PM Harper’s Foreign Policy Shift Towards China

In the National Post, Peter Godspeed argues that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s pending visit to China represents somewhat of a foreign policy pivot for the Conservative government.

Like the United States, Canada is in the midst of a foreign policy pivot in Asia…

…Tuesday, Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister, arrives in the Chinese capital for what almost amounts to a traditional “Team Canada” trade mission, seeking to strengthen economic ties with Canada’s second-largest trading partner.

With four cabinet ministers — John Baird, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Ed Fast, the International Trade Minister, Gerry Ritz, the Agriculture Minister, and Joe Oliver, the Natural Resources Minister — and seven MPs and 40 business executives and academics, he hopes to build on rapidly expanding ties that have pushed bilateral trade to US$57.7-billion a year in 2010.

“China’s growth as an emerging market is very significant for Canada’s business community, and it is an economic relationship that requires the attention of the highest political level,” said Peter Harder, president of the Canada-China Business Council.

From the perspective of foreign-policy decision-making in IR theory, the makeup of the Team Canada mission to China would indicate the importance of the pluralist and organizational/bureaucratic models. The pluralist model notes the impact of powerful interest groups, such as the Canada-China Business Council, and business executives and academics. Radicals, especially Marxists, would note the absence of any environmental or union groups amongst the mission’s members.

About the tone of the trip, NDTV reports that

The visit can be seen as a change in attitude for Canada, which has a record of taking a hard stance on the Chinese regime’s human rights abuses, as it looks as if economic ties between the two nations are warming.

Does the Acquisition of Nuclear Weapons Change States’ Behaviour?

Political scientist James Fearon has an interesting blog post on the political science blog, The Monkey Cage. In it, he asks, and then gives an answer to, the question “How do states act after they get nuclear weapons?” The issue, Fearon notes, is gaining increasing attention in the United States, given the alleged quest by Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The issue also resonates in Canada, with Stephen Harper recently affirming his fear of the Iranian regime acquiring nukes. From this CBC interview with Peter Mansbridge, Harper responds in the affirmative to Mansbridge’s characterization of an interview Harper had given a couple of weeks earlier on the issue of Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons:

…in your view, they [Iran’s regime] want nuclear weapons, and they would not be shy about using them.[see the exchange below]

In opposition to views like Harper’s are the views of what Fearon calls “proliferation optimists” such as the well-known realist Kenneth Waltz, who claims that contrary to our repeated expectations about the behaviour of post-nuclear states, the opposite has turned out to be true much more often than not. What does Fearon find empirically? First, he sets up what it is, specifically, that he is measuring:

The following graph shows, for each of the nine states that acquired nuclear capability at some time between 1945 and 2001, their yearly rate of militarized disputes in years when they didn’t have nukes, and the rate for years when they did.

Here is a graph of Fearon’s finding with his summary below:

China, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, and the UK all saw declines in their total militarized dispute involvement in the years after they got nuclear weapons.  A number of these are big declines.  USSR/Russia and South Africa have higher rates in their nuclear versus non-nuclear periods, though it should be kept in mind that for the USSR we only have four years in the sample with no nukes, just as the Cold War is starting.


Leaderless Jihad–the Transformation of Al Qaeda

In PLSC250, we have discussed both Samuel Huntington’s prediction of the nature of the new world order (as outlined in his “Clash of Civlizations” thesis) and Yahya Sadowski’s response (“Political Islam: Asking the Wrong Questions”). David Ignatius has written an op-ed piece in the Washington Post today, which amounts to a book review of former CIA officer Marc Sagerman’s new book, “Leaderless Jihad.” Find some excerpts posted below. How does Sagerman’s view fit with the views expressed by Sadowski in his article?

Sageman has a résumé that would suit a postmodern John le Carré. He was a case officer running spies in Pakistan and then became a forensic psychiatrist. What distinguishes his new book, “Leaderless Jihad,” is that it peels away the emotional, reflexive responses to terrorism that have grown up since Sept. 11, 2001, and looks instead at scientific data Sageman has collected on more than 500 Islamic terrorists — to understand who they are, why they attack and how to stop them.

