War Studies is hiring a Lecturer in Conflict, Security, and Development for a fixed-term of 3 years.
Deadline 20 June 2013
This is basically an assistant professorship without tenure (US translation)/fixed-term lectureship. The practical details are still being ironed out though. Please forward the link to anyone who might be interested.
I can say wholeheartedly that as a junior faculty member, my King’s experience has been fantastic so far. Here is the CSD group: Mats Berdal, Oisin Tansey, Domitilla Sagramoso, Kieran Mitton, and me. You couldn’t get a nicer bunch of people, and this group is pretty dynamic in terms of research.
While there is a bonanza of politics lectureships this year, I suspect that there will be a drought for a year or two in the aftermath of the REF. The hidden bonus of this position is that this job will take you out past that lean period.
For more on why you should apply, see here for my sales pitch on working in War Studies at King’s College London.
The Department is looking for a distinguished scholar who already has an outstanding profile in the field of International Relations with a general focus on Conflict, Security and Development. It seeks applicants who have a publication list that includes both monographs and peer-reviewed articles in leading scientific journals. The successful candidate will be expected to strengthen the War Studies Department’s teaching and research capacity in relation to one or more of the following crosscutting themes.
• The Political Economy of Civil War and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding
• Post-Conflict Democracy Promotion
• Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Aid
• State Failure and Fragility
• Politics, Conflict and War in Africa
• The UN and its specialised agencies, programmes and funds
• Regional organisations with a special focus on Africa
• Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration of combatants (DDR) and Security Sector Reform (SSR)
• Natural Resources, Scarcity and conflict
• Development and Aid during and after Violent Conflict
• The Bretton Woods institutions and Post-conflict reconstruction
• Donor Politics
• NGOs and Private Sector Involvement in Reconstruction
The successful candidate will be expected to complement the work undertaken by one or more of the following research groups within the Department: Africa Research Group and/or, The Conflict Security and Development Research Programme.
The successful candidate will be expected to make a major contribution to teaching on the MA in Conflict, Security and Development. He/she will also be expected to make a contribution to teaching on BA War Studies and on the Department’s MA programmes. Finally, the person sought must have a proven ability to initiate and lead research projects, together with a commitment to launching new ones. The person appointed will be expected to carry his/her share of administrative duties within the Department.
The post will be based at the Strand campus.
The appointment will be made, dependent on relevant qualifications, within the Grade 6 scale, currently £33,654 to £39,705 per annum pro rata, inclusive of London Allowance.
[Note that you will only be paid 80% of this!]
Sept 2013 to June 2016
Interviews on 2 July.
This week, I stopped in Toronto briefly on my way home from a conference, and as I often do, I invited my friend John English out for a coffee. It just so happened that he had co-organized a major conference at the University of Toronto on the legacy of former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. He invited me along.
The program was packed with prominent Liberal leaders, past and present (Bob Rae, Allan Gotlieb, John Turner, Lorna Marsden). [John happens to also be one of the most famous Canadian historians around and a former MP which makes it easy for him to do this kind of thing.]
I arrived at the end of the day’s program, just as former PM Jean Chrétien was about to take the stage with former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bill Graham. Chrétien had decided to do a Q&A session with the audience rather than a more formal interview with Graham. At that moment, I knew that this was going to be fun- our former PM had just changed the format to encourage audience interaction. Whereas politicians in office inevitably give scripted speeches with no surprises, ex-politicians are usually pretty frank about their experiences. And Chrétien was no exception. [Get them over dinner after a few glasses of wine, and the stories get even more interesting.]
Here are a few things that he talked about that I thought were worth sharing:
[Please note that I've paraphrased and changed the order in which he made his comments.]
On politics and Canadian values:
Don’t be too strategic. Do what is right. The votes will follow. Do what you feel good about. The debate is about values.
We [Canada] were extremely respected. Generosity, respect for minority. These were values that everyone wanted to copy. We were always ahead of many countries on many issues.
On not going to war with Iraq, and breaking with our closest allies on foreign policy:
I knew that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11.
[Chrétien to Bush] The policy is not to be with you if you don’t have the support of the UN.
