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  • Author: Frank J. Gonzalez
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: In the polarized, post-truth, tribal era of politics that we find ourselves in, a book on conformity—how to understand it and take concrete steps toward diminishing it—should (rightfully) be expected to be of great interest to many. In Conformity: The Power of Social Influences, the prolific Cass R. Sunstein delivers exactly this. This book stands out from Sunstein’s other books in its focus on the broad societal implications of social influence. Sunstein grounds his argument in the principles underlying American democracy, and in doing so, he makes it difficult not to become depressed at how distant our current state of affairs seems from that ideal. However, Sunstein offers optimism in the form of a framework for actionable solutions. Sunstein begins with a model of the two major features of human psychology that he says reinforce conformity: (1) the tendency to believe something is true if others believe it is true (especially “confident” others) and (2) the desire for positive social standing and reputation. In Chapter 1, he explains how conformity is frequently harmful because it encourages individuals to suppress their “private signals” (that is, expressions of what they individually think is right or wrong), which decreases the diversity of ideas in a group and ultimately leads to undesirable outcomes. In Chapter 2, Sunstein advances beyond the framework he has traditionally worked within by considering cascades, or the spread of ideas and practices through conformity pressures, which ultimately give rise to social movements. He acknowledges that cascades are not necessarily “bad”—they are likely what led to the rise of the #MeToo movement—but they were also likely crucial to the propagation of genocide during the Holocaust.
  • Topic: Book Review, Psychology, Political Science, Polarization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Christopher Way
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: In a climate of concern about the future of capitalism and democracy, this book provides a robust defense of both. Capitalism and democracy, Torben Iversen and David Soskice argue, are mutually reinforcing, and the combination has been remarkably successful over the past century. In what will probably be the most discussed part of the book, they anticipate that the symbiotic pair will continue to thrive, overcoming the challenges posed by populism and inequality. Democracy and Prosperity provides a challenge to those who believe that capitalism is increasingly unable to fulfill the needs of broad swaths of society and that democracy is creaking under the strains of populism.
  • Topic: History, Democracy, Capitalism, Book Review
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Crow, James Ron
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: David Crow and James Ron look at how global publics view the relationship between human rights organizations and the U.S. government. They argue that ordinary people across various world regions do not perceive human rights groups as “handmaidens” of U.S. foreign policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Human Rights, Non-Governmental Organization, Public Opinion
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Tom Ginsburg
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: It is hardly a secret that democracy is in trouble around the world, and the phenomenon of backsliding has prompted a small wave of books diagnosing the problem and suggesting solutions. David Runciman’s contribution to this literature is a breezy and readable tour through mechanisms and alternatives. Easily weaving political theory with grounded examples, he has produced a highly accessible analysis focusing more on diagnosis than cure. Runciman’s title is to be distinguished from accounts of how specific democracies are dying or what might be done to save constitutional democracy. Instead, he focuses on the idea that Western democracy is undergoing something of a midlife crisis. Nothing lasts forever, and while democracy has had a pretty good run, it now “looks exhausted in the places it has the deepest roots” (p. 72). Contemplating democracy’s death, the book is organized around a series of mechanisms by which this might come about: coup, environmental catastrophe, technological displacement, and the various alternatives of benevolent and not so benevolent authoritarianism that have been put on offer. His main argument is that while we are attracted to democracy because of its history, the past does not repeat itself, and we are likely to face new challenges not yet contemplated. If democracy dies, the autopsy will be a new one.