The heart of Sageman’s message is that we have been scaring ourselves into exaggerating the terrorism threat — and then by our unwise actions in Iraq John McCain, that, as McCain’s Web site puts it, the United States is facing “a dangerous, relentless enemy in the War against Islamic Extremists” spawned by al-Qaeda. making the problem worse. He attacks head-on the central thesis of the Bush administration, echoed increasingly by Republican presidential candidate

The numbers say otherwise, Sageman insists. The first wave of al-Qaeda leaders, who joined Osama bin Laden in the 1980s, is down to a few dozen people on the run in the tribal areas of northwest Pakistan. The second wave of terrorists, who trained in al-Qaeda’s camps in Afghanistan during the 1990s, has also been devastated, with about 100 hiding out on the Pakistani frontier. These people are genuinely dangerous, says Sageman, and they must be captured or killed. But they do not pose an existential threat to America, much less a “clash of civilizations.”

It’s the third wave of terrorism that is growing, but what is it? By Sageman’s account, it’s a leaderless hodgepodge of thousands of what he calls “terrorist wannabes.” Unlike the first two waves, whose members were well educated and intensely religious, the new jihadists are a weird species of the Internet culture. Outraged by video images of Americans killing Muslims in Iraq, they gather in password-protected chat rooms and dare each other to take action. Like young people across time and religious boundaries, they are bored and looking for thrills.

“It’s more about hero worship than about religion,” Sageman said in a presentation of his research last week at the New America Foundation, a liberal think tank here. Many of this third wave don’t speak Arabic or read the Koran. Very few (13 percent of Sageman’s sample) have attended radical madrassas.

Violin Diplomacy in North Korea

You remember the “ping-pong diplomacy” of the Nixon years? Well, get ready for a little bit of “violin diplomacy”, with news that the New York Philharmonic Orchestra has landed in Pyongyang, the capital of the most politically isolated state on earth, North Korea. The Boston Globe reports and uses the occasion to look back at other episodes of cultural diplomacy:

Members of the New York Philharmonic orchestra wave as they arrive at the airport in Pyongyang for a two day visit to North Korea on Monday, Feb. 25, 2008. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
Some other noteworthy episodes of cultural diplomacy, according to the Boston Globe:
CHINAApril 1971 — The U.S. Table Tennis Team accepts a surprise invitation from China, making the group the first American non-communist delegation allowed into China since the communist takeover in 1949. This “pingpong diplomacy” helps lay the path for President Richard Nixon’s historic trip to China the following year.1979 — Acclaimed violinist Isaac Stern embarks on a cultural tour of China in which he performs and mentors young Chinese musicians, encounters that are chronicled in an Oscar-winning documentary, “Mozart to Mao.”IRAN Continue reading “Violin Diplomacy in North Korea”

Human Trafficking–Katia’s Story

A confluence of events–globalization, technological and communications advances, and halting (or no) democratization–has led to an unprecedented rise in global human trafficking. States and governments have been unable to make a dent in this growing trade, where human beings are sold like cattle to be used as indentured servants and sex slaves. Here is a documentary about one such person, Katia from Ukraine, whose husband’s friend kidnapped and sold her in Turkey, whence she was moved to western Europe where she was forced into prostitution. (The documentary is in five parts. Here is part one.)

Samuel Huntington of “Clash of Civilizations” fame, Interviewed

Charlie Rose interviews Huntington on the ideas in his oft-cited and even more criticized “Clash of Civilizations” thesis. Rose calls the clash thesis “provocative.”  What do you think about the logic of the clash thesis.  Given that you’ve read Amartya Sen’s response to Huntington, what kinds of questions would you have asked Huntington that Rose failed to?  (The Huntington interview runs from 1:55 until about 21:00.  No, Professor Huntington is not a dead-ringer for John Cleese.  That is, in fact, John Cleese, who is interviewed in the middle segment; hence, the screen shot of Cleese.)

Playing the Dominant Strategy in a Prisoner’s Dilemma Situation

As you’ll see in lecture tomorrow, instrumentally rational players will also choose to “defect” in a priosoner’s dilemma type situation even though they could be much better off absolutely if they and their opponents could learn to cooperate.  The chart below has been created using data from the simulation of yesterday.  What is take-home message from the chart?  Why is the relationship between the phenomena displayed not completely linear?  Think about the nature (i.e., the specific rules) of the oil game we played yesterday. (The plot below is a box plot, which is a way of summarizing the means, range, and certain percentiles of the values of a single variable based on another variable.)


