2015-16 Mershon Center Speakers and Conferences

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    Everywhere, Everyday: Democratizing Information about our Changing Planet
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2015-10-08) Mascaro, Joe
    Planet Labs operates the largest fleet of earth-imaging satellites. As of June 2015, it had launched 87 satellites successfully and is operating in excess of two dozen spacecraft. By the end of 2015, the company will have the capacity to collect high-resolution imagery (3-5m per pixel) of the entire planet, captured on a very frequent basis, with global daily revisits possible near the middle of 2016.The company will provide access to its data set via web-based platforms, to ensure that the data is accessible and actionable to those who need it. Following the release of an API, Planet Labs will launch tools to assist developers, individuals, universities, and other organizations index, interpret, and consume data connected to the changing conditions of any location on the globe. Planet Labs will support missions such as monitoring large-scale vegetation changes, climate change adaptation, sea level rise, forest loss and gain, water and food scarcity, and humanitarian efforts such as disaster relief.
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    The Evolution of Transboundary Water Politics in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-04-21) Kibaroglu, Aysegul
    The program will begin with a public address and keynote lecture by Aysegul Kibaroglu, world expert on Turkish water policy issues and the history of cooperation across political boundaries in the Euphrates-Tigris region. The purpose of this two-day workshop is to uncover the intersections between technical and traditional knowledge bases, and address the misunderstanding that arise due to conflicting epistemic perspectives. The objective of the workshop is to uncover cases in which local wisdom has the potential to aid proper implementation of technical solutions, as well as the pitfalls that should be avoided. Current issues, such as the impending evacuation around the Tigris due to issues with the Mosul dam, make this workshop particularly salient.
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    A Conversation on Academic Freedom in Turkey
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-03-25) Demirer, Yucel
    This event will provide the occasion to share information on the Turkish situation and explore both the local roots and the international context of the assault on academic freedom (with comparisons to the recent crackdown on academics in Egypt, India, and elsewhere). Ohio State alumnus Yücel Demirer, one of the professors affected, will share his experience, and students and faculty at Ohio State will discuss the implications of the situation for their own careers and research. We will also consider the practical challenges of international solidarity in such situations.
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    The Nature of War: American Environments and World War II
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-02-26) Breyfogle, Nicholas
    This workshop and the resulting edited volume will examine American involvement in World War II through an environmental lens, focusing on how the war reshaped American landscapes, institutions, and environmental thinking, and how wartime developments helped shape the contours of postwar American environments and environmental thinking. It will also explore the ways in which American environmental endowments structured and delimited the U.S. war effort — that is, how nature and natural resources (quantities, types, locations, accessibility, etc.) set the parameters for what is possible in total war and both directly and indirectly determine tactics and strategies. In exploring the case of World War II, the workshop will delve into broad questions of the relationship among environment, war, and security, both in the United States and globally.
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    Better than the Truth: Extra-factual Sources of Threat Conception and Proliferation
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-02-25) Greenhill, Kelly
    When uncertainty is high, and verifiable facts are inconvenient or few, how do people learn about what to fear and how to respond the threats they have identified? Ironically, verifiable, fact-based data is often particularly difficult to acquire when actors need it most: in periods of significant ambiguity and heightened threat, such as in the midst of wars, economic crises, and periods of domestic unrest. Under such circumstances, people are often left to glean what knowledge they can from an array of information sources of woollier provenance — such as rumors, conspiracy theories, myths, propaganda, and entertainment media. Drawing upon findings from an array of original public opinion surveys, survey-based experiments, and cross-national case studies, Greenhill will illustrate the sometimes surprisingly influential role that such sources of "extra-factual" information (EFI) can play in both the conception of national security threats and the formulation and implementation of government responses to such threats. Both micro-foundations of belief in these sources of EFI, and the macro-level consequences if and when such ideas become widely disseminated and adopted, will be explored.
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    Realizing Sustainability
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-01-28) COMPAS
    The fall COMPAS conference explored the value trade-offs that are involved in pursuing competing visions of a sustainable future. The spring COMPAS conference takes a turn toward the practical: the challenge of realizing sustainability. Who bears responsibility for this challenge and how can we motivate the necessary shifts in public policy and personal behavior? If the Paris meetings represent a moment, as President Obama has stated, when "nations embrace their responsibility to assure a world worthy of our children," what policy implications follow from that change in moral viewpoint? The conference will bring together an interdisciplinary group of experts from communications, decision sciences, economics, law, philosophy, and political science, among other fields, to address these issues.
