As many of you know, this is part of a longer book project on the politics of issue selection in advocacy networks. Since I’m taking a break largely to make time to actually write up the book version of what I’ve found on that score, I thought I’d at least leave you with the slick glossy report version of a piece of the project: our descriptive findings from focus groups with human security practitioners.
We’ve written that report so as to be fun and easy to read by non-academics, but as an academic let me just highlight an interesting finding we downplay in that report, on the composition of the human security network itself. Read more…
Can you talk about the some of the current trends in disaster response? Is there a conflict between the the practical requirements of humanitarian response and the need for state authorities to project control?
If I understand his second question correctly, the general answer in my view is yes, but I’m not going to be able to deliver a proper commentary on this in the next couple of days. So instead, regarding the first, let me point to some of the smartest blogs I know of on the general topic of humanitarian relief.
Third, the Humanitarian Practice Network is a great resource for professionals and students of this burgeoning industry. Here is their equivalent of a blog, with regular posts by various members of the community. They tend to be NGO-humanitarian-relief-worker oriented rather than donor state oriented, but this has the effect of giving you a good sense of practical dilemmas faced by those on the front lines of this work.
Finally, I was saddened to realize when I went to link that AidWatch is going off the air. However the blog will remain on the site, and it’s chock full of links to humanitarian and development blogs and other resources. (There’s also a fascinating info-graphic there on the relationship between religion and income level in the US and some of you may find interesting.)
On the basis of what empirical studies I could find about the effectiveness of international tribunals versus execution of mass-murderers, I debunk the following in my latest Current Intelligence essay, responding to effects-based claims on both sides of the debate about whether Osama bin Laden should have been tried instead of summarily executed:
MYTH #1: OBL Could Never Have Received a Fair Trial.
MYTH #2: OBL Would Simply Have Used the Court as A Way to Promote Jihadism.
MYTH #3: A Trial Would Have Become a Focal Point For Further Attacks.
MYTH #4: A Trial Would Have Helped Deter Future Acts of Jihadist Terror and Build a Culture of Human Rights.
And lowest but most:
MYTH #5: The Question is Whether Trials Work.
In the final analysis, whether summary executions of terrorist leaders are preferable to trials is not a question of pragmatics. It is a normative issue. It is about whether an easy, illegal option with few benefits and certain drawbacks is preferable to a harder, legal option with equally uncertain outcomes. It is ultimately about whether or not the leaders of civilised nations believe they themselves are above the rule of law.
Officially of course, the answer is yes. (I admit I had to look it up to see where the original Zealand is.)
But on the English internet, the answer is for all intents and purposes “no.” Or at least, nothing ever happens there. Go looking on Google for news of “Zealand,” for example, and all you get is search terms for New Zealand.
Hardly surprising in itself, but especially interesting in the context of this brand new book, The Filter Bubble, by Eli Pariser. In a recent TED talk, the author summarizes the argument:
We did some debating here last week about how to interpret the law on surrender, how to interpret Harold Koh’s description of that law, and how to interpret Ken Anderson’s argument that Koh had it right. Add to that Marty Lederman’s similar argument here.
I’m willing to concede I’m missing something important, because I’m not trained in the nuances of the law and these various law profs are. But I’m trying to figure out what.
I’ve had a chance to review some relevant treaty text anda fantastic source on the law of targeting forwarded to me by Ken, and I stand by my initial sense that Koh overstepped in suggesting that, given a genuine surrender is offered and the offer received, that troops need only accept that surrender if they feel they can do so “safely.” Read more…
It’s hard to overstate the significance of Ratko Mladic’s arrest last night. Moreso that Slobodon Milsoevic, Serbia’s president during the 1991-1995 war of ex-Yugoslavia, and moreso that Radovan Karadzic the political leader of the Bosnian Serbs during the war, Mladic is reviled by Bosnian survivors of the conflict as the former leader of the Bosnian Serb Army. Though best known for his his calculated role in the war’s most infamous massacre of over 7,000 noncombatants at Srebrenica – along with the subsequent massacre at Zepa, this was his crowning achievement after several years of war marked by sexual assault, forced displacement, massacre and general butchery of civilians and detainees. Danger Room has a well-linked round-up of info on the snatch.
What I find fascinating about the international reaction to his arrest is the importance of this man being brought to trial. At no point I am aware of during his years of hiding was it argued that he should instead be taken out by a targeted killing – partly because it was recognized that justice for his victims required a trial. Recent empirical research demonstrates that these courts have not only been able to effectively carry out prosecutions, but have had a number of other important positive side-effects, with few of the negatives originally feared. I remain puzzled that the ad hoc tribunal model has not been seriously considered for KSM, OBL or other terrorist masterminds.
My Rules of War class this past Spring was an Honors version of the course, and to challenge my students I asked them to do original research on popular conceptions of international humanitarian law – an issue the International Committee of the Red Cross takes quite seriously.
The assignment was to identify a concept in the rules of war, gain a firm understanding of the law, then identify a set of data on how people see those rules, and use content analytic or discourse analytic coding methods to study how far apart the representations of the law in text are from the rules as understood or represented in reality, and in which respects. It was a tough assignment!
The students were at liberty to choose any kind of text data they wanted. Some chose blog posts. Some chose news articles. Some studied internal DoD memos to try to understand the narratives of policymakers as they tried to implement the rules of war. One scoured the Star Wars Trilogy screenplays for evidence of inaccurate portrayals of just warrior-hood (see below). All were required to attend a coding workshop, explain their methods and their findings, and draw inferences about the dissemination of humanitarian law to the public, media and policymakers.
Having graded many an undergraduate paper in my day, I was mightily impressed by the quality of the papers I saw and the amount of effort and detail many of these students put into their projects. Below the fold are short descriptions of the five best papers in the class, with accompanying visualizations. Working papers are linked below. Read more…
A few weeks back I wrote my co-bloggers, regretfully:
Effective May 30, I need to go on hiatus. I have just accepted a position as Graduate Program Director in my department, and need to deal with moving houses this summer so I’ll be bit pre-occupied in the near term, but the bigger issues are a) a teenage nugget who is beginning to require a lot more attention and b) the need to complete my book manuscript. Both of these require some concerted work over the next year. I don’t see how to carve out time for these extra work/family obligations other than by cutting back on blogging for awhile, so there it is.
Will look forward to hanging with you in person when able (poker at APSA anyone?), reading and commenting, and to linking from the Duck, where I’ll continue to contribute, though also more irregularly for now.
I’m having withdrawal symptoms already, but nothing can be done, so in the week I have left for now, tell me what you’d like me to write about in comments, and I’ll try to make ‘em good. (You know me, though: no promises…)
In a personal exhange, Anderson refers me to a book entitled The Contemporary Law of Targeting, pp. 83-92 – I’m sure it’s an absolutely brilliant read but since it costs almost $150 I can as of now neither confirm nor deny Ken’s claim that it supports his argument.