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Article Alert of October 16, 2011

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Article Alert is a bi-weekly service that helps you select and read the best of America's journal literature on a variety of international relations topics, as well as U.S. domestics issues. It is published every 2 weeks except for August. When no full text is available online Article Alert subscribers can request a copy via email. Copyright legislation prevents us from making articles available to users outside of our area of jurisdiction: Belgium. Also, because of the Smith-Mundt Act, we cannot send articles to users in the United States. The materials on this site, especially those from sources outside the U.S. Government, should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein or as official U.S. policy. If this is the first time you've seen the Article Alert, please let us know if you would like to continue to receive it. Also, feel free to pass it on to any of your colleagues who might be interested in getting it.

Just How Special Is America Anyway?

America's Pacific Century. Hillary Clinton, Foreign Policy, November 2011, var. pages. "The future of geopolitics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States should be right at the center of the action." READ MORE

American exceptionalism is a myth. Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy, November 2011, var. pages. "Over the last two centuries, prominent Americans have described the United States as an "empire of liberty," a "shining city on a hill," the "last best hope of Earth," the "leader of the free world," and the "indispensable nation." These enduring tropes explain why all presidential candidates feel compelled to offer ritualistic paeans to America's greatness and why President Barack Obama landed in hot water -- most recently, from Mitt Romney -- for saying that while he believed in "American exceptionalism," it was no different from "British exceptionalism," "Greek exceptionalism," or any other country's brand of patriotic chest-thumping. Most statements of "American exceptionalism" presume that America's values, political system, and history are unique and worthy of universal admiration. They also imply that the United States is both destined and entitled to play a distinct and positive role on the world stage. The only thing wrong with this self-congratulatory portrait of America's global role is that it is mostly a myth." READ MORE

We really were that great (but that doesn’t mean we are now). Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandebaum, Foreign Policy, November 2011, var. pages. "The fuss over exceptionalism represents, in one sense, politics as usual in the United States, with one side accusing the other of being out of touch with the country's deepest values: a "profoundly mistaken view," Romney said of Obama's "derisive" remarks. It also, however, taps into the national current of unease about the country and its future, an unease that is, alas, all too justified. No American politician will publicly question his or her country's exceptional status, but it is worth asking whether America really is still exceptional, especially because so many Americans are beginning to worry privately -- and some publicly -- that it is not." READ MORE

The Broken Contract. George Packer, Foreign Affairs, Oct. 11, 2011, var. pages. "Like an odorless gas, economic inequality pervades every corner of the United States and saps the strength of its democracy. Over the past three decades, Washington has consistently favored the rich -- and the more wealth accumulates in a few hands at the top, the more influence and favor the rich acquire, making it easier for them and their political allies to cast off restraint without paying a social price." READ MORE

The Costs and Benefits of Immigration. Darrell West, Political Science Quarterly, Fall 2011, pp. pp. 427-443  "Darrell M. West seeks to reframe the public debate over immigration policy by arguing that the benefits of immigration are much broader than popularly imagined and the costs more confined. He contends that in spite of legitimate fear and anxiety over illegal immigration, immigrants bring a 'brain gain' of innovation and creativity that outweighs real or imagined costs." READ MORE

U.S. - Muslim Relations

The Future of Islam and U.S.–Muslim Relations. John L. Esposito, Political Science Quarterly, Fall 2011, pp. 365-401 "John L. Esposito analyzes the future of Islam and Muslim–West relations. He argues that the mindset among policymakers and the narrative in U.S.–Muslim world relations is shifting away from a policy of “democratic exceptionalism” and support for authoritarian regimes. Now the United States is committed to democratic institution-building and civil society and is responsive to the aspirations and expectations of their peoples, political parties (Islamist and secular), and civil society organizations." READ MORE