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    Responsibility, Morality, and the Costs of War: PTSD, Moral Injury and Beyond
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2015-11-12) McClatchey, Kevin; Parrott, Janet
    The Responsibility, Morality, and the Costs of War symposium blends performing and visual arts with leading research to explore the costs of war. Renowned Czech designer Simona Rybáková leads the creation of a performance/installation and delivers the Ohio State Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute lecture. Assistant Professor Kevin McClatchy performs his new solo play, Scrap Heap, about a Special Forces veteran with PTSD.
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    The Political Economy of Financial Reform: de Jure Liberalization vs. de Facto Implementation
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-04-12) Mansfield, Edward
    Over the past 20 years, social scientists have displayed growing interest in the political economy of financial reform. Virtually all of these studies have focused on explaining policy changes resulting in the liberalization of the financial sector without addressing the extent to which the adopted financial reforms have actually been implemented. In this presentation, I will assess the factors contributing to both de jure financial reform and the implementation of such liberalization. We find that de jure reform tends to be conducted by poorer countries and participants in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Standby Arrangement and its Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF). We also find that the political economy of de jure reforms that are not implemented differs substantially from the political economy of de facto reforms that are implemented. Implementation is inhibited by economic crises, a democratic regime type, an advanced industrial economy, a large financial sector, and participation in the IMF’s PRGF. Implementation is promoted by economic recessions and involvement in an IMF Standby Arrangement. Our findings therefore confirm the importance of societal interests, political institutions, domestic economic conditions, and international institutions, each of which has been linked to financial reform in prior research. But these results break new ground by revealing important differences in how these factors influence policy reforms and the implementation of such reforms.
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    Trendsetters and Social Change
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-02-19) Bicchieri, Cristina
    Trendsetters are the "first movers" in social change. To study the dynamics of change, we need to study the interplay between trendsetters' actions and individual thresholds. It is this interplay that explains why change may or may not occur.
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    Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence and the Rules that Run the World
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-02-01) Wenar, Leif
    Natural resources empower the world's most coercive men. Autocrats like Putin and the Saudis spend oil money on weapons and repression. ISIS and Congo's militias spend resource money on atrocities and ammunition. For decades resource-fueled authoritarians and extremists have forced endless crises on the West -- and the ultimate source of their resource money is us, paying at the gas station and the mall. By our own deepest principles, more than half of the world's traded oil is stolen. But now the West can lead a peaceful global revolution by finally ending its dependence on authoritarian oil, conflict minerals and other stolen resources. Upgrading world trade will make us more secure at home, more trusted abroad, and better able to solve urgent problems like climate change. Citizens, consumers and leaders can act today to dissolve tomorrow's crises -- and how we can together create a more united human future.
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    Hearts, Minds, Voices: Cold War Public Diplomacy and the Formation of the 'Third World’
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-02-29) Parker, Jason
    During the first half of the Cold War, the superpowers endeavored mightily to “win hearts and minds” abroad through what came to be called public diplomacy. Many of the target audiences were on the Cold War front-lines in Europe. However, other, larger ones resided in areas outside Europe then in the throes of decolonization. Among the latter, for all the blood and drama of war, intervention, crisis, and revolution, the vast majority experienced the Cold War as public diplomacy; as, essentially, a media war for their allegiance rather than as a violent war for their lives. In these areas, superpower public diplomacy encountered a set of challenges around the issues of race, empire, poverty, and decolonization– all of which were in volatile flux, as they intersected with the dynamics of the Cold War, and with anti-imperialist currents long coursing. The challenge to U.S. public diplomacy was acute. At a time when the image of the United States abroad was inseparable from Jim Crow and from Washington’s European-imperial alliances, the cresting of these issues put U.S. outreach unavoidably on the defensive. Yet the greater consequence of these Cold War campaigns was not for U.S. foreign policy, but rather for postwar international history– when the non-European world responded to this media war by joining it. Newly independent voices in India, Egypt, Ghana, and elsewhere launched public-diplomacy campaigns of their own, making for a crowded field by the 1960s. In addition to offering a roundabout validation of the strategic importance of public diplomacy, this proliferation of voices articulated a different vision of the postwar world. Reappropriating the geopolitical and intellectual space left between the poles of the superpower conflict, this global conversation formulated what Vijay Prashad calls the Third World project, around a nucleus of nonalignment, post-imperial economic development, and anti-colonial racial solidarity. The global-South response to the injection of the Cold War into their environs thereby helped to coalesce the “Third World” as a transnational imagined community on the postwar global landscape.
