Too-quick Reaction Force?

Some of you blog-frequenters may have seen these posts by Edward Carpenter at the Duck of Minerva over the past week or so. I read it, expecting some really interesting commentary on the way that recent conflicts in the Middle East and Africa have been waged tactically and operationally. I got a bit of that, but mainly, I found a rather blunt and frankly worrying proposal for a standing Quick Reaction Force (QRF) to stage “short-term, limited intervention[s] on the side of existing governmental bodies,” or “prop-up and mop-up” campaigns in the face of networked insurgencies seeking to overthrow the government. Continue reading

Context and Prediction in Violent Conflict — The Islamic State

Stathis Kalyvas has written a useful piece on uncertainty surrounding the Islamic State’s logic and strategy. In it, he argues that it is exceedingly difficult to predict outcomes in substate violence and civil war, and that the current conflicts in the Middle East are no different. Insurgent, revolutionary, and/or radical groups generally do not pick one single tactic and stick to it from start to finish at all levels. Continue reading

Karate in the Social Sciences

This is one of those blog posts that’s part ramble, part thinking aloud, and part asking questions that I don’t really expect answers to.

Many of my academically-oriented friends like to look into the scholarship on their hobbies. Medical and socio-cultural aspects of food, research in musicology, and particularly the history and politics of sports. Right now, near the end of the World Cup and the ongoing controversy surrounding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, interest in soccer politics and sport activism is understandably high. But while attempting to look into one of my own interests, martial arts, I’ve been able to come up with very little scholarly work. Continue reading

What Does Voter Turnout Really Mean? Status Quo in Egypt

While elections and electoral processes are frequent topics within Comparative Politics, but the details and intricacies have largely escaped my readings so far. Most of my research has focused on military politics and authoritarian rule in the Middle East. But recently, discussion about Egypt’s second presidential elections since the 2011 revolution has brought the issue of voter turnout to the foreground.

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One State, Two State, Dead State, Jew(ish) State: Possible Futures in Social Science


Source: USAID

You have to wonder if John Kerry enjoyed his coffee on the morning of September 14th, 2013. It was a Sunday morning, and the morning after Yom Kippur. Mr. Kerry would have just left Geneva, where hard talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Syria would eventually pay off with a negotiated high diplomatic compromise. But if Mr. Kerry opened up the New York Times that morning, he would not have been thinking about chemical weapons and great power politics. Sitting in his breakfast nook, Mr. Kerry would undoubtedly have been thinking about the 3 foot tall map of Israel splattered across the Sunday Review, borders painted over borders like an Arthur Dove watercolor.

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ISA South

I spent the past two days at the ISA South conference, held at Queen’s University of Charlotte, and I wanted to share a couple highlights from the panels. The theme of the conference was Public-Private Partnerships: Responding to Global Challenges, but there were panels and roundtables on a variety of issues across IR, Foreign Policy, and area studies.


I went to six panels:
State and Security in East Asia
Confronting the Challenge of Terrorism
Responding to Conflict: International Security Politics
After the Arab Spring: Political Responses in the Middle East
US Foreign and Military Policy
Foreign Policymaking in the United States