TNSR: Who We Are, What We Do, and Why You Should Care

TNSR: Who We Are, What We Do, and Why You Should Care

The Texas National Security Review launches today. What do you need to know about this ambitious project aimed at changing the way we generate policy-relevant and policy-accessible knowledge about the world's toughest challenges?

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                    [post_content] => What role do academic journals play in fostering and disseminating new knowledge and understanding of national and international security, statecraft, and strategy? At the Texas National Security Review, we ask ourselves this question a lot. There are so many good outlets generating terrific work. How can we best contribute?

This issue of the journal demonstrates at least three ways we believe we can make a difference.

First, academic outlets should provide a platform for people in various points in their career. Melvyn Leffler is the dean of Cold War studies, whose work has shaped how we understand international relations after World War II. Senior scholars can offer broad-gauged, synthetic approaches to important questions, as Leffler does here in his reflections on Ronald Reagan and the Cold War. This pairs well with the work of emerging scholars like Adam Liff, who brings new eyes and penetrating insight to the issues surrounding national security reform in Shinzo Abe’s Japan. Our hope is to balance the vigor of fresh insights with the wisdom gained from experience, placing rising stars together with established voices.

The second way our journal can be helpful is by bringing divergent intellectual communities together into conversation. In this issue, we are publishing historians, strategists, policymakers, and political scientists of various stripes. Crossing disciplines and bridging gaps is increasingly difficult, but well worth striving for to improve the vibrancy and impact of debates on international affairs. For example, Theo Farrell’s impressive exploration of the sources of the Taliban’s success would not have been possible without his many years of direct engagement with Western military officers, Afghan officials, and even Taliban leaders. His work cannot easily be defined as belonging to one discipline or another. In a related, but different vein, the important work of dialogue and cross-fertilization between various communities is highlighted in Julie Smith’s description of her efforts to engage audiences about America’s role in the world beyond the usual suspects in the beltway and ivory tower.

The third contribution is temporal. The articles in this issue blend rigorous exploration of the past as well as contemporary challenges with an eye to understanding the future. The best offer insight on all three: Whether it is the future of statecraft and world order, as laid out by Michael J. Mazarr and Michael Kofman, the fascinating challenges and opportunities of artificial intelligence presented in Michael Horowitz’s sharp analysis, Kori Schake’s insights into the possibility of a Cold War with China, or Patrick McEachern’s cautions on the promises and perils of negotiations with North Korea, this issue reminds us that the future is best viewed through a comprehensive and sophisticated understanding of what is happening right now and what has come before.

We won’t always achieve the right balance, and as a journal that includes peer-reviewed contributions, our content is shaped by what people send us and how our referees respond. We are committed, however, to working diligently to expand the range and diversity of voices and ideas contributing to our understanding of strategy and statecraft. To accomplish this mission, we need your help. If you haven’t already, please consider submitting your best work to the Texas National Security Review.

 

Francis J. Gavin is the Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Texas National Security Review. He is the Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and the inaugural director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University. His writings include Gold, Dollars, and Power: The Politics of International Monetary Relations, 1958-1971 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004) and Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America’s Atomic Age (Cornell University Press, 2012).

Image: Tim1965

ISSN (Print): 2576-1021
ISSN(Online): 2576-1153
                    [post_title] => Introducing TNSR’s Third Issue: From Superpower to Insurgent
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                    [post_content] => The academic study of strategy and statecraft dwells awkwardly in the space between art and science. For decades, if not centuries, analysts have tried to develop general principles about the important activities that surround war and diplomacy, with the hope that we might better anticipate the future and avoid repeating the disasters of the past. As the excellent articles in our second issue of the Texas National Security Review reveal, this is an extraordinarily daunting task. Global policy is made in the face of radical uncertainty about the future, while confronting a multitude of often inscrutable actors who are driven by complex, deeply intertwined, and often indecipherable factors.

