Monthly Archives: March 2013

Links #2: Governance measurements, job prospects, IR theory, regionalism

Francis Fukuyama’s commentary “How should we measure governance?” has provoked a series of replies at the governance blog, inter alia reactions from Bo Rothstein, Thomas Risse, and Shiv Visvanathan. This might be a good starting point if you want to think about governance as such or the quantification / measurement problem in IR.

An article about desperate grad students who turn to external career advisors in order to improve their job prospects in academia has upset Steve Saideman. So, just don’t do it and go to your supervisor instead, is what he’s advising.

Over at Theory Talks, New Lebow is interviewed “On Drivers of War, Cultural Theory, and IR of Foxes and Hedgehogs”. Also, he certainly doesn’t mince words:

On the American side of the pond, positivist or game-theoretical behaviorist or rationalist modeling approaches dominate the literature; it’s just silly, from my perspective. It’s based on assumptions which bear no relationship to the real world. People like it because it’s intellectually elegant: they don’t have to learn any languages, they don’t have to read any history, and they can pretend they’re scientists discussing universals. Intellectually, it’s ridiculous.

OK, let’s turn to the regionalism stuff.

Continue reading Links #2: Governance measurements, job prospects, IR theory, regionalism

PhD Pitch #2: My Thesis as a Choose Your Own Adventure Book

Choose your own

Chapter 1: You are a developing country. Post-decolonization, your economy is based on unprocessed commodities, but you would like to increase domestic manufacturing and improve infrastructure. What do you do? If you want to go it alone, go to Chapter 2. If you want some outside help, go to Chapter 3.

Continue reading PhD Pitch #2: My Thesis as a Choose Your Own Adventure Book

The Amateur Forecaster’s Diary

Good Judgment Project

One and a half years ago, I signed up for the Good Judgment Project, which is run by a team from University of Pennsylvania and UC Berkeley. The project is one of five competing in a forecasting tournament sponsored by IARPA. Its main objective is to “dramatically enhance the accuracy, precision, and timeliness of forecasts for a broad range of event types, through the development of advanced techniques that elicit, weight, and combine the judgments of many intelligence analysts”.

This post is part one of a series on (amateur) forecasting: First, how does the tournament work?

Continue reading The Amateur Forecaster’s Diary

The Toddler-Thesis Nexus

Often when people hear I am father of a three-year-old and doing my PhD they seem very surprised.  It’s true, I was very young when our son was born (21 years old) – very out of the ordinary to today’s standards. A common question I get is, ‘Isn’t it hard to combine a PhD with being a father?’ The truth is, not really, and here’s why.


First of all, as a parent you follow the rhythm of your child. My son wakes up every morning around 7.30 a.m.  By 9.00 a.m. he has to be at his nursery. This cancels all possibility of sleeping late. By 9.15 I am on my way to the university.
Continue reading The Toddler-Thesis Nexus

European Social Democratic Parties in Crisis

What’s Right with What’s Left?

European social democracy is in crisis. Rather than being the prime challenger of the neoliberal consensus, social democratic parties are struggling with their Third Way legacy. Increasingly alienated from its traditional social base having given in to the neoliberal status quo, social democracy is in danger of becoming an anachronism.

Colin Hay distinguishes between two phases of neoliberalism, ‘normative neoliberalism’ and ‘normalized neoliberalism’ (2007, 98) In the first phase, in the late 1970s and 1980s, neoliberalism was advocated by politicians like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan to be the answer to the inefficient economic management of the Keynesian model that marked the post-war period. The second phase of ‘normalized neoliberalism’ signifies its triumph as it was able to solidify its school of thought into a widespread consensus. A particular strength of neoliberalism is that it successfully advocated its inevitability and its necessitarian character.
Continue reading European Social Democratic Parties in Crisis

PhD Pitch #1: My Thesis in Folders

International Relations Scholarship Beyond the Transatlantic Core: Citation Patterns in East Asian, Latin American and South African IR Journals


TB(A+C) = 46 = 3(5/(7+8+9)(1+2))

So the goal is B; which will in the end make up (large parts of) T(Thesis). B is thereby based on A and C. Both A and C derive from Σ(folder1,…,folder9) with the basic idea of using 1 and 2 (methods) as well as 7, 8 and 9 (theory) to make sense of 5 within the bigger context of 3. The outcome will be a smaller and localized (6) version of 4.


