Realist and Liberal takes on Diplomacy and Honor

For the better part of the past half-century the two most prominent theoretical approaches to the study of international relations have been realism and liberalism.  Realism, viewing the state as a unitary and rational actor, argues that states pursue their own interests in an anarchic international environment.  The ability to accomplish their goals, however, is curbed by the fact that other states are similarly engaged in the pursuit of their own interests.  Ultimately realists view the potential struggles generated over conflicting interests to be determined by the distribution of power in the international system.  Generally speaking, "stronger" states will prevail Continue reading Realist and Liberal takes on Diplomacy and Honor

Supplemental Learning Online

I am quite confident that many of you heard of Khan Academy previously.  The "one man university" was created and still maintained by a single individual that teaches various content in small, ten minute portions.  Various other sites in your regular blog reading has touched on it (The Bayesian Heresy and Boing Boing are the first two hits on my feed reader when searching for it).  However, if you do need an introduction, you can check out the site's extensive FAQ section or briefly browse the Wikipedia page on it.  Being intrigued by these alternative education videos, I have been devoting Continue reading Supplemental Learning Online

And You’ll Be Helping How?

Another piece on the China-North Korea relationship. Just a quick thought on this and on the broader question.  There are some pretty clear reasons for wanting to do something about the current regime in North Korea.  But when people discuss what should happen, the common refrain seems to be treating China like a teenager that wants oh so badly to drive mom and dad's car, but just hasn't proven himself yet.  I'm fairly certain this article explicitly mentions the notion that the US has tried to get China to feel like it has some "responsibility" for taking care of this Continue reading And You’ll Be Helping How?

“A leopard don’t change its stripes… You mean spots… I means Snaps!”

If you are looking for a good political science movie to show an undergraduate class, I highly recommend the movie Oscar (1991). I really like this movie because it can be used to teach a variety of concepts, such as path dependency, institutional change, beliefs and how they affect behavior, and bargaining. It is also incredibly well done and extremely funny; from my experience undergraduates really enjoy it. Following the jump, I give a brief synopsis of the movie and explain how certain parts of the movie can be used to demonstrate certain concepts in political science. So if you Continue reading “A leopard don’t change its stripes… You mean spots… I means Snaps!”

The Symbol or the Substance?

The UN Security Council was set to vote this morning on new sanctions/strengthening existing sanctions targeting Iran.  The US administration seems to be keen on building up just how tough these new sanctions are.   I have to wonder how much of this is simply rhetorical and how much reflects an actual belief in the efficacy of sanctions within the Obama administration. 

Violent Crime on the US-Mexican Border

I am always perplexed at all the hype in the news about how dangerous the US-Mexican border is. I have visited US border cities several times in the last 7 years and while there are definitely things about visiting border cities that are eventful, crime and violence are definitely are not normal parts of the experience. The notion that the border is dangerous seems more like the creation of the media and ambitious politicians rather than based on real world observations. This is exactly what two newly released studies suggest. The Associated Press recently received access to a recent Customs Continue reading Violent Crime on the US-Mexican Border

My Backwoods Upbringing Serves Me Well

I found this article while glancing at Thomas Ricks' blog at FP–It's about the issues that US troops have been facing in Afghanistan with the weapons they're assigned.  I've commented on similar micro-level issues before and I think this AP article is pretty closely related, although it focuses more on the US side.  I really think framing the issue in the way that the AP does undercuts our ability to understand what the problem is.