Research

American Defense Policy After Twenty Years of War

Author: Webb, Jim

The American scorecard for foreign policy achievements over the past twenty years is, frankly, pretty dismal. And without talking our way all around the globe, it’s clear that the most dismal score goes to the stupidest mistakes. We fought one war that we never should have fought and another war whose objectives...

Symposium: Time to bring all U.S. troops home from the Middle East

Is the United States truly ready to get its military forces out of the Middle East? Should it? Considering there are upwards of 60,000 troops in the region today, many of them stationed on bases in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, this is a question ripe for debate. In a new paper for the Quincy Institute, University of Notre Dame scholar Eugene Gholz argues in detail that the fundamental reasons for American military involvement there — security, oil, human rights — no longer apply, and that staying there only...  

Oral History Transcript

James Webb, former U.S. Senator from Virginia, has been a combat Marine, a counsel in the Congress, an assistant secretary of defense and Secretary of the Navy, an Emmy-award winning journalist, a filmmaker, a professor of literature, a resident fellow at two of America’s most prestigious universities, and is the author of 10 books. Webb graduated from the Naval Academy in 1968, one of 18 midshipmen to receive...

What We Are Reading Today: Promoting Peace with Information by Dan Lindley

Author: Arab News

It is normally assumed that international security regimes such as the UN can reduce the risk of war by increasing transparency among adversarial nations.  The more adversaries understand each other’s intentions and capabilities, the thinking goes, the less likely they are to be led to war by miscalculations and unwarranted fears. But how is transparency provided, how does it actually work, and how effective is it in preserving or restoring peace?  In Promoting Peace with Information, Dan Lindley provides...

Fact Check: Claims that VP Kamala Harris Refused to Salute the Military are Missing Context

The claim: Kamala Harris refused to salute members of the military while boarding Air Force Two -   Shortly after a video emerged of Vice President Kamala Harris not saluting troops while boarding Air Force Two on March 19 in Georgia, some users took to social media to claim that she had disrespected the military and violated protocol.  Experts weigh in - Michael Desch, a professor of political science and the director of the Notre Dame International Security Center, told USA TODAY that until President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, "it was not common for the president, or other Cabinet officials, but especially the president, to return hand salutes."  Desch noted that Reagan's successors ...

The Status of Status in World Politics

What is status? How does it work? What effects does it tend to have? A new wave of scholarship on status in international relations has converged on a central definition of status, several causal pathways, and the claim that the pursuit of status tends to produce conflict. The authors take stock of the status literature and argue that this convergence is not only a sign of progress, but also...

Could China's Belt and Road Lead to Its Undoing?

Author: Joseph Parent

At the National People’s Congress last week, China announced its grand strategy to win in a post-pandemic world. While much of the media’s attention focuses on anti-democratic measures against Hong Kong, the more momentous steps may be China’s attempts to increase connectivity abroad and cultural homogeneity at home. Both are likely to backfire...

Policy School Deans Want It All: Results of a Survey of APSIA Deans and Top-50 Political Science Department Chairs on Hiring and Promotion

How do intellectual leaders of professional schools of international affairs, whose institutions primarily educate and train master's students for careers in government, the non-governmental sector, and the private sector, differ from academic administrators in disciplinary departments, whose primary raison d’être is producing the next generation of scholars whose primary task is to conduct basic research, in terms of how they see the academic enterprise and their expectations of faculty research and writing? The results...  

The Week: The enduring allure of conspiracies

Author: Miller, Greg

The United States of America was founded on a conspiracy theory. In the lead-up to the War of Independence, revolutionaries argued that a tax on tea or stamps is not just a tax, but the opening gambit in a sinister plot of oppression. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were convinced — based on "a long train of abuses and usurpations" — that the king of Great Britain was conspiring to establish "an absolute Tyranny" over the colonies.

Bringing War Back in: Victory and State Formation in Latin America

Author: Schenoni, Luis

Scholars have often dismissed the effect of war on state formation in regions like Latin America, where mobilization for war is deemed insufficiently intense and international conflict fails to out‐select weaker states. Against this conventional wisdom, I contend that wars can affect state‐building trajectories in a postwar period through the different state institutions that result from...