Continue reading PhD Pitch #1: My Thesis in Folders

Hugo Chavez Dies: What’s Next for Venezuela and the Region?

After almost two years battling cancer, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died yesterday, March 5.

In the wake of his death, the general consensus seems to be that there is no consensus. The Venezuelan leader’s legacy is divisive, with vehement supporters and detractors at home and abroad, a situation reflected in both English and Spanish coverage. (And, for a longer, relatively unusual pro-Chavez analysis in English here and here)
Continue reading Hugo Chavez Dies: What’s Next for Venezuela and the Region?

Links #1: Tuesday links

This is one of these days when you’re so swamped with organizational work that you don’t get anything done. So, I’m brief on the links today.


While results of the Kenyan elections are still pending, I have had a glance at some articles about the possibility of violence and international media coverage in the country.


What about regionalism news?

The Third Africa-South America Summit concluded a week ago or so, following-up on the two others held in Nigeria in 2006 and in Venezuela in 2009. Participants are calling for more cooperation and South-South unity.

Former Chief Justice of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal, Ariranga Pillay, reflects about the reasons why the Tribunal has been suspended and attacks South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma.

NAFTA at 20! The Congressional Research Service provides an overview and trade effects for the last 20 years. Interesting if you want to put your hands on the topic.


And, finally, some Pope election coverage shouldn’t be missing since the conclave preparations get into top gear. The Making Electoral Democracy Work project has set up the Vote for Pope website which provides insights about different electoral systems and invites us to take part in a fictional Pope election. Check it out. (via The Monkey Cage)

There’s No Balance of Cyber Threats

Map of APT1 activities
Map of APT1 activities (image taken from the Mandiant APT1 report)

In February, the American cyber security company Mandiant released a report “exposing one of China’s cyber espionage units” (PDF here). A large chunk of it boils down to three findings: The attacks on US infrastructures originated in China, they were orchestrated by a large and resourceful group, and Mandiant has studied that group to the extent where they can tell individual members apart.

Finally the authors point out that the activities of this “Advanced Persistent Threat #1” (APT1) have been tracked to a certain location in Shanghai, which also happens to host the headquarters of a Chinese military unit (PLA Unit 61398) dealing with cyber security. So Mandiant claims to be able to trace breaches into private U.S. security systems back to a unit of the People’s Liberation Army.

Cyber security analyst Jeffrey Carr has pointed out that the report leaves a lot to be desired, and that some of the claims about linking APT-1 to the PLA Unit 61398 appear to be wrong. There’s no reason to suspect that Carr naively wants to protect China. His comments rather illustrate the difficulty of attributing cyber “attacks” or “espionage” to particular actors.

Yet establishing such a chain of evidence is the whole point of the Mandiant report and the reason it got so much attention!

Continue reading There’s No Balance of Cyber Threats

CfA: Berlin Summer School 2013

Berlin Summer School 2013

Just a quick reminder: Until March 25 you can apply for this year’s Berlin Summer School for Social Sciences! The call is open to PhD candidates, advanced MA students and “young Post-Docs”…

This summer school (“Linking Theory and Empirical Research”) is offered by Humboldt University’s Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Social Science Research Center WZB. Next to the overall theme, four specific fields are covered:

  • “Comparing Democracies: Competition, Institutions and Public Policies”
  • “Social Inequality, Conflict and Integration”
  • “The Dynamics of National and International Regimes”
  • “Culture and Knowledge in a Globalized World”

You’ll get two weeks of coursework with lecturers from the U.S. and Europe – and the chance to experience Berlin in summer, when it’s the most fun!

The call for applications is here (PDF), and you can also see the preliminary schedule for details (PDF). Fees are 450 Euro plus travel and accommodation.