Phil Arena posted at the Duck of Minerva on an issue that I have been seriously considering over the past couple months. While I admittedly have yet to try it, the idea of flipping my international relations courses and devoting meeting time to simulations and other kinds of projects is fascinating to me.
I’m interested in hearing more from Phil on the kinds of experiments he uses. I’ve used microsimulations that lasted a single meeting before, but I know Phil focuses more on applying theoretical models, so I am interested in seeing the work that goes along with that.
Plot posted to Twitter by Matthew Hankins.
See Andrew Gelman’s blog post on it for some nitpicks about the plot followed by a meaty comment about the state of statistical research in social science.
It’s sad to say, but I was never ever taught to question p-values. Most of what I know about the downsides of significance testing comes from Twitter and blogs.
This work visualises nearly 95 million casualties of war from the 20th century. Data made available by The Polynational War Memorial make clear that war was a near-constant characteristic – allowing just two years of peace – in the last century.
Given the sheer magnitude of war’s toll, this visualisation only considers conflicts exceeding 10,000 deaths – yet, in the static form, it is still not feasible to label every conflict. The overall composition reveals patterns in the timing, duration, involvement and human toll of war.
From the 2013 Longlist for the Kantar Information Is Beautiful Awards for data visualization.
Hard to see Steven Pinker’s “better angels" in there…
When you add up all the little poppies, you will get a pretty big one. Amazing how we in IR focus so much on the few big poppies and miss all the little ones along the way.
The GDELT crew just announced the launch of their experimental Global Knowledge Graph (GKG), which “attempts to connect every person, organization, location, count, theme, news source, and event across the planet into a single massive network that captures what’s happening around the world, what its context is and who’s involved, and how the world is feeling about it, every single day.” Wow. It’s going to be fun to see how this gets used and evolves.
See here for Andrew Halterman’s R tools for GDELT and the GKG.
This is part of why I’m learning R. So I can do cool stuff with great data.
Congressman Grayson, as a teacher, my job is to educate. But how do I teach something like this? How do I explain what I myself do not understand? How can I in good faith reassure the children that the drone will not come back and kill them, too, if I do not understand why it killed my mother and injured my children?
All U.S. Politics is Afghanistan (this morning, at least)
Following up on my post from Friday, I thought i would share a few things that came across today, all having to do with Afghanistan.
Of course, I’ll start with the announcement that NATO has decided to scale down its Afghan mission. Apparently NATO wants to focus on making sure the Afghans are properly spending the $4.1 billion in military aid flowing into the country and training Afghan forces to take over the security of their own country. This will, however, leave 8-12,000 NATO troops in the country, the majority of which will be American, despite calls for more from commanders.
Stephen M. Walt posts his response to the NYT article at Foreign Policy, criticizing U.S. policy of maintaining even minimal forces and billions in aid going to the Karzai regime while it remains incapable of defeating the Taliban.
In a post at PV@G, Steve Saideman sums up the lessons learned from NATO’s efforts in Afghanistan and promotes his upcoming book on the subject. His main point is that NATO, like any other alliance or international organization, is in fact not much more than the sum of its parts: members remain sovereign and NATO efforts require the willingness of its members to participate.
Daniel Serwer at peacefare.net sees some silver lining of the U.S. budget crisis cloud: he expects more equitable burden sharing among U.S. allies. “Our allies may be unhappy now,” he reports, “but they face even greater burdens in the future. Our diplomats need to convince them to do what is needed.”
The Afghan case, indicated by both Saideman and the NYT article, may be showing that this will be an even taller order than Serwer can imagine. Voeten’s post referenced in my Friday post shows that the U.S. is struggling to wrangle most countries of the world, and now even our allies are joining that growing list.
There is nothing surprising or strange about the U.S.’s political embarrassments du jour, but we are losing what little precious ground we had internationally. Whether we should push ahead and continue to strong-arm our way back to the top or resign to lick our wounds and refocus our attention on domestic issues (because we are so good at that) is a false dichotomy.
We need to seriously ask whether an imploded Afghanistan will truly represent a serious threat to stability in the greater region. We are apparently resolved that the situation in Syria is not a dire threat to the western Middle East, and I would need some convincing that the same would not be true of Afghanistan in the east.
Where the U.S. Stands in the World
The last couple weeks have seen two important assessments of the trajectory of U.S. foreign relations:
The first was the Monkey Cage and Georgetown University’s Erik Voeten’s presentation of global polarization measured by his now-standard analysis of United Nations General Assembly voting patterns. (Voten later explained Saudi Arabia’s rejection of Security Council membership.)
Max Fisher adds to the discussion with his “Visual Report Card of U.S. Foreign Relations in 2013.” It is interesting to compare the points on Fisher’s map with those of Voeten’s.
Perhaps most interesting, according to Voeten’s map, Iran is one of the most distant UNGA voters from the U.S., yet the past weeks’ overtures seem to be shifting the balance of contention.
How civilians are taking the fight to insurgents in Nigeria, and what we can learn from them
One city’s efforts to protect itself from Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria offers some important lessons for counterinsurgency.
A while back PAXsims, run by McGill prof Rex Brynen, published my post about simulating polarity and alignment using a six-sided tug-of-war, an idea originated by Carleton University prof Steve Saideman.