Category: Long essays (Page 1 of 2)

President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Few Recent Essays by yours truly

A lot changed in one year. Almost a pole switched, and the global order reversed, since September 2015 to Trump’s inauguration. A lot happened in between, questioning out essential assumptions about everything we know.

How did we get here? What changed? What went wrong, and how to explain the change?

From February 2017, I am starting to teach a course called “M11006 Problems in Global Politics” and I will be quite busy. But I took some time off, to write a few long essays about issues around us.

I like to see myself as a chronicler of time; a political realist, equally hated from the right and the left, and that gives me immense pleasure. True neutrality is something to be cherished, and strive for constantly. From the ashes of our civilisation, sometime in distant future, maybe there will remain some iconoclastic viewpoints, a few of them mine hopefully.

In that spirit, here are a few selected long essays from last couple of weeks. 

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Don’t listen to the false prophets of humanitarianism

Must be hearing how Middle East civil wars are exactly like Jews being persecuted by Nazis in Europe during the 1930s?

I wrote on Quillette, why that is a lie. An excerpt.

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Read the whole thing here.

 

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A demagouge’s disdain for a free press paves the way for tyranny

The media is holding Donald Trump accountable, but his angry response to scrutiny, highlights troubling aspects of the man who wants to be president. His attacks on the institution of the press shows a man who doesn’t like being held accountable, and he has rallied many of his followers to support him without regard to the facts.

The latest controversy, which bring forth the implications, concerns donations to veterans charities Trump bragged about having made. Four months after Trump claimed to have donated $1 million himself, Trump finally did so on May 23, after facing scrutiny from the press. On May 21, the Washington Post published an investigation that quoted campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as saying Trump had raised $4.5 million, about $1.5 million less than the more than $6 million Trump claimed to have raised. On the day of the fundraiser, however, Trump said that they had “cracked” $6 million and (in third-person), “Donald Trump gave $1 million.”

Press Scrutiny Caused Trump to Donate

Thus Donald Trump didn’t actually give $1 million until after the press held him to account (and found him to be lacking). It was an important story for the public to know about, as Trump had made a big deal about his fundraising. After having decided to skip the January 28, Fox News debate, Trump decided to hold a fundraiser during the debate, so as to claim he had a reason for skipping the debate besides his previously-stated dislike for moderator Megyn Kelly.

As the record shows, Trump had already announced he was considering boycotting the debate on January 24, and he had cited Megyn Kelly as the reason:

Later, Trump used the fundraiser as a pretense for skipping the debate. (One could ask why Trump hadn’t held fundraisers before and during other time slots.) Since the Post has gotten Trump to (belatedly) live up to one of his promises, it should be commended for doing a public service. As the “Fourth Estate,” the press is supposed to function as a watchdog on power. Without a healthy press scrutinizing politicians, politicians could get away with anything.

A War on Watchdogs

However, Trump doesn’t want scrutiny, and his supporters don’t want to see their hero challenged. At a press conference, Trump personally attacked reporters, calling one “a sleaze” and another “a real beauty.” He said the reporters were all “unbelievably dishonest.”

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Ben Sasse and Marco Rubio: Only one deserves reverence

On a day when Donald Trump took to CNN and refused to disavow the Ku Klux Klan, and behaved as though he was clueless as to who David Duke was, Ben Sasse penned an open letter to supporters of Donald Trump. The letter gained the young Senator a good deal of publicity, but it also garnered him a great deal of rebuke.

Please understand: I’m not an establishment Republican, and I will never support Hillary Clinton. I’m a movement conservative who was elected over the objections of the GOP establishment. My current answer for who I would support in a hypothetical matchup between Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton is: Neither of them. I sincerely hope we select one of the other GOP candidates, but if Donald Trump ends up as the GOP nominee, conservatives will need to find a third option.

The Nebraska politician ended his sobering letter with the following:

Conservatives understand that all men are created equal and made in the image of God, but also that government must be limited so that fallen men do not wield too much power. A presidential candidate who boasts about what he’ll do during his “reign” and refuses to condemn the KKK cannot lead a conservative movement in America.

TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT

Thank you for listening. While I recognize that we disagree about how to make America great again, we agree that this should be our goal. We need more people engaged in the civic life of our country—not fewer. I genuinely appreciate how much many of you care about this country, and that you are demanding something different from Washington. I’m going to keep doing the same thing.

But I can’t support Donald Trump.

In May, a few months after his initial statement, Ben Sasse wrote another open letter – but this time to majority America.

With Clinton and Trump, the fix is in. Heads, they win; tails, you lose. Why are we confined to these two terrible options? This is America. If both choices stink, we reject them and go bigger. That’s what we do.

Remember: our Founders didn’t want entrenched political parties. So why should we accept this terrible choice?

He has since continued to hold Trump accountable for his lack of policy, as well as lack of good character. 

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A Palestinian girl bites the hand of an Israeli soldier, as he tries to restrain a boy for throwing stones, during clashes in August, 2015. (Google)

The flaws of Track Two Diplomacy between Israel and Palestine

Review essay: Understanding the methodology and applicability of the Track Two study on Israel Palestine by Maoz, Kellen and Bekerman

(This was part of a paper I was working on, and I write about why and how the track two diplomacy exercises are essentially flawed and lacks validity and reliability.

Citation: Maitra, S. “Review essay: Understanding the methodology and applicability of the Track Two study on Israel Palestine by Maoz, Kellen and Bekerman”, University of Nottingham, 2016)


 

Israeli Palestinian conflict has been judged through the prism of classical IR and diplomatic theoretical framework. While Israel Palestinian peace research has been dealt critically, with case studies featuring the 1993-2000 Oslo peace process, and literature regarding the causes and nature of Israeli Palestinian conflict, methods to establish peace, impact of the peacemaking methods on the conflict, and the role played by outsiders; there has been huge literature devoted to methodological barriers in peace process between the two conflict groups. In this essay I particularly focus on a specific single indepth case study which deals with a recent track two diplomacy exercise in a participant observation framework.[1] It is difficult within the scope, size or ambit of this piece to deal with the details of the entire literature of Israeli Palestinian peace process, but hereinafter I would focus on the track two diplomacy paper by Maoz, Kellen, Bekerman where I would review, analyse and discuss the structural and methodological rigor and debate of track two diplomacy between Israel and Palestine and if it could be applicable to other conflict management processes across the globe.

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Weekly Reading List: So, I got published in War on the Rocks and Nottspolitics

Big week, as I mentioned before, with a couple of major publications coming, other than my regular columns.

To start with, the biggest one till date, my essay on War on the Rocks, where I write a Neo-Realist critique of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s latest revisionist history lesson. And was then called a Neo-Con for some reason, in the comments. But that’s another issue.

The second big one was my guest post at the official blog of the University of Nottingham, Dept of Politics and IR, where I talk about a foreign policy course for Philippines and how it should balance between China and US.

Other than that, here are my weekly columns.

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GUEST POST: What to Look for In a Publisher (and a Contract) – Dr Laura Sjoberg

From the Editor: We at Bombs and Dollars were planning for a while to have academics and policy mavens write guest posts, which we thought will be good for early career researchers.

We present the first post, by Dr Laura Sjoberg, Associate Professor, at the Dept. of Political Science, University of Florida. You can follow her on Twitter @DrLauraEsq


 

What to Look for In a Publisher (and a Contract)

About a week ago, I posted about book publishing in academia. I’ve gotten responses from a number of people, both interested in more information and happy for the first post. If its useful to even one person, I want to answer as many questions as I can with the information that I have – so I’m making this a follow-up post. I’ll focus it around two main question that I got in response to the first post – what should I look for in a book publisher, and what should I look for in a contract.

The bad news is that there’s not one answer to either question. The good news is that there are both some strategic things that it is useful to know and some shortcuts to finding out your answers to the questions.

So, first, what do you want in a publisher? This, of course, depends. Like I talked about briefly in the last post, there are some universals about this. You never want a publisher you have to pay to publish your book, and you always want a publisher that has a genuine interest in your project as a project and you as an author. But beyond that, it depends on where you are, what options you have, and what you need from it.