As the world’s leading scholar on the subject, Lawrence Freedman reminds us that the very meaning of the term strategy has changed over time. The role of politics and emerging technologies — crucial topics we now take for granted — were virtually absent from strategic conversations during the 18th and 19th century in Great Britain. Hal Brands reveals this challenge through the lens of more recent history, reconstructing the development and role of the George H.W. Bush administration’s controversial Defense Policy Guidance. Facing a world transformed by the end of the Cold War and the decline of the Soviet Union, U.S. strategists and statesmen balanced the euphoria surrounding emerging American unipolarity with fear and worry about a global order in flux. The legacy of this document remains deeply contested, but thanks to Brands’ scholarship, is now far better understood.

Few questions vex contemporary international relations more than nuclear proliferation, and in particular, the nuclear weapons program of North Korea. Nicholas Miller and Vipin Narang confess that, despite an extraordinary renaissance in nuclear studies in recent years, our best theories did a less than stellar job of predicting the speed and breadth of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Their article is an admirable exercise in humility and stock-taking, all too rare amongst academics, but crucial if we are to do better.

Of course, even when researchers and analysts do get hard questions right, they often don’t get the credit they deserve. Marc Trachtenberg’s revealing study demonstrates that the conventional wisdom that the scholarly and intelligence worlds did not recognize the deep, long-term structural flaws in the Soviet economy, is flat out wrong. In fact, it was an exemplary case of the experts getting it right — a history policymakers and the public largely missed.

As always, the Texas National Security Review is proud to pair original scholarship in international affairs with the thoughts of policymakers. Rep. Mike Gallagher advocates for the renewed importance of seapower as a critical tool of American strategy and statecraft, while Michael Singh recounts the George W. administration’s efforts to confront Iran’s nuclear program in the context of an ever-shifting global order. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s speech laying out United States interests and policies in Latin America is also presented here.

We hope you enjoy and learn from these articles. We also urge you to consider writing for us. While the first two editions have included familiar, more established names, we are eager to hear new voices and fresh scholarly perspectives on the enduring questions of war, peace, strategy, and statecraft.

Francis J. Gavin is the Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Texas National Security Review. He is the Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and the inaugural director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University. His writings include Gold, Dollars, and Power: The Politics of International Monetary Relations, 1958-1971 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004) and Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America’s Atomic Age (Cornell University Press, 2012).  

ISSN (Print): 2576-1021
ISSN(Online): 2576-1153

Image: U.S. State Department
                    [post_title] => Introducing TNSR's Second Issue: The Guesswork of Statecraft
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                    [post_content] => Today, we launch a new journal and I am honored to serve as the chair of its editorial board. The goal of the Texas National Security Review (TNSR) is to become the intellectual home to a growing global, interdisciplinary network of scholars working on questions of foreign policy, international relations, and national and international security. With generous and deliberate support from the University of Texas, this journal seeks the best, most innovative scholarship that transcends disciplines and speaks to a wider world. Over time, we hope TNSR will become the go to source for scholars, decision-makers, military and government practitioners, and concerned citizens from around the world concerned about questions of war and peace.

