Freedom of Navigation Assertions: The United States as the World’s Policeman

September 10, 2015

In line with its ‘‘Freedom of Navigation’’ program, the United States conducts ‘‘operational assertions’’ by sending naval vessels to violate what it considers to be the excessive maritime claims of other states. Efforts have been made to legitimate this program to the public and elected officials on both liberal and realist grounds: Freedom of navigation is an important component of the liberal international order while also central to the exercise of U.S. naval power. However, it does not follow that military assertions, which create a security risk and are inconsistent with liberal principles, should take precedence over diplomatic and multilateral steps. Rather, the program has faced little scrutiny to date due to its relative obscurity.

Self-determination: The Democratization Test

August 11, 2015

Self-determination is the process by which people, who are governed by a foreign power, gain self-government. Often the people first form a sense of community—a sense of a shared identity, destiny, and core values—and then seek to invest those in a state, forming a nation (defined as a community invested in a state). The term self-determination is also used to refer to the normative principle that is evoked to justify breaking away from the old regime to form a new one.

The Democratisation Mirage

July 23, 2015

One is reluctant to publish an essay that suggests that the families who lost their loved ones in Afghanistan and Iraq (as well as in Vietnam) – and the even larger numbers who have been maimed there – made these sacrifices in vain. As a former combatant, I know this grief closely. However, a clear-eyed view might prevent even more bloodshed and grief. 

“NSA: National Security vs. Individual Rights”, Reviewed by Glenn Hastedt, James Madison University

June 29, 2015

In “NSA: National Security vs. Indivdiual Rights,” Amitai Etzioni examines a challenging set of questions surrounding the existence of National Security Agency’s (NSA) clandestine data collection programs including whether the threat to national security justify them, whether the programs are effective, to what extent they may violate the privacy of Americans, whether such programs are in line with the Constitution and laws, and whether there is sufficient accountability of oversight of these programs.

Americans Have a Strong Sense of "Economic Insecurity"

April 09, 2015

A recent nationwide survey shows that a majority of Americans worry about paying for retirement, affording health care, and losing their job. Retirement raises the most concern, as more than 60 percent of Democrats, independents, and Republicans are concerned about having enough money to retire or having Social Security available throughout their retirement. On all measures of economic security, women and those without a college education are the most concerned.

Old Cash Register: Image Credits to Jo Jakeman

Older Americans: The New Normal Avant-Garde

April 01, 2015

Many Americans have called into question the thesis that contentment is found in the affluent way of life and have instead embraced simplicity and “transcendental pursuits.” This article examines this trend among older, retired Americans and advances the argument that they provide a strong living example of the association between less income, communitarian culture, and happiness.

Sociological Forum journal cover

The Moral Effects of Economic Teaching

March 11, 2015

Over the past 2 decades, dozens of studies have explored the relationship between exposure to economics and antisocial behavior.

Small Wars & Insurgencies Journal

COIN: A study of strategic illusion

March 11, 2015

Has the US military become a learning institution, one able to transition from relying on a conventional war model to fighting against irregular adversaries such as insurgents and terrorists? This article examines the United States' interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan in an effort to respond to this question.

Journal of Political Ideologies Cover

Communitarianism Revisited

January 02, 2015

This article provides a retrospective account and analysis of communitarianism. Drawing upon the author’s involvement with the political branch of communitarianism, it attempts to summarize both the history of the school of thought as well as its most prominent ideas. These include the communitarian emphasis on the common good; the effort to find an acceptable balance between individual rights and social responsibilities; the basis of social order; and the need to engage in substantive moral dialogues. The article closes with a discussion of cultural relativism according to which communities ought to be the ultimate arbitrators of the good and a universalistic position. 

Georgetown Journal of International Affairs

The Private Sector: A Reluctant Partner in Cybersecurity

December 19, 2014

It may seem obvious that the private sector should be keen to protect its computers and networks from cyber-attacks by criminals and foreign agents. After all, hacking has caused considerable losses of trade secrets and other proprietary information. Moreover, evidence suggests that cyber-attacks can take a kinetic form, which can harm the equipment and facilities—such as the national electrical grid—of those attacked. However, as will be seen shortly, the private sector is far from rushing to protect itself from such attacks. The reasons for this reluctance range from the understandably pragmatic to the ideological. Meanwhile, in spite of major implications of this reluctance for homeland security, both the Bush and the Obama administrations have limited themselves to cajoling the private sector to embrace much stronger cybersecurity measures rather than mandating their introduction.

Defense & Security Analysis Journal Cover

The United States’ retreat from the Middle East and pivot to the Far East is likely to intensify

December 10, 2014

This article outlines the reasons why one should expect that the USA will shift more military forces to and focus more diplomatic efforts on the Far East and away from the Middle East. The term forecasting is employed, rather than prediction, to remind us that the statement holds only if no “black swans” appear, that is, if no major unexpected forces come into play. (This caveat deserves special attention given the poor record of those who predict international developments, as demonstrated vividly when the Arab Spring unexpectedly erupted in Tunisia and when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.) The US’s role is akin to that of a physician who finds two abnormalities in an X-ray and is influenced in choosing on which to base his intervention by subconscious motives. 

The Brown Journal of World Affairs Journal Cover

Mutually Assured Restraint: A New Approach for United States-China Relations

October 31, 2014

To avoid the United States and China falling into the Thucydides trap, in which a dominant power’s fear of a rising power necessarily leads to war, both nations would be well-served by further embracing a strategy of Mutually Assured Restraint (MAR), here outlined, some elements of which are already in place. Political scientists argue that history shows since the days of the ancient Greeks that when a new power arises and an old power does not yield ground and privileges wars ensue. However, the record also shows there are no historical iron laws, or trends that inevitably unfold. Harvard's Graham Allison points to four cases out of 15 since the sixteenth century in which the emergence of a new power was not followed by war—including the United States’ rise as a global power in the 1890s. Thus, to those who hold that the United States and China are fated to clash, I say it is not written in the stars.

Brooklyn Law Review Cover

A Cyber Age Privacy Doctrine: More Coherent, Less Subjective, and Operational

October 14, 2014

Brooklyn Law Review, Forthcoming

In a previous paper, I outlined a privacy doctrine — a cyber age privacy doctrine, or a CAPD — that seeks to account for important differences between the paper age and the digital one. This paper attempts to show that the CAPD provides a coherent normative doctrine that can be employed by the courts and legislatures and that is more systematic, less subjective, and at least as operational as the prevailing privacy doctrines. 

Full text here.

Encyclopedia of Political Thought Books

Amitai Etzioni's contributions in "The Encyclopedia of Political Thought"

October 08, 2014

The Encyclopedia of Political Thought is the most comprehensive and rigorous treatment of significant political thinkers, political theories, concepts, ideas, and schools of thought.Click here for Amitai Etzioni's entries: "Common Good", "Community", and "Communitarianism"

International Politics Journal Cover

The Air-Sea Battle ‘concept’: A critique

October 08, 2014

In May 2013 the Pentagon released an unclassified summary of the top-secret Air-Sea Battle (ASB) Concept. ASB serves to focus the Pentagon’s efforts to organize, train and equip the armed forces against advanced weapons systems that threaten the US military’s unfettered freedom of access and action in the global commons. While officials claim ASB is merely improve service interoperability and could be applied in any number of conflict situations, this article argues that in fact the doctrine represents the Pentagon’s plan for confronting China’s increasingly capable and confident military. 

Full text here.