Looks Interesting: January 2020

I am attempting to keep track of all the articles I come across that look interesting, that I'll probably never read, but might read more of them if I keep track of them. This is the results for January 2020.

Exercising War: How Tactical and Operational Modelling Shape and Reify Military Practice

Don't know if this is over-theorising the obvious, but Öberg's prior Security Dialogue article was good.

This article analyzes how contemporary military training and exercises shape and reify specific modalities of war… As military exercises integrate the tactical and operational dimensions into a model for warfare, they serve as blueprints for today’s battles at the same time as they perpetuate a martial viewpoint of the world.

Öberg, Dan. “Exercising War: How Tactical and Operational Modelling Shape and Reify Military Practice.” Security Dialogue, (December 2019). doi:10.1177/0967010619890196.

Making Safe: The Dirty History of a Bomb Disposal Robot.

Article on early EOD robots, and a litany of mishaps.

the multiple ways in which these failures were negotiated between the EOD operators and the Wheelbarrow robot as it was deployed in the urban landscapes of Belfast and Derry/Londonderry cannot be contained within the British Army’s clean history of technological innovation and benign peacekeeping.

Lisle, Debbie. “Making Safe: The Dirty History of a Bomb Disposal Robot.” Security Dialogue, (December 2019). doi:10.1177/0967010619887849.

Intersections of ISIS media leader loss and media campaign strategy: A visual framing analysis

ISIS’s quantity of output and visual framing strategies displayed significant changes before, during, and after media leader losses.

Winkler, Carol, Kareem El-Damanhoury, Zainab Saleh, John Hendry, and Nagham El-Karhili. “Intersections of ISIS Media Leader Loss and Media Campaign Strategy: A Visual Framing Analysis.” Media, War & Conflict, (December 2019). doi:10.1177/1750635219889370.

The Intimate International Relations of Museums: a Method

Interesting piece on the British Army Royal Engineers Museum, which reminded me of the terrible IWM exhibit on the Victoria Cross.

Exploring museums as imperial debris goes beyond recognising and tracing the artefacts and structural conditions of the museum as an institution; it requires the researcher to pay attention to how museums organise and address visitors, researchers, benefactors and curators.

Tidy, Joanna, and Joe Turner. “The Intimate International Relations of Museums: A Method.” Millennium, (December 2019). doi:10.1177/0305829819889131.

Tracking organizations in the world: The Correlates of War IGO Version 3.0 datasets

I have read a lot about state death, but I haven't read a lot about how Intergovernmental Organizations die/cease to exist.

Pevehouse, Jon CW, Timothy Nordstrom, Roseanne W McManus, and Anne Spencer Jamison. “Tracking Organizations in the World: The Correlates of War IGO Version 3.0 Datasets.” Journal of Peace Research, (December 2019). doi:10.1177/0022343319881175.

Climate Shocks, Political Institutions, and Nomadic Invasions in Early Modern East Asia

under the impact of negative climate shocks, centralized societies can mobilize more resources for war, compared to decentralized societies. Thus, the former is more likely to resort to well-organized plundering to address the scarcity problem caused by detrimental climate shocks.

Yin, Weiwen. “Climate Shocks, Political Institutions, and Nomadic Invasions in Early Modern East Asia.” Journal of Conflict Resolution, (December 2019). doi:10.1177/0022002719889665.

Urban Concentration and Civil War

we argue that the relationship between cities and high-intensity civil war is profoundly conditioned by urban geography, most notably the degree of concentration (or, conversely, dispersion) of urban populations across a country’s cities. We contend that higher levels of Urban Concentration—meaning that a majority of a country’s population reside in few major urban centers or even just one—increases the probability of experiencing high-intensity civil war.

Nedal, Dani, Megan Stewart, and Michael Weintraub. “Urban Concentration and Civil War.” Journal of Conflict Resolution, (December 2019). doi:10.1177/0022002719892054.

What Do We Know about Interrogational Torture?

Looks like a solid overview of torture that I'll probably end up adding to reading lists next year.