This journal is animated by four core principles:
  1. Questions of war and peace are of fundamental importance.
International conflict, competition, and cooperation shape the world that we live in. War has been both a great scourge on humanity as well as a driver of historical change, for both ill and good. The profound consequences of war unfold along a wide spectrum, from heart-wrenching individual tragedies to the very structure and shape of the modern state and the global economy. The study of war and peace goes far beyond assessing the tactics of the battlefield or understanding the diplomacy between capitals: It would be impossible, for example, to comprehend a variety of crucial issues, from modern medicine and public health, technology, finance, accounting, taxation, literacy, mass education, race and gender relations — to say nothing of how humans move about, what they eat and wear, and how they communicate with each other — without reference to war. Most national cultures, including literature, music, visual art, and even language, are suffused with reference to or inspiration from conflict. War and peace challenge and shape our core beliefs, our ethics, and our sense of identity. Still, despite great intellectual effort, we know far less about the causes, conduct, and consequences of war and peace than we’d like. Over time, the questions surrounding conflict and cooperation have become even more complicated and consequential. Civil war, clashes driven by scarcity and environmental change, irregular conflict, information attacks, and terrorism have joined great power competition as pressing concerns. New technologies and new domains alter how and where conflict takes place. The power of norms, culture, and institutions to shape outcomes is recognized if not fully understood. The shadow of nuclear apocalypse hovers over international politics, surpassed only by the fear of some yet unknown pathogen-wreaking havoc. TNSR recognizes and appreciates that the scope of study surrounding war and peace is extraordinarily wide-ranging, the questions endless, and the answers of great interest and consequence to the world beyond the ivory tower.
  1. Scholarship on these questions should strive to be rigorous, creative, and cumulative.
What are the best ways to examine and explore crucial questions surrounding war and peace? To succeed, our scholarship must be held to the highest standards of rigor and excellence. TNSR seeks to go far beyond the world of punditry and to encourage work that generates powerful and consequential questions, employs clear and convincing research designs, and produces innovative insights. TNSR also recognizes the benefits of divergent communities of scholars, from different intellectual backgrounds and traditions, engaging in rigorous debate and cross-fertilizing ideas. Furthermore, style matters. It is hard for important ideas to be influential if few people read or understand the writing. We also recognize that achieving these goals is not easy. There are different views of what constitutes rigor, impact, style, and creativity in scholarship. Even cumulating knowledge is hard. Despite over a century of effort and scores of books, scholars still cannot agree on what caused World War I. Even when consensus on such matters is elusive, however, TNSR believes rigorous debate and discussion has great merit and makes everyone smarter. TNSR is agnostic as to method and discipline, as long as the tools used to answer the question are appropriate and employed rigorously and honestly. We are not, however, interested in methodological prowess or in theory generation for the sake of itself. Archival work in scores of government repositories is beside the point if the issue examined is unimportant or if the findings are buried in jargon. Certain questions lend themselves more clearly to certain approaches. Quantitative analysis may be crucial to examine international financial flows. On questions surrounding nuclear weapons, where the Ns we truly care about are 9, 2, and 0, regressions for their own sake may hold less appeal. In other words, methods and research design are tools to identify important questions and to try to answer them the best one can. They should not be ends in themselves. Our authors will have succeeded when their arguments and evidence engage and enlighten those who do not share their methodological and disciplinary preferences and backgrounds. In the end, we will not be the final arbiters of what constitutes great scholarship: over time, our readers and the wider world will determine TNSR’s value. A richer, deeper understanding of important questions surrounding war and peace will be our measure of success.
  1. Our work should confront big questions of great concern to a larger public and be written in a way that is accessible to them.
In the pages of our sister publication, War on the Rocks, many voices from the national and international security communities have talked about ways for scholars and thinkers to engage different audiences and communities, to confront questions of great interest and consequence in ways that reach and influence those beyond the ivory tower. There can be an unfortunate tendency in academic scholarship to ask small-bore questions and to write for “inside baseball” audiences (see principle 4). TNSR seeks scholarship on war and peace that go beyond these limits. We will also publish, in a separate section, insights and provocations from policymakers, military leaders, and others outside of the academic bubble. That being said, we are not unaware of the potential pitfalls of a devotion to policy relevance. It is not the role of scholars to curry favor with governments or important people or institutions or to advise them on day-to-day decisions. Many of the most important issues surrounding war and peace have little to do with daily grind policy, such as shifting demographic patterns, slow developing but critical shifts in national and international economic circumstances, and the impact of new technologies. Great scholarship can provide longer temporal and chronological reaches, more global and comparative national approaches, and broader topical horizons. We do not seek to court historians or scholars using these pages to get a job on Capitol Hill or in this or the next administration. Good work will challenge deeply held beliefs and assumptions. The best scholarship is often unpopular to those in power and makes people and institutions uncomfortable. TNSR does believe, however, that scholarship should be public-minded, policy-accessible, and engage issues and audiences beyond universities. War and peace are too important to be discussed and debated in a manner that appeals only to the professorate.
