Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 75

What’s Russia doing in Syria? This is frequent question these days. While a clear account of operations is not necessarily easy to find, the broad picture that emerges shows how Russian military capabilities are better than previously thought.

In the meanwhile, Iraqi Kurds understood that dealing with the world’s largest democracy requires a better understanding of the decision-making processes of the latter. That is why, Foreign Policy reports, the Kurdish Regional Government are increasingly recurring to K Street lobbying.

Two interesting pieces in the past week on the “intractable” conflict in the Middle East par excellance. Natan Sachs ponders over Israeli “anti-solutionism” in the new issue of Foreign Affairs, trying to explain why accepting (and prolonging) the status quo has its own rationale.

The New Yorker features an article on what would have happened had Rabin survived its assassination attempt. Counterfactuals are always tough to make, but the thought experiment allows, if nothing else, to remember a key moment in the history of the conflict.

Preparing for the Star Wars’ episode 7, a classic (2002) “neo-con” article on how the Empire was actually not that bad at all. Sure that IR interpretation of the saga will flourish in the next few months.

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 40

Tuesday 27 January is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and thus also the end of the deadliest act of mass murder in a single location in human history“. This is the way through which The Guardian remembers the anniversary, which we should never forget.

The Tripoli branch of Islamic State (Isis) has claimed responsibility for an attack against a luxury hotel where several foreigners have been killed. For a detailed analysis on the Islamist forces in Libya see this report by Jon Mitchell. 

The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania released its seventh annual 2013 Global Go To Think Tanks Report. Good news for Brookings, still at the top.

Very good news from Kobane. After several months of intense fighting the Kurds (with the help of US air strikes) have liberated the city from the siege posed by ISIS militants.

Finally, check this fantastic presentation of the next ISA panel on IR and Game of Thrones. ViA will attend the panel. So, don’t’ worry, we all provide a detailed report!

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Italian public opinion and counter-narratives

As already described in a previous post, Venus in Arms will be at the next ASMI Conference (London, 21-22 November 2014). The Annual Conference of The Association for the Study of Modern Italy (ASMI) will be organized at the Italian Cultural Institute in London.

Here you’ll find the final programme of the event.

The title of the conference is: The Italian Crisis: Twenty years onIndeed, in 1994, the Association for the Student of Modern Italy organised a conference around the theme of the ‘Italian crisis’. As reported in the official website of the conference: “Silvio Berlusconi had just been elected as Prime Minister and the country was in dire economic straits. The political system was in tatters after the tangentopoli scandals. The crisis was analysed from a political, cultural, historical and social viewpoints in a conference which was extremely well attended and led to fascinating discussions after every paper. This year the call for papers was looking for original work on the history, culture, economics and politics of the last twenty years in Italy, as well as papers which take a comparative and transnational approach to the Italian crisis“.

Venus in Arms will present the paper: “An alternative view: Counter-narratives, Italian public opinion and security issues”. This is the abstract:

Recent studies have persuasively illustrated how the strategic narratives crafted by policy-makers shape public attitudes regarding military operations. Strategic narratives are conceived as crucial tools in order to convince the public in case of international conflicts. Consistent and compelling narratives enhance the perceived legitimacy of military operations. However, exogenous elements such as the presence of alternative counter-narratives play a considerable role in hindering a wider acceptance of the message. The goal of the paper is to investigate the main contents and the effectiveness of counter-narratives developed by political parties,“pacifist groups” and associations in order to contrast the “plot” designed by Italian governments to gain the support of public opinion towards relevant security issues (operation in Libya, F35, weapons sent to Iraq). What have been the key-elements of the counter-narratives? Why have some counter-narratives been more effective than others? Drawing on discourse analysis and interviews, the paper aims to answer these questions, examining how and to what extent the counter-narratives have successfully contested the official strategic narratives.

We promise a detailed account of the conference. See you there.

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 20

Also this week we focus on main global crises, devoting a specific attention to the NATO Summit in Wales.

Steven Saideman highlights an alternative view regarding NATO and the “burden sharing problem”. Despite NATO countries do not spend equally on defense, the military operation in Afghanistan reveals the significant contribution provided by Canadians and Europeans (and yes, ISAF doesn’t’ stand for “I Saw Americans Fight”). In addition, the post is “a reaction to the ideas that the allies are completely flaky and that the US is engaged in Europe due to its charitable nature”.

On NATO summit we also suggest the analysis by Professor Michael Clark, who illustrates future challenges and tasks. The emergence of a “new NATO” is the main issue at the stake. Forthcoming events in Ukraine will represent the first hard test for assessing the effective development of a “new” structure. In the meanwhile, here you can find a fact sheet of the Wales Summit.

ISIS (or IS or ISIL) has been seriously harmed by the US airstrikes. However, global media have probably underestimated the role played by the Syrian Kurds (YPG) as well as by the PKK forces in the fight against ISIS. Here you find a recent account.

The National Interest reviews the controversial debate over the F35. Several key arguments (pro et contra the acquisition) are reported. Among them, the impact of the China’s investment in anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities on a short range tactical fighter like the JSF is something that deserves attention.

Finally, James Johnson illustrates a very important and complex issue: the economics of reclining the airplane seat (a major source of problems and even clashes for travellers). Transaction costs, property rights and externalization can help but they don’t solve the problem. Therefore, further analyses are required…

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