Bush offered to brief Chrétien. Chrétien said that this wouldn’t be necessary- he had been briefed by his own people. He told Bush: For the UN, you need better proof of WMD. I’m not convinced.
After many years as PM, Chrétien was treated as an elder statesman on the UN Security Council. Other countries and leaders were consulting him. Bush was particularly unhappy with Chrétien because Mexico and Chile had decided to follow Canada’s lead.
[Chrétien to Blair] Saddam and Mugabe are not the same. If you have the UN, I might be able to go. You need to convince George to go to the UN.
Blair had urged him to go to Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein. Bush was talking about WMD. Chrétien said to him: “I don’t want to be in the business of replacing people that we don’t like.”
On the social community of parliament:
Chrétien also spoke of how the social dynamics of parliament had changed. He described how politicians used to make their home in Ottawa and that there was much less travel back to MPs’ ridings. There were many consequences of this practice, but one was that politicians from all parties formed a community. Their children went to school together; they ate together; and they socialized together. [They probably also drank brandy and smoked cigars together while their wives put the kids to bed- but that's another story altogether.] Political fights didn’t get personal.
On the role of TV:
He talked about how allowing television cameras in the House of Commons wrecked the collegiality of parliament. He lamented how relationships with colleagues changed as soon as the TV cameras were switched on.
Old school politics:
One last thing that I hadn’t quite appreciated was how parliament had become less spontanenous over the years. (Chrétien was first elected to parliament 50 years ago.) Politicians used to be expected to speak off-the-cuff. They would make just a few notes for a speech in the House. Reading your speech would have broken a social norm, never mind hiring a speechwriter to write your speech for you. Chrétien said that it was simply “not allowed”. On a more practical level, two MPs used to share a personal assistant between them, and the resources just didn’t exist for anything fancier.
* * * * *
All of this made me nostalgic for the days of Jean Chrétien- when Canada was doing both great and good things in foreign policy and at home; when our economy was in order; when my government was projecting values that I was proud of. And then, just as I was bathing in the afterglow of Canadian goodness, my political conscience spoke up and I remembered the sponsorship scandal. And yet…. I couldn’t help but long for the Chrétien days.
How to square that circle- especially since I spend a fair amount of time railing against corruption? Well, after many years of following politics in the news, meeting politicians, and studying politics, here is what I’ve realized: dig deep enough into any seasoned politician’s past and you will find skeletons. (Or at the very least, severe compromises in her principles.)
The longer her time in politics, the more skeletons there are likely to be. Those who have no skeletons are the ones who are the most principled and the least likely to make compromises and do deals. They are also the ones who are least likely to be re-elected. Think Mulroney on Airbus, Obama on Guantanomo and soft money, or in this case, Chrétien on AdScam. I could go on.
Call it the principle of political Darwinism- only the compromised will survive. Without wanting to seem fatalistic about politics in general (in case my students mistake me for a cynic), I’ve just decided to accept the bad with the good, and enjoy what is left of that golden era of Canadian politics.
This piece was first posted on Al Jazeera on Monday 22 October 2012.
Politicians say stupid things all the time. The comment that has caught American attention for the past few days was Mitt Romney’s reference to “binders full of women” during the second presidential debate.
To put the remark in context, Romney was answering a question about equal pay for women (which he skirted) when he began talking about the early days of his administration as governor of Massachusetts and his efforts to incorporate more women into his cabinet.
He said: “….I went to my staff, and I said, how come all the people for these jobs are — are all men? They said, well, these are the people that have the qualifications. And I said…can’t we find some — some women that are also qualified? And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women’s groups and said, can you help us find folks? And I brought us whole binders full of — of women.”
Although his choice of words was slightly cringeworthy, it was clear what Romney was trying to say: I don’t just preach inclusion, I practise it too. But his comment sounded off-key and just a bit desperate. It sounded like the only place he would have been able to find any qualified women was in these binders. To draw a crude analogy, he seemed to be shopping for a female cabinet minister the way some men might shop for a mail order bride.