  1. The current institutional structure for understanding issues of war and peace is not performing as well as it should.
Few would contest the importance of rigorous, accessible, relevant, and innovative scholarship on questions of war and peace. Why then do we need a new journal? TNSR is motivated both by a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge: It is our belief that the way universities allocate resources, incentives, and support to teaching and producing scholarship on issues of conflict, competition, and cooperation is sub-optimal. To understand why, reflect upon the role that disciplines play in universities, the function that journals play within disciplines, and how these factors influence the incentive structure for scholarship. Consider the two disciplines that have, in the past, been seen as responsible for studying and teaching about war and peace: history and political science. The story is discouraging. Academic history departments have all but abandoned serious scholarship on the causes, course, and consequences of war. If you doubt this, take some time to look at the most “prestigious” academic history departments — say, the top 15 in the United States — and count how many professors are working on what one might consider issues of international conflict, competition, and cooperation. Even if you were to take the broadest definition — perhaps a scholar whose work focused on “sports tourism in the 1920s” — the numbers would be small compared to other subjects, with many large departments having no tenured faculty working on these issues. Examine the handful of professors who do work on these issues in these departments, then ask — how many are under the age of 60? Are you confident their university will replace them with a scholar working on similar issues when they retire? Next, make a list of the scholars you think are doing the best historical work on war and peace. Are they in departments of history in major research universities? Or are they employed by schools of public policy, centers for international affairs, and even political science departments? The discipline of political science has done far better, especially the sub-fields of international relations and comparative politics, where talented scholars of all ages fill departments and teach interesting courses. The narrow concerns of the discipline, however, often burden this scholarship. An obsession with methods and theory for their own sake, inaccessibility and jargon-laden prose, efforts to mimic economics and physics, and other shortcomings too often plague political science scholarship. Those outside the discipline might wonder if the overall contribution made by political science to general understanding of issues of war and peace has been relatively modest, given the amount of human capital invested. Not all observers will agree with these assessments, and we encourage you to prove us wrong, either in the pages of TNSR or more established disciplinary outlets. To see where you stand, perform the following task: Look over the articles published by the intellectual gate-keepers — the leading disciplinary journals in both history and political science — over the past few years. If you find their offerings to consistently provide rigorous, engaging, compelling, accessible insights into important questions of war and peace, and leave you saying “more of this please,” then TNSR may not be for you. If you think we can and should do better as a community, we welcome your help, guidance, and submissions. This brings me to the opportunity: we hope TNSR will become the outlet for those who want to see their disciplines do better on principles 1 through 3. But we passionately believe questions of war and peace should engage disciplines and methods beyond history and political science. Economics, anthropology, psychology, law, public health — the list of disciplines whose insights bear on conflict, competition, and cooperation is long. Scholars from any discipline who share these principles should feel welcome in the pages of TNSR. In fact, one might imagine these principles animating a new way of organizing research, teaching, and public outreach in higher education around questions of war and peace, a field perhaps devoted to international history, strategy, and statecraft. One step at a time, however…. We recognize that what we propose will be difficult. We expect to make many mistakes along the way. We seek your advice, your guidance, your participation. Most of all, we count on your support for the mission to generate and disseminate innovative, rigorous, accessible, and influential scholarship on the critical issues around war and peace.   Francis J. Gavin is the Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Texas National Security Review.  He is the Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and the inaugural director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University. His writings include Gold, Dollars, and Power: The Politics of International Monetary Relations, 1958-1971 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004) and Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America’s Atomic Age (Cornell University Press, 2012).   