  • Topic: Democracy, Book Review, Political Science
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Luke Glanville
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: Political authorities often claim that states have an absolute right to decide for themselves who enters their territory and the conditions on which they enter by mere virtue of their sovereignty. In 2018, for example, the then U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, responded to the UN’s criticism of the Donald Trump administration’s practice of separating children from parents entering the United States without documentation, including those claiming asylum, with a typical appeal to sovereign prerogative: “We will remain a generous country, but we are also a sovereign country, with laws that decide how to best control our borders and protect our people. Neither the United Nations nor anyone else will dictate how the United States upholds its borders.”1 A brief glance at the history of sovereignty, however, reminds us of two crucial things. First, sovereignty is socially constructed, and its meaning and implications have changed and continue to change over time. Sovereignty need not entail, and historically has not entailed, an absolute right to regulate the movement of people in and out of one’s territory.2 Second, we are reminded of the deep and problematic ties between the history of sovereignty’s construction and the history of the European colonial project.3 Sovereignty was for a long time considered a privilege enjoyed only by Europeans and those non-Europeans whom Europeans deigned to acknowledge as civilized members of the “family of nations.” It was not until the second half of the twentieth century that Europe’s widespread empires were finally dismantled, self-government was granted to formerly colonized peoples, and the institution of the territorially bounded sovereign state spread across the globe. More than that, for centuries, the wealth of Europe’s sovereign powers was augmented, and the territories of their soon-to-be-sovereign settler colonies beyond Europe were acquired by means of violent conquest, subjection, enslavement, displacement, and, often, slaughter of nonsovereign indigenous peoples. The powerful once demanded hospitality from the vulnerable. They now deny it to them. That much is well known. What is less well known is that one justification that European imperial powers offered for the violent subjection of nonsovereign non-Europeans, at least for a time, was indigenous peoples’ violation of a supposedly natural and enforceable duty of hospitality. Today, many of these same powers—including European Union member states and former settler colonies, such as the United States and Australia—work tirelessly and expend billions of dollars to resist granting hospitality to forcibly displaced people seeking asylum at their borders or waiting in refugee camps and urban centers in developing regions of the world. The powerful once demanded hospitality from the vulnerable. They now deny it to them. This essay examines the hypocritical inhospitality of these wealthy and powerful states in four stages. I first outline how the notion of a duty of hospitality was deployed as a justification for European colonialism. Second, I contrast this historical demand for hospitality with the denial of hospitality by former colonial powers today, noting that they legitimate this denial by again imposing an expectation of hospitality on others. Third, I consider the justified limits to the duty of hospitality, explaining how Immanuel Kant and others usefully sought a formulation of the duty that would protect the vulnerable from the predations of powerful intruders while still requiring the powerful to provide relief to the displaced vulnerable. And fourth, I argue, given that certain states accrued vast wealth and territory from the European colonial project, which they justified in part by appeals to a duty of hospitality, these states are bound now to extend hospitality to vulnerable outsiders not simply as a matter of charity or even reciprocity, but as justice and restitution for grave historical wrongs.
  • Topic: Refugee Crisis, Colonialism, Humanitarian Crisis, Hospitality
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lindsey Andersen
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Public and International Affairs (JPIA)
  • Institution: School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Abstract: Artificial intelligence (AI) will soon be at the center of the international development field. Amidst this transformation, there is insufficient consideration from the international development sector and the growing AI and ethics field of the unique ethical issues AI initiatives face in the development context. This paper argues that the multiple stakeholder layers in international development projects, as well as the role of third-party AI vendors, results in particular ethical concerns related to fairness and inclusion, transparency, explainability and accountability, data limitations, and privacy and security. It concludes with a series of principles that build on the information communication technology for development (ICT4D) community’s Principles for Digital Development to guide international development funders and implementers in the responsible, ethical implementation of AI initiatives.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Ethics, International Development, Artificial Intelligence
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Flavia Eichmann
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Public and International Affairs (JPIA)