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Weekly Reading List: All about foreign policy Realism.

Hi everyone, been long we had a Weekly Reading List! Not weekly anymore, unfortunately, as I am busy with my work and research, but as Easter break is approaching, and I will be immersed full time in my PhD thesis, here’re a few articles which I want to leave you guys with, which I wrote in the last one month.

JIR2016_1First, the big one.

My research paper got published, titled “Was Putin Ever Friendly to the West?”: An Expository Study of the First Two Terms of President Vladimir Putin, In Light of the Theories of Realism. (Journal of International Relations, Faculty of International Relations, University of Economics in Bratislava 2016, Volume XIV, Issue 1, Pages 58-92. ISSN 1336-1562 (print), ISSN 1339-2751 (online) Published 15. 3. 2016)

You can download the full paper here.

Aurangzeb_in_old_age_2Secondly, most of you would remember I wrote a comparative piece on how modern Russia is like seventeenth century India under the Mughals? I went a bit further and compared Putin and the medieval Indian emperor Aurangzeb. (Which, incidentally got a nice review here!)

I wrote two articles on Russia-Direct, the first one on how unlikely it is for Russia to actually invade the Baltics, and the second one on the fact that Russia and US is not in any New Cold war, but just a usual Great power rivalry with competition and cooperation happening simultaneously.

I also wrote one long essay for The Interpreter Magazine, on how contrary to popular belief, Obama is not a Realist…infact he doesn’t seem to understand what Realism in foreign policy means.

With regards to my weekly columns, here are they. 

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The Cost of Cambodian Citizenship

In July 2015, a North Korean man traveled to Hawaii, bought, and attempted to ship military goods to China. China is a common route for weapons transfer to North Korea, and Kim Song-Il knew what he was doing. Homeland Security agents arrested Song-Il, and sentenced him to more than three years in prison in late February for violating the Arms Export Control Act, a law that regulates overseas shipment of U.S. military items. Song-Il’s lawyer declined to disclose the fate of the Cambodian passport he used to travel to the U.S.

Kim Song-Il's law enforcement booking photo provided by the Weber County, Utah, Sheriff's Offiice

Kim Song-Il’s law enforcement booking photo provided by the Weber County, Utah, Sheriff’s Offiice

Although the Kingdom of Cambodia holds diplomatic ties with the rogue state, the fact that the government handed Song-Il a passport is still irresponsible. The man had ties to a company known for fronting arms to North Korea. Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni never should have stamped Song-Il’s immigration forms. Yet in September 2008, that’s exactly what he did. And, over the years, a number of suspicious individuals have been granted Cambodian citizenship. 

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Analysis: “Freedom of Press”, Turkey and the real story of Zaman takeover

The crescendo of the Conflict: Guest post by Akif Avcı. (Akif is a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Nottingham)


 

The motivation behind typing this article is to resist against the mainstream media in the issue of the takeover of media group Feza Journalism by the AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, Justice and Development Party) government. Two days ago, a decision has been made by a Turkish court to takeover the Feza Journalism, which owns Turkey’s largest-circulation newspaper and one of the most famous private news agency affiliated with Gulen Movement. Many people gathered in front the Zaman building to protest this seizure. Police forces have attacked the protestors with water-cannons and tear gasses. Many of the journalists, intellectuals, and political party leaders in Turkey have approached the takeover of the Feza media group as a threat to the freedom of press, and declared their solidarity with Gulenist Media.

Supposing this as a threat to the freedom of speech in Turkey-as most of the mainstream media has done so far- is nothing more than masking the truths behind the scene. Rather, this takeover, from my perspective, is the latest attempt of the AKP government in the sense of overcoming its enemy in the ongoing battle between the Gulen Movement and the AKP government, which has become crystallised after the so-called corruption probe started in 17-25 December of 2013. I would like to highlight the fact that there is this agenda needs to be focused on in order to unearth why the AKP has attacked the Gulenist media. This article argues that the takeover is the reflection of intra-capital, intra-state conflict between the AKP government and the Gulen Movement. The task of this article is to uncover the history and unpack what the AKP-Gulen coalition fuelled the neoliberal authoritarian regime. 

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