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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Conference report: Vail

I've just returned from a "Foreign Policy Conference" in Vail, Colorado, cosponsored by the International Security & Arms Control Section of the APSA, the International Security Studies section of the ISA, and the Denver Council on Foreign Relations (DCFR), among others.

I presented two papers. One was coauthored with my graduate student, Phil McCauley , "The Illogic of the Biological Weapons Taboo." Phil worked for 19 years in a lab (on this kind of stuff), so we brought divergent backgrounds to this project.

In a nutshell, we argued that a taboo prohibiting bioweapons use could be dangerous in a world where (a) arms control efforts to limit capabilities are collapsing; (b) the U.S. threatens to go to war for counterproliferation; and (c) the U.S. basically argues that BW capabilities in the hands of certain states reflects an intent to use those weapons.

The other paper was "Threat Construction in the War on Terror: The Case of Pakistan." I argued that after 9/11, Pakistan could have been viewed as an "enemy" rather than a "friend" or "ally" in the war on terror. This is simply based on U.S. declarations about threats and understandings about Pakistan in 2001 and 2002. I discuss why Pakistan was not viewed as an enemy, but also address whether Pakistan's "role identity" could change in the foreseeable future.

Hopefully, pdf versions of both papers will soon be available here. All comments are welcome. If the organizers don't get them up soon, I'll post them somewhere.

Needless to say, writing these papers and attending the conference kept me from blogging as much as usual the last few weeks.

Strangely, I heard the names S. Fred Singer and Laurie Mylroie referenced favorably at this conference -- once by a panelist and once by an audience member from an ACFR chapter. So far as I could tell, no one around me batted an eye.

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