Do Individuals Matter in International Relations?

Do individuals matter in international relations? What a loaded question, right? Immediately, one is compelled to say yes, of course they do. What about the standard list of international bad guys and good guys? Saddam, Khomeini, and Hitler or Truman, Churchill, and Bush (ok, I’ll that last one for you to decide). However, there is a true argument hidden in this question. To extract it we must first qualify the question and then look at some examples. Continue reading


Iraqis First, Christians Second

The leader of the Iraqi parliament’s Christian Rafidain bloc, Yonadim Kana, refused the formation of special sectarian security force units to protect Iraq’s minorities. Al-Monitor reported that Kana announced his dissent and revealed the creation of a special

Yonadim Kana, leader of Iraq’s Christian Rafidain Bloc. (

committee formed to draft a law that would guarantee administrative and cultural rights for minorities. Continue reading

Maliki’s Weapons Spree Continues

Reuters reported this morning that Iraq has signed a deal to purchase 24 combat and training jets worth $1 billion from the Czech Republic. Interestingly, Maliki’s spokesman in Baghdad stated that four of the jets will come free of cost and be delivered within 7 months.

This announcement comes on the heels of a $4.2 billion deal for jets, helicopters, radar, and anti-aircraft missiles from Russia. U.S. hesitancy to deliver 36 F-16s worth $12 billion over Israeli security concerns pushed Maliki back to Iraq’s historic Soviet block suppliers.

As I speculated in my last post, I think the Czech deal reflects Maliki’s immediate need for jets to enforce his recent expulsion of Turkish troops from Iraq’s northern Kurdish region. This explains the importance of having four jets delivered on such a short time table.

The Czech built L-159 Advanced Light Combat Aircraft (

Maliki’s Menage-a-Trois

It has not been an easy month for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Domestically, the Basra Provincial Council announced a lawsuit against the national Ministry of Oil and the central government in Baghdad is still locked in arguments with the Kurdistan

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. (

Regional Government (KRG) over the issuance of exploration permits and oil payments. More significantly, the worsening crisis in Syria, continuing talks over an attack on Iran’s nuclear program, and Turkish attacks on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq are testing Maliki’s foreign policy and domestic sovereignty credentials. This week, facing a menage-a-trois of American, Iranian, and Turkish interests in Iraq, Maliki decided to send some powerful messages. Continue reading

The West’s Miscalculated Risk of Iran’s Nuclear Ambition

In light of this week’s readings on the proliferation of weapons in the Middle East and Iran’s nuclear program, I am posting an opinion piece I wrote in December of 2011. Many of the points I raised were mentioned in this weeks readings and I still stand behind my thoughts. Please comment below and continue the discussion. Continue reading


I am guilty, before this week’s assignment I have never given much thought to the water I consume. Contrary to my assumptions before this task, it turns out I am not a disgusting water slob.  According to the chart below, my average daily water use falls 279 gallons below the U.S. national average. As it turns out I purchase less stuff, clothes, electronics, and household furnishings than the average American. Continue reading

Iraqi Clubs Get Busted

Club goers in Baghdad, 2009. (

September was a sad month for the Iraqi party scene. A recent report from al-Monitor details the forced closing of a number of night clubs in Iraq’s capital city of Baghdad. The report cites the official reasons for the closures to be complaints from local citizens complaining of “drunken people near their homes, stores, and markets”. Security officials also claim that night clubs “promote prostitution and host suspects”. Sound like any clubs you know? Continue reading