Looks Interesting: May 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.
The absence of great power responsibility in global environmental politics
By Steven Bernstein in European Journal of International Relations
IR theory across traditions has been too accepting of a presumed link between great power responsibilities and special rights. Unlike traditional security issues, for example, special rights and responsibilities may be less important for many major environmental problems such as climate change. While some areas of environmental protection may look like classic global management and collective action problems (e.g. ozone depletion or declining high seas, or straddling, fish stocks), others are much more about societal transformation where multilevel change and wider ranges of actors are equally as important.
No substitute for victory? Why just war theorists can’t win
By Cian O’Driscoll in European Journal of International Relations
all wars, even just ones, always leave some loose ends, rough edges, and unhappy outcomes behind them—a reminder and remainder of the fact that approaching war as an instrument of justice is by its very nature a case of trying to squeeze square pegs into round holes. Just war may forestall the worst from coming to pass, but it does not make the world a better place. It is not a force for good in the world, nor a solution to its ills. Rather, it is a symptom of them. It cannot resolve the problems international society confronts today. The best it can do is defer, allay, or contain them. Even then, this can only be achieved by perpetuating those problems or producing others in their place. This is what one finds out about just war, I wish to suggest, when one investigates it via the prism of victory.
Technological Wonder and Strategic Vulnerability: Satellite Reconnaissance and American National Security during the Cold War
By Aaron Bateman in International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence
The development of satellite reconnaissance during the Cold War represented an unprecedented degree of integration between technology and U.S. national security. During this period, technology evolved from a tool of statecraft to an irreplaceable component of America’s national security strategy. Each Cold War president beginning with Eisenhower recognized that the space reconnaissance program was the foundation of America’s ability to prevent a surprise attack.
Ceasefires as violent state-building: local truce and reconciliation agreements in the Syrian civil war
By Marika Sosnowski in Conflict, Security & Development
By the usual measure of a ceasefire, local truce and reconciliation agreements in Syria would be considered successful in that they stopped violence. However, the reality is that these local ceasefire agreements are themselves highly violent. As such, broadening our understanding of ceasefires as being a form of violent state-building brings an additional, so far under-researched dimension to how ceasefires can have ramifications far beyond those usually considered. Additionally, the case studies from the Syrian civil war bring to light the relationship at play between the state, property and citizenship rights and how these types of ceasefires have been used by the state to forcibly assert its authority.
Pillars not Principles: The Status of Humanity and Military Necessity in the Law of Armed Conflict
By Elliot Winter in Journal of Conflict and Security Law
the status of principle belongs only to distinction, proportionality and the prohibition on unnecessary suffering and so an alternative descriptor must be found for humanity and military necessity. The term ‘pillar’ fits the bill. It gives a sense of how fundamental these concepts are to the structure of the regime—with its full panoply of principles and rules resting on the foundation they provide—while not going so far as to hold them out as positive concepts that are capable, in themselves, of resolving specific scenarios.
Insufficient Knowledge in Kunduz: The Precautionary Principle and International Humanitarian Law
By Emma J Marchant in Journal of Conflict and Security Law
The targeting protocols applied by forces during armed conflict are some of the most secretive documents held by any military. However, their role in applying principles of international humanitarian law (IHL) means that they are key to understanding their development. This piece is primarily concerned with practical and operational application of the precautionary principle under IHL; how much knowledge is sufficient to carry out an attack lawfully during modern armed conflict. In order to establish if a standard has developed with the increase in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technology, this piece uses the framework of an investigation into an incident in Kunduz, Afghanistan in 2009.
Lex Innocentium (697 AD): Adomnán of Iona – father of Western jus in bello
By James W. Houlihan in International Review of the Red Cross
Interesting look at an early cleric who promulgated Lex Innocentium, that proscribed “the killing and injuring of non-arms-bearing people”
Explaining Population Displacement Strategies in Civil Wars: A Cross-National Analysis
By Adam G. Lichtenheld in International Organization
New dataset on strategic displacement of civilians in civil conflicts.
Greater Goods: Morality and Attitudes toward the Use of Nuclear Weapons
By Brian C. Rathbun and Rachel Stein in Journal of Conflict Resolution
This article argues that framing this latest iteration of the debate as a contest between the logic of consequences and the logic of appropriateness obscures the role played by ethical considerations in forming foreign policy attitudes, a mistake that is common in the field of international relations more generally.
The presumption that egoistic behavior cannot be moral is based on an impoverished understanding of the diversity of human morality, one common in the field. Morality is typically defined in a “liberal” way, in which ethical action is that which does not harm others. However, morality can also be nonliberal as demonstrated by the moral foundations research program, which has shown that many people think about morality in terms of the “binding foundations” of deference to authority, loyalty to the in-group, and the maintenance of purity.
The Corporate Keepers of International Law
By Jay Butler in American Journal of International Law
In transborder environmental protection, territorial disputes, internet governance, anticorruption, international human rights, and humanitarian law, private businesses are increasingly supporting the implementation and enforcement of international law. This Article analyzes the various ways that corporate decision making contributes to this phenomenon, and assesses its prospects for enhancing international law’s existing enforcement paradigms. In doing so, the Article opens new ground for scholarly and policy consideration of the proper role of corporations in the global legal order.
