Lessons from America’s First War with Iran
As the standoff between the United States and Iran continues over Tehran’s nuclear program, policymakers in the United States would do well to remember that the United States has already fought a war against Iran. During the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988, the United States engaged in an undeclared yet bloody naval and air war against Iran. The lessons from this conflict should be carefully considered before the United States embarks hastily on a second.
Why UNESCO is a Critical Tool for Twenty-First Century Diplomacy
Ambassador David T. Killion
In an interview with The Fletcher Forum, U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO David T. Killion discusses UNESCO’s role in strengthening international education and why U.S. support is so crucial to the future of the agency. Despite the cessation of U.S. funding to UNESCO in October 2011, the U.S. Mission to UNESCO is finding creative ways to engage in the UN agency and advance U.S. policy goals, particularly those relating to promoting quality, inclusive education.
State, Law, and Insecurity in South Sudan
Jok Madut Jok
The fact that life has become so difficult for most citizens so early into South Sudan’s independence—with human life being taken without consequence and citizens having limited opportunity to seek justice—belies most of the things that independence had promised. Instead, leaders of the past had the humility to take what sounded like criticism as a form of advice, turning it to their advantage by using it as a basis for their next decisions. As Jok Madut Jok discusses, current political leaders might be able to take a page from that history and start building open societies, which would be the basis for conflict resolution.
The Art of Advocacy
Sherry Lee Mueller
If practitioners of international affairs aim to influence policy, advocacy is an increasingly necessary skill. Advocacy, whether to influence budgets, regulations, or other policies, requires building a constituency that is both articulate and ready to act. Sherry Lee Mueller discusses the art of building relationships using the National Council for International Visitors (NCIV) as a case study, and offers eight lessons learned.
Challenges of Introducing Liberal Arts Education for Women in the Middle East
Marcia A. Grant
As part of the increased demand for higher education in the Middle East in the past twenty years, starting a liberal arts university for women in Saudi Arabia resulted in unexpected challenges and lessons learned. Marcia A. Grant shares her experiences and insights into the founding of Effat University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Doctrines of Equivalence? A Critical Comparison of the Instrumentalization of International Humanitarian Law and the Islamic jus in bello for the Purposes of Targeting
As the battle between the United States and al-Qaeda and its associated forces continues, in a large number of geographic locations and seemingly without end, the targeting decisions undertaken by both sides and the way in which they have been justified to their respective constituencies deserve careful scrutiny. Matthew Hoisington addresses a subset of the decision-making process, namely, the instrumentalization of international humanitarian law (IHL) and the Islamic jus in bello for the purposes of targeting. The article begins with an examination of the radical innovations in the Islamic jus in bello that resulted in its instrumentalization by al-Qaeda and other Islamic armed groups in the name of jihad. It then addresses the key legal arguments of the U.S.-led response, particularly post-September 11. Finally, it offers a critical appraisal of the use of targeting rules to justify killing by both sides.
Erik Schreiner Evans
People in Norway are freezing and kind Africans are donating radiators to come to their rescue. Or, at least that is what the mock campaign “Radi-Aid” claims. Erik Schreiner Evans discusses the power of challenging donor assumptions through satire, and the logic behind the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund’s fake non-governmental organization, “Africa for Norway.”
Why We Need the Novel: Understanding World Politics Through Literature
Recruiting fiction to help us understand the fractiousness of world politics can constitute an effective interdisciplinary strategy for parsing complex problems. The methodological rigor prized by political science can be blended with the open-endedness that characterizes literary studies. At a time when science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM subjects) have become a research priority, Raymond Taras discusses the improbable but creative synergy of political science and fiction that can give these fields a comparative advantage in charting pathways to progress.
The Climate Change and Energy Security Nexus
Marcus King and Jay Gulledge
The study of the impacts of climate change on national and international security has grown as a research field, particularly in the last five years. Within this broad field, academic scholarship has concentrated primarily on whether climate change is, or may become, a driver of violent conflict. Yet, in contrast to the climate-conflict nexus, academic scholarship on the climate change-energy security nexus is small and more disciplinarily focused. Marcus King and Jay Gulledge identify a body of grey literature on the nexus of climate change and energy security by reviewing fifty-eight recent reports, issue briefs, and transcripts to better understand the nexus of climate change and energy security, as well as to gain insight about the questions policymakers need answered by those undertaking the research.
Towards an “Islamic Republic of Mali?”
Post-war Mali will not likely be an “Islamic State” in the sense of a state where micro-policies are explicitly based on specific references to Islamic scriptures and traditions. But Islam already has a greater public role than when the war began. As Mali emerges from conflict and re-imagines its political system, Malian politicians and outside partners hoping to restore an idealized “status quo ante” may have to acknowledge the increasingly powerful influences Muslim activists and movements wield in Malian society and politics.
Explaining the Great War in Africa: How Conflict in the Congo Became a Continental Crisis
In 1998, conflict erupted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and rapidly involved nine African nations and many rebel groups. The scale of the fighting and speed of proliferation was such that Susan Rice labeled it “Africa’s first world war.” Scholars have studied the causes of World War I exhaustively and why that war engulfed Europe. Christopher Williams applies neo-realist theories used to explain the outbreak and expansion of the First World War to conflict in the DRC. He argues that the belief that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” pervaded an insecure regional environment. This caused the pernicious logic of the security dilemma to take hold and facilitated the spread of alliance networks throughout Africa.
Transitioning Fragile States: A Sequencing Approach
David Carment, Yiagadeesen Samy, and Joe Landry
David Carment, Yiagadeesen Samy, and Joe Landry examine why some countries that were once considered fragile have successfully recovered, while others have been less successful and remain fragile for long periods of time. Using a recently updated panel dataset on state fragility and case studies, they focus on three types of countries: those that are stuck in a fragility trap, those that have exited fragility and are now emergent and stabilized, and those that have moved in and out of fragility. They then use the results of that analysis to draw out policy implications for transitioning states out of fragile contexts.
Syrian Alliance Strategy in the Post-Cold War Era: The Impact of Unipolarity
David Wallsh examines cases of Syrian alignment with Iran, the United States, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia in order to test competing claims about the impact of unipolarity on alliance formation strategy. He argues that while one strategy—hard balancing against threats—previously dominated Syrian foreign policy, a diverse and nuanced set of strategies have characterized Syrian alliance-making over the past two decades. This analysis contributes toward a greater understanding of both Syrian foreign policy in the twenty-first century and alliance theory more broadly.