Normal people were left wondering why a corporate titan like Romney would have to resort to a binder to find qualified women. As David Bernstein points out, shouldn’t he have been surrounded by smart and ambitious women through his years in the business world and from his political campaign? It led me to wonder: why were these women so difficult to find in Romney’s world?
On the surface, this appears to be the reason why his comment was so gaffe-worthy. But those who support gender equality ridicule his comments at their own peril. (Mea culpa, I include myself here.) Despite the unfortunate language, the intentions underlying Romney’s comment about binders full of women should be applauded, not derided.
Although it turns out that Romney did not ask for the binder of qualified women but was instead given it by MassGap, a bipartisan coalition of women’s groups, the fact remains that he used that binder it exactly as MassGap intended it to be used. He referred to it in appointing outstanding female candidates to senior leadership positions. This was affirmative action as it was meant to be practised.
Romney even boasted in the next breath that “after I staffed my cabinet and my senior staff… the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.”
Romney should be praised, not chided, for doing with that binder precisely what women’s organizations wanted him to do. He could have tossed that binder straight into the garbage can. The fact that he was proud of having so many women in his cabinet has not gotten nearly as much attention as it deserves.
Having had a few chuckles at Romney’s expense over the past few days, let’s recognize that MassGap’s Binder Full of Women was actually an effective way for him to search for qualified female candidates. After all, we don’t mock organisations like Women In International Security when it assembles its portfolio of renowned female security experts. Nor do we laugh when the BBC works with findaTVexpert to add more women to its roster of television experts. Nor are we tripping over ourselves to make fun of MassGap itself.
These databases of women exist because officials need to make hiring decisions quickly and efficiently. I would be surprised and disappointed if Obama did not have his own binders full of women. Instead, if we want to have a critical conversation about the MassGap binder, let’s find out who was in that binder and what policies they championed on behalf of women.
Sure, Romney could have and should have done more to promote women at Bain and during his governorship. Sure, it was somewhat embarrassing that he did not know enough talented women to fill his cabinet without consulting the MassGap binder.
But mocking Republicans for their efforts to include more women in senior government positions sends entirely the wrong message to those in positions of political and corporate power: We will lambaste you if you fail to include women in your senior ranks, but if you need to look outside your own circles for smart and talented women, we will create internet memes of you that will keep TV talk show hosts feeding on your remains for the foreseeable future.
Is this really what progressive America wants?
If Americans want to roast Romney and the Republicans for their attitudes towards women, then they should do so for the right reasons. There is no need to turn to “binders full of women” to see why the GOP has a problem with female voters.
First, Romney has pledged to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Then there was his promise to appoint an anti-Roe justice to the Supreme Court if given the chance. Let us also not forget Representative Todd Akin’s laughably ignorant assertion that a “legitimate rape” doesn’t lead to pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.” And of course, Romney would have refused to sign the Lily Ledbetter Act.
These were the real reasons why the binders full of women comment struck a chord with Americans. In this Romney-Republican world, things happened to women— others made decisions for them, about them. When Romney and the Republicans realize that women can make decisions for themselves and about themselves, then maybe, just maybe, American women will start respecting the Grand Old Party once more.
In his latest column for the NY Times, Thomas Friedman highlights how moderate pundits from the Muslim world have written some very harsh, self-critical op-eds in key Middle Eastern media outlets following the assassination of US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans. These types of critical pieces are probably more prevalent than Westerners are led to believe and Friedman does us all a favour when he uses his NY Times platform to shine a spotlight on the range of views that exist across the Arab world.
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its officials, the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, the Egyptian prime minister, officials in Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya, and even Salafi elements all called to avoid violence and harming embassies and diplomats, claiming that it is contrary to Islam; some even issued fatwas forbidding it.The violence was also condemned by the head of the International Union of Muslims Scholars (IUMS), Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, as well as by the leaders of the Gulf states and the Mufti of Saudi Arabia.
But there is more. The murders and the offending YouTube video that spurred the attacks has led to some provocative pieces being published. Translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), some of these passages are worth quoting at length:
Al-Hayat columnist Hassan Haidar: The most dangerous thing is that the extremists, exploiting the Arab spring revolutions, are trying to impose themselves as the force that shapes the new regimes in their countries. They are prepared to take up arms and [act] violently to strengthen their position, while threatening not only ‘infidel foreigners,’ but also moderate Muslim citizens and Christian minorities. The fear is that their extremism and rejection of the other will cause a majority of the people [in their countries] to regret the change they supported.
Throughout the past decade, Muslims have made tremendous efforts to cleanse Islam of the terrorist image that some tried to pin on it after Al-Qaeda’s crimes in 2001. It is the responsibility of the new regimes in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia to change the terrifying image [of Muslims] created by the behavior of extremists; to stop those trying to spread acts of extremism and intimidation before they get worse; and to prove that they belong to the tolerant middle way of Islam.”
And the harshest words of all come from Imad Al-Din Hussein in Al-Shurouq in a prominent Cairo daily:
We curse the West day and night, and criticize its [moral] disintegration and shamelessness, while relying on it for everything – from sewing needles to rockets. It is both funny and sad that we call to boycott Western goods, as though we could punish it while still relying on it. We import, mostly from the West, cars, trains, planes… refrigerators, and washing machines… We import most of what we eat… as well as all kinds of technology and weapons… Even our curricula are partially imported. And we steal ideas [from Western] movies and [artistic] works. We are a nation that contributes nothing to human civilization in the current era. We import the culture of the West, which we call infidel and curse from morning until night. We have become a burden on [other] nations…
The world will respect us when we return to be people who take part in human civilization, instead of [being] parasites who are spread out over the map of the advanced world, feeding off its production and later attacking it from morning until night. Only when we eat what we sow [ourselves], drive [vehicles] that we produce, and consume what we make – [only] then will we be [independent] of the world… When we become civilized and obey true Islam, then everyone will respect us…
The West is not an oasis of idealism. It also contains exploitation in many areas. But at least it is not sunk in delusions [and preoccupied with] trivialities and external appearances, as we are… Therefore, supporting Islam and the prophet of the Muslims should be done through work, production, values, and culture, not by storming embassies and murdering diplomats…”
As a Westerner, what is interesting about these criticisms is that these are Muslim voices. Imagine for a second that the piece written by Imad Al-Din Hussein (at the very end) had been written by Canadian or a Brit or a German. Unthinkable, right? It’s impossible to imagine because these types of criticisms could never ever be uttered in public by a Westerner without being branded a racist bigot. Some criticisms (valid or not) can only be legitimately put forward by members of that community. This insider effect is critical to how any piece of criticism is absorbed. It’s not just what is said, but who says it.
This observation is rooted in the social psychology literature which shows that the most influential political voices are actually “turncoats”- those who switched over from the other side. Former critics are best poised to convince those from the “other” side. For example, think back to Greg Smith’s scathing critique of Goldman Sachs in his public letter of resignation. Or consider Bill Cosby’s rant about the breakdown of African-American society. It’s not just the message, but the messenger, that matters.
Cass Suntein discusses these ideas in greater depth here, relating them to the polarization between Republicans and Democrats in US politics.
In short, insider criticisms can’t be dismissed as easily because:
People are most likely to find a source credible if they closely identify with it or begin in essential agreement with it. In such cases, their reaction is not, “how predictable and uninformative that someone like that would think something so evil and foolish,” but instead, “if someone like that disagrees with me, maybe I had better rethink.”
There is an important policy implication here for thinking about the relationship between the West and the Arab-Muslim world. Friedman is right: The West should be pushing for greater freedom of expression. Clearly, there is value in this freedom for its own sake. But the West also needs to create a public space that will allow more critical insiders to speak up from the Muslim world itself. Without these moderate voices, we should expect to see US-Muslim relations become more and more polarized.