  • Institution: School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • Abstract: This article explores what impact terrorist blacklists have on negotiated solutions to armed conflicts involving listed non-state armed groups. Even though conflicts that involve non-state armed groups do not usually end through these groups’ military defeat, governments around the globe tend to adopt hard-security approaches with regard to inner-state conflicts. Especially when groups resort to terrorist tactics, governments tend to be reluctant to engage peacefully with these actors and instead commonly rely on terrorist blacklists in order to delegitimize and restrict groups’ activities. While these blacklists are effective in criminalizing the operations of these groups, they can also severely impede peaceful dialogue and thus negatively impact the resolution of conflicts. Especially the work of NGOs and third-party peace practitioners is greatly constrained by criminalizing any form of interaction with listed groups. Additionally, in the absence of a universal definition of what constitutes a terrorist group, lists vary from country to country and the criteria for groups and individuals to get listed are often extremely vague. Furthermore, most lists fail to re-evaluate the proscribed groups on a regular basis and delisting procedures lack transparency. This article finds that blacklists severely disincentivize peaceful engagement with non-state armed groups and thus calls for a revision of contemporary proscription regimes in order to shift the focus of counterterrorism approaches towards viewing peaceful dialogue as a first option and not a last resort.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Terrorism, Non State Actors, Violent Extremism, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Benjamin Press
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Resurgent authoritarians are putting to the test the old adage that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” Autocrats recognize that they have been losing battles on governance for decades. Liberal countries like the United States have aggressively invested in pro-democracy programming, strengthening civil society, political parties and the rule of law in countries across the world in an attempt to erect barriers against authoritarianism. Moreover, democracies have hammered autocrats on issues ranging from human rights to corruption, lending legitimacy to domestic dissidents and, to a certain extent, discrediting them on the global stage. But that paradigm is beginning to shift. As authoritarian powers—especially Russia and China—have become increasingly assertive in international affairs, they have aimed to legitimize their own governance models and bolster autocrats abroad. And as shown by recent data on the rise of so-called “autocratization,” their approach may be working. The support for authoritarianism abroad embodies a new type of governance strategy: autocracy promotion. In an inversion of traditional democracy promotion, autocracy promotion entails both rhetorical and concrete support for other authoritarians. From Russia offering to send in soldiers to put down protesters in Belarus to China weakening global human rights frameworks, autocracy promoters are seeking to tip the governance landscape in autocrats’ favor. Their direct mechanism for doing so is by helping weaker autocrats by bolstering their legitimacy and expanding their capacity to coerce and coopt domestic actors. By shifting narratives and providing material support, autocracy promoters ultimately aim to “make the world safe for autocracy.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Authoritarianism, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Josephine Wolff, Ta-Chun Su
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: . One of the questions that has always been very interesting to me is “Who do we hold responsible when something goes wrong with cybersecurity?” While that is a technical question—because often when something goes wrong, there is a technical component since you are dealing with a computer and the Internet—it also very much has to do with what our liability regimes say, what our policies say, what our social norms and expectations say about who we hold accountable and who is expected to pay for the damage. So for me, I think cybersecurity is about trying to understand what we mean when we talk about the "secure Internet,” what it looks like to have a secure Internet, and who we hold responsible for all the different components of how you get there. To whom do we say “It’s your job not to answer the phishing emails,” or “It’s your job to look for bug traffic on the network.” How do we piece together that entirely complicated ecosystem of different stakeholders, and how do we identify what their different roles and responsibilities should be? ...
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Interview
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Gigi Gronvall
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Fletcher Security Review
  • Institution: The Fletcher School, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Synthetic biology is a relatively new scientific field that aims to make biology easier to engineer and, thus, more useful. It is already delivering on its enormous promise, yielding FDA-approved chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell cancer therapeutics, as well as non-medical products such as laboratory-produced fabrics, flavorings, adhesives, and detergents.[1][2] Despite such progress, however, the rapid growth and democratization of synthetic biology — almost all of which is taking place in the private sector — brings security challenges. Like all areas of the life sciences, it is “dual-use” and able to be exploited. To make misuse more limited and difficult to en‐ force, the United States will need to partner with other nations, international organizations, and international businesses to govern areas of the synthetic biology field...
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Biology, Medicine
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America