ISSN (Print): 2576-1021 ISSN(Online): 2576-1153 Image: Wikimedia Commons [post_title] => TNSR: Who We Are, What We Do, and Why You Should Care [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => tnsr-who-we-are-what-we-do-and-why-you-should-care [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-10-02 13:22:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-10-02 17:22:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=180 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => The Texas National Security Review launches today. What do you need to know about this ambitious project aimed at changing the way we generate policy-relevant and policy-accessible knowledge about the world's toughest challenges? [pubinfo] => [issue] => Vol 1, Iss 1 [quotes] => [style] => framing [type] => Framing [style_label] => The Foundation [download] => Array ( [title] => PDF Download [file] => 463 ) [authors] => Array ( [0] => 49 ) [endnotes] => Array ( [title] => Endnotes [endnotes] => ) [contents] => Array ( [title] => [contents] => ) ) ) [post_count] => 3 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 631 [post_author] => 49 [post_date] => 2018-05-03 12:38:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2018-05-03 16:38:25 [post_content] => What role do academic journals play in fostering and disseminating new knowledge and understanding of national and international security, statecraft, and strategy? At the Texas National Security Review, we ask ourselves this question a lot. There are so many good outlets generating terrific work. How can we best contribute? This issue of the journal demonstrates at least three ways we believe we can make a difference. First, academic outlets should provide a platform for people in various points in their career. Melvyn Leffler is the dean of Cold War studies, whose work has shaped how we understand international relations after World War II. Senior scholars can offer broad-gauged, synthetic approaches to important questions, as Leffler does here in his reflections on Ronald Reagan and the Cold War. This pairs well with the work of emerging scholars like Adam Liff, who brings new eyes and penetrating insight to the issues surrounding national security reform in Shinzo Abe’s Japan. Our hope is to balance the vigor of fresh insights with the wisdom gained from experience, placing rising stars together with established voices. The second way our journal can be helpful is by bringing divergent intellectual communities together into conversation. In this issue, we are publishing historians, strategists, policymakers, and political scientists of various stripes. Crossing disciplines and bridging gaps is increasingly difficult, but well worth striving for to improve the vibrancy and impact of debates on international affairs. For example, Theo Farrell’s impressive exploration of the sources of the Taliban’s success would not have been possible without his many years of direct engagement with Western military officers, Afghan officials, and even Taliban leaders. His work cannot easily be defined as belonging to one discipline or another. In a related, but different vein, the important work of dialogue and cross-fertilization between various communities is highlighted in Julie Smith’s description of her efforts to engage audiences about America’s role in the world beyond the usual suspects in the beltway and ivory tower. The third contribution is temporal. The articles in this issue blend rigorous exploration of the past as well as contemporary challenges with an eye to understanding the future. The best offer insight on all three: Whether it is the future of statecraft and world order, as laid out by Michael J. Mazarr and Michael Kofman, the fascinating challenges and opportunities of artificial intelligence presented in Michael Horowitz’s sharp analysis, Kori Schake’s insights into the possibility of a Cold War with China, or Patrick McEachern’s cautions on the promises and perils of negotiations with North Korea, this issue reminds us that the future is best viewed through a comprehensive and sophisticated understanding of what is happening right now and what has come before. We won’t always achieve the right balance, and as a journal that includes peer-reviewed contributions, our content is shaped by what people send us and how our referees respond. We are committed, however, to working diligently to expand the range and diversity of voices and ideas contributing to our understanding of strategy and statecraft. To accomplish this mission, we need your help. If you haven’t already, please consider submitting your best work to the Texas National Security Review.   Francis J. Gavin is the Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Texas National Security Review. He is the Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and the inaugural director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University. His writings include Gold, Dollars, and Power: The Politics of International Monetary Relations, 1958-1971 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004) and Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America’s Atomic Age (Cornell University Press, 2012). Image: Tim1965 ISSN (Print): 2576-1021 ISSN(Online): 2576-1153 [post_title] => Introducing TNSR’s Third Issue: From Superpower to Insurgent [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => introducing-tnsrs-third-issue-from-superpower-to-insurgency [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2018-10-02 12:00:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-10-02 16:00:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://tnsr.org/?p=631 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw [lead] => The chair of TNSR's editorial board, Francis J. Gavin, introduces our third issue. 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