Author Archive

Jonathan Askonas

Jonathan D. Askonas is a DPhil candidate in International Relations at the University of Oxford.

Within hours of the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia, lion of the conservative/originalist faction of the Supreme Court, political fur started flying over the nomination of his successor. Republican leadership (from key Senators to primary candidates) stated their firm opposition to an Obama nomination, arguing that the winner of the presidential election ought to pick his successor. The Democrats, for their part, put forward that it was a Constitutional requirement for the president to nominate someone to the Court and that they were shocked, shocked by Republican obstinacy. If the past is any indication, the Republicans can certainly make a credible threat that they will block an Obama nomination until the cows come home. But game theory tells us …
Photo of Vladimir Putin seated at table in front of flags.

Last week, the Monkey Cage published a post by Alexander Motyl, a Ukrainian specialist at Rutgers-Newark, on the Five fatal flaws in realist analysis of Russia and Ukraine. Motyl claims that: “Realists want to have it both ways — arguing for and against rationality in general and in the Russian context in particular. Consistency can be reestablished, but only if realists finally agree that Putin is or is not rational and stick to one, and only one, interpretation.” While he identifies some inconsistencies in American realist analysis of the Ukrainian conflict, his purported cure might be more damaging than the supposed disease. I have five particular points here, but in general, I claim that a more balanced perspective reveals that, while realism doesn’t have all of the answers, it is more potent than Motyl admits.