Looks Interesting: April 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.

Secrecy, evidence, and fear: exploring the construction of intelligence power with Actor-Network Theory (ANT)

By T. W. van de Kerke & C. W. Hijzen in Intelligence & National Security

Keywords: Critical Intelligence Studies, Intelligence Theory, Actor-Network Theory, Iraq War

This article develops a critical notion of intelligence power, building on a developing rhetorical understanding of intelligence power within Critical Intelligence Studies (CIS) and intelligence’s impact already identified in the important case of Collin Powell’s 2003 United Nations (UN) speech. Using concepts from Actor-Network Theory (ANT), which perceives power as relationally constructed, the article argues the value of exploring how intelligence’s political impact can be conceptually tied to its institutional form and process. This approach steers Intelligence Studies (IS) away from an inward-looking understanding of intelligence, fundamentally involving intelligence’s impact with the political and social world in understanding what it is.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02684527.2021.1893074

Protecting hidden infrastructure: The security politics of the global submarine data cable network

By Christian Buegera & Tobias Liebetrau in Contemporary Security Policy

Keywords: Infrastructure, ocean governance, submarine cables, digital politics, maritime security, security governance

Undersea communication cables are the core critical infrastructure of the digital age. 99% of all transoceanic digital communication—financial transactions, emails, or voice messaging—is transported through undersea fiber-optic cables. The global submarine cable network is a critical infrastructure that does not receive the analytical attention it deserves. We argue that cable security is a core dimension of current and future international security governance. We present the first systematic survey of the academic discourses that investigate the politics, governance, and protection of submarine data cables. Three rather narrow literatures study the cables (1) as under threat from hybrid warfare and terrorism, or treat the cable network narrowly as a (2) technical or (3) regulatory problem. We demonstrate the need for broadening out the research agenda and addressing key questions of security governance and geopolitics of this increasingly critical infrastructure.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13523260.2021.1907129

Control over Bodies and Territories: Insurgent Territorial Control and Sexual Violence

By Victor Asal & Robert U. Nagel in Security Studies

Keywords: sexual violence in conflict, rebel governance

Despite the popular narrative of “rape as a weapon of war,” research shows that only a minority of insurgent groups perpetrate sexual violence in armed conflict. We argue that territorial control is an overlooked factor that can increase the likelihood a group commits sexual violence for two primary reasons: (1) rebel groups seeking to establish control over territory are more likely to commit sexual violence; and (2) groups seeking to maintain territorial control emulate state behavior through violently controlling human, sexual, and reproductive capital, which manifests in forced recruitment and different forms of sexual violence, including rape and sexual slavery. We systematically test this argument using the Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict (SVAC) and the Big Allied and Dangerous Insurgent II (BAADI2) datasets. The results provide robust support for the argument. This constitutes an important addition to our understanding of conflict-related sexual violence and rebel governance.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09636412.2021.1885726

Counterinsurgency in the Age of Enlightenment: military ethnography of the ‘Highland Problem’

By Stanislav Malkin in Small Wars & Insurgencies

Keywords: ‘Highland Problem’, ‘Highland war’, military ethnography, counterinsurgency

One of the first and closest ‘laboratories’ of the British Empire in terms of turning the British army into a colonial institution during protracted counterinsurgency was one of the inner Gaelic fringes of the United Kingdom, the Highlands of Scotland. It was there in the first half of the Eighteenth century that the army appeared as a corporate institution with its own views not just on its role in the defeating the Jacobite movement, but in resolving the ‘Highland Problem’, acquiring and applying militarily useable topographic and ethnographic knowledge as well as coercive power. The military presence in the Highlands of Scotland was based on intelligence, collaboration with local allies, social control and working civil-military relations, despite the lack of the unity of command during the whole period of the Jacobite movement. This was the dark side of the Enlightenment: the growth of knowledge about rebellious populations of the European empires that had been tested on the lines of ‘enlightened’ pacification and added to the toolbox of colonial counterinsurgency. It would help shape later methods of colonial counter-insurgency in the next century.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09592318.2021.1904540

The Effect of Civilian Casualties on Wartime Informing: Evidence from the Iraq War

By Andrew Shaver and Jacob N. Shapiro in Journal of Conflict Resolution

Keywords: asymmetric conflict, civilian casualties, conflict management, civil wars

Scholars of civil war and insurgency have long posited that insurgent organizations and their state enemies incur costs for the collateral damage they cause. We provide the first direct quantitative evidence that wartime informing to counterinsurgent forces is affected by civilian victimization. Using newly declassified data on tip flow to Coalition forces in Iraq we find that information flow goes down after government forces inadvertently kill civilians and it goes up when insurgents do so. These results confirm a relationship long posited in the theoretical literature on insurgency but never directly observed, have strong policy implications, and are consistent with a broad range of circumstantial evidence on the topic.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0022002721991627

