Red Rockets Over the Horizon

By James A. Chisem

In 1938, Sergey Pavlovich Korolyov had been identified as an enemy of the Soviet state. According to the powers that be, he was a Trotskyite plotter who had conspired with other missile designers and technicians to overthrow socialism and derail the Russian path to progress. Of course, Sergey Pavolvich was not a spy, nor a traitor—he was the victim of a world in which truth and fiction were as…

Can the Security Dilemma Explain Actual Conflicts?

By James A. Chisem

The concept of the security dilemma describes how it is possible, given the “existential uncertainty” which the condition of international anarchy produces amongst states, for violent conflict to arise between two or more actors even when neither has malign intentions towards the other.[1] Although the idea appears in text as far back as the fifth century BCE in the writings of the Greek intellectual Thucydides, the term only entered the academic lexicon after John Herz concretised it in his 1950 treatise ‘Idealist Internationalism and the Security Dilemma’.[2] In the decades since then…

Realism and Restraint

Most questionable ideas begin their life in a pub, and this website is no exception.

A few days after the House of Commons voted to authorise airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, I found myself in a beer garden with four friends I’ve known since high school. They’re a diverse bunch—a man of God, a nurse, a civil servant, a charity worker—and owing to that fact the first few pints went down easily. We talked about the things that long-separated acquaintances usually talk about—our spouses, our kids, our shared past, our uncertain futures, and so on. But as the empty glasses piled-up…