Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 9

First of all, Darth Vader. He lost. Not because of the return of the Jedi but in recent Ukrainian election. In a very dramatic scenario, take a look at this strange story. Anyway, from Alderan to Crimea, it is always a matter of power, empires and rebels. For a more serious analysis of the crisis in Ukraine see the ICG report “Running out of time”….

Harsh civil-military relations in France. The problems for the French cabinet are not limited to the shocking electoral success of the extreme right.  France’s top military chiefs threatened to resign, fearing new budget cuts. Their concern is related to the country’s ability to conduct operations in places like Mali and Central African Republic. This is not the best moment ever for President Hollande.

We suggest a quite interesting analysis on the forgotten never-ending crisis of Somalia. Despite the adoption of the inadequate label of “failed state” (which is a Weberian, Westphalian useless framework of analysis), the article provides an insightful outlook of the country, between greater expectations and Al Shabab.

Intelligence and incredible malfunctions. Here you’ll find the report of how the White House has mistakenly identified CIA chief in Afghanistan. As illustrated by “The Washington Post”: “The CIA’s top officer in Kabul was exposed Saturday by the White House when his name was inadvertently included on a list provided to news organizations of senior U.S. officials participating in President Obama’s surprise visit with U.S. troops”. What a surprise…(in the meanwhile Obama announced the plan to keep almost 10.000 troops after 2014).

Finally, we suggest this new blog on global politics and other stuff. “Relations International” has excellent contributors, so we have great expectations. There are already a lot of brilliant posts, from deterrence to Inigo Montoya (a luminous career for him, as we can see in “Homeland”…)

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – Week 5

This week we would like to shed light on some controversial current debates in IR (and beyond).

The first debate is (inevitably) on China’s rise. Today the Financial Times reveals that China “poised to pass US as world’s leading economic power”.  According to the figures provided by the International Comparison Program (hosted by the World Bank): “The US is on the brink of losing its status as the world’s largest economy, and is likely to slip behind China this year, sooner than widely anticipated”. About ‘peaceful rise’, Jack Snyder illustrates five lessons for China from 1914 (here at The Monkey Cage), emphasizing the antidotes to possible dangers (first: avoid nationalism!).

The second debate is about civil-military relations. Steve Saideman provides an insightful contribution, focusing on the following key-aspects: perception, dissent, and institutions. I still believe that a growing attention on this issue is needed in the underrated case of Italy.

The National Interest refreshes the huge (and controversial) debate on counterinsurgency. The next Iraqi elections offer the best context to re-consider the COIN approach. The article (by Andrew Shaver) reports new data and findings.

The fourth debate is inequality. Oddly enough, an economics book (Thomas Piketty’s Capital), is currently Amazon’s #1 best selling book in the United States. Chris Blattman meditates on that in his amazing blog.

Last suggestion. If you are interested in current debates regarding development cooperation, look at this website: AidData. It collects a lot of relevant statistics on aid, development programmes, evaluation.



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