On September 5, 2013 we argued in The New York Times against the Obama Administration’s proposal to respond to the crossing of a red line in Syria – use of chemical weapons against civilians – by arguing that bombing for bombing’s sake was ill-conceived as punishment, failed to protect civilians and hindered peacemaking.

The question was not then, as it is not now, whether gassing civilians is acceptable. It is illegal and atrocious. The question remains one of the best strategy for protecting civilians and how use of force might play a part in service of this goal. Ending atrocities can have a military component, but ultimately it demands a political agenda and strategy.

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In an interview with the editors of the World Politics Review (published April 5, 2017), Alex de Waal addresses relations between Saudi Arabia and Sudan. The editors introduced the interview by noting that:

Sudan and Saudi Arabia are currently holding a joint air force drill that reportedly involves hundreds of air force personnel from both […]

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As my framework of the “political marketplace” becomes more widely referenced among people who study Africa and the Middle East, I am increasingly asked, “doesn’t it apply in the United States as well?”

Since January, we have been finding out. The lens of transactional politics works remarkably well for understanding the conduct of the current […]

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In the post-Westphalian world, sovereignty is the norm that simultaneously produces anarchy between states and the possibility of its opposite, order, within those states. While sovereignty ostensibly gives national authorities ultimate control over subnational actors and spaces, along with the formal ability to impose order from above, the reality is much more complicated – and much more interesting. Order is never a foregone conclusion, even within the sovereign states that form the units of the international state system. From the seminal works of scholars like Michael Mann, Stein Rokkan, and Charles Tilly, we know that the emergence of the nation-state as the dominant unit in the modern world was everywhere associated with dramatic territorial struggles between national and subnational actors over who got to do what, and with whose resources. Whether peripheral regions were incorporated into proto-states by core areas using direct or indirect forms of rule, territory was always at the heart of state building. But territorial struggles do not simply disappear once the process of state formation is complete; well after their emergence, states are constantly negotiating and renegotiating territorial arrangements between core and periphery, and between national and subnational. We see this in the wave of decentralization that swept the global south at the end of the last century, and in the set of re-centralizing changes that have occurred in the opening years of the new century.

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An Age of Uncertainty

On March 30, 2017 By

It is worthwhile at this juncture to consider the nature of the US presidency and its likely impact on the role of the US in the post-World War II and post-Cold War world order. The issues inherent in the US president’s recent statements and behavior — his fondness for autocrats, dismissal of allies and long-term partnerships, and his embrace of mercantilist approaches to trade —constitute a major break with core bipartisan traditions in US foreign policy.[i] Close advisors to the president articulate broad views of global politics that they define as standing at odds with this tradition.[ii] These developments contribute to a major increase in uncertainty for those who govern amidst disorder.

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Last week, Prof. Richard Falk was in London to promote his new book, Palestine’s Horizon: Towards a Just Peace. I attended the event at the London School of Economics. It was of course inevitable that Prof. Falk’s co-authorship (with Virginia Tilley) of the recent report ‘Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the […]

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