Thursday, May 5, 2011

ISEP Comprehensive Exam - Complete!

Late yesterday afternoon, I turned in my international security comprehensive exam - my last-ever comprehensive exam for my PhD! I put a ton of hours into it, and if I had more time, there are things I know I would have looked into a bit more, but overall, I think it turned out really well!

My essay ended up being about 10,000 words long (17 single-spaced pages), and most of my blog readers probably don't want to know that much about international security policy, but I'll post the question and my executive summary, and if you really want to read the whole thing, I've got a link to the full pdf at the bottom of the page!

In the literature you have reviewed there has been a lengthy discussion of the relative significance of military power and legal regulation in determining the state of international security. Explicitly applying your knowledge of that literature, please assess how these determinants have affected the development of space activity up to this point. Please also discuss how the balance of these and other determinants might change in the future and identify what the principal causes of change might be.

This paper has been broken into three parts. In Part I, I provide an overview of the theories relevant to understanding the relative significance of military power and legal regulation in determining the state of international security. I begin with an overview of realist theory, which assumes a rational, unitary actor in an anarchic system, with material resources and military power of states as the determinant characteristics for the state of international security. I also review institutionalist-legalist theory, which also assumes a rational, unitary actor in an anarchic system, but focuses on the importance of legal regulation in constraining state behavior and determining the state of international security. In Part II, I begin by providing a brief summary of space activity up to this point, focusing on five main aspects: the space race, the development of reconnaissance satellites, the negotiation of the outer space treaties, the increasing crowdedness of space, and the recent attempts at international cooperation on the issue of space security. I then apply realist theory to each of these areas, examining the significance of military power for the development of space activity. Next, institutionalist theory is applied to each area, examining the extent to which legal regulation constrained state behavior and thus affect these developments in space activity. I find that both military power and legal regulation were important determinants in the development of space activity up to this point, but argue that legal regulation provides more insight and explanatory power, particularly in more recent times. In Part III, I provide a brief description of the likely future conditions of the space environment and an overview of one of the chief issues for the future – space security. I then provide realist options for ensuring continued access to and use of space, which rely primarily on threats and coercion, and institutionalist options, which are based on particular forms of international agreements, primarily favoring hard law. I argue that as we look to the future of space activity, military power has a very limited role in determining future developments, primarily due to the inherent need for all space actors to adjust their behavior combined with the physical limitations of the space environment, which make military protection of space assets nearly impossible and offensive or retaliatory space attacks self-defeating. Instead, I argue that international legal regulation will be the most important determinant in the future of sustainable space activity, while other determinants, such as interdependence, may also make contributions.

Read the Full Paper!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

We Love Checking the Mail

Checking the mail has been one of my favorite activities over the past couple of weeks.
Because we get lots of these:

And some of these!

RSVP cards started arriving just two days after we sent invites out, and they're still rolling in now! It's just fun to find out who's going to be there and start imaging how things are going to be. Plus, it's extra fun when people add their own thoughts to the RSVP cards. Some of my favorites:
Nick and Calea - who are almost as excited as we are!

Jen and Jeff - who had a (joking) special menu request.

Sam and Jess - who drew a just-married bus to fun town (an inside joke from freshman year)!

Tim and Joy - who made their reservations in November - so awesome!

Peg and Art Tatum - even though they can't come, because they send their decline with "profound regret bordering on dispair."

Guest Blog: Jeff's Bachelor Party: Baltimore

Last weekend I had a bachelor party in Baltimore with my friends from high school.  Tim Oberc (as well as Jen Schleigh, and Mike Ransom, I think) did a super amazing job planning the itinerary.

First, we went shooting at On Target shooting range in Severn, MD.  I'd never shot a gun before, so it was a new experience.  The whole thing is kind of a surreal experience.  It's certainly super safe, as long as I keep the gun pointed down the range.  But I'm kind of absent minded and carry things around with me and leave them (witness numerous cups of tea left in the closet, etc.).  I definitely pointed the (fortunately unloaded) gun at Nick Ganci by accident when I was trying to tell him something.  The other thing that I thought was awesome at the shooting range was targets.  You buy a paper target that you aim for, and they range from targets with points in rings to targets vaguely shaped like people with points in rings to monsters.  I got the banker-zombie target (pictured!), of course.  I actually hit it right in the center of the target in it's chest on my first shot.  Then a bunch of the other shots missed the target altogether.  I'm not a very good shot: I anticipate the recoil and kind of jerk the gun around before it fires...

After that, we went back to Tim's house, where Rachel had set up dinner (BBQ) and ordered pizza for us.  We sat out on their deck and had beers.  Tim and Rachel also got a bottle of Bombay Sapphire for my benefit, so I had some of that as well.

Next, we went to see the Orioles and the Yankees.  It was maybe going to rain a lot of the day, but it totally held off and was a gorgeous night.  The game was not as gorgeous.  We were in our seats maybe 5-10 minutes after the first pitch, but the O's were already down 3 runs.  We ended up losing like 13-3 or so.  But it was still super fun!

Afterwards we wanted to find a bar, and it was time for me to pick one (or at least have some input).  Those of you who know me know that deciding is definitely not my strong suit.  When I thought about what I wanted in a bar, what I really wanted was somewhere that we could keep enjoying the outdoors.  We thought about places to go, but it turned out that Tim and Rachel's roof was really the best option all around, so we headed back there.  We did stop at Idle Hour for a quick drink on the way.

Altogether it was a really really great night.  Thanks so much to everyone for coming and thanks to Tim again for planning.  I think Tim's not generally a big planner/organizer either, but he did a really great job!

Philosophy on Thank You Notes

Galison Kate Sutton Many Thanks Thank You Note Cards (28440)One of the things to do, as you get closer to the wedding, is write Thank You notes for gifts - mostly from the shower, but also for the wedding gifts that arrive early. If you read about this online, it's almost all complaints - people looking for a way around it, people suggesting fill-in-the-blank style phrases to use. And I see where they're coming from, since Thank You's are generally written by hand, it can be really time-consuming. And one downside for a multi-tasker like me, is that you can't really do anything else (like watch TV) while you're writing Thank You notes. (If I watched "House" while writing, I'm sure someone would get thanked for a disease or some Vicodin.)

Adams Embossed Thank You Cards, 10 Cards and Envelopes , 4.5 x 6.25 Inches, Cream Linen (ENC201)But, other than that, I actually really like writing Thank You's! It's a chance to spend a little bit of time thinking about each person we invited (who are all people that we care about!), and a little time thinking about some new thing you now have (which, based on the gifts so far, we're really excited about, too!). And if you think about it, that's actually kind a fun and nice thing to get to do.

Also, I think my enjoyment of Thank You notes comes from my strategy. First, I type them up on my computer. This is fast and easy to adjust, and my hands don't get tired, so I can write 20 or 30 thank yous and still be in a happy, thoughtful, energetic mood.

Periwinkle Thank You Note Cards & EnvelopeNext I bring out the thank you notes and start hand-writing. And that takes a long time. And when I do a lot of them in a row, I start to understand how people would think of it as a chore, but luckily, my mood doesn't affect what I write, because I already figured out what to say before! So overall, it's actually a fun thing to do!