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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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

Why the US Should Suspend Military Aid to Egypt – And Why It Won’t

Since January 2011, Egypt has witnessed chaos. An autocratic leader has been overthrown after thirty years, a military-led transition has produced contested constitutional declarations and parliaments, political violence has raged in the streets, the first democratically elected president took power and was himself overthrown, and the media and rights organizations have seen both unparalleled freedom and renewed repression. Throughout this period of instability, one thing has remained constant: the United States’ financial support of the Egyptian military. The US has been sending military aid to Egypt since the 1970s, reaching its current level of $1.3 billion per year in 1987. The continuation of foreign military financing (FMF) to Egypt is detrimental to the prospects for democracy in the country and contributes to severe human rights abuses; it should have been suspended long ago. But neither the Obama administration nor future governments is likely to cease sending Egypt the second-greatest military funding package in the world any time soon.

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