Muslim “Homegrown” Terrorism in the United States: How Serious Is the Threat? Risa A. Brooks, International Security, Fall 2011, pp. 7-47 "Since the September 11 attacks, analysts and public officials have expressed growing concern about the potential of Muslim citizens and residents of the United States to plot attacks within the country's borders—a phenomenon sometimes referred to as “homegrown” terrorism. To assess this apparent threat, it is necessary to examine what is known about the willingness and capacity of Muslim Americans to execute deadly attacks in the United States. Three conditions, either alone or together, could contribute to an increasing threat of homegrown terrorism. The first concerns what is known about the radicalization of Muslim Americans and whether a surge in arrests in 2009 indicates a growing trend in Muslim American terrorism. The second relates to the capacity of aspiring militants to avoid detection as they prepare attacks. The third depends on the skills of aspiring terrorists and therefore their capacities to execute increasingly sophisticated attacks. The analysis should be generally reassuring to those concerned about Muslim homegrown terrorism. On both analytical and empirical grounds, there is not a significant basis for anticipating that Muslim Americans are increasingly motivated or capable of successfully engaging in lethal terrorist attacks in the United States." READ MORE

A Critical But Missing Piece: Educating Our Professional Military on the History of Islam. Adam Oler, Parameters, Spring 2011, pp 71-85. "To someone familiar with the history of Ancient Greece, the story will seem at first quite recognizable. In a bipolar world, the two great superpowers of the day wage a decades-long struggle to establish complete hegemony over the other. The conflict ebbs and flows for years, with one side occasionally gaining the upper hand, only to relinquish it later. The belligerents include allies beholden to one superpower or the other, and a great amphibious expedition helps determine the war’s outcome. When the fighting finally ends, both superpowers are so depleted by battlefield losses, plague, and spent treasure that neither is prepared to confront a burgeoning superpower emerging on their periphery. This new force quickly expands across thousands of miles, creating a colossal empire and bringing with it sweeping cultural changes that still profoundly shape the world today. Perhaps surprisingly, this is not the tale of the Peloponnesian War and the ensuing rise of Macedon. Rather, it is the story of the last great war of antiquity, the late sixth and early seventh century struggle between the Byzantine and Sassanid Empires.2 More notably, it is the story of the great Arab conquests that followed in that war’s aftermath, and the remarkable creation of an Islamic empire that soon stretched from the Atlantic coast to the Chinese frontier." READ MORE

Middle East

Comparing the Arab Revolts: The Lessons of 1989. Lucan Way, Journal of Democracy, October 2011, pp. 17-27. "The Arab events of 2011 may have some similarities to the wave of popular upheavals against authoritarianism that swept the Soviet bloc starting in 1989, but the differences are much more fundamental." READ MORE

Comparing the Arab Revolts: The Role of the Military. Zoltan Barany, Journal of Democracy, October 2011, pp. 28-39. "Across the Arab world, militaries have played a key role in determining whether revolts against dictatorship succeed or fail. What factors determine how and why “the guys with guns” line up the way they do?"

The European Union's counter-terrorism policy towards the Maghreb: trapped between democratisation, economic interests and the fear of destabilisation. Franz Edera, European Security, Volume 20, Issue 3, 2011, pp.  431-451. This article sheds light on the European Union's counter-terrorism policy in the Maghreb taking into account the diverse influences and interests shaping its strategic thinking. To explain the complex web of opportunities and constraints, the article refers to Terry Deibel's framework for the analysis of foreign and security affairs. The author concludes that the Union's counter-terrorism policy in the Maghreb has been shaped more by the desire for regional stability and greater trade relations and energy security than by the goal of promoting democratic values and human rights. Moreover, the promotion of democracy is perceived by EU policy-makers as a destabilising factor that could endanger counter-terrorism efforts.  READ MORE

Inside Obama's War Room. How he decided to intervene in Libya – and what it says about his evolution as commander in chief. Michael Hastings, Rolling Stone, October 2011, var. pp. On the afternoon of monday, March 14th, the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy stood nervously in the lounge of Le Bourget Airport on the outskirts of Paris, waiting for a private jet carrying a lone Libyan rebel to land. At 62, Lévy is one of France's most famous writers and provocateurs, a regular fixture in the tabloids, where he's known simply as BHL. He rarely goes a month without controversy – whether defending the reputations of accused sex offenders like Roman Polanski and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, or waging one-man foreign-policy campaigns that usually end in failure. In 1993, he tried unsuccessfully to persuade President François Mitterrand to intervene in the Balkans. In 2001, he personally arranged for Afghan leader Ahmed Shah Massoud to meet with President Jacques Chirac, only to have the French Foreign Ministry scuttle the trip for fear of angering the Taliban. Now, as he anxiously paced the airport lounge, he was embarking on what would turn out to be one of the most audacious and improbable feats of amateur diplomacy in modern history. READ MORE

