Looks Interesting: February 2021

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.

Exporting Influence: U.S. Military Training as Soft Power

By Carla Martinez Machain in Journal of Conflict Resolution

Keywords: military power, foreign policy, foreign aid, international cooperation

The US engages in extensive training and education of foreign militaries, often through exchange programs carried out at the different military services’ staff and war colleges. Researchers have recently explored the way in which military training can affect civil-military relations in the host country, but not much work has studied whether military training actually leads to increased US influence in these states. This paper proposes a soft-power theoretical framework to argue that foreign military training can create affinity for the U.S. that can in turn result in more pro-U.S. voting behavior in the UN General Assembly. It further expands on the military training literature by distinguishing between different military training programs.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0022002720957713

Humanitarian challenges and the targeting of civilian infrastructure in the Yemen war

By Jeannie Sowers and Erika Weinthal in International Affairs

Keywords: Yemen, war, infrastructure, armed conflict, human security

Many modern conflicts, from Iraq to Yemen, have emerged as brutal wars in which state and non-state actors directly and indirectly target a wide array of civilian infrastructures, including water, energy and food systems. Similar to many twentieth-century wars, a common feature of the wars in the Middle East and North Africa in the twenty-first century has been the ‘civilianization’ of war, as civilian casualties far outnumbered battlefield deaths. We explore the targeting of civilian infrastructures in the Yemeni war (2011–2019) to explicate the connections between conflict, hunger and disease. We draw upon interviews with UN and humanitarian organizations, an original database tracking civilian infrastructure destruction, and a variety of print sources to document the extent and spatial distribution of the targeting of water, energy, agricultural and health systems in Yemen. We elucidate how the conduct of the Yemeni war has undermined human security and livelihoods and has created ethical, logistical and organizational challenges for humanitarian organizations and for advancing peacebuilding efforts. We find that after the 2011 popular uprising, some non-state actors targeted the energy sector; however, the scope and intensity of wartime targeting of civilian objects, particularly those associated with agriculture, fisheries and health, increased significantly once the Saudi-led coalition entered the war in 2015. Loss of livelihoods, internal displacement, currency depreciation, and blockades and sieges further intensified the wartime spread of hunger and disease. The targeting of civilian infrastructures significantly hinders peacebuilding efforts to restore basic services, rebuild livelihoods and strengthen governance mechanisms.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iiaa166

Protracted Armed Violence as a Criterion for the Existence of Non-international Armed Conflict: International Humanitarian Law, International Criminal Law and Beyond

By Miloš Hrnjaz and Janja Simentić Popović in Journal of Conflict and Security Law

Keywords: NIAC, conflict threshold, ICL, ICC

The present article provides legal analysis of the concept of ‘protracted armed violence’ which is part of the commonly accepted definition of non-international armed conflict (NIAC). The International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia interpreted this notion as the intensity requirement. However, the practice of other international legal institutions that use this concept (such as International Criminal Court and some other judicial institutions) is not always coherent with this finding. This fact raised several theoretical and practical issues in the process of interpretation and implementation of international legal norms. Therefore, the aim of the article is to critically reassess the ‘protracted armed violence’ concept in various branches of international law and to contribute to the better understanding of the NIAC phenomenon.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jcsl/kraa009

David Hume’s Balancing Act: The Political Discourses and the Sinews of War

By Danielle Charette in American Political Science Review

Keywords: Balance of Power, David Hume, neorealism, IPE

Both champions and critics of “neorealism” in contemporary international relations misinterpret David Hume as an early spokesman for a universal and scientific balance-of-power theory. This article instead treats Hume’s “Of the Balance of Power,” alongside the other essays in his Political Discourses (1752), as conceptual resources for a historically inflected analysis of state balancing. Hume’s defense of the balance of power cannot be divorced from his critique of commercial warfare in “Of the Balance of Trade” and “Of the Jealousy of Trade.” To better appreciate Hume’s historical and economic approach to foreign policy, this article places Hume in conversation with Machiavelli, Guicciardini, Andrew Fletcher, and Montesquieu. International relations scholars suspicious of static paradigms should reconsider Hume’s genealogy of the balance of power, which differs from the standard liberal and neorealist accounts. Well before International Political Economy developed as a formal subdiscipline, Hume was conceptually treating economics and power politics in tandem.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055420000726

Carl von Clausewitz and his Philosophy of War: The Evolution of a Reputation, 1831–2021

By R. Gerald Hughes in History

Keywords: Clausewitz, history of thought

This article is concerned with the evolution of the reputation of the Prussian soldier and philosopher of war, Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831). It examines developments in debates about the reception, and relevance, of Clausewitz’s work for strategic thought in both the historical and contemporary contexts. This article takes note of many of the misperceptions and misinterpretations directed at Clausewitz’s work since his death. It argues that much of the criticism directed at Clausewitz is rooted in a visceral dislike of past proponents of Clausewitz for their aggressive and militaristic policies. An appreciation of this history is nevertheless useful for facilitating accurate interpretations of Clausewitz’s work. Finally, the article argues that the notion of Clausewitz as advocate of militarism and aggressive war has been largely discredited. Indeed, in today’s Federal Republic of Germany, the reformers masterminding the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon, of whom Clausewitz was one, and the resistance involved in the bomb plot of 20 July 1944, have now come to represent a useable historical tradition.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-229X.13085

Security implications of climate change: A decade of scientific progress

By Nina von Uexkull and Halvard Buhaug in Journal of Peace Research

Keywords: armed conflict, climate change, literature review, special issue

The study of security implications of climate change has developed rapidly from a nascent area of academic inquiry into an important and thriving research field that traverses epistemological and disciplinary boundaries. Here, we take stock of scientific progress by benchmarking the latest decade of empirical research against seven core research priorities collectively emphasized in 35 recent literature reviews. On the basis of this evaluation, we discuss key contributions of this special issue. Overall, we find that the research community has made important strides in specifying and evaluating plausible indirect causal pathways between climatic conditions and a wide set of conflict-related outcomes and the scope conditions that shape this relationship. Contributions to this special issue push the research frontier further along these lines. Jointly, they demonstrate significant climate impacts on social unrest in urban settings; they point to the complexity of the climate–migration–unrest link; they identify how agricultural production patterns shape conflict risk; they investigate understudied outcomes in relation to climate change, such as interstate claims and individual trust; and they discuss the relevance of this research for user groups across academia and beyond. We find that the long-term implications of gradual climate change and conflict potential of policy responses are important remaining research gaps that should guide future research.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0022343320984210