Over at Bretterblog, a colleague has noted (in German) that many IR blogs seem to take a summer break. Might that have been directed at us? Well, here are some links to prove that not all of us are swimming in a lake right now… (I wish!)
PRISM / NSA surveillance, even though you’re sick and tired of it:
Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer now heading a think tank, argues that Edward Snowden is no traitor: “The damage he has inflicted is not against U.S. national security but rather on the politicians and senior bureaucrats who ordered, managed, condoned, and concealed the illegal activity.” Giraldi takes a pretty legal/technical point of view on this and draws on the U.S. Constitution, which I found interesting.
Nauro F. Campos analyzes why people are protesting in Brazil, using a dataset from 1870 to 2003. The list of factors he and his colleagues have identified for the current wave of protest doesn’t sound too surprising: “corruption and inefficiency in public services delivery, political ineptitude and the electoral cycle.” Another interesting finding: The number of riots is decreasing over time, but there are more peaceful protests.
There’s a great post at Scientific American by computer scientist Radhika Nagpal, who decided not to stress too much about tenure and instead treat her job as a “seven-year postdoc”. This means: don’t spend all your energy networking and sucking up to important people, but rather enjoy life and get good work done. Probably works best if you’re very smart and hard-working anyway; she’s now a professor at Harvard. Steven Saideman offers his comments at the Duck of Minerva.
My dissertation project (on international efforts to fight corruption) in 5 questions & answers… but to make things interesting, I’ve used a text editor that limits you to the 1000 most-used English words. The idea is based on a comic by xkcd, and please check out “ten hundred words of science” for many great examples.
So, what is this thing about?
What do states do if they want to stop people who pay or accept money or presents although they should not? That is my question, and I look at many places in the world where states make plans with each other. In the end I want to explain why they decide the way they do.
The forecasting competition in which I take part (Good Judgment Project) is about to kick off season 3. I plan to cover the next steps here on the blog, in particular because I have now been promoted to “super forecaster” status. Please consider reading part 1 and part 2 of my coverage so far.
Edward Snowden’s fate is still undecided and the news about U.S./UK surveillance will probably keep going. For Germany, there is a new angle to the whole story in the aftermath of interior minister Friedrich’s visit to Washington: “many were critical of his trip, saying he was given little information and came across like an obedient school boy” (SPIEGEL).
Friedrich is now under fire for suggesting that several terrorist attacks on German soil have been avoided thanks to PRISM; a statement that was not backed up by facts. He also neatly summarized the ‘let’s give up civil liberties for counter-terrorism’ logic: “The noble intention of saving lives in Germany justifies working with our American friends and partners …” (my translation; via law blog)
Over the weekend, I attended a workshop with IR people from very different backgrounds. As it often happens, small-talk themes varied from workshop-related conceptual disagreements and the situation at the respective home institutions to actual political events. This time, the most prominent topic given the coup against Morsi last Wednesday was the Egyptian crisis and its causes.
What struck me most about the reactions was that a large part of the participants actually justified and legitimized the military’s actions to push Morsi out of office. This was demanded by the Egyptian people by being on the street and protesting against the ruling regime, it was often said. Morsi made too many mistakes as he was not able to improve the economic situation and because he set different groups against each other, others claimed. The military had to interfere in order to reconstitute order and in order to protect the democratic endeavor in Egypt.
Truth be told, this sucks: what is a military coup should also be named a military coup.
These days, we are witnessing an interesting number of social upheavals around the world. There is the Arab Spring which has re-awakened the interest in the North African region. We have seen student protests in the streets of London. People went on the streets of Moscow to express their allegations of electoral fraud in 2011. And, to keep in mind, there is the still ongoing civil war in Syria. Very recently, two countries, often referred to as the power houses of their regions, have witnessed the discontent of their populations: Turkey and Brazil.
At a first glance, both cases seem to be different stories. Whereas the Taksim Gezi Park protests seem to be rather spontaneous, the Brazilian protests have deeper and long-lasting roots. So what happened? Are there also similarities? And how can we make sense of these contemporaneous events?1
Usually, I try to find common themes for the links when it’s my turn in the link duty. Today I do not live up to that. So, here’s a rather cursory collection of what I’ve read over the last couple of days.