The syllabus for my summer 2013 course on “U.S. Strategy after the Cold War” is ready. You can find a copy here.
categories: national security, teaching. | tags: courses, syllabus.
Posted at 6:05 pm
The latest issue of the Critical Review features a symposium on the fifteenth anniversary of Robert Jervis’s System Effects. I have contributed a piece titled “We Can Never Study Merely One Thing: Reflections on Systems Thinking and IR.” Here is the abstract:
Robert Jervis’s System Effects was published just as systems thinking began to decline among political scientists, who were adopting increasingly strict standards of causal identification, privileging experimental and large-N studies. Many politically consequential system effects are not amenable to research designs that meet these standards, yet they must nonetheless be studied if the most important questions of international politics are to be answered. For example, if nuclear weapons are considered in light of their effect on the international system as a whole, it becomes clear that they have obviated the need for a global balance of power by allowing states to counterbalance threats by acquiring nuclear weapons rather than investing in massive conventional balancing efforts. Similarly, systems thinking should inform our understanding of the impact of a ‘‘unipolar power’’ such as the United States, which has enjoyed an overwhelming preponderance of conventional military power since the fall of the Berlin Wall. A unipolar power is likely to become involved in frequent conflicts because it is not restrained by the presence of a peer competitor.
You can read the entire piece here.
The remaining pieces in the symposium (by Jeffrey Friedman; Andrea Jones-Rooy and Scott Page; Richard Posner; Philip Tetlock, Michael Horowitz and Richard Herrmann; and Robert Jervis himself) are available here (gated).
categories: IR theory, philosophy, publications, research. | tags: Critical Review, Jervis, systems theory.
Posted at 8:42 am
William C. Wohlforth has written a review of my article “Unrest Assured,” which came out in International Security (Winter 2011/12), for the ISSF series over at H-Diplo. You can read his review here.
categories: IR theory, national security, nuclear weapons, publications, research, war. | tags: reviews, unipolarity.
Posted at 10:02 am
I hereby declare open the contest for best one-sentence summary of the European crisis as written by historians fifty years down the road. My entry:
“And so, during the decade that preceded the dismemberment of the EU and the rise of populist regimes throughout Southern Europe in the late 2010s, increasingly weak democratic governments tried to reassure the markets of their countries’ credit-worthiness while catering to both rent-extracting oligarchic (political and economic) elites and populations unwilling to adapt to a lifestyle not dependent on the state, a task that ultimately proved unfeasible.”
categories: Europe, Portugal. | tags: euro, financial crisis.
Posted at 10:58 am
My article “Known Unknowns: Power Shifts, Uncertainty, and War,” (co-authored with Alexandre Debs) is now officially forthcoming in International Organization. Here is the abstract:
Large and rapid power shifts resulting from exogenous economic growth are considered sufficient to cause preventive wars. Such power shifts are rare, however. Most large and rapid shifts result from endogenous military investments. In this case, preventive war requires uncertainty about a state’s investment decision. When this decision is perfectly transparent, peace always prevails. A state’s investment that would produce a large and rapid power shift would prompt its adversaries to launch a preventive war. Internalizing this, the state is deterred from investing. When investments may remain undetected, however, states may be tempted to introduce large and rapid shifts in military power as a fait accompli. Knowing this, their adversaries may strike preventively even without unambiguous evidence about militarization. In fact, the more effective preventive wars are, the more likely they will be launched against states that are not militarizing. Our argument restricts the role of commitment problems and emphasizes the role of imperfect information as causes of war. It also provides an account of why powerful states may attack weaker targets suspected of military investments even in the absence of conclusive information. We illustrate our theory through an account of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
categories: IR theory, publications, research, war. | tags: military power, power transition.
Posted at 2:12 pm
I am teaching a seminar on “U.S. Strategy after the Cold War” during the Yale 2012 summer session. Here’s a short description of the course:
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has enjoyed a preponderance of power in the international system. With a quarter of the world’s GDP; a military one order of magnitude greater than any other; a defense budget close to half of global defense expenditures; a blue-water navy superior to all others combined; a chance at nuclear superiority over its erstwhile foe, Russia; and a defense R&D budget that is almost twice the total defense expenditures of its most obvious future competitor, China; the United States has unprecedented relative power. Although several other states would likely be able to avoid defeat in case of a U.S. attack, none comes anywhere near its surplus of usable, globally-deployable power. The United States thus has incomparable freedom projecting its power around the world. It has no peer competitors, and none are likely to emerge in the near future.
What are the main threats facing the United States in this new environment? How should the United States behave in these different circumstances? What should U.S. grand strategy be? What, if any, are the constraints on American power? What are the challenges to American power? Are peer competitors rising?
The purpose of this course is to address each of these questions, encouraging students to form their own views on contemporary international politics and U.S. grand strategy. Readings encompass the theoretical and historical aspects of the post-Cold War world, including U.S. grand strategy and foreign policy, the evolution of power trends, and the recent history of armed conflicts.
If you want to know more, you can find the syllabus here.
categories: IR theory, national security, nuclear weapons, teaching, war. | tags: courses, syllabus.
Posted at 3:03 pm