Results from a Prisoner’s Dilemma Simulation–The Oil Game

Today in class, you competed in groups to maximize total profits in a simulation called “the Oil Game.” You represented one of two competing oil producers–Iraz and Sabia–trying to maximize profits selling oil to a net importer of oil–ESYUVI (the names were created using a random letter-generator–I swear!). Most of you recognized very quickly, if not immediately, that the simulation was a modified Prisoner’s Dilemma situation. As I’ll discuss on Friday, in a Prisoner’s Dilemma situation, players acting in an instrumentally rational manner will always choose not to cooperate (i.e., “defect”), because it is a dominant strategy. What makes the situation a dilemma is that the players could do much better were they able to cooperate and trust one another.


The compelling logic of the prisoner’s dilemma, along with some strong empirical evidence, is used by realists to support their arguments regarding the nature of interaction in the international world. Liberals, on the other hand, argue that there is much more cooperation in the world than realists would predict. Thus, despite the structure of the prisoner’s dilemma, players are able to cooperate in international politics. What factors do you think make cooperation more likely? Less likely? Why?

The results from our simulation today are in graphical form above. You’ll note that communication was not allowed for Years 1, 2, and 4; communication was allowed for Year 3, and communication (to decide what to do for Years 5 and 6) was allowed prior to Year 5. The results from this class are consistent with the expectations. I would note the relatively low level of cooperation throughout, rising only initially after the first episode of communication.

U.S. Formally Recognizes Kosovo Independence

We discussed in class today that of the four characteristics of a state, the only one that Kosovo had, at that point, not fulfilled was international recognition by other states. According to this Washington Post story, the United States has begun to change that:

kosovo_independence1.jpgPresident Bush hailed the newly independent Kosovo and officially recognized it as a state and a “close friend” on Monday, expressing strong support for the new Balkans nation even as he rebuffed protests by Serbia and Russia.

The formal announcement came in a statement issued by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is traveling in Africa with the president. “The United States has today formally recognized Kosovo as a sovereign and independent state,” she said. “We congratulate the people of Kosovo on this historic occasion.”

I understand what it feels like to be a Kosovar Albanian today as it takes me back to 15 January 1992, when European and other states, including the United States, formally recognized the independence of the Republic of Croatia. I can also sympathize with Serbs, who must feel like their heart has been ripped out of their body given that Kosovo is integral to history and spirit of the Serbian nation. Ivo Banac has written that “the history of the Balkans is a history migrations, not only peoples, but of lands.” The Serbian nation was founded on land that the Serbs no longer control politically as a result of the vicissitudes of politics in that part of the world and the drift of the center of gravity of Serb political northward over the centuries. It is incumbent upon the new Kosovo government and the international community to allow Serbs to continue to have access to the sacred religious and spiritual monuments of their past.

You can see a comprehensive slide show of photographs marking the situation here.

Below is a photograph of the famous Serbian Christian Orthodox Gračanica Monastery in Kosovo.


Kosovo’s bid for Independence

From the BBC, we learn that the Albanian majority in Serbia’s southern region of Kosovo is expected to vote for independence from Serbia within days. The province has been controlled by the international community since the end of the NATO-led war against Slobodan Milošević ‘s regime in 1999. In PLSC250 yesterday, we discussed the Kurdish campaign for self-determination and noted some of the arguments for and against. The most comepelling argument for secession/independence is a deontological argument based on the inherent right of groups to decide for themselves their system of government. The most obvious argument against is a utilitarian one, voiced here by Serbia’s Foreign Minister, Vuk Jeremić :

[Independence for Kosovo] would lead to an uncontrolled cascade of secession

Here’s more from the article:

kosovo.jpgSerbia’s foreign minister has urged the United Nations Security Council to oppose the province of Kosovo’s expected declaration of independence.

Vuk Jeremic said Serbia would not use force to stop the secession but warned that allowing it would give a green light to other separatist movements.

The ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo is expected to announce its breakaway from Serbia within days.

Russia has warned that recognition of Kosovo would be illegal and immoral.

Speaking after the closed session, Serbia’s foreign minister said that is was not too late for diplomats to prevent Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence.