What I’m reading this month: September 2019 edition

Screenshot at Sep 16 17-32-59

Delayed trains or heavy traffic (papers/journal articles/longer thought pieces)

Patrick Porter, Why Britain doesn’t do grand strategy

This paper from 2010 came up in my Twitter feed recently, and it’s well worth a (re)read. Porter argues that Britain’s lack of ‘grand strategy’ is due in part to not having clear enemies, to ‘delegating’ strategy to the US, to not teaching it at university and to relying too heavily on business strategy approaches. The main problem with this is that they simply don’t deal with organised political violence, the element in statecraft that he says is the ‘fundamental element that makes strategy difficult’. Instead, what we end up with a series of normative manifestos masquerading as strategies, including – in his opinion – the National Security Strategy.

Jack Corbett, The deconsolidation of democracy: is it new and what can be done about it?

Jack is quietly emerging as one of my favourite academics working in the ‘politics of development’ space. In this paper, he provides us a great service by reviewing 5 recent books looking at the possible death of democracy, pulling out what he feels are the compelling arguments as well as the questionable ones. While he believes current evidence suggests that reality falls somewhere in between the ‘it’s all going to be ok’ and ‘it’s a total disaster’ camps, the fact that these 5 books were all published on the same topic at the same time tells us something about the potential decline in the ‘triumphalist narrative’ around democracy’s legitimacy.

Heather’s Lost & Found 

Reijer Hendrikse & Rodrigo Fernandez, Offshore finance: how capital rules the world

Daniel Cramer et al, From promise to delivery: overcoming the strategy problem in the public sector

Sarah Phillips, Making Al-Qa’ida legible: counter-terrorism and the reproduction of terrorism 

Garrett M Graff, The Border Patrol hits a breaking point

Kate Meagher, Taxing times: taxation, divided societies and the informal economy in Northern Nigeria

Fiona Nunan, Topic Guide: Governance of natural resources

 Rebecca Blackwell, Mexico’s vigalantes: violence and displacement – a photo essay


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