International Relations

1. Another kind of war: the nature and history of terrorism
Lynn, John A. Yale, 2019

Terrorism, domestic or otherwise, fills the headlines of our newspapers nearly every day. It has become a part of the fabric of our daily lives, and shows no sign of abating. Lynn’s new book is an exceptional study of terrorism in all its guises, from state-sponsored to “lone wolf” actors. Lynn has published widely on European military history and sets the entire topic of terrorism within a historical time frame, helping the reader understand that today’s unsettling events are not new but have antecedents in the 18th-century French Revolution and even before that.
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2. Refuge beyond reach: how rich democracies repel asylum seekers
FitzGerald, David. Oxford, 2019

One of the world’s most pressing current challenges is how to manage the massive flow of displaced people fleeing violence. Because current asylum laws stipulate that persecuted people have to first reach a territory before they can claim asylum, leaders in the global North argue that as long as refugees and government agents are not situated in a common physical space, governments can refuse responsibility for the asylum seekers. In Refuge beyond Reach, FitzGerald (sociology and codirector of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies, Univ. of California, San Diego) documents how rich democracies deploy techniques of “remote control” to deliberately prevent refugees from reaching sanctuary. Meticulously researched and comprehensive in scope, the book traces how prosperous democracies of the global North—Australia, Canada, the EU, and the US—have deliberately and systematically violated the spirit of refugee protection laws by shutting down most legal paths for asylum seekers to claim asylum. Although these countries do not repatriate refugees, they have implemented a number of so-called remote control measures—including complex visa and air transportation policies, asylee caging on third-country territories, maritime interception policies—to keep out unwanted foreigners.
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3. Secret world: a history of intelligence
Andrew, Christopher. Yale, 2018

Some contend that intelligence is the second oldest profession, and Andrew (Cambridge) agrees. To emphasize the point, he has provided in his new work a pivotal study concerning the history of intelligence that will stand the test of time. Contemporary intelligence studies, Andrew believes, suffer from what he calls “Historical Attention-Span Deficit Disorder,” as scholars tend to overlook the rich history of intelligence operations when chronicling political decision-making. Many who join intelligence services have only the vaguest idea of the achievements of earlier code-breakers and spymasters. Andrew takes readers on a consequential journey from the Last Supper to the post-9/11 world to highlight his assumption. But more importantly, he demonstrates that intelligence operations have become what he refers to as the “missing dimension” in comprehending significant events in foreign policy and international affairs. Andrew claims that only by reviewing intelligence operations can we complete the historical record for future generations.
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4. The Rise and decline of the post–Cold War international order
ed. by Hanns W. Maull Oxford, 2018

This cogent volume by Maull (German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Berlin) makes an important contribution to the literature on international relations theory and security studies. The centerpiece of this work is the status of order and stability on the globe since the end of the Cold War. With the demise of the Soviet Union, the US was the preeminent creator of the “liberal international order.” The rise of Chinese influence in global affairs combined with the diminishing effect of an American presence has called for a new power configuration. Maull divides the book’s 14 essays into three parts: “Functional Partial Orders (International Regimes),” “Regional Orders,” and “‘Ordering Powers.’” The first section sets out the conditions for a structural arrangement at the international level, looking at international trade and climate change; the second section examines the regional approach, focusing on Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia; and the last and perhaps most important section offers a stark, candid appraisal of what the “liberal international order” was and the danger that comes with its erosion.
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5. War and chance: assessing uncertainty in international politics
Friedman, Jeffrey A. Oxford, 2019

Friedman (Dartmouth) makes an extraordinarily fine contribution to international relations theory and, more importantly, to rational choice theory. He analyzes with meticulous precision and a wealth of literature support an essential characterization in foreign policy decision-making: the element of uncertainty or the lack of perfect information in the context of any situation. Friedman’s scholarship is an essential read to appreciate the efforts necessary for intelligence analysis and the assessment and evaluation of gathered information that becomes the basis for operational decisions. The author pays a great deal of attention to statistical probability and the qualitative evaluation involved in understanding the nature of international politics. To support his approach, he relies on a number of case studies involving flawed assessments. He then sets forth in a clear and logical manner a formula for dealing with uncertainty: Be aware of the degree of uncertainty surrounding the subject of the decision. Explain how the level of risk relates to the successful effectiveness of the decision.
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