Daniel W. Drezner

Maybe us IR types have too much influence

Part IV of a continuing series on the relationship between international relations scholars and policymakers (click here, here, and here for prior posts).  William Easterly is not a political scientist, but he’s a pretty good social scientist, so he gets a turn at FP’s Speaker Corner:  I think academic social scientists have had TOO MUCH influence ...

Part IV of a continuing series on the relationship between international relations scholars and policymakers (click here, here, and here for prior posts). 

William Easterly is not a political scientist, but he's a pretty good social scientist, so he gets a turn at FP's Speaker Corner: 

I think academic social scientists have had TOO MUCH influence on one policy area -- military intervention (with sub-branches Spreading Democracy, Peacekeeping, and Fixing Failed States, formerly known as Nation Building). Economists have used shoddy econometrics and shallow analysis to justify such interventions, while political scientists seem to climb on board for reasons that I don't entirely fathom. Military intervention is such a drastic intervention that the burden of proof lies on those who advocate it, and social scientists have done a lousy job bearing that burden -- not surprising since military stuff is so far away from the traditional areas of knowledge of social science. The politicians and generals that wanted to intervene anyway are delighted to get the spurious cover offered by the amateur military analysts from the social sciences.

Part IV of a continuing series on the relationship between international relations scholars and policymakers (click here, here, and here for prior posts). 

William Easterly is not a political scientist, but he’s a pretty good social scientist, so he gets a turn at FP’s Speaker Corner: 

I think academic social scientists have had TOO MUCH influence on one policy area — military intervention (with sub-branches Spreading Democracy, Peacekeeping, and Fixing Failed States, formerly known as Nation Building). Economists have used shoddy econometrics and shallow analysis to justify such interventions, while political scientists seem to climb on board for reasons that I don’t entirely fathom. Military intervention is such a drastic intervention that the burden of proof lies on those who advocate it, and social scientists have done a lousy job bearing that burden — not surprising since military stuff is so far away from the traditional areas of knowledge of social science. The politicians and generals that wanted to intervene anyway are delighted to get the spurious cover offered by the amateur military analysts from the social sciences.

Incidentally, Easterly how has his own blog called Aid Watch, which is worth checking out — particularly when he wrestles with God Jeffrey Sachs

[Why didn’t you continue the Star Wars theme in this post?–ed.  Because nothing I could ever write, ever, could top this.]

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner

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