Values, Identity, and Israel Advocacy. Mira Sucharov, Foreign Policy Analysis, October 2011, pp. 361–380. "What do we care about—or pretend to care about—when we try to sway hearts and minds through political action? The question of values and value trade-offs in International Relations is understudied. By examining Diaspora-based Israel advocacy (the set of political and educational activities at the school, campus, community and formal political levels designed to increase support by Diaspora Jews, their co-citizens, and their governments for Israel), this paper interrogates the idea of “Jewish values,” and theorizes about how actors negotiate among sentiment, aspiration, and values. The evidence suggests that Jews are more likely to invoke “Jewish values” when engaging in in-group critique, whereas Israel advocates are more likely to draw on universal values to defend Israeli goals and actions to others. The essay identifies five value clusters that appear to structure Israel advocacy activities: nationalism and sovereignty, democracy, science, history, and peace, identifies some potential value conflicts that may result, and raises questions about the strategic use of values in social mobilization." READ MORE

Liberty, Democracy, and Discord in Egypt. Tarek Masoud, The Washington Quarterly, Autumn 2011, pp. 117-129. "Shortly after Mubarak’s overthrow, Egypt’s political landscape is already bitterly divided between liberals who fear democracy, democrats who fear liberty, and a military content to play these forces off against each other in a bid to retain its preeminence. Now what?"  READ MORE


Policing Mars or Venus? Comparing European and US approaches to police assistance. Felix Heiduka, European Security, Volume 20, Issue 3, 2011, pp. 363-383. This article examines European and US approaches to police assistance in Afghanistan through the lens of strategic culture analysis. It is widely assumed that the Europeans are engaged in establishing a democratic, civilian police force in Afghanistan, while the US aim to transform the Afghan National Police (ANP) into a militarized auxiliary force of the Afghan army. Drawing on Kagan's famous dichotomy of Mars and Venus, the article first outlines the concept of strategic culture analysis with regard to US and European foreign policy strategies. It then describes the historical experiences of Western powers with police assistance in the so-called Third World in order to explore historical patterns of police assistance that have shaped specific strategic cultures of police assistance. Against this background European and US approaches to police assistance are contrasted with the practices of reforming the ANP on the ground. The article concludes that, contrary to the ‘Mars-Venus divide’, the US and the EU both pursue police assistance policies on the ground that produces a highly militarized ANP. READ MORE

Our Man in Kandahar. Matthieu Aikins, The Atlantic, November 2011, var. pages. Abdul Raziq and his men have received millions of dollars’ worth of U.S. training and equipment to help in the fight against the Taliban. But is our ally—long alleged to be involved in corruption and drug smuggling—also guilty of mass murder? READ MORE

Drone Attacks Inside Pakistan- Wayang or Willing Suspension of Disbelief? Shuja Nawaz, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Summer/Fall 2011, 79-87. "The controversial nature of U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan is a symbol of the distrustful relationship between the two countries that has persisted for decades. The author addresses the effects, legality, and implications of these attacks in Pakistan’s FATA region, where a number of terrorist organizations have found refuge." READ MORE


Russia, the 360-Degree Regional Power. Andrew C. Kuchins, Current History, October 2011, pp. 266-271. "For the first time in its history . . . Russia finds itself surrounded by states and political groupings that are economically, demographically, and politically more dynamic than itself." READ MORE

Perspective: Twenty Years Later, Russians’ Rights Are Still Imperiled. Simon Cosgrove, Current History, October 2011, pp. 290-294. "As human rights defenders are murdered, the ruling elite continues to put itself above the law, showing allegiance to an old Russian—and Soviet—tradition." READ MORE

Nuclear Power and Nonproliferation

Think Again: Nuclear Power. Charles D. Ferguson, Foreign Policy, November 2011, var. pp. "Japan melted down, but that doesn't mean the end of the atomic age. "Fukushima Killed the Nuclear Renaissance." No. At first it looked like a natural disaster of epic proportions: shock waves rippling outward from a 9.0-magnitude earthquake off northeast Japan followed by a 30-foot tsunami, a one-two punch that all but obliterated the coastal city of Sendai and its environs. Then the electricity went off at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, and a random act of natural destruction became a parable of technological society run amok. Stories of tsunami-leveled villages gave way to harrowing accounts of nuclear engineers trying, and failing, to stop the meltdown of first one, then a second, and finally a third reactor at Fukushima." READ MORE