Peacemakers or Iron Ladies?

Conventional wisdom suggests that when women attain high political office they are more likely to act as peacemakers than their male counterparts. In contrast, this article argues that... 

Article | Defensive Defense: A Better Way to Protect US Allies in Asia

Author: Eugene Gholz

US strategy in East Asia is defensive—seeking to maintain the territorial status quo and to preserve open trade and investment. The military component of that strategy largely involves helping allies defend their territories against China as the PRC grows richer and spends more on its military. But current US military operational plans in service of that strategy are largely offensive: in case of war, they would send US military assets close to China and launch conventional strikes against the Chinese homeland. This “offensive defense” is more expensive, more dangerous, and less effective than an alternative: “defensive defense.” 

ARTICLE | Market structure and economic sanctions: the 2010 rare earth elements episode as a pathway case of market adjustment

Author: Eugene Gholz

Studies identify cost as a key factor determining the effectiveness of economic sanctions. We argue that failing to account for market dynamics in the sector in which sanctions are imposed undermines the validity of estimates of the economic costs imposed on target countries, and we propose that market structure powerfully conditions sanctions effectiveness. To examine the effect of market structure, we trace the causal path through...

New Book | Tempting Fate: Why Nonnuclear States Confront Nuclear Opponents

Author: Avey, Paul

Why would countries without nuclear weapons even think about fighting nuclear-armed opponents? A simple answer is that no one believes nuclear weapons will be used. But that answer fails to consider why nonnuclear state leaders would believe that in the first place. In this superb unpacking of the dynamics of conflict under conditions of nuclear monopoly, Paul C. Avey argues that the costs and benefits of using nuclear weapons create openings that weak nonnuclear actors can exploit.

Cult of the Irrelevant: The Waning Influence of Social Science on National Security

Author: Michael Desch

How professionalization and scholarly “rigor” made social scientists increasingly irrelevant to US national security policy To mobilize America’s intellectual resources to meet the security challenges of the post–9/11 world, US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates observed that “we must again embrace eggheads and ideas.” But the gap between national security policymakers and international relations scholars has become a chasm.…

“Restraint and Oil Security,” in U.S. Grand Strategy in the 21st Century: The Case for Restraint

Author: Eugene Gholz

Grand strategy, meaning a state’s theory about how it can achieve national security for itself, is elusive. That is particularly true in the United States, where the division of federal power and the lack of direct security threats limit consensus about how to manage danger. This book seeks to spur more vigorous debate on US grand strategy. To do so, the first half of the volume assembles the most recent academic critiques of primacy, the dominant strategic perspective in the United States today. The contributors challenge the notion that US national security requires a massive military, huge defense spending, and frequent military intervention around the world. The second half of the volume makes the positive case for a more restrained foreign policy by excavating the historical roots of restraint in the United States and illustrating how restraint might work in practice in the Middle East and elsewhere. The volume concludes with assessments of the political viability of foreign policy restraint in the United States today...…

"The Very Healthy US Defense Innovation System," in Leaders, Laggards, and Followers: The Global Competition for Defense Innovation, UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation Research Briefs

Author: Eugene Gholz

The US defense innovation system enjoys tremendous advantages that other countries cannot readily replicate. It has accumulated capabilities over decades of funding and experimentation that dwarf other countries’ efforts, and the incentives to innovate in the United States are not easily replicable elsewhere. The unique US political system favors substitution of technology for labor, openness to new ideas, and competition among decentralized organizations to solve national security challenges. The constant worrying that the United States is losing its defense innovation advantages is simply part of the politics that keep the United States far, far ahead of its potential rivals...…

The National Interest: From Hanoi to Kabul

Author: Michael Desch

America's foreign-policy difficulties are multiplying, from Asia to the Middle East. Faced with the prospect of losing in Afghanistan, the president on the recommendation of his military advisers (and reversing a previous stand) has announced a new, notably vague and apparently open-ended “strategy” that includes sending additional U.S. troops. And he promises to “win,” without really explaining how we will know if we have won...…