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Category Archives: International Politics

Nationalism and post-colonial states’ security in the 20th century


The standard story IR and security studies tells us is that states are better able to protect themselves in the age of nationalism. The argument goes that because states could, post 1789, rely upon mass armies, constituted by people fighting for the “motherland” or the “fatherland”, deterrence was more likely to hold. This was because territorial grabs by sovereign states ... Read More »

Ten years on from the Iraq war


This month marks the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war (I wonder what Iraqis call it?). I recommend reading James Fallows’ piece on the whole thing, as well as Ta-Nehisi Coates’. Of course, trying to remember something — especially things as amorphous as “thoughts” and “feelings” — from ten years ago is a perilous exercise. But if ... Read More »

Arming your cake and eating it too

By: Freedom House - CC BY 2.0

I came across a news report on what third party forces are planning on doing next in the Syrian civil war, and came across this frankly absurd nugget: Officials in the United States and Europe have said the Obama administration is nearing a decision on whether to provide non-lethal assistance to carefully vetted fighters opposed to Syrian President Basher Assad, ... Read More »

Ordered to Kill, part 3 of 3: Who refuses to kill?

Photo credit:

In the first two parts of this series, I asked what type of soldier commits a mass killing. My last post emphasized the scary extent to which most people will conform to social pressure, including the pressure to kill innocents. Today, I want to ask what type of person will refuse orders to kill civilians. To see how soldiers answered ... Read More »

Things I Have Seen on the New York Subway

By: Annie Mole - CC BY 2.0

The New York subways are home to the most insane characters and sights you will ever encounter in your life. There’s always a story every day. Here are some of the ones I remember. Man Cuts His Nails Sitting right across from me, I saw a bald white guy in his mid thirties who looked pretty educated and well dressed, ... Read More »

Darwin Award of the Day

credit: Avon-Lake patch/Christina Johnson

Avon-Lake – OH has a website that carried this piece by local resident, Kathleen O’ Brien, on how ‘Animals Can’t Talk’. It was brought to my attention by @mattaikins via twitter, and I’m pasting it below because everyone needs to read it. (This is legit btw and NOT from The Onion.)   Signs that read “Deer Crossing” and the like are going ... Read More »

Why I Must Wear An American Accent

By: Rob Boudon - CC BY 2.0

A little while ago I was producing a radio documentary that required me to narrate the story in my own voice. I completed it, submitted it and forgot about it. A few months later, I revisited the piece and found myself horrified at the weird, alien voice I was hearing. I was speaking with an American accent, complete with rolling ... Read More »

Ordered to Kill, Part 2 of 3: Why do they do it?


In my previous post, I asked what type of person commits a mass killing during wartime. I noted that a similar pattern occurred in many massacres: a minority of sadistic soldiers enthusiastically led the killing, another minority refused, while most reluctantly participated. I also argued that the most common explanations do not hold up to scrutiny – few soldiers can ... Read More »

Independence or accession: thinking about Pakistan’s goals for Kashmir

Photo: The Hindu

Noted security studies expert Hafiz Saeed had this to say about developments in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, on this most auspicious of days: “No one could defeat the Muslims… If America had to run away, then India, you will have to leave Kashmir as well,” said Saeed amid chants of ‘al-jihad, al-jihad’. Saeed expressed support for all Kashmiri leaders and ... Read More »

Why isn’t there a “Muslim party” in India?

Indian Symbols

When might we expect the development of an ethnic/communal/identification-based party in a polity? First, if the society at large is divided along ethnic or communal lines. Second, if other ethnic communities have already organized a political party on such bases. Third, if political demands in the society that happen to be couched in ethnic or communal terms find a more ... Read More »