Transatlantic diplomacy in the Iranian nuclear issue – Helping to build trust? Tytti Erästöa, European Security,  Issue 3, 2011, pp. 405-430. "Three European Union (EU) member states – the UK, France and Germany – have played a central role in the Iranian nuclear issue since 2003. However, their contribution cannot be understood without consideration of America's hard-line approach regarding its recent non-proliferation policies in the Middle East and its past policies toward the Islamic Republic. I argue that these policies have highlighted Iran's military and energy insecurity, and that they cast doubt on the limited nature of the demands made to Iran by the Security Council. The fact that European positions have in recent years moved closer to the US also with respect to the key issues that contribute to Iran's lack of trust can actually be seen to undermine the goals of non-proliferation diplomacy." READ MORE

The Promises of Prague versus Nuclear Realities: From Bush to Obama. Aiden Warren, Contemporary Security Policy, August 2011, pp. 432-457. "Contrasting the nuclear guidance documents and public statements of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations reveals significant differences in American nuclear policy, but also surprising continuities. Bush's aim was never disarmament, but rather extending the life and potential role of American nuclear weaponry. An evaluation of the guidance documents that developed this approach, and major development programmes like the Reliable Replacement Warhead, shows that the Bush strategy was an attempted quiet revolution that foreshadowed a new nuclear era in which the former ‘weapon of last resort’ became a usable and necessary war-fighting device. In contrast, Barack Obama promised significant changes in American nuclear policy." READ MORE

Veto Players, Nuclear Energy, and Nonproliferation: Domestic Institutional Barriers to a Japanese Bomb. Jacques E.C. Hymans, International Security, Fall 2011, pp. 154–189. "The basic insight of the 'veto players' literature from comparative politics—the more veto players, the more policy rigidity—has been nearly absent from the study of nuclear proliferation. Yet, when states need mutual agreement among a large number of veto players, this greatly lengthens the odds against radical nuclear policy change. The veto players perspective helps to explain the historical resilience of Japan’s fifty-year pursuit of a complete nuclear fuel cycle for exclusively peaceful purposes. Although a long line of Japan observers have focused on statements by Japanese politicians suggesting the possibility of redirecting some of the country’s large nuclear estate toward military ends, Japan’s traditional nuclear policy has in fact become increasingly entrenched over the years, given the rising number of institutionalized veto players in its nuclear policymaking arena. This point is relevant not only to the long-standing question of whether Japan will acquire nuclear weapons, but also to the post-Fukushima disaster question of whether Japan will exit the nuclear field entirely." READ MORE


Embedded Politics, Growing Informalization? How NATO and the EU Transform Provision of External Security. Sebastian Mayer, Contemporary Security Policy, August 2011, pp. 308-333. "This article investigates changes in the ways NATO and EU states have pursued security since the end of the Cold War, and the repercussions for the state monopoly of external force. Both organizations have autonomous roles, security identities and norm-shaping abilities, making them more consequential than is often acknowledged. Using the analytical concept of internationalization the increasing importance of political or administrative authorities beyond the nation-state this article scrutinizes the institutionalization of new functions, mechanisms and operational roles within NATO and the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy." READ MORE

NATO and the Arctic: is the Atlantic alliance a cold war relic in a peaceful region now faced with non-military challenges? Helga Haftendorna, European Security, Volume 20, Issue 3, 2011, pp. 337-361. This article analyzes which role the Atlantic Alliance plays in the Arctic and whether it can contribute to the security and territorial integrity of its members in the region. In a dramatic change from the cold war era, the Arctic is no longer at the center of a conflict between two hostile superpowers. But what can a basically military organization such as NATO – though with proven political functions – contribute to stabilizing the Arctic region if its major challenges are non-military? With regional challenges resulting mostly from globalization and climate change, it is open to question whether a military alliance such as NATO has the will and the capability to cope with them. We might thus need to look also at individual members’ interests and abilities besides searching for joint alliance action. If we find NATO not up to the challenges, which alternative institutions offer themselves for coping with the political conflicts and controversies in the Polar region?  READ MORE

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