Why do states in conflict with each other also sustain resilient cooperation in international regulation? Britain and telegraphy, 1860s–1914

By Perri 6 and Eva Heims in European Journal of International Relations

Keywords: Intergovernmental organization, cooperation, methodology, International Telegraph Union, 19th-century British foreign policy, buffering

This article compares the explanatory power of five mainstream theories from International Relations, political science and public management in understanding why – when they are engaged in deepening conflict and tension and even preparations for wars – states might simultaneously sustain deepening cooperation in global regulatory bodies. Analysis of explanatory power focuses on trade-offs among five key methodological virtues, and on buffering as an indicator of state unitariness. The theories are examined against the crucial case of one state’s commitment to the first international regulatory regime, the International Telegraph Union (ITU) and the Submarine Cable Convention (SCC) of 1884, from the founding of the ITU in 1865 to the outbreak of the Great War. In this article, we use UK National Archives files to reconstruct Britain’s decisions in telegraphy policy as our case of a state’s decision-making. We focus on four key clusters of decisions, spanning three sub-periods. The study finds each of the theories can descriptively capture some developments in some sub-periods, but not for the reasons identified in the theory and without generality of application. It therefore provides the basis for future theoretical development work and demonstrates the value of theory comparison by analysis of trade-offs among methodological virtues.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1354066121997993

The military history of Romanov Russia

By John W. Steinberg in War & Society

Keywords: Russia, military history, empire, First World War, historiography, Central Asia

This article is a historiographic essay that examines some of the scholarly studies that have been published since the opening of the Russian archives and libraries to military historians of the Romanov period (1613–1917) of Russian history. While the basic narrative of Russian military history has not been significantly altered or transformed, gaining access to an enormous amount of new sources resulted in the development of a deeper, more nuanced understanding, of the rise and fall of the imperial Russian empire. Readers now can learn much more about traditional issues ranging from strategy, operations, tactics and logistics to the education, training, and financing of the army than was possible during the Soviet period.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/07292473.2021.1906465

Setting the Strategic Cat among the Policy Pigeons: The Problems and Paradoxes of Western Intervention Strategy

By M. L. R. Smith in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism

Keywords: intervention, realism

In theory, the idea of strategy is easy to comprehend but in practice it is a hard taskmaster because it often involves calculations of political values that are rarely amenable to the kind of rationalistic application of “expert” opinion to which Western nations invariably default when considering overseas interventions. Based on remarks to the Oxford Changing Character of War Centre, this research note argues that foreign policy experts frequently find themselves out of touch with the sentiments of their own populations, which in part is responsible for the poor strategic outcomes that Western foreign policies have incurred in recent years. A number of remedies are suggested, based principally on returning Western policy making to a tradition of prudential realism.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2021.1903669

Humanitarian Notification Systems & Intentional Attacks Against Hospitals

By Bailey R. Ulbricht and Allen S. Weiner in Articles of War

Keywords: digital technologies, humanitarian action, IHL

Article on humanitarian notification systems in armed conflict.

DOI: https://lieber.westpoint.edu/humanitarian-notification-systems-intentional-attacks-against-hospitals/

Rival principals and shrewd agents: Military assistance and the diffusion of warfare

By Alex Neads in European Journal of International Security

Keywords: Military Assistance, Technology, Warfare, Diffusion, Principal-Agent Theory

Military assistance is a perennial feature of international relations. Such programmes typically aim to improve the effectiveness of local partners, exporting the donor’s way of war through the provision of training and equipment. By remaking indigenous armies in their own image, donors likewise hope to mitigate the profound agency costs associated with the transfer of military capability. But, while technical and organisational transformations can provide notable battlefield advantages, the philosophies underlying such innovations are not so easily propagated. Instead, new tactics, structures, and technologies typically intersect with pre-existing local schemata of war, producing novel if sometimes dysfunctional hybrid praxes. According to principal-agent theory, the application of greater conditionality in the provision of military assistance should improve the fidelity of military diffusion, aligning agents’ divergent interests with their principals’ goals. In practice, however, principal-agent exchanges rarely exist in isolation. Examining the modernisation of nineteenth-century Japan as a case study in military diffusion, this article argues that competition between rival patrons allows recipient states to play would-be principals off against each other, bypassing conditionality by replicating a marketplace for military assistance. In so doing, however, agents trade functionality for sovereignty in their military diffusion.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/eis.2021.1