Saturday, December 17, 2011

Insurgency and Terrorism

I've received a few comments on this light-hearted post in which I expressed surprise at how much trouble my students were having with what was intended to be a gimme MC question.  I thought I'd take the opportunity to explain further what I actually had to say about the topic in class, in case anyone is interested.

What More Can I Do?

I gave a take home MC final in my War & International Security class.  There were 30 questions, and the students had to answer 25 of their choosing.  Of the 30 questions, 6 were designed to be very challenging, 11 moderately difficult, and 13 somewhere between easy and absurdly easy.

The question below is one of the questions that was meant to be painfully easy.  Yet, to my surprise, I have received more emails about this question than every other question combined.  And, yes, those emails seemed to be from students who were sincerely confused as to what the best answer was.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The US and Pakistan Do Not Need Couple's Therapy

This weekend's edition of the NYTimes magazine has a piece about the US-Pakistani relationship that perfectly illustrates everything I love and hate about journalism at the same time.

Which Military Option Does Walt Want Off The Table?

Steve Walt discusses 5 potential "game changers" here.  Number 1 is for the US to take the military option off the table.

I think Walt is on to something, but he's got the details of the argument he's trying to make confused.

Resolve and Victory

How does an actor's resolve influence the likelihood that they achieve victory in war?

You'd think this is a simple question.  How could the answer not be that more resolved actors do better in war?  

Well, there aren't many studies that have tried to offer a systematic evaluation of this relationship, and there's at least one study that finds the opposite of what you'd expect.

What should we make of that?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Miscellaneous Links

Below the fold.

As is now the norm, mostly from my Twitter feed (@filarena).

What Does A Nuclear Iran Mean?

If history is any guide, it means two things:

1.) Iran gets its way more often


2) Other states will go nuclear in response.

What it almost certainly does not mean is that Israel and/or the US will suffer a nuclear attack.

Friday, December 9, 2011

My War & International Security Class, Part IV

Material available here.  This section focuses first on some basic myth-busting with respect to the causes of civil conflict, then develops a unified theoretical explanation of insurgency and terrorism, drawing on my work with Brian Hardt (R&R at JPR).

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Question About Grading

Should this actual exam answer from a final recently given by a friend of mine further persuade me that I made the right decision by recently switching to all multiple choice exams, or is this a good argument for switching back?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Frequency of Insurgency and US Funding Priorities

Andrew Exum says the US should continue to focus training troops for COIN, which seems reasonable enough.

What I'm not sure I understand is why he thinks it matters that insurgency is the modal form of warfare (as he notes, 83% of CoW wars are intrastate wars).

Miscellaneous Links

Sorry for the light blogging lately.  The end of the semester is killing me.  I'll make up for it over semester break.

For now, some links, below the fold.  If you're following me on Twitter (@filarena for those who aren't), you've seen most of this.

You may be surprised that I've got nothing on US-Pakistani relations, where the biggest news (for those interested in the topics of interest to this blog) has been lately.  I learned my lesson last spring.  I'm still trying to get a handle on that.  I'll post more about it soon.