Category Archives: Middle East

Extending the Cuts?

After years of market-led oil production, OPEC and a number of non-OPEC states agreed in late 2016 to cap oil production at 1.6 billion barrels a day (b/d) in an attempt to raise prices. In May 2017, the countries agreed to extend the cap through March 2018, and there is talk now of extending the cuts through the rest of 2018. With this possibility, we should take a look at the original cuts and see how they have performed. Continue reading

Armed Groups and Principal-Agent Problems

Principal-agent problems are particularly acute for armed group leaders. Such a problem occurs when a leader must delegate tasks to his subordinates, when those subordinates have different preferences and objectives than the leader, and the leader cannot maintain complete surveillance over the subordinates (Shapiro, 2013). The need to operate under a certain level of secrecy due to the nature of conflict against a more powerful state makes surveillance over subordinates and enforcement of leader preferences even more difficult than in a normal organization. Thus, principal-agent problems’ severity will increase as the group’s need for secrecy increases. Continue reading

US-Russia Relations: An Overview

In order to understand why the US and Russia have seemingly incompatible goals in Syria, we need to understand the broader trends in US-Russian relations since the end of the Cold War. In short, the breakdown in relations is a product of longstanding disagreements over each state’s national security and core interests. Continue reading

American Statebuilding in Japan and Iraq

While American-occupied Japan and Iraq have distinct differences, the success of statebuilding in Japan and failure in Iraq can be understood using the same international relations (IR) theories. Two realist theories, the security dilemma and the balance of power, alongside the liberal selectorate theory can explain why the US effort in Japan succeeded yet failed in Iraq. Continue reading

Insurgent Theory Across the World

To properly analyze how the last decades’ insurgencies mobilize and fight against a state, we should look to insurgent theorist, instead of looking for answers through counterinsurgency (COIN). Insurgent theorists, who also refer to themselves as guerrillas, have explained what tactics they use to mobilize support and fight against a hostile power. By examining these theories on their own, we can arrive at better solutions to counter insurgencies. Continue reading