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Article

Peace agreements are becoming a more common outcome of civil wars in the post–Cold War era. Yet, scholars tend to view this outcome as less stable than military victory. For this reason, much research seeks to explain why some peace agreements remain robust while others fail. From this literature, it is clear that the reason why an agreement is formed greatly influences whether it will succeed. There are four key findings regarding whether an agreement succeeds. First, power-sharing, especially political power-sharing, helps increase the robustness of agreements. Second, provisions that allow for the reporting and verification of compliance with the agreement decrease chances the agreement will fail. Third, various actors—including elites, fighters, and the broader population—must be compensated to some degree to increase the chances that no group seeks to break the agreement in the future. Last, the sequence and steps through which the agreement is implemented help determine whether peace persists following the negotiated settlement.

Article

A comprehensive review of the scholarly literature on the transnational movement of Hizbollah (Party of God) in the global arena examines the sociopolitical history, military capacities, strategies, and alliances of the Hizbollah movement. Situated in a narrow understanding of global politics and international relations such an examination reveals that Hizbollah poses a particular problem for international relations when the hegemonic nation-state remains the primary site of analysis. The literature on Hizbollah consistently fails to acknowledge the limitations of this worldview, and as such, continues to characterize Hizbollah as a disruptive Iranian-led militia instead of a transnational social movement rooted firmly in its followers’ self-confidence and commitment to an ideology with religious elements. As a transnational movement, Hizbollah has all but abandoned the realization of an Islamic state, holds limited military power, and is influenced by international norms and socialization. As such, the most interesting aspect of Hizbollah’s political trajectory is its imaginative politics—forms of expression rooted in its transnational attributes, developed in historical contexts, and acted upon by individual supporters of the movement through social relationships. A narrow view of the global arena as organized states in a hierarchy expands explorations of the Hizbollah movement into areas and subfields such as a Middle East studies and gender studies. These subfields have contributed valuable ethnographic research that informs a new methodological approach and resulting arguments. From this framework, based on a spatially cognizant recognition of a global Middle East, the analysis shows that Hizbollah’s various transnational attributes—including a commitment to ideological production, becoming a martyr, and following the spiritual leadership of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—become “transitioning spaces” (as used by diaspora studies scholar Dora Silva Santana) forged in kinship that make it possible to imagine other worlds. The spiritual and sensual world that Hizbollah supporters conjure competes with the international system of political organization to make the movement noteworthy to the global arena. Importantly, this is not an alternative world, but one that coexists to challenge a focus on military, alliance, or material approaches alone.

Article

Meredith Loken and Hilary Matfess

Women are active participants in violent non-state actors/organizations (VNSAs). They engage in the front-line environment as armed fighters; participate off the front line as spies, recruiters, medics, and logisticians; and lead military units, hold political positions, and craft policy and outreach efforts. Women participate in VNSAs for a myriad of reasons and through a number of pathways: they join voluntarily as politicized recruits; are recruited through economic resources, potential for adventure, or other practical opportunities; may view VNSAs as a survival choice; or may be forcibly recruited. Women’s participation in VNSAs is significant both for the characteristics of political violence—as women often have unique discursive importance to organizational narratives and representations—and for conflict outcomes. VNSAs’ gender dynamics and the diverse experiences of women participants also shape post-conflict processes and durable peace efforts. The integration (or exclusion) of women from demobilization and reintegration programming, peace negotiations, and former-militant political parties affects the nature of the post-conflict political settlement.

Article

Like the contested remembrance of historical events, collective memory shapes interstate relations, foreign and security policy, and global politics. International relations (IR) scholars studying the relationship between collective memory and international politics link the memory concept to the notions of security, power, language, emotions, gender, identity, trauma, justice, law, and the like. The study of the international politics of memory relies on a plurality of theoretical approaches gained from interdisciplinary works on collective memory. Although collective memory is viewed as a variable influencing foreign policymaking in structural terms within a positivist paradigm in IR scholarship, from an interpretive perspective, collective memory is a practice of remembrance that constitutes a state’s foreign and security policy. Following the advances of the interpretive paradigm in the social sciences, it is expected that more interpretive studies on the international politics of memory will appear. .

Article

Pascal Lottaz

The study of neutrality, as an academic subject in the fields of history and the social sciences, is concerned with the politics, laws, ethics, economics, norms, and other social aspects of states and international actors that attempt to maintain friendly or impartial relations with other states who are—or might become—parties to international conflict. In this regard, neutrality studies is a subject of international politics in its broadest sense, encompassing international law and international relations. It is an open space that has been explored through various academic lenses, including (but not limited to) realism, liberalism, constructivism, and poststructuralism. Most neutrality research in the early 21st century is focused on particular periods or forms of neutrality. To discuss this topic, it is helpful to distinguish two levels of analysis. First, there is historical research that describes the observable phenomenon of neutral behavior and its related effects, in other words, specific instances when countries (or actors) remained neutral. This is mostly the domain of historians. The second level is the moral, legal, political, and ideational assessment of neutral situations, which are theoretical discussions that treat issues (including but not limited to) the underlying reasons and the larger impact of neutrality on specific conflict dynamics, security systems, identities, and norms. Ideological debates often occur on this level since theoretical assessments of neutrality depend heavily on the subjective framing of the conflicts they accompany.

Article

Philipp Schulz and Anne-Kathrin Kreft

Since the late 1990s and early 2000s, notable progress has been made toward holding accountable those responsible for conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), with a view toward ending impunity. Developments by the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, as well as by the International Criminal Court, were instrumental to advancing jurisprudence on sexual violence in the context of armed conflict. Despite progress in seeking to hold perpetrators accountable, critics note that there is persistent impunity and a vacuum of justice and accountability for sexual violence crimes in most conflict-affected settings globally. At the same time, feminist scholars in particular have critiqued the ways in which criminal proceedings often fail sexual violence survivors, especially by further silencing their voices and negating their agency. These intersecting gaps and challenges ultimately reveal the need for a broader, deeper, thicker, and more victim-centered understanding of justice and redress in response to sexual violence.

