Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Miscellaneous Links

1. More on why and how the US is losing the "War on Terror".  And it's not just symbolic "we gave up the moral high ground" crap.  It's "al'Qaeda wants us to spend ourselves into bankruptcy, and we're hard at work doing just that."

2. Cloudy with a chance of insurgency. (H/T Andrew Boutton).  Some (of the many) reasons you shouldn't believe the recent Nature article.

3. Josh Goldstein on why we're closer to world peace than you think.  Whether you buy the overall conclusion or the arguments about how/why we got here, there are some basic facts here that are not as widely known as they ought to be.

4. No two countries with Subway restaurants have ever gone to war.  Obviously tongue-in-cheek, but I think the debate about whether it's development or democracy that brought peace to the Western world is far from settled.

5. Egypt considers buffer zone with Israel.  The deterioration of Israeli-Egyptian ties continues.  Probably not heading back to anything nearly as ugly as the 50s and 60s, but something to keep an eye on while you're busy prematurely celebrating other glorious triumphs of the Arab Spring.  (How many democracies have been established as a result so far, by the way?  Oh, right, none.)

6. Has anyone noticed that al'Qaeda bombed Algeria to punish them for supporting the Qaddafis?  Do any of the US academics and pundits basking in the glow of victory in Libya care about the fact that AQ sees the Libyan rebels as allies?

7. Why did Japan surrender?  (H/T Hein Goemans.)  Probably not because of the atomic bombings.

8. Ongoing Iraqi violence almost makes American invasion seem pointless.  If you don't love the Onion, I pity you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pax Europa I

Patterns of European Conflict

Before we start assessing any of the would-be explanations for the transformation of Europe, let's step back and take a look at what it is we're trying to explain.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

If You Only Had Different Preferences...

Angus at KPC argues that it is somewhat less than useful to criticize the Fed for failing to commit itself to a future course of action that it can't credibly commit to anyway.

I know entirely too little about monetary policy to comment on this.  I only bring it up because it's a nice springboard for me to complain about similarly useless criticisms that one sometimes hears with respect to security policy.

Namely, governments are sometimes criticized for announcing that they will pursue policies that detractors perceive to be sub-optimal, even under conditions where it is far from obvious that the government could have credibly committed to pursuing the allegedly optimal policy anyway.  That is, I see a parallel between recent criticisms of the Fed and objections to announcing timetables for troop withdrawals.  That's an issue that several governments now face or have faced recently, but I'll focus on the US and Afghanistan.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Causes of War, Correlates of War, and Issues of Contention

One of the many, many failings of K-12 education in the US is that students are not taught to differentiate between diagnosing causes of war and documenting things that happened prior to a war's outbreak or identifying the primary issue(s) over which the parties disagreed.

Every semester, every year, I teach a class called War & International Security, and one of my primary goals in that course is to get students to see the difference.  It's no easy task.  As a new semester begins and I find myself dusting off my lecture slides (incidentally, I will post revised ones throughout the semester, as I did in the spring), I find myself thinking about whether and how I can make the point more clearly.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Let's Not Get Ahead of Ourselves on Libya

I'm almost ready to begin regular posting again.  Not quite, but I wanted to offer some quick comments on Libya, seeing as I had so much to say about it earlier in the year.

There have been a number of reactions from other IR bloggers so far (herehere, herehere, here, and here, for starters).  They range from cautious to celebratory, but overall have been quite even-handed, particularly compared to what you're seeing elsewhere on the interwebs.  I have just a few points to add.  Predictably enough, my remarks are somewhat less than optimistic.