Authoritarian International Law?
By Tom Ginsburg in American Journal of International Law
At the same time, as global power shifts toward authoritarian countries, this Article has argued that the shift away from liberal international law will not stop with a “return” to traditional Westphalian principles. Instead, I have speculated that authoritarian states will play an increasingly important role in articulating norms that will both insulate them from external pressures to liberalize, and also to consolidate internal control through cross-border cooperation. Authoritarians learn and repurpose institutions toward their own ends, and international law is no exception. The examples of diluting democratic norms, undermining democratic opposition through cyberlaw regulation, and naming new phenomena such as extremism are all evidence of a trajectory of authoritarian international law that may deepen should current governance trends continue.
__Jomini versus Clausewitz: Hamley’s Operations of War and Military Thought in the British Army, 1866–1933 __
By Adam Dighton in War in History
Neat insight into intellectual history of the British Army.
United States defence contractors and the future of military operations
By Charles W. Mahoney in Defense & Security Analysis
Many analysts predict that cyber-operations, autonomous weapons systems, artificial intelligence, and clandestine special forces operations will be central features in future conflicts. Although often overlooked by scholars and policy analysts, defence contractors are integral to the development and implementation of these emerging categories of warfare. This inquiry examines the evolving nature of the American defence industry and the roles corporations play in current theatres of conflict. Surprisingly, rather than becoming less reliant on defence contractors after their much-maligned performance in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, American military and intelligence agencies have become more dependent on the private sector as technology becomes increasingly central to warfare.
Layering and the foundations of the modern American surveillance state, 1970-2020
By Adam M. McMahon in Intelligence and National Security
The U.S. Congress established the foundation of today’s surveillance state nearly a half century ago as it sought to regulate and prevent criminal activity: the Banking Secrecy Act to target tax evasion by individuals and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to create oversight of wiretapping activities by law enforcement. Over time, additional functions were layered onto the existing institutional infrastructure, such as combating illicit drugs. September 11th, 2001 served as a critical juncture, reorienting the regime yet again to support the counter terror mission, despite persistent inefficiency and simultaneous risks to the civil liberties of Americans.
Delegating strategic decision-making to machines: Dr. Strangelove Redux?
By James Johnson in Journal of Strategic Studies
AI-enabled decision support tools, by substituting the role of human critical thinking, empathy, creativity, and intuition in the strategic decision-making process, will be fundamentally destabilizing if defense planners come to view AI’s ‘support’ function as a panacea for the cognitive fallibilities and human analysis and decision-making. The article also considers the nefarious use of AI-enhanced fake news, deepfakes, bots, and other forms of social media by non-state actors and state proxy actors, which might cause states to exaggerate a threat from ambiguous or manipulated information, increasing instability.
“Old” and “New” Mass Killing? Genocide and Politicide Occurrence and Severity during and after the Cold War
By Petra Hendrickson in Terrorism and Political Violence
while genocide/politicide is less common after the Cold War ended, whether the severity of genocide/politicide differs systematically after the Cold War depends on when the Cold War is interpreted as having ended.
From Samurais to Borgs: Reflections on the Importance of Intelligence Ethics
By Robert Frisk and Linda Johansson in International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence
Pop culture meets intelligence ethics in the form of Vulcan, Borg, Klingon strategies…
Sensemaking for 21st century intelligence
By David T. Moore, Elizabeth Moore, Seth Cantey & Robert R. Hoffman in Journal of Intelligence History
Interesting piece involving abduction and creation of organisational frames.
From circumspection to centrality: prime ministers and the growth of analysis, co-ordination, management in the UK intelligence community
By Richard J. Aldrich & Rory Cormac in Journal of Intelligence History
We argue that British intelligence was transformed during the eleven years that Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee were in power. This change focused on the relationship between intelligence and Downing Street. Previous premiers were uninterested, naïve and inexperienced in their approach. When Churchill took office all this changed since he not only harnessed the power of intelligence but also oversaw the development of a central brain in the form of the joint assessment machinery. Yet it required Clement Attlee, with a rather different personality from Churchill, to complete the revolution. Together they not only developed the machinery used by successive prime ministers, they also trained Eden, Macmillan, and Douglas-Home in the transformative power of intelligence – changing the nature of the core executive in the process. Nevertheless, intelligence under each new administration increasingly reflects the character of the premier.
Forecasting Civil Wars: Theory and Structure in an Age of “Big Data” and Machine Learning
By Robert A. Blair and Nicholas Sambanis in Journal of Conflict Resolution
Do you need theory to accurately forecast the onset of armed conflict?
Governance and Accountable Citizenship Through Identification Infrastructures: Database Politics of Copernicus (France) and National Register of Citizens (India)
By Éric Dagiral and Khetrimayum Monish Singh in Science, Technology and Society
this article discusses two national databases in France (tax administration) and India (citizenship), respectively, as examples of contemporary state practices around digital identification infrastructures as a form of database politics to enforce accountable forms of citizen practices through which different forms of data driven institutional and sociotechnical processes are marking new changes in the state–citizen relationship, both in France and in India.