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Inklings: Student & Faculty Discussions

In the 1930s, a notorious group of scholars known as the Inklings would unofficially assemble at the University of Oxford in England. Prominent members included British intellectuals such as J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S Lewis. The group would gather on a weekly basis to hold discussions regarding their literary projects. For over fifteen years, the department of political science at Texas State University has continued the Inklings legacy by hosting several political science Inklings talks throughout each semester. Dr. Leder of Texas State University proclaims that,

The spirit of fellowship, exchange of ideas, occasional criticism, and some humor, as in the gatherings of the original Inklings have characterized all of our "Poli Sci" Inklings talks. The gatherings are a valued tradition in the Department of Political Science at Texas State University, which will be a tradition we will continue to maintain.

Inklings talks allow professors and students to engage in various topics that closely examine long standing international issues and current events.

Dr. Jeremy Wells who specializes in international relations and civil conflict gave the first 2016 presentation titled, "Kill the Kleptocrats? Domestic Politics and Selection of Intervention Targets." The lecture focused on why military interventions occur and whether or not these involvements primarily serve the interest of kleptocrats, populist dictators, or democracies. The most recent political science Inklings talk was held on March 7, 2016 and was given by Dr. Don Inbody who specializes in American civil-military relations and Public Opinion gave a presentation titled, "The Soldier's Vote: War, Politics, and the Ballot in America."

 

Abstract: "Kill the Kleptocrats? Domestic Politics and Selection of Intervention Targets

Much of the empirical research on military interventions focuses on situations in which third parties may intervene, such as civil wars, ethnic conflicts, or mass atrocities, along with some attention paid to outcomes of interventions. However, this literature has not adequately addressed how third parties select specific targets for interventions. My paper addresses the issue of military intervention target selection by focusing on the domestic politics of the target state. Specifically, in this paper I look at the domestic politics of potential target states from the perspective of benefits to elites. I use the residual of predicted infant mortality rates as an objective proxy of kleptocracy. Under-performance suggests a regime that more richly rewards elites at the expense of the general public—that is, more kleptocratic—while over-performance evidences developing capabilities to serve the population. Kleptocrats may be easier to buy off than to threaten with military force while enriched elites avoid a destabilizing intervention, but a leader’s ability to sufficiently compensate backers may leave third parties with few alternatives other than forced removal. On the other hand, over-performers may enjoy a broader base of domestic political support, which could lead to popular backlash against an intervener, but elites may benefit if a more kleptocratic leader takes office, leading them to welcome the intervening force. I argue taking the domestic politics of potential targets into account is critical to understanding how third parties select states in which to intervene. In conclusion, this paper, by closely examining evidence of kleptocracy and therefore incentives of leaders and elites to avoid or welcome intervention, sheds new light on the neglected issue of military intervention target selection.