Government Conflict

Are Domestic Factors Relevant in Deciding to Join a Military Coalition?

‘Stop the War Coalition’ event against a military assault in Iran by the US, UK and Israel. Image:

Atsushi Tago claims that they are. His presentation at the CIS Colloquium series on Thursday (March 15, 2012) aimed to challenge mainstream opinion – including the results of his own previous research – and prove that, apart from solely international factors, domestic factors also matter in explaining why a country chooses to join an ad-hoc military coalition. With the quantitative analysis he presented, he was trying to validate a particular hypothesis: that in an election year, in an economic recession, or in period of domestic riots, a country is less likely to join a military coalition. In view of the upcoming elections in Israel and the US, Tago’s research could be of considerable interest for professionals and academics working with the Iranian nuclear issue.

Tago’s logic is threefold: first, he claims that the true benefits (or detriments) of joining a coalition force are often hidden from the electorate. Therefore, in an election year, governments will be reluctant to participate in armed coalitions for fear that the people will voice their disapproval at the ballot.

Human Rights Humanitarian Issues Conflict

Singling Out Forgotten Conflicts

Demonstration against FARC held in Madrid. Picture: kozumel/flickr

A popular method for identifying which conflicts necessitate more attention from the international community is to estimate the difference between supply and demand of humanitarian assistance in these conflicts. Supply and demand, however, are very hard to measure in emergencies. This has led to the development of several indicators used to measure ‘forgotten conflicts’.

These indicators are often applied on an annual basis and are intended to generate media attention (to increase donations) and/or support donor operations (to comply with impartiality). Have these efforts been successful? Have they effectively singled out and buttressed forgotten conflicts? Looking back on the past decade, in this blog post I’ll assess which conflicts received the least (and most) attention from international actors.

Government Elections

What Is So Special About Poland?

Image: Rock Cohen/flickr

The Center for International Studies at ETH Zurich hosted a number of lectures on Thursday March 8, 2012 focusing on Poland and European integration. This was an excellent opportunity to learn about and discuss several important topics presented by Polish scholars, covering the following four themes: how Polish euroskepticism has changed over the past decades (Krzysztof Zuba); how differentiated integration might play out in the case of Poland (Paweł Frankowski); how the European Parliament socializes its Polish members (Anna Paczesniak); and, what distinguishes European parties from national parties (Wojchiech Gagatek). More broadly, however, what is there in particular that distinguishes the case of Poland from that of other new member states?

Government Finance Development Economy

Economic and Political Indicators: Do we Still Need Them?

Synchronism indicator. Picture: Leo Reynolds/flickr

In a somewhat unexpected turn of events, the presentation of Matthias Busse on Thursday, 1st March entitled ‘Governance in Developing Countries’ at the CIS Colloquium series led to a heated debate on the necessity and validity of indicators, such as those for example developed by the World Bank. Unlike in usual antipositivist development circles, however, the audience engaged in a constructive debate with Busse about his research design concerning the following hypothesis: ‘External drivers of change are less effective than internal ones to improve business regulations’; but how can we discern internal drivers of change from external ones, and how can we measure the well-being of the business regulation framework?

At the beginning, Busse clarified that the project he presented is still in its early stages; yet, he invited disagreement by not being able to explain how internal drivers of change could, even theoretically, be differentiated from external ones. External drivers, such as the IMF or the World Bank, provide conditional loans, which in turn directly affect the so-called internal drivers of change: FDI, press freedom, or trade. Hence, it might be difficult to independently measure and then compare the effect of these two factors on the regulatory framework.

Government Security Religion Human Rights Migration Conflict

Syed Mansoob Murshed: The Economic Modeling of … Huntington?

Say No to Burqas
Man repairing the “Say No to Burqas” graffiti. Picture: Newtown graffiti/flickr

Interdisciplinary research can provide a stimulus for different research agendas, but only on the condition that it remains intelligible for all of the disciplines involved. Unfortunately, the presentation of Syed Mansoob Murshed on the economic modeling of identity in civilizational and sectarian conflicts did not provide the opportunity for such an interaction between disciplines. This is all the more regrettable, as Murshed’s distinguished background in economics is a valuable asset in enriching both conflict and violence research. Despite the mixed quality of the presentation, it is worth taking a moment to understand and to engage with the ideas introduced.