Looks Interesting: March/April 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. Due to a pandemic, I skipped March, so here’s everything from March and April

Amoral realism or just war morality? Disentangling different conceptions of necessity

By Masakazu Matsumoto in European Journal of International Relations

we need to distinguish between at least two conceptions of necessity—causal and telic—to understand the different forms of realism. The telic conception tells us about the means to be employed to achieve the pursued end; therefore, it does not stand apart from our practical judgments, including moral ones. Second, contemporary realists appeal to both the causal and telic conceptions when they talk about pursuing national interest and security as the ultimate end of the state and using force as the necessary means in an anarchical state of nature. This proves that they are, even if partially, in line with just war theorists in evaluating the moral appropriateness of a war in itself and its methods. Third, although the realist doctrines are substantially different from those in just war theory, their difference does not lie in whether they appeal to the necessity judgment in their moral evaluation. Rather, the fact that neither doctrine categorically excludes the possibility of using varying degrees of power and violence, which is seen as a necessary evil in this still imperfect international society, can be seen as the common moral ground for the two views.

DOI: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1354066120910233

From armed conflict to urban violence: transformations in the International Committee of the Red Cross, international humanitarianism, and the laws of war

By Miriam Bradley in European Journal of International Relations

This article examines the institutional consequences of expanding the International Committee of the Red Cross mandate to include urban violence, to make a three-fold argument. First, the incorporation of urban violence into its mandate has led to significant and surprising shifts in the organization’s humanitarian boundaries: from eschewing any effort to prevent or reduce conflict and prioritising neutrality and dialogue with all parties to conflict, the International Committee of the Red Cross has begun engaging in violence-prevention and violence-reduction activities, compromising its neutrality and limiting dialogue with some armed groups. Second, because the International Committee of the Red Cross is such an important and influential actor in international humanitarianism, these shifts in its boundaries have the potential to transform definitions of humanitarianism. Third, these shifts may serve to undermine the moral authority of the International Committee of the Red Cross to persuade combatants in international humanitarian law contexts to comply with international humanitarian law, irrespective of the rightness or wrongness of their or their opponents’ goals.

DOI: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1354066120908637

Revisiting plausible deniability

By Michael Poznansky in Journal of Strategic Studies

Despite its prominence as a tool of statecraft, covert action’s defining characteristic – plausible deniability – remains a slippery concept. This article investigates the logics underlying the two main variants. The first ideal-type, the state model, captures efforts by states to disclaim sponsorship of covert operations. The drivers of covert action are primarily international, the sources of exposure are many, and its relationship with democratic norms is harmonious. The second ideal-type, the executive model, describes efforts to shield chief executives from blame. The drivers of covert action are domestic, the sources of exposure are limited, and its relationship with democracy is conflictual.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01402390.2020.1734570

Reflections on the ethics and effectiveness of America’s ‘third option’: covert action and U.S. foreign policy

By Loch K. Johnson in Intelligence and International Security

The United States has turned periodically to a Third Option in the pursuit of foreign policy objectives, a pathway between diplomacy and war-fighting. This option is known more widely as covert action (CA) or “special activities,” meaning hidden interventions into the affairs of other nations. Within this rubric are a range of aggressive initiatives, from secret propaganda operations to political and economic activities, as well as (at the extreme) paramilitary attacks and assassinations. This chapter explores the legal foundations of covert action, along with the degree to which these methods are subjected to accountability; its successes and failures around the world; and, central throughout the analysis, the ethical issues posed by use of the Third Option.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02684527.2020.1739479

Financing Da’esh with Sexual Slavery: A Case Study in Not Gendering Conflict Analysis and Intervention

By Susan Hutchinson in Journal of Global Security Studies

It is common for the international community to restrict financial flows to terrorist groups as part of efforts to combat terrorism. However, this strategy was less effective with Da’esh because they were a largely financially self-sustaining organization. Analysis of the caliphate’s economy and any external funding streams was not gendered. Had analysts understood Da’esh through a gendered lens they could have identified a route toward restricting income. It was known that approximately 7,000 Yazidi women and girls were held in sexual servitude at the height of the caliphate. Because little to no effort was made to account for these women in the battles for Raqqa or Mosul and military operations did not include freeing such slaves, the Yazidi community was left with no choice but to try to buy back their loved ones. This market in sexual slavery may have injected as much as US$21 million into the Da’esh economy, and buying back the remaining captives could provide Da’esh with up to US$90 million more.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jogss/ogz066

