Why India has never seen a military dictatorship -Quartz India


Here is an interesting article looking at the durability of civilian rule in India. While all of India’s neighbors -Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma and Sri Lanka- have experienced military rule, the Indian army has stayed in the barracks.

The article is particularly interesting for two reasons. First, it is a good example of comparative poli-sci methodology. It compares the Indian experience to that of Pakistan, a state that emerged from the same historical roots as India. By looking at the similarities and differences between the two cases, the authors tries to isolate the key factors that have led the two countries down very different paths. Second, the analysis does not focus on the “usual suspects” so to speak. It does not explain the persistence of civilian rule in terms of political culture or the lasting influence of the British. The author correctly points out that Pakistan had the same historical experience with the British and and yet the Pakistani military has intervened repeatedly in civilian governance. The article also does not place a great deal of emphasis on military professionalism of leadership. Instead, the authors focuses on the relative strengths and weaknesses of civilian political institutions. Relative to Pakistan, the Indian state has been relatively robust and the country’s main political party, Congress, has been well organized and coherent. In Pakistan, the civilian institutions have been a mess, and the military has been the best organized institution in the country.

See: https://qz.com/418468/why-india-has-never-seen-a-military-dictatorship/

Information for ISU 2017


ISU 2017
“After the Arab Spring: Conflict and Cooperation in the Contemporary Middle East”

  • Instructor: Dr. James Devine
  • Mount Allison University (New Brunswick Canada)
  • email: jtdevine@mta.ca



  • Participation and Presentation 30%
  • Map quiz 20% (Day #3)
  • Take Home Essay #1 25% (Day #6)
  • Take Home Essay #2 25% (Day #9)



permitted absence of 10% (max. two teaching hours) for each course.

Course Material

Reader & this Blog: IR Theory and Practice (https://jtdevinemta.wordpress.com/)



Week 1

24-Jul Introduction: The Middle East Regional System

25-Jul Pre-Arab Spring: Regional Rivalries and Alliances Curtis R. Ryan, Regime security and shifting alliances in the Middle East  p.42-47

26-Jul Arab Uprisings and the Regional Demonstration Effect & Political Islam: Roger Owen “The Arab ‘demonstration’ effect and the revival of Arab unity in the Arab Spring” 372-381 & Jillian Schwedler Why academics can’t get beyond moderates and radicals Islam and International Order p.23-25

27-Jul The US, Russia and the Arab Spring Greg Gause & I. Lustick,  America and the Regional Powers in a Transforming &  Stephen M. Saideman, Multinational war is hard. Syria and the Islamic State 49-50

28-Jul The Iranian-Saudi Cold War Curtis Ryan The New Arab Cold War and the Struggle for Syria

Week 2

31-Jul The Syrian Civil War Taha Ozhan,”The Arab Spring and Turkey: The Camp David Order vs. the New Middle East” pp. 55-64 & Kevin Mazur, Local struggles in Syria’s northeast In Syria and the Islamic State p.6-10 & Stathis N. Kalyvas “The logic of violence in the Islamic State’s war”. p.38-40

1-Aug Kurdish Politics and The Syrian Civil War See Blog articles tagged ‘Kurds’

2-Aug The Yemenese Civil War ICG Reports, Yemen: Is Peace Possible? p.1-4

3-Aug Human Rights, Refugees and Civilian Casualties



Written Assignments

Assignment # 1

Describe the impact of the Arab Spring on one country in the Middle East

Assignment #2

Choose a country. How did that country respond to:

  • The Syrian Civil War
  • The rise of ISIS
  • The Yemeni Civil War
  • The Qatari Diplomatic Crisis


  • 1-2 pages
  • Cite at least 2 on-line sources
  • No Wikipedia
  • No cut-and-paste
  • Assignment #1 Due in Class #6
  • Assignment #2 Due in Class #9



  • Groups of 2 students
  • 1-2 Articles on Country and Conflict
  • See schedule for Topics & Dates
  • 5 Minutes Approximately
  • Day #4 through Day #8



  • How did the state react?
  • Who did the state support and who did they oppose?
  • Why do you think they reacted this way?


