As part of my job every Monday I scour some of the political science blogs to disseminate to my students interesting pieces of academic writing. My three go to sources are The Duck of Minerva, The Monkey Cage, and Relations International .
I see no reason to use it to also bring to attention some interesting posts by academic on current topics. This week four posts caught my attention.
At The Duck of Minerva Josh Busby discusses the worth of Grand Strategy. My own view as an academic, one I might explore later on this blog, is that Grand Strategy is a chimera, a holy grail for scholars and practitioners of international relations. We would like it to exist, we might even force history to fit a narrative that it exists, but it seldom exists. Most foreign policy decision is reactive or focused on short term gains. If a country has a long standing security leader (think Bismark) or if it is facing a long term conflict (think Richelieu and the Thirty Years war) something that looks like a grand strategy might arise, but that is a probabilistic statement. And even if it arises domestic considerations will outweigh international ones in its longevity (both Bismarck and Richelieu had their eye firmly on domestic issues when considering their foreign policy decisions). It is very unlikely in systems were the security leadership changes often. Thus for me it does not matter so much as a policy prescription. It mostly called for by people who are unhappy with current policy or the domestic situation, rather than a result of any "need" to have one.Its chimera, and a dangerous one at times.
At the Monkey Cage there is a good post about how Iran's ascension to the WTO may impact US foreign policy. I liked the piece and the fact that it made sure to note that while this will limit US ability to coerce Iran, it will also probably unleash a economic transformation in Iran that will lead to a political crisis of the regime. This might make things bad in the short term as the losers of the economic system will seek solace in radicalism, but in the long term it will either neutralize the Iranian "threat" either due to collapse or due to transformation to a state that gives up radical goals.
Another post nicely points out how dominant Hillary Clinton is in the primary race. Barring something unaccountable, she will get the Democratic Primary and probably also win the election.
A final post makes a case about what motivates Vladimir Putin's Syrian policy. Its not a bad post and most of the things they talk about are plausible. But I feel there is a domestic politics element missing.