The Right to Dominate: How Old Ideas About Sovereignty Pose New Challenges for World Order

By Roland Paris in International Organization

A principal theme of international relations scholarship following the Cold War was the apparent erosion of state sovereignty caused by globalization’s integrative effects and the proliferation of international institutions and networks. In recent years, however, scholars have noted a reverse trend: the reassertion of traditional, or Westphalian, state sovereignty. By contrast, I highlight another recent trend that has gone largely overlooked: the reaffirmation of older “extralegal” and “organic” versions of sovereignty by three of the world’s most powerful states—Russia, China, and the United States.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0020818320000077

The U.S. Department of Defense and Its Torture Program

By Elizabeth Grimm Arsenault and Catherine Chiang in Armed Forces & Society

How did the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) develop its torture program and, in so doing, stray so significantly from its existing standard operating procedures (SOPs) around humane prisoner treatment? This model of organizational decision-making examines both the ambiguous structural environment that interrogators faced after 9/11 and the ways in which actors used their agency to challenge the procedures and rules that had governed DoD decision-making and actions for more than six decades. By building off the work on organizational theorizing pioneered by Graham Allison and James March, this study process traces the ways in which the DoD’s institutional procedures protecting detainees were developed, challenged, and then ultimately reaffirmed.

DOI: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0095327X19840067

The Environmental Consequences of Asymmetric War: A Panel Study of Militarism and Carbon Emissions, 2000–2010

By Chad L. Smith and Michael R. Lengefeld in Armed Forces & Society

Although the United States may be the most exemplary of this trend, it seems clear that countries that place less priority upon military might are still tethered to the most common types of weapons systems that are, even if technologically advanced, reliant upon the use of fossil fuels and other carbon emitting technology.

DOI: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0095327X19832615

Doing Away with “Legitimate Authority”

By Uwe Steinhoff in Journal of Military Ethics

The fact of the matter is that wars need not necessarily be authorized by some higher authority (such as a king, president, or parliament) in order to be justified, and this moral fact does not need to lead to chaos and anarchy. Accordingly, the criterion of legitimate authority cannot be relied on to delegitimate individual war, private war, guerrilla war, or even terrorism.

DOI: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15027570.2020.1723843

Not Yet Dead: The Establishment and Regulation of Slavery by the Islamic State

By Nadia Al-Dayel, Andrew Mumford & Kevin Bales in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism

it is clear from the planning stages, to the logistics in transferring the Yazidi civilians to different locations from their point of capture, that the Islamic State established a form of bureaucratic regulation of slavery which met not some, but all, of the legal subcategories of enslavement under the UN Slavery Convention. This in turn demonstrates the extensive and complex nature of the regulation of their slavery system.

DOI: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1057610X.2020.1711590

When Does Terror Induce a State of Emergency? And What Are the Effects?

By Christian Bjørnskov, Stefan Voigt in Journal of Conflict Resolution

We find that more terrorist events are correlated with a higher likelihood of a SOE being declared. Richer countries are less likely to declare, whereas countries with a presidential form of government are more likely to declare. Interestingly—and in contrast to some theoretical arguments found in the literature—governments soon facing an election are less likely to declare a SOE.

DOI: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0022002719865994

Climate Change and the State: A Case for Environmental Realism

By Anatol Lieven in Survival

Another contribution that realist thought can make to the debate on climate change is the notion of solidarity with future generations. This is an idea that sits uncomfortably in the current zeitgeist, relentlessly focused as it is on the satisfaction of existing consumers. Yet states, and especially nationstates, exist over a long period of time.

DOI: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00396338.2020.1739945

Strategy and Democracy

By Hew Strachan in Survival

Nuclear weapons demobilised the democratic resilience of Western governments in two more direct ways. Firstly, they reinforced the case against the mass army… Democracies no longer presumed that going to war would require the active collective participation of their citizens.

That broke the physical link between citizenship and strategy; more surprisingly, the fiscal link was disrupted too. Nuclear weapons were a cheap option. They enabled states to maintain a massively destructive capability at a containable cost, while not engaging in active hostilities.

DOI: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00396338.2020.1739949