Map Quiz:
-Place 10 of the Following Countries on a Map

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Algeria
  3. Bahrain
  4. Egypt
  5. Iran
  6. Iraq
  7. Israel
  8. Jordan
  9. Kuwait
  10. Lebanon
  11. Libya
  12. Morocco
  13. Oman
  14. Palestine
  15. Qatar
  16. Saudi Arabia
  17. Syria
  18. Tunisia
  19. Turkey
  20. United Arab Emirates
  21. Yemen


Presentation Schedule
Friday United States
Morris Peyton
Grabek Jan
Longenekerc Andrew
Monday Syria
Frazier Reilly
Hungerford Sawyer
Sprong Evan
Monday Libya
Clough Claire
Hall Sam
Hansen Katharina
Tuesday Qatar
Alhammadi Khawla
Aljaberi Khaula
Alshehhi Maryam
Wednesday Yemen
Mahmoud Noor S O
McIntyre Devynn
Boullt Zachary

In North Korea, ‘Surgical Strike’ Could Spin Into ‘Worst Kind of Fighting’ – The New York Times


This New York Times article examines the possibility of a surgical strike against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. As the title suggests, the author is arguing against the idea.
The author makes a compelling case. Beyond this, there are a number of theoretically interesting points in this article. First, this is an interesting example of deterrence in the post-Cold war world. During the Cold War, the logic of deterrence was relatively simple at least at a superficial level. The type of deterrence most of us think of during the Cold War could be classified as general direct deterrence. If the US was attacked by the USSR, it promised to retaliate with nuclear weapons, inflicting massive amounts of damage on the USSR. And of course, visa-versa. If the US attacked first, the Soviets made the same threat. Since neither side could eliminate the others side’s retaliatory capacity with a first strike, both sides knew they would be destroyed if a conflict broke out. This was often referred to as mutually assured destruction.
To the extent this type of deterrence worked, it was because of clarity. In the context of general direct deterrence, the threats of retaliation were clearly communicated and for the most part credible. It was clear that both sides had the weapons capability to follow through on their threats. That is, both sides had a reliable second strike capability. And, in the case of a nuclear attack, there was little question that both sides were committed to following through. Given this clarity, neither the US nor the USSR was likely to misunderstand the situation they faced. Indeed, communication, credibility and capability are often referred to as the three C’s of deterrence.
In the context of post-Cold War politics that clarity is often lacking. As we see in the case of North Korea, figuring out the capabilities of the state is a complicated matter. There are questions concerning North Korea’s actual nuclear capabilities and the quality of its delivery vehicles (i.e. will the missiles fire, will they hit their targets etc.…). North Korea’s conventional capacity is much more formidable. As the article states, North Korea has the capacity to inflict a tremendous amount of damage to the South Korean capital, Seoul. The artillery and artillery rockets they would use may be crude by today’s standards but there are enough of them and they are dug in deep enough that it would take an estimated four days for the US and South Korean military to knock them out of action. In that time, estimates suggest there would be up to 6000 civilian casualties. One would hope that this type of carnage would be enough to deter an attack, but it is nowhere as near a simple a calculation as was the case with nuclear weapons.
There are also questions about the credibility of North Korea’s deterrent threat. If North Korea used nuclear weapons against targets in South Korea or elsewhere in Asia, the US would likely retaliate in kind. Even if they did not, as restricted themselves to a conventional attack against Seoul, the US might very well launch a full scale invasion and topple the regime as it did in Iraq. So, it is possible that a surgical strike may not lead to the type of retaliation described above. The North Korean regime may decide it is better to absorb the surgical strike and remain in power. Or not. We can only guess. And therein lies the problem. As long as there is a small chance that retaliation will not happen, there will be someone arguing that a surgical strike is worth the risk, particularly since the 6000 civilians are in South Korea not the US.
This also makes communication problematic. If there are questions about capability and credibility, no matter how clear the North Korean regime is about how it would respond to an attack, there will be room for doubt. And, a sliver of doubt is all it takes for someone to make a mistake.
This is not to say that the Cold War was good, or that every state should have a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, although some such as the late Kenneth Waltz made that argument. General direct deterrence was only one dimension to the Cold War strategy and the most simple and theoretically stable. Extended deterrence (making deterrent threats to protect allies) immediate deterrence (deterrence in the case of a crisis) and extended immediate deterrence were far more complex and even during the Cold war, far from reliable. Rather, the point here is that deterrence is even more problematic a strategy now than it was in the past.