Information made public by U.S. intelligence officials, interrogators, and journalists allows scholars to begin forming a general impression of the nature of interrogational torture and its limitations. But there is a great deal that scholars do not yet know. Neither U.S. interrogators in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor the French in Algeria, Americans in Vietnam, or the British in Ireland have shared systematic data about their torture programs. Researchers do not know how detainees were selected for torture, which forms of torture were used and in what manner, or what results their interrogations yielded. We know even less about torture practiced by states that are not democracies.

Hassner, Ron E., “What Do We Know about Interrogational Torture?” International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, (2019). doi:10.1080/08850607.2019.1660951.

Fictitious Spies and Fake History

A fun review/demolition.

The golden age of Moscow operations was metaphorical, not real, a mythical past that never existed. Mendez lauded the CIA’s “power of concealment,” which he believed made case officers invisible to the KGB. But that was an illusion. KGB dangles turned CIA operations inside out. The CIA was oblivious, either willfully or unwittingly, to the need to validate agents, the operational equivalent of due diligence.

Fischer, Benjamin B. “Fictitious Spies and Fake History”, International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, (2019). doi:10.1080/08850607.2019.1668247

Was World War Two a Completely Just War?

Question that springs to mind: could something as staggeringly complex as a global conflict be reduced to a single moral judgement?

Vorobej, Mark. “Was World War Two a Completely Just War?", Journal of Military Ethics, (2019). doi:10.1080/15027570.2019.1703370.

In the balance: External troop support and rebel fragmentation in the Second Congo War

The two main rebel groups in the Second Congo War (1998–2003) evolved in remarkably different ways. While the MLC maintained organisational cohesion throughout the war, the RCD split into two rival groups within less than a year. The larger of these rivals then remained cohesive, whereas the smaller group experienced further fragmentation. This article draws on interviews with key protagonists to show that these cross-group differences resulted from different patterns of state sponsorship. Fragmentation occurred when the intra-group distribution of power between a rebel leader and an internal rival hung in the balance because external troops supported both sides.

Tamm, Henning. “In the balance: External troop support and rebel fragmentation in the Second Congo War”, Journal of Strategic Studies, (2019). doi:10.1080/01402390.2019.1701442.

Control not morality? Explaining the selective employment of Nazi war criminals by British and American intelligence agencies in occupied Germany

I am a sucker for the moral/strategic dilemmas of occupying powers.

The evidence discussed in this article suggests that the British and American intelligence services employed Nazi war criminals in post-war Germany as part of a wider strategy of control designed to ensure the security of the occupation and pave the way for a future democratic Germany.

Daly-Groves, Luke. “Control not morality? Explaining the selective employment of Nazi war criminals by British and American intelligence agencies in occupied Germany”, Intelligence and National Security, (2019). doi:10.1080/02684527.2019.1705101.

The Prosecution of Foreign Fighters in Western Europe: The Difficult Relationship Between Counter-Terrorism and International Humanitarian Law

Interesting look at EU case law and foreign fighter prosecutions.

Hanne Cuyckens, Christophe Paulussen, The Prosecution of Foreign Fighters in Western Europe: The Difficult Relationship Between Counter-Terrorism and International Humanitarian Law, Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Volume 24, Issue 3, Winter 2019, Pages 537–565, https://doi.org/10.1093/jcsl/krz027

Order and chaos: the CIA’s HYDRA database and the dawn of the information age

Cool article on early computer datasets.

From a purely technical standpoint, there remain good reasons to be cautious about accepting that the computerization programs of the late 1960s represented a true watershed moment. Both HYDRA and IDIU were ‘flat’ databases that did not attempt to link different kinds of data but rather resembled the structure of existing index cards… Yet, as a bureaucratic system organizing the work of intelligence professionals, HYDRA and its analogs were also indicative of – and themselves played a role in propagating – a new culture of security that prioritized hidden, diffuse and networked threats over state-centric notions of national security. These systems encouraged officers to think in terms of transnational social structures that had long existed at the intersection of several blind spots of the national security paradigm: fixed distinctions between internal and external security, the training of single area experts, and the legal gaps between national jurisdictions.

Jens Wegener (2020) Order and chaos: the CIA’s HYDRA database and the dawn of the information age, Journal of Intelligence History, 19:1, 77-91, doi:10.1080/16161262.2019.1697539.