Small Wars Journal

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Exemplar, Not Crusader

Many of you have already seen this, but for those who haven't, I discussed warfare, foreign policy, and America's way ahead in a changing world with Time's Mark Thompson the other day

 

No matter what portion of the ideological spectrum Americans come at world problems from, their views are shaped in a way by the idea of the “end of history.” We think that political development has a single endpoint, that being liberal democracy.

I'm not arguing that there's a better endpoint. Instead, I’m arguing that America cannot get the world to that endpoint in the near term. America needs to be more humble in its foreign policies, more realistic than its current expectation of instant modernization without any instability, and more cognizant of the significant challenges it faces in getting its own house in order.

In a phrase, I argue that America should focus more on being an exemplar than a crusader.

First, the world is undergoing a massive wave of change, bringing rapid development and modernization to more people than ever before. I show that this change is intensely destabilizing. It took the West centuries to progress from the corrupt rule of warlords to liberal democracy.

There is no reason to believe that America can remake the world—or even a corner of it—in its image in the course of a few years. We are going to face a period of intensifying instability in the developing world and we need to understand that some things just cannot be neatly managed, much less controlled. We can’t bring on the end of history by using war to spread democracy and the welfare state (used in the academic, not pejorative sense).

Second, and perhaps more importantly because it affects us domestically and internationally, the welfare state is facing a crisis in the world’s leading democracies. This defies the notion that history is teleological—marching toward a determined end point. It would be no surprise, however, to the ancients who saw all governments as fallible and saw history as more of a cyclical thing.

You can read the rest here.

The Empirical Studies of Conflict Project

Editor's Note: The below was provided by the ESOC Directors.

We are pleased to announce the launch of the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC) website, which can be accessed at http://esoc.princeton.edu/.

ESOC identifies, compiles, and analyzes micro-level conflict data and information on insurgency, civil war, and other sources of politically motivated violence worldwide. ESOC was established in 2008 by practitioners and scholars concerned by the significant barriers and upfront costs that challenge efforts to conduct careful sub-national research on conflict. The ESOC website is designed to help overcome these obstacles and to empower the quality of research needed to inform better policy and enhance security and good governance around the world.
The ESOC team includes about forty researchers (current and former) and is led by six members: Eli Berman, James D. Fearon, Joseph H. Felter, David Laitin, Jacob N. Shapiro, and Jeremy M. Weinstein.
The website is organized by countries and research themes. The six country pages are: Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The content is structured according to five themes: Demographic/Socioeconomic, Geography, Infrastructure, Public Opinion, and Violence. The website currently hosts about 45 ESOC data files, over 35 ESOC peer-reviewed publications (with replication data), and ten working papers. The ESOC team has also posted links to many external data repositories and external readings that have proven useful for analysis. The website will be regularly updated with new micro-level conflict data and contextual information, as it is compiled and submitted by ESOC researchers.
We are a new and evolving research network with limited staffing resources, so please accept our apologies if we’ve inadvertently overlooked key readings or acknowledgements. We welcome your suggestions on additional materials to host on the site.
Please contact us if you would like to contribute data relevant to ESOC. We are committed to archiving replication data and useful information on all the countries in which we work, and we anticipate expanding our coverage.   Also, please share this resource with your colleagues and others who may benefit from our website.
Analyses can only be as good as the data supporting it. We hope ESOC’s commitment to making more and better quality data widely available as a public good will help raise the bar in the quality of conflict research being conducted and the important policies it informs.