Tag Archives: Foreign Policy

Women Shouldn’t Need Different Guidelines for Achieving Tenure (And Other Observations on Gendered Academe)

*while Foreign Policy editors expressed initial interest in this post, a long-delayed response time to its actual draft suggests to me that such interest has faded, though I cannot imagine why. I’ve decided to self-publish it here on RI. 

Recently, Foreign Policy contributor Stephen Walt published an article on how to get tenure in political science, and Erica Chenoweth, Page Fortna, Sara Mitchell, Burcu Savun, Jessica Weeks, and Kathleen Cunningham responded with an article on the different experiences women have when they go through the process of seeking tenure. Both pieces are, in some ways, spot-on. As Chenoweth et al note, Walt’s points are reasonable, but “the likely effect of his recommended strategies would be drastically different” for men and for women.

Chenoweth et al correctly identify the source of that difference – that “processes may be biased against women, often due to implicit bias rather than conscious discrimination.” They then make a very strong case that implicit bias affects almost every facet of the tenure process, from letters of recommendations to research expectations, from hiring committees to the probability of citation, from publication opportunities to syllabus assignments, from teaching evaluations to service expectations. They also correctly point out that there are different behavioral expectations of women in the field than there are for men.

The authors then go on to give women junior faculty a number of survival tips for the tenure process: get what you need at work, get what you need at home, create time, set boundaries with others, filter commentary and criticism, network, and get your work out there. All of these (if they are realistic) are excellent pieces of advice for navigating the gendered nature of the tenure process. And Chenoweth et al do not leave it entirely to women to navigate the process: the last two paragraphs of the piece talk about advice for allies to make sure that they are aware of, and not complicit in, the gendered dynamics of the discipline.

One the one hand, this advice is solid – after all, to an extent  we all navigate the existing system individually. On the other hand, from a feminist perspective, I have two serious concerns about the advice provided. First, I am concerned that providing advice for navigating the gendered system of achieving tenure without strategizing to change the system as a whole puts the primary responsibility for overcoming bias on the victims of the bias. Second, I am concerned that a significant number of the strategies provided are only available to a small percentage of those who might seek professional success as political science faculty, narrowing the spectrum of those to whom tenure might be available.

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The Scottish Foreign Policy Context: Going Beyond Making Things Up

Living in Scotland, the most frustrating thing about the independence debate for me has been the lack of evidence to back up foreign policy claims.  Both the Yes and No campaign make sweeping claims about the needs and desires of the Scottish people in relation to foreign policy.  The Yes campaign wants to be free of British control over foreign policy and makes the removal of the Trident nuclear weapons a cornerstone of their campaign.  The No side suggests that Scotland cannot possibly go it alone without the protection of Britain and starting a new military, intelligence service, and cyber force would be too costly.  Neither side is really engaged in is examining what the Scottish or English people want.   Braveheart-05-4

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Eastern Ukraine: Irredentism Isn’t What We Think It Is

I’ve read several interesting and insightful things about Eastern Ukraine recently. The first was posted a while back by Will Moore, who asked “Is Crimea’s Ethnic Conflict Banal?” Picking up on work by John Mueller on Bosnia back in the 1990s Moore points out the likelihood that, far from being a “popular uprising,” it is likely that the armed takeovers of Crimean (and now, eastern Ukrainian) buildings by various “local” groups were largely done by gangs of thugs who could be easily mobilized because they like exercising power and threatening (or using) violence on others. I found this argument persuasive back in the 1990s when Mueller first proposed it, and I think that Moore’s application of it Ukraine is spot-on. It certainly fits the broader picture that seems to be emerging, which is one of Russian interference through intermediaries – who now seem to be rather well-armed for a “citizen militia”.

The second piece was a well-considered article posted recently to Political Violence @ a Glance by Brantislav Slantchev. In it he puts together a key argument about Russia’s motives in Ukraine:

As I have argued here and here, Putin’s regime is by now almost entirely legitimized by the idea of recovering Russia’s rightful place in the sun. His policies have explicitly aimed at overcoming what I call the Cold War Syndrome – the purported illness that has afflicted Russia after the demise of the Soviet Union and that is to blame for all its current troubles at home and abroad. Briefly, with the disappearance of the military might of the USSR, Russia has been unable to resist the victorious West which has relentlessly advanced everywhere, pushing a new Iron Curtain ever closer to the Russian borders. The expansions of NATO and the EU, the increasing commercial and cultural penetration around the globe, globalization itself, all of this has marginalized Russia, depriving it of influence and forcing it into the humiliating role akin to that of former colonies of the West: exporter of raw materials to fund Western consumerism. Russia can only prosper if it counters these tendencies and establishes a zone of influence in Eurasia. It must halt the inexorable advance of the West, which has moved the Iron Curtain east, and this can only be done if it recovers its military posture.