Article

Max Abrahms and Joseph Mroszczyk

Within political science, the strategic model is the dominant paradigm for understanding terrorism. The strategic model of terrorism posits that people turn to terrorism because of its effectiveness in pressuring government concessions. The strategic model Is a specific type of rational actor model with intellectual roots in bargaining theory, which emphasizes in the field of international relations how violence enhances the credibility of threats under anarchy, elevating the odds of government compliance. The strategic model is stronger theoretically than empirically. Terrorism indeed enhances the credibility of threats by demonstrating that nonstate actors possess the will and means to inflict physical pain for political noncompliance. Under anarchy, targets cannot otherwise be certain that aggrieved nonstate actors have the ability and intent to impose physical costs for maintaining the political status quo; the use of terrorist violence against civilians enhances the credibility of the threat by leaving no doubt that withholding concessions to the perpetrators will be costly. Although terrorism enhances the credibility of the threat under anarchy, the empirical record demonstrates that terrorist violence is generally ineffective—even counterproductive—at coercing government concessions. Not only is terrorism highly correlated with political failure, but this form of violence appears to lower the likelihood of government compliance, often by empowering hardliners most opposed to political accommodation. This finding holds across a variety of methodological approaches, raising questions about why terrorism underperforms as a coercive tactic despite enhancing the credibility of nonstate threats.

Article

Grand strategy offers an effective framework to understand and explain how and why a state interacts with other actors in a given way and how it combines various military, diplomatic, economic, and cultural instruments to achieve its ends in a largely coherent fashion. Yet, the term “grand strategy” conjures different meanings and attitudes, with some treating it as synonymous with strategy and foreign policy, thus raising questions about its relations with policy and politics. History teaches us that grand strategy remains a demanding enterprise, partly because of actors’ differential status and partly because its time horizon (mid to long term) subjects it to unforeseen conditions that threaten to derail it. However, does this make grand strategy impossible? Modern grand strategic scholarship is studded with tensions, but this must not eclipse research advances. In fact, the more disconnected controversies are from empirical contexts, the more they tend to become ends unto themselves. The first controversy relates to the definition of grand strategy and the best way to chart its landscape; the second deals with the sources of grand strategy (internal vs. external, material vs. ideational); and the third revolves around the feasibility of grand strategy in a capricious and fast-paced environment. These tensions are both defining, in the sense that they outline the state of the field, and productive, as they point toward future research avenues.

Article

Understandings of “critical” in critical scholarship on terrorism range from a Frankfurt School–influenced definition to a broader definition that aims to interrogate commonsense understandings of terrorism and counterterrorism. Overall, critical scholarship on terrorism draws on multiple disciplines and methodological traditions to analyze terrorism and counterterrorism. Within these, there have been ongoing debates and discussions about whether the state should be included in research on terrorism and, if so, what the inclusion of the state would do for the understanding of terrorism. Critical scholarship has also outlined the need for further attention to research ethics, as well as urged researchers to acknowledge their standpoints when conducting and communicating research. Some, but not all, critical scholarship has a normative orientation with the goal of emancipation, though the meaning of emancipation remains debated. Methodologically, the majority of critical scholarship on terrorism utilizes an interpretive lens to analyze terrorism and related issues. A central goal of critical terrorism research is to rework power relations such that Global South subjectivities are centered on research. This means including research conducted by Global South scholars and also centering Global South peoples and concerns in analyses of terrorism and counterterrorism. The role of gender, analytically and in practice, in relation to terrorism is also a key part of critical scholarship. Critical scholars of terrorism have observed that race is absent from much of terrorism scholarship, and there needs to be ongoing work toward addressing this imbalance. Media and popular culture, and their depiction of terrorism and counterterrorism, form another key strand in critical scholarship on terrorism. Overall, critical scholarship on terrorism is about scrutinizing and dismantling power structures that sustain commonsense knowledge regarding terrorism.

Article

Kurds are considered to be one of the largest ethnic groups in the world—with a population of more than 30 million people—who do not have their own independent state. In the Middle East, they are the fourth largest ethnic group after Arabs, Persians, and Turks. The statelessness of such a major group with an increasing ethnic and national consciousness in the post-Ottoman world led to their traumatic insecurities in the hands of majority-led nation-states that used modern technologies of social engineering including displacement, dehumanization, assimilation, and genocidal acts throughout the 20th century. With the memory of such traumatic insecurities, the driving force of contemporary Kurdish nationalism in the Middle East has primarily been the question of state or state-like entities. Yet, Kurds are not a homogeneous group with a collective understanding of security and self-government. Rather, there are political-organizational rivalries within Kurds across Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran. Thus, it is important to understand the multifaceted Kurdish politics in the Middle East within a global-historical perspective where global power rivalries, regional geopolitics, and intra-Kurdish organizational competition are interwoven together. While the opportunities for Kurdish self-determination were missed in the early 20th century, resilient Kurdish political organizations emerged within the bipolar international context of the Cold War. The American hegemony in the post–Cold War era transformed the Kurdish political status in the geopolitics of the Middle East, where the 1991 Gulf War, the 2003 Iraq War, and the broader war on terror provided the Kurds with many political opportunities. Finally, the shifting regional and global alliances in the post–Arab Spring era—where the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has become the global nemesis—created new political opportunities as well as significant threats for the Kurds.