August 11, 2015
By Michael C. Hudson, Kuwait Foundation Visiting Scholar, Middle East Initiative
During the spring 2015 semester, Professor Michael C. Hudson assembled eight leading Middle East scholars under the auspices of the Middle East Initiative at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs to participate in a study group titled Rethinking the Arab State: the Collapse of Legitimacy in Arab Politics. Over the course of the semester these experts used a variety of interdisciplinary approaches to analyze the crisis of legitimacy of the Arab state in the wake of the 2011 uprisings.
"From the Aztecs to the Kalahari Bushmen — Conservative Justices' Citation of Foreign Sources: Consistency, Inconsistency, or Evolution?"
Yale Journal of International Law Online, volume 41
By Zachary D. Kaufman, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, International Security Program
What stands out as different in the reasoning of Obergefell is that members of the Court's conservative wing invoked foreign law in a constitutional case about a domestic matter. By doing so, the Court's conservatives appeared to contradict their own previous statements about the role of foreign law in interpreting the U.S. Constitution. Besides legalizing marriage equality, Obergefell may therefore also set an important precedent as to the appropriateness of citing foreign sources in constitutional decisions.
Science and Engineering Ethics
The introduction of new energy technologies may lead to public resistance and contestation. It is often argued that this phenomenon is caused by an inadequate inclusion of relevant public values in the design of technology. In this paper, the authors examine the applicability of the value sensitive design (VSD) approach.
The authors examine the effect of real energy prices and a simulated carbon price on production and net imports. They find modest adverse competitiveness effects for energy-intensive industries.
"Do States Delegate Shameful Violence to Militias? Patterns of Sexual Violence in Recent Armed Conflicts"
Journal of Conflict Resolution, issue 5, volume 59
By Dara Kay Cohen, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School and Ragnhild Nordas, Former Research Fellow, Initiative on Religion in International Affairs/International Security Program, 2008–2010
Existing research maintains that governments delegate extreme, gratuitous, or excessively brutal violence to militias. However, analyzing all militias in armed conflicts from 1989 to 2009, we find that this argument does not account for the observed patterns of sexual violence, a form of violence that should be especially likely to be delegated by governments. Instead, we find that states commit sexual violence as a complement to—rather than a substitute for—violence perpetrated by militias.
August 3, 2015
By Gary Samore, Executive Director for Research, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
The Iran Nuclear Deal: A Definitive Guide has been produced in the interest of contributing to informed Congressional review and public discourse on a comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It provides a concise description of the agreement and the accompanying UN Security Council Resolution 2231. It also includes a balanced assessment of the agreement's strengths and weaknesses with respect to its central objective to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
The team of experts who prepared the report includes Democrats, Republicans, independents, and internationals. Noting areas of disagreement among themselves, they agreed that this report provides an accurate description and balanced assessment of the agreement.
July 23, 2015
By Morena Skalamera, Associate, Geopolitics of Energy Project
Ever since the 1973 oil embargo, and especially since the Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis of 2006, Western policy makers have paid a great deal of attention to energy security. Yet there is no consensus as to what energy security is, what methodologies are most useful for conceptualizing and operationalizing the term, or even whether it is possible to generalize about anything as complex and contextually dependent as energy security. This enormous diversity of theoretical, methodological, and epistemological perspectives on the study of energy security complicates any assessment of the state of the field. It is, however, precisely because ‘energy security’ is such an elusive concept that academics, statesmen, and analysts of energy politics should not strive to coalesce around one precise definition.
Terrorism and Political Violence
By Chuck Freilich, Senior Fellow, International Security Program
The percentage of Israelis killed by terrorism is higher than in any other democracy. The article analyzes the threats Israel has faced, the impact terrorism has had on Israel, and the counter-terrorism policies Israel has adopted.
issue 1, volume 40
By Francis Gavin, Associate, Project on Managing the Atom
Most histories of post-1945 U.S. grand strategy focus on containment of the Soviet Union and U.S. efforts to promote political and economic liberalization. A closer look reveals that "strategies of inhibition"—attempts to control nuclear proliferation—have been a third central pillar of U.S. grand strategy for several decades.
"Keeping the Bombs in the Basement: U.S. Nonproliferation Policy toward Israel, South Africa, and Pakistan"
International Security, issue 1, volume 40
Many accounts suggest that the United States did little to prevent Israel, Pakistan, and South Africa from developing nuclear weapons. These accounts are flawed, however. The United States did attempt to stop all three countries from acquiring the bomb and, when those efforts failed, to halt additional proliferation measures such as further testing and weaponization.