A little less that…
An interesting commentary from The Globe’s Margaret Wente on how women are better able to adapt to the changes in global economy than men are. Wente is summarizing the argument from Hanna Rosin’s new book The End of Men (reviewed by Jennifer Homans for The New York Times). There are problems with the argument, but the broad trend about middle- and working-class demographics in the US seems persuasive. In short:
Today, the things that women excel at – human contact, interpersonal skills, verbal skills, creativity – are more valuable than brawn and muscle. These skills can’t easily be outsourced. Women are good at interpreting feelings and ideas. They’re smart, diligent and reliable, and they mostly stay out of trouble. On top of that, they’re extraordinarily adaptable. Women have taken on new roles and colonized male realms (pharmacy, veterinary medicine) with astonishing speed, and held on to their old roles and realms as well.
But the men are stuck. It’s much harder for them to adapt, and a lot don’t even want to try. Few men of any age are willing to go back to school, especially if they have to clean toilets for the privilege. Even fewer are interested in “women’s” roles, even though those fields are where most of the employment growth will be. Of the 30 professions projected to add the most jobs over the next decade, women dominate 20. Many of these jobs (home care, child care, food preparation) replace things women used to do at home for free.
What happens when women start entering a male trade? That job becomes devalued (at least in men’s eyes), and men flee – a phenomenon that Harvard economist Claudia Goldin calls “pollution.”
While women’s career opportunities and earning power have clearly improved in recent decades (see Liza Mundy’s book The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love, And Family), men have ceded more economic territory to women than they needed to by refusing to work in certain industries. On the one hand, women have fought for the right to work as firefighters, as construction workers, and as soldiers. On the other hand, men have shied away from industries as they became more feminized. Somehow, our culture has signalled to men that it is not okay for men to become primary school teachers, nurses, and pharmacists.
This attitude of “pollution” permeates the US, Canada, and the UK at many levels, even for kids. Girls can dress as tomboys, but we become deeply uncomfortable if a boy puts on a dress. A young girl who cries in the playground is consoled by her dad. A young boy who cries in the playground is told to stop being such a sissy. Girls are encouraged to play with trucks, but when boys start dressing up Barbie dolls, parents get worried. We can see a lot of these concerns play out in the controversy around a Toronto couple who are raising their children to be genderless.
As women begin to colonize new service sector opportunites and make significant gains at the higher end of the economic spectrum, these types of attitudes on “pollution” will pose more and more of a social problem. Men will feel particularly squeezed because industries like manufacturing have collapsed. Through a few snide comments and some snickers about wanting to see that guy in a nurse’s uniform, we signal all sort of things about what is and is not acceptable for a teenage boy to aspire to.
That needs to change.
Here is the core of the problem: Women’s opportunities have expanded and become more flexible in the workplace and at home, and women have fought hard to gain societal acceptance for these changes. Culturally, we have made it acceptable, even desirable for women to have a choice of roles in the workplace and in their family life. In sharp contrast, the range of socially acceptable choices for men at home and in the workplace is tightly bound (though evolving). Stray outside of these boundaries and you risk ostracization.
Over the years, we’ve managed to destroy a lot of gender stereotypes about women. Now, we need to do the same for men.
* * *
Hanna Rosin’s article, The End of Men, in The Atlantic, 2010.
An earlier version of this piece was first posted on Al Jazeera on April 26, 2012.
After a long and expensive trial, the Special Court for Sierra Leone finally pronounced that former Liberian president Charles Taylor is guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes.
While there has been little doubt that Taylor commanded militias that were responsible for some horrific acts of violence in his home country in Liberia, this judgment considered the extent to which he should be held responsible for ordering and condoning various war crimes (including murder, sexual violence, and enslavement) which were committed in neighbouring Sierra Leone. He was acquitted of ordering these crimes, but was found guilty of aiding and abetting atrocities.
Amongst Western governments and their publics, there is widespread agreement that prosecuting Taylor has been the right and proper thing to do. The West considers the Special Court for Sierra Leone as upholding human rights and bringing justice to bear on a brutal dictator. Yet even though these claims undoubtedly have merit, it would be naïve to think that international justice is being pursued purely for its own sake.
It seems particularly important to acknowledge that justice, especially international justice in the context of war crimes, can never be completely isolated from its broader social and political context—no matter how hard we try to separate the two. The prosecution of Charles Taylor is no exception.
