political phenomena like rebellion depend upon the strategic decisions made by multiple actors both in and out of power rather than depending solely on the (presumed) emotional state of an undifferentiated mass public.  You would be wrong.  Anger -> rebellion, unless mitigated by optimism.  It's that simple.

4. What is Hugo Chavez up to? (H/T Kindred Winecoff).  Former diplomat Pineda sums it up quite well, “Russia and China are closer to the U.S. than they are to Venezuela, but Chávez thinks he can move them against the United States—it’s absurd."

5. Debating the value of education in America. (H/T Matt Zimmerman).  I wish the author made at least some attempt to distinguish normative theories about what role education should serve (e.g., what he calls Theory 2) from those that purport to explain the role that, for better or for worse, it does serve (e.g., Theory 1).  But still an interesting read.

6. PM's Question Time on whether college is worth the cost. Highly recommended.

7. Hug the Math. (H/T Brandon Valeriano).  If you buy just one, make sure it's the uniform distribution.

8. Some people just don't get the Onion. (H/T Doug Gibler).  What a sad, sad life they must lead.