His take-away from this argument is that sanctions are unlikely to reverse Russian behavior, and may even make matters worse. That’s an important conclusion in itself, but Slantchev’s argument struck me also for what it says about the likely future course of the conflict in Ukraine.

If Slantchev is right, then either destabilizing or dismembering Ukraine is central to Putin’s domestic political legitimacy. Crimea was low-hanging fruit, but if Putin is trying to make the argument that Russia is returning to its “proper place” in the world then dominating Ukraine is a necessary step in such an argument – far more so than influencing the Stans or even beating up on small former Soviet republics like Georgia. If this is true, then there is a serious motivation gap here: Russia may care about the outcome of the conflict in Ukraine far more than either the US or Europe (many Americans can’t even fine Ukraine on a map). That kind of motivational edge can be a powerful advantage.

What strikes me most about all of this is what it says about irredentism and our popular notions about ethnic conflict. I myself tend to be pretty sympathetic to ethnic separatism and irredentism, if only because I think that people ought to be governed by those they want to be governed by. But what we see playing out in eastern Ukraine today isn’t about ethnic self-determination. Irredentism it may be, but irredentism as a tool in the service of elite power

Continued interference from Russia suggests that the conflict is about Russia’s domestic politics, not the rights of various Ukrainian groups – and it is extremely unlikely that Putin is motivated by any coherent sense of “Russian nationalism” beyond wanting to bolster the strength of his own regime. The escalating violence on the ground, being driven to a large degree by self-appointed armed gangs, demonstrates that even if there are forces internal to Ukraine driving some of this they are not interested in what “the people” want. Any additional “elections” or “referenda” conducted from here on out will be about as legitimate as elections under the old Soviet Union, or perhaps a bit like some labor union “elections” is the bad old days – vote the “right way” or be subject to severe sanctions.

Ultimately what we’re seeing in Ukraine is a slow-motion breakdown of political processes in favor of brute force. Russia, through threats and proxies, has indicated how it wants things to go and has signaled its willingness to use whatever means necessary to get the outcomes it likes – whether that involved annexing additional chunks of Ukraine, replacing the government in Kiev, or simply creating a long-running conflict that cripples the Ukrainian state. This may play very well in Russian domestic politics, as it looks like Russia is “regaining its strength”. To the rest of the world, it simply signals a Russian government that – like its proxies in Donetsk and elsewhere – behaves thugishly and with no respect for the rule of law. It’s good domestic politics and lousy foreign policy – just what we have come to expect in that part of the world.

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Russian Foreign Policy Interests in Ukraine

This is a guest post by Zachary SeldenAssistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida and former Deputy Secretary General for Policy at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

There is a lot of commentary out there on Ukraine right now, but there is not a lot being said about Russian foreign policy interests.  From 2003-2011, I spend a lot of time in the NATO world dealing with Russian diplomats and politicians.  I remember sitting across the table from Deputy PM Dimitry Rogozin back when he was the Russian ambassador to NATO.  I remember all too many meetings with Russian Duma members where they played out conspiracy theories that would make a 9-11 Truthers meeting look thoughtful and balanced.  I’m no Russia expert, but I think I have some insight.

First, what do they really want?  Its pretty simple: Russia wants to politically and economically control the “near abroad” and weaken any potential competitor for influence in the region.   No secret there. Against that scorecard, they are doing well at the moment.  Even if Russia does nothing more in Ukraine’s east, they have effectively blocked Ukraine from closer association with the EU and NATO.  Why?  Because neither NATO nor the EU is going to take in a state with territorial disputes.  If you want to make an EU official break out in hives, just whisper “Cyprus” in his ear and watch the itching begin.  Russia’s actions in Georgia effectively block them from joining NATO, so the strategy  works.   Russia now effectively holds a trump card over any western-oriented Ukrainian government that wants to move closer toward western institutions.

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