I found the reading that used a quantitative survey method to prove that policy makers don’t care about quantitative studies from IR scholars to be extremely interesting. As ironically fascinating as it was, I was not particularly comforted by the fact that policy makers don’t have the attention span to read anything above five pages, and most of their formal education is not in IR or policy making, yet that is their occupation. Policy makers view IR scholars as informal advisors, or “creators of knowledge”, which was a new term to me, and I’m kind of contemplating adding it to my resume. Something that wasn’t surprising in this study was that 90% of those surveyed in the policy maker community were old white men. This study tried to shed light on how to make scholarly work more useful and realistic to policy makers
Most policy makers also seemed to be more familiar with Cold War era policies, such as mutual destruction and Clash of Civilizations theories, and found that Joseph Nye was the most influential among IR scholars. This makes sense, as most US policymakers take on a neoliberal/absolute gains/soft power stance to geopolitical issues, which was Nye’s focus.
Policy makers seemed to value qualitative arguments from IR scholars to support their policies, rather than quantitative evidence. In short, policy makers want digestible information in small doses that provide context to the situations they’re facing rather than theories and predictions that scholars make about the world and the possible implications from policy decisions.
The TRIP study surveyed professors who taught in the IR/Polsyci realm from multiple countries. What was interesting, however not surprising, was that most professors focused on area studies of Western Europe, the Middle East, North America, and the USSR. Most professors found that Wendt and Keohane were the most influential scholars. The most interesting part of the study was to see that most of the professors had similar opinions on various topics about IR, despite their differing nationalities. One of the survey questions asked if they would support US intervention in different war situations, and the majority, including US professors, stated they would not support US military involvement. I found it interesting that US IR scholars were extremely opposed to US military involvement, which demonstrates the vast difference between scholars and policy maker’s opinions of how to solve hostile situations.
I found this VOX article to be useful in articulating the greater implications of Trump’s Muslim Ban; in summary, Trump just handed a smoking gun to ISIS.
I think it is appropriate to point out that while this administration is unprecedented in many ways, it is still troublesome that there was no scholar or radical Islam expert (*cough* Julie cough*) in the room when this policy was being debated. I know executive orders are quite autonomous, but I would hope there would be policy makers who had read the ‘creators of knowledge’ documents that stated that perpetuating the ISIS rhetoric that the US wants to destroy them will have negative effects. ISIS thrives off of policy like this, it is what drives their recruitment strategies. While Obama was not totally faultless when it came to ISIS, he did not hand them a gift such as this. It has been both Obama and Bush’s intention to clearly state that they were not at war or in conflict with the religion, but rather the radicalized factions that used terrorism as violence to accomplish their goals.
This ban will only provide fodder to ISIS and other radical Islamist groups to help them recruit more aggressively and implement actions that are now backed up via clear actions from the Trump administration rather than propaganda created by ISIS. ((If only an IR scholar was in the room to advise policy makers that this is a very bad idea!))