Weekly Links

By Sarah Bakhtiari

Bringing the sweat-lodge willows, Piegan, circa 1910. By Edward Sheriff Curtis.
Piegan Blackfeet bringing the sweat-lodge willows, circa 1910. By Edward Sheriff Curtis.

The State Department is considering a change in the rules governing private security companies’ licensing requirement for foreign training and services contracts. Deborah Avant and Colby Goodman suggest deregulation of private security is the wrong direction to go, and risks unintended foreign policy imbroglios.

In another important policy-directed effort this week, Elisabeth Jean Wood and Dara Kay Cohen challenge the status-quo effort to deter wartime rape primarily through post-war prosecutions, which they argue are insufficient and potentially ineffective. Instead, they advocate for preventing rape during conflicts by naming and shaming known perpetrators, and using aid conditionality and targeted sanctions, in addition to prosecutions.

The Russian military has been the target of much skepticism in the western press lately (like this one, downplaying Russia’s “Desert Storm Moment”), perhaps giving the the impression that their forces aren’t changing the game. As one U.S. Navy Commander writes, however, Russian fighter aircraft are flying as many sorties in one day in Syria as the U.S. is flying in one month against ISIS. Meanwhile, Iran can no longer hide its involvement in Syria, after the deaths of several senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commanders and their public funerals. Notably, however, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, says there is no military solution in Syria. One wonders if Russia’s role in Syria has prompted the U.S. to up its game and show strength elsewhere…say, in Cameroon, or even the South China Seas?

Over to Europe: Elections in several countries this week appeared to demonstrate increasing support for populist politics. Poland’s Law and Justice Party offered the right mix of anti-neoliberal policies to win what looks to be an absolute majority in Parliament. Portugal’s post-election appointment of a pro-European Prime Minister surprised many, but may reflect an evermore common dilemma facing modern states, according to Cas Mudde: be “responsive” to the people or “responsible” to the international and domestic business community. Local council and mayoral elections in Ukraine this week overall appeared to reflect respect for the democratic process, according to international observers. Approximately five million people in the Crimea and the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, however, did not have an opportunity to vote due to the ongoing instability (no elections were held), while an additional one-and-a-half million internally displaced persons were unable to exercise their vote as a result of strict electoral laws that prohibit voting away from one’s legal domicile.

Considering a move? Check out the OECD’s recent study on overall well-being to find out where you can find the wage, health, education and skill, social connection, and civic engagement levels that suit you. And, in case you missed it last month, here’s an interview with Anne Marie Slaughter on what needs to change for women and men to have it all, and how gender equality has become an elite story.

Finally, if you’ve been avoiding getting “connected” as an academic, resist no more! Duncan Green illustrates how important blogging and tweeting are to your visibility as a researcher, and how they can actually save you time.

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