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    Reactors, Russia-Centrism, and U.S. Relations with Eastern Europe
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-04-05) Brooks, Robin
    This lecture will discuss how, by prioritizing competition with Russia over bilateral relations with Eastern European countries, the United States damaged both its own national interests and those of its Eastern European partners. It engages the academic and policy debates over the desirability of resurrecting (or maintaining) the Cold War system of "spheres of interest" to preserve stability and contain potential expansion by one or the other side. It argues that reliance on "spheres of interest" may undermine, rather than support, U.S. national interests.The main case study for the discussion is U.S. support for European energy security and independence. Specifically, Brooks examines advocacy on behalf of Westinghouse's bid to build nuclear power plants in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, and lobbying to prevent construction of Russia's South Stream gas pipeline. Brooks will argue that these activities were not able to help achieve energy security or independence for the countries in question or for Europe, largely because they were based precisely on competition with Russia, rather than on U.S. or host country interests.
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    A Little More Dictatorship: Balancing Anti-communism and Human Rights in South Korea
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2015-10-20) Snyder, Sarah
    Sarah Snyder will explore the extent to which American concerns about human rights violations in South Korea influenced U.S. policy toward that country. Not unusually for the era and the region, the U.S. relied on authoritarian leaders to preserve stability in South Korea. Despite congressional pressure that increased steadily into the 1970s, successive administrations did not press their ally to improve its human rights practices.U.S. officials intervened only in extreme instances, such as in March 1963 when Park Chung Hee announced an extension of military rule for two more years and in August 1973 when they believed Kim Dae Jung, a dissident South Korean politician who had been kidnapped in Tokyo, would be murdered. Within the United States, there was minimal nongovernmental attention to human rights abuses in South Korea, meaning that pressure to shift U.S. policy came largely from members of Congress and lower level diplomats.Throughout the years, the United States remained largely reticent about human rights abuses in South Korea, content with a politically stable, anticommunist ally and distracted by more pressing problems such as the war in Vietnam. Top U.S. leaders only directed their attention at Park's regression when the instability it produced seemed to threaten U.S. interests in the region. Debate over U.S.-South Korean relations also highlight how salient Cold War concerns remained throughout the long 1960s even as the United States ostensibly sought detente with the Soviet Union and rapprochement with the Chinese.
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    The Challenges of Armed Group Organization in Socially Fragmented Environments
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-02-04) Reno, William
    This research explains variations in how armed groups organize their relations with surrounding communities in the context of conflict in collapsed states. The collapse of central state authority tends to generate multiple armed groups that reflect and further promote social fragmentation. The norm is a situation of multisided competition, of symmetrical irregular warfare akin to violent competition among gangs. This environment creates obstacles to the formation of socially encompassing and mobilizing armed groups. Yet a few armed groups that appear in this context are able to assert their own guiding narratives and organizational codes. The argument is that variations in armed group autonomy to organize its own relations with communities in conditions of state collapse is related to the nature of pre-conflict relationships between community clandestine commercial activities and state regimes, and the pre-conflict relationships of armed group leaders to regime strategies of social control. This presentation draws from research in Iraq and Somalia and broader comparisons with contemporary and historical conflicts.
