A Semester in Review: The Microcosm of Iraqi Kurdistan

The semester ended and I sat pondering what I had learned over the past sixteen weeks. Do I know more about international politics in the Middle East than when I started? If so, what did I learn and how can I best summarize my new knowledge? These questions were running through my mind when I came across this analysis about Iraqi Kurdish relations with Iran and Turkey. The pieces suddenly came together when I realized that Iraqi Kurdistan is a good microcosm for my semester. The four trends which I found to be most significant in my study of international politics of the Middle East are all present within Iraqi Kurdistan: the lingering effects of colonialism; the struggle between politics, or realism, and identity, or constructivism; the impact of oil; and the involvement of outside actors. Continue reading

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