Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Q&A - 23/12

Link

A more focused study, however, is needed to truly understand that the Star Wars films are actually the story of the radicalization of Luke Skywalker. From introducing him to us in A New Hope (as a simple farm boy gazing into the Tatooine sunset), to his eventual transformation into the radicalized insurgent of Return of the Jedi (as one who sets his own father’s corpse on fire and celebrates the successful bombing of the Death Star), each film in the original trilogy is another step in Luke’s descent into terrorism.

Hah

The article turned everthing upside down: Luke is not a hero, but a religious fundemantalist bent on jihad. The empire and Vader were actually the good guys... Weird.. and complete non-sense - but it's funny.

Link

Realists agree that power is what drives international politics, but they disagree about exactly when and where it should be unleashed or husbanded [..] Realism is an attitude, not a doctrine.

Even as an attitude it is misguided

Bruce B. de Mesquita

The set of disputes also allows us to examine how the outcomes of disputes affect the ability of leaders to retain office. The members of the winning coalition and selectorate care about how their state fares in international politics, both for material and policy concerns. Militarized disputes are the most signal international events a nation and its leader face, so we expect that the outcomes of disputes should have a large effect on the ability of leaders to hold office. Even if the enemy cannot remove a leader, her failure to best that enemy may lead her own winning coalition to abandon her in favor of a new leader. We draw attention to this claim as we explore the question suggested by the title of this chapter: Is the enemy outside more dangerous than the enemy within? Are leaders more worried about being overthrown by another state or by their own supporters? This question returns us to a central problem in the theory of international relations. Realists (e.g., Waltz 1979) claim that the external threat to a state’s existence is so great that its leaders must always attend to the external security of the state. We and others (e.g., Lamborn 1991) contend that leaders see international politics through a lens of domestic politics. How a state fares in international politics is important for a leader, but she perceives success through the eyes of her winning coalition [1].

I'll go with the guy who knows math

According to BBM, leaders do not act for 'national interests' or 'balance of power' - they make choices to satisfy / grow / keep their winning coalition.

Research

A large body of research identified, and then sought to explain, the tendency for democracies to win wars. The effect is large—democracies win almost all the wars they start and about two-thirds of the wars in which they are targets of aggression [..]

While both democracies and non-democracies have an obvious interest in victory, democracies are better able to make war collectively. Autocracies, with the small winning coalitions highlighted by the literature, tend to seek private benefits from fighting. A thirst for private goods means that autocracies optimize at a smaller coalition size to avoid diluting the spoils of war. Democracies, in contrast, already supply public goods to large domestic winning coalitions. They therefore gravitate toward war aims that are less adversely affected by the number of allies or participants. [..]

Interesting

This is the kind of research I'd like to see more of. A suggestion to IR practitioners: learn statistics, math (and follow BBM!). Otherwise it's all bunch of hand waving, and words.

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[1] BBM, The Logic of Political Survival