Those who are cynical about prosecuting war crimes at the international level will first point out that the Special Court for Sierra Leone has been backed and financed by the West (primarily the US, UK, Netherlands, and Canada). For Westerners who are accustomed to impartial judicial systems, this is an irrelevant fact: justice is justice no matter who is paying for it.
To the rest of the world though, there is much greater variation in judicial norms and the fact that the trial has been funded by Western powers is significant. It will also not escape unnoticed that this trial conveniently helped the US and the UK achieve an important geopolitical goal: the removal of Charles Taylor from West African soil at a fragile moment in Liberia’s post-conflict recovery in 2006.
In 2003, when the indictment was first announced, Charles Taylor was a major destabilizing force in West Africa. Aside from instigating civil war in Liberia and financing the war in neighbouring Sierra Leone, Taylor had also managed to draw Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire into border wars. Removing him from Liberia was the first of many steps towards restoring peace in the country and establishing peaceful relations with neighbouring countries. For the West, it was clear that Taylor had to go and he should not be allowed to return.
Indeed, Taylor’s lawyers have pointed to a 2009 US diplomatic cable from former US Ambassador to Liberia Linda Thomas-Greenfield which stated that if the Special Court were to acquit Charles Taylor or even to hand him a light sentence, he would be in a position to jeopardize Liberia’s stability.
Thomas-Greenfield states: “the best we can do for Liberia is to see to it that Taylor is put away for a long time”. She goes on to argue that the US should not wait for the Special Court’s verdict and that “All legal options should be studied to ensure that Taylor cannot return to destabilize Liberia.” In all likelihood then, even if Taylor were to be acquitted, it seems likely that the US will be set to charge him with financial crimes.
Clearly, the US wants to see Taylor locked up for as long as possible. But the wording of the cable is equally clear that the Special Court’s verdict remains uncertain. While the outcome is far from pre-ordained, it does lead one to worry about how this strength of sentiment from the court’s most important financial backer might indirectly affect the case.
Fundamentally though, the core concern is not with judges’ independence. The intensity of public scrutiny combined with the reputational risks to those who compromise their integrity provide strong incentives for judges to guard their independence. No, the greater worry concerns the choice of cases that international prosecutors decide to pursue in the first place.
Turning to the International Criminal Court, a brief look at those who have been indicted reveals that to date, the vast majority have been from sub-Saharan Africa, and the remaining few are from Libya, also on the African continent. While armed conflict has been more prevalent in Africa than in other parts of the world over the past decade, African leaders certainly do not hold a monopoly on the commission of war crimes.
Courts build their legitimacy partly based on the cases that they choose to hear. By focusing predominantly on Africans, there is a real worry that the ICC will be perceived by non-Western countries as providing a cloak of legitimacy for the US and other Western nations to achieve their political aims— despite the fact that the ICC’s chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has explicitly stated that the ICC is not a court “just for the Third World.”
What the international community needs to guard against is allowing the ICC to become a tool that Western liberal democracies can impose on developing country leaders who have fallen out of political favour. For the ICC to remain viable, neither can it be perceived as the backdoor by which Western powers target their political enemies.
All of this takes us back to Charles Taylor. Make no mistake: few will be sorry to see him locked up. But Taylor’s case does highlight concerns about the political expediency factor and the degree to which it can be exploited. For countries like the US, China, and India who worry about the politicization of the Office of the Prosecutor, and by extension the politicization of the ICC, this case will only confirm that their misgivings were justified.
For the rest of us though, the conclusion of the Taylor’s trial represents a major milestone in the pursuit of international justice.
* * *
For more commentary on Liberia, I wrote a piece last year on Ellen Johnson Sirleaf receiving the Nobel Prize.
And here is my review of The Vice Guide to Liberia mixed in with some more personal reflections from my field work experiences.
For those who want references on Charles Taylor and the wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia, here are some book recommendations:
On Charles Taylor, Liberia and Sierra Leone up to 1999: Will Reno’s Warlord Politics and African States.
On Charles Taylor: Colin Waugh’s Charles Taylor and Liberia.