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    Strategies of Nuclear Proliferation: How States Learned to Love Getting the Bomb
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-03-03) Narang, Vipin
    How do states pursue nuclear weapons? The literature on nuclear proliferation has focused on the question of why states might pursue nuclear weapons, while more recent work examines how efficiently states achieve their nuclear ambitions. Yet the question of how states think about pursuing nuclear weapons, or their strategies of proliferation, has been ignored. This paper explores the strategies of proliferation available to states — hedging, sprinting, sheltered pursuit, and hiding — and develops a theory for which strategies are likely to be chosen at a given time by a given state. I present evidence and codings on the universe of nuclear pursuers suggesting that disaggregating nuclear acquisition strategies is analytically useful. Although a definitive test of the theory is beyond the scope of this paper, I provide evidence from the Indian case that establishes the plausibility of the theory. I conclude with implications for nonproliferation objectives and policies, suggesting why different strategies of proliferation matters to international security.
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    Migrant Waves: Pre-Analysis Plan for a Survey of Syrian Refugees
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-02-22) Peters, Margaret
    What explains surges in migration? Dominant theories emphasize conditions of violence or poverty in sending countries. However, these factors alone are unable to explain sudden migration waves. Sharp spikes in migration, like the current refugee crisis in Europe or last summer’s flow of Central American children across the U.S. border, contrast with often long-standing problems of violence and poverty. Moreover, migrants from nonviolent regions are attracted to join these flows when violence spikes elsewhere. This project seeks to advance our understanding of migration by explaining the onset of waves, as well as the informational or social dynamics that magnify and perpetuate a migration wave once it emerges, through a new survey of Syrian refugees and other migrants in Jordan, Turkey, and Greece.
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    Building Stronger Communities: Peace, Justice and Security
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-06-08) International Conference on Conflict Resolution in Education
    The Ohio State University (OSU) and the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) are partnering with schools, colleges, universities, and governmental and non- governmental organizations around the globe to host the International Conference on Conflict Resolution Education (CRE) June 8 – 13, 2016. The 2016 conference builds upon prior conferences between 2004 - 2013 in Ohio, and 2014 - 2015 in Virginia, which brought together government representatives from among the 50 states and around the globe and their non-governmental organization partners. The annual audience includes college/university educators and students, K-12 educators, prevention specialists, and state, local, national and international policy makers. The International Conference on CRE is an opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary collaboration and research. Presentations will focus on innovations in the fields that are making broad impacts in local, state, national, and international communities. Participants exchange best practices, evaluation methodology, creation of policy implementation structures, consideration of obstacles to success, and new and innovative use of training, resources and technology. Conference participants are drawn from the local, national and international community.
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    Why China Established the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-03-24) Chow, Daniel
    On January 16, 2016, China officially opened the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for business, representing what might be a seismic shift in economic power from the United States to China and the culmination of what had been a diplomatic disaster for the United States. The AIIB creates a challenge to the U.S. dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), two venerable international financial institutions created at the end of the Second World War. The battle over the AIIB represents a challenge by China to the leading role of the United States in writing the rules for international trade. Loans by the AIIB will likely have fewer conditions and will promote the policies of the Chinese Communist Party. While the United States has been the underwriter of the world financial system for at least the past seven decades, the rise of the AIIB, could be the first indication that China will succeed in its quest to displace the United States as the final arbiter of the rules of international trade in the twenty first century.
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    The Politics of Uncertainty: What Theory and History Teach Us about the Rise of China
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2015-11-18) Edelstein, David
    While scholars and policy makers alike have paid much attention to the implications of the rise of China, less attention has been paid to what past cases of rising great powers might lead us to expect in the case of China. Drawing from past cases of rising powers, including the rise of Bismarck's Germany and the United States, Edelstein presents an argument that explains both how Sino-American relations have gotten where they are today and how they are likely to evolve in the future. In particular, the argument emphasizes the role that uncertainty about long-term Chinese intentions has played in fostering, not undermining, cooperation between the United States and China and how it is the resolution of that uncertainty, not developments in Chinese capabilities, that is likely to be crucial to the future of Sino-American relations.
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    The Water and Sanitation Crisis in Healthcare Facilities in Low-Income Countries: Status, Consequences and Challenges
    (Ohio State University. Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 2016-04-19) Moe, Christine
    This presentation will include an overview of the status of WASH conditions in HCF globally, results from our recent assessments of WASH in HCFs in Honduras, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda and Cambodia; evidence on the consequences of poor WASH in HCFs, and a discussion about the unique challenges to providing and maintaining WASH infrastructure in HCF settings.