international relations

Use of Predators Sets Dangerous Precedent

My op-ed “Use of Predators Sets Dangerous Precedent” appeared today on Antiwar.com. In it, I criticize President Obama’s decision to authorize drone warfare in Libya. I write: “The expediency of drones makes it all-too-tempting for governments to use them frequently and carelessly, brushing aside the ethical questions they raise and ignoring the long-term security consequences their use could entail.” Click here to read the full article. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Two cents about COIN

My latest op-ed, “Two cents about COIN,” appeared today on Antiwar.com. It discusses the the growing faith of U.S. political and military leaders in the military doctrine of COIN, or manpower-intensive counterinsurgency warfare. You can find the op-ed here as well as pasted below; if you enjoy it, please consider sharing it on your Facebook wall, mentioning it on Twitter, or linking to it on your blog. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Excerpts from Jonathan Glover's 'Humanity'

Jonathan Glover’s Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century is one of the best and most important books I have ever read. Excerpts below: An extimate for the period from 1900 until 1989 is that war killed 86 million people. Eighty-six million is a small proportion of all those alive during the ninety years, and is a small number compared to those who have died from hunger and preventable diseases.

Out of Range: The ethics of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan

My latest op-ed, “Out of Range,” appeared in this morning’s edition of Antiwar.com. In it, I explore the ethical dilemma of the U.S.’s ongoing campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan. This is shaping up to be one of the hottest contemporary debates in foreign policy circles. I write: “Technology and wealth have made it possible for the U.S. to exercise decisive military power anywhere in the world. But our technology and our wealth often outrun our wisdom, our prudence, and our moral sensibilities.

2008 Reading Recommendations

Happy New Year! At the end of each of the past three years, I’ve written a post listing the best books I’ve read over the course of the year in order to bring these books to the attention of others. As usual, I’ve put the titles of the five books most important to me this year in bold, and I’ve linked each book to its Amazon.com page. Enjoy! Arons, Compelling Belief: The Future of American Schooling(education/religion/politics) Doniger, The Implied Spider: Politics and Theology in Myth (religion / mythology) Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk (history / politics) Frank, Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class (economics / politics) Frankel, Faith and Freedom: Religious Liberty in America (religion / politics / law)Gibran, The Prophet (2nd reading; philosophy / religion) Hamsun, Dreamers (literature)Harrison, Returning to Earth(literature) Harrison, True North (literature) Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (2nd reading; literature) Kerouac, The Dharma Bums (literature)Laxness, Independent People(literature) Mann, The Magic Mountain(literature) Milosz, Native Realm: A Search for Self-Definition(memoirs / literature / history) Putney & Putney, The Adjusted American: Normal Neurosis in the Individual and Society (psychology) Salomon & Valdez, Little House on a Small Planet (design / environment) Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars (3rd reading; politics / international relations)

Howard Zinn on World War II

I’ve intended to read Howard Zinn’s revisionist history of the United States - A People’s History of the United States - for years, and I finally buckled down and started it this week. It is an excellent and eye-opening book, to say the least, and I found myself becoming absorbed in and largely agreeing with the narrative of the first few chapters - his interpretation of the “discovery” and colonization of America.

The Nuclear Peace and its Consequences for China's Rise

I just put the finishing touches on my M.A. thesis, bringing one of the most stressful months of my life to a satisfying close. 10,181 words, 45 pages, three entirely different drafts, and an ungodly amount of writing and revision. I am happy with the finished product and will turn it in tomorrow morning, then post a link to it online. My faculty advisor was John Mearsheimer, the best professor I’ve had at the U of C and one of the most influential international relations scholars in America.

The Two Mules: A Fable for the Nations

(Saw this in Richard Layard's Happiness: Lessons from a New Science.)

2007 book recommendations

The following list includes the books I’ve read this year that I enjoyed the most and that had the biggest effect on me. I give the highest recommendation to all of them, and I’ve bolded the top five. Akhmatova, Selected Poems Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers From Prison Cumings, Korea’s Place in the Sun de Bary, Sources of Japanese Tradition Frye, The Educated Imagination Gilpin, War and Change in World Politics

Quotes from Meredith, Apollinaire, and Delors

From Fables about Error What is as wrong as the uninstructed heart? Left to its ends, it clutches things and creatures That can’t be held, or held, will slip their natures; It lives to hoard or to protect a hoard. To school, to school! Teach the poor organ skill That all its ignorant, nervous will Does not unpage us like old calendars. A life should be all gathering and art.

Great quotes from recent reading

We keep the wall between us as we go. To each the boulders that have fallen to each. Robert Frost –From “Mending Wall” World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it. Robert Schumann –“The Schumann Declaration” I asked her, urgently, if she could see my face, and she said: “See it?” And, smiling: “It’s reflected in my eyes, isn’t it?”

Quotes from Mearsheimer's 'The Tragedy of Great Power Politics'

In international politics, God helps those who help themselves. … Because Americans dislike realpolitik, public discourse about foreign policy in the United States is usually couched in the language of liberalism. Hence the pronouncements of the policy elites are heavily flavored with optimism and moralism. …Behind closed doors, however, the elites who make national security policy speak mostly the language of power, not that of principle, and the United States acts in the international system according to the dictates of realist logic.

Robert Gilpin on the case for free trade

Economists of every persuasion are convinced that free trade is superior to trade protection. In fact, they consider free trade to be the best policy for a country even if all other countries should practice trade protection, arguing that if other countries resort to trade protection, the economy that remained open would still gain more from cheaper imports than it would lose in denied export markets. … Underlying this liberal commitment to free trade is the belief that the purpose of economic activity is to benefit the consumer and maximize global wealth.