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

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

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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L.A. to Tehran Nonstop: Not With These Sanctions

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of exciting moments for Iran. President Hassan Rouhani has ushered in a much needed atmosphere of change domestically and internationally, and the world waits eagerly to see if he is able to achieve at least some of what he has promised. Following the momentous phone conversation with President Barack Obama, Rouhani announced that he has launched a study into the possibility of resuming direct flights between the United States and Iran. In fact one month earlier Iranian news sources were circulating a rumor that Iran Air and Delta Airlines would resume direct flights between the two countries for the first time since 1979. While the rumor was not completely accurate, Rouhani’s announcement confirms that the new administration is seeking to reestablish direct travel as part of the campaign to mend diplomatic relations. More importantly, the announcement draws attention to the topic of sanctions which directly affects the possibility of nonstop flights.

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Al-Shabaab’s Strategic Decline: Can Westgate turn the tide?

In the wake of the multi-day siege on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya which killed at least sixty people, many in the international community have questioned whether Al-Shabaab is a resurgent organization which could significantly threaten the recent gains made by the Somali government and the African Union’s peacekeeping force (AMISOM). While the attack in Kenya demonstrates a worrying level of tactical sophistication on the part of Al-Shabaab, it may not be enough to regain the ground the group has lost over the past three years.

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