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Special Series

The Oxford University Politics Blog hosts special series on topics ranging from Scottish independence to violence and the state in central Africa, from constitutional issues to sociology.

Photograph of George Bush sitting at a table with advisors including Dick Cheney and Colin Powell surrounding him.

U.S. presidents have powerful political incentives to think twice before escalating a conflict in the lead-up to an election. Recent events in the Gulf suggest that President Trump is no exception when it comes to avoiding the commitment of “boots on the ground” in an election year. As both commander-in-chief and holder of the highest elected office, presidents must carefully weigh the political consequences of any decision regarding military strategy. Since voters tend to bear the brunt of the human and financial costs of war, decisions to send additional U.S. forces into combat are often fraught with risk of consequent reprisal at the ballot box.  In my recent article in International Security, I explore how these electoral pressures affected decision-making during the Iraq War. …

Brexit has weakened populists on the continent? This is wishful thinking. No longer willing to leave the EU, instead populists are determined to take it over. Brexit is a moving target. Each time we think we have a deal, the British House of Commons decides to re-think. It’s like the famous passage from T.S. Eliot: “Time yet for a hundred indecisions/And for a hundred visions and revisions,/ Before taking a toast and tea.” Boris Johnson expected the Parliament to approve the exit deal he reached with the EU. Instead, the Parliament voted for an amendment tabled by a Tory MP, Sir Oliver Letwin. The amendment withholds approval of the deal, until the legislation to enact it is safely passed – …

It is a period of civil war. Rebel politicians, striking from hidden Westminster offices, have won their first victory against the evil Brexiteer Prime Minister. During the battle, Rebel MPs manage to steal control of the Commons… The so-called “rebel alliance” of pro-EU MPs secured an important victory on September 4 of this year in their quest to prevent a no-deal Brexit: parliament passed the Benn-Burt Bill, which requires Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek a four-month extension of Article 50 if parliament has not agreed to a no-deal Brexit or a withdrawal agreement by October 19. When the result of the vote was announced, protestors outside of the House of Commons, celebrated by playing the Star Wars theme tune. …

Anette Idler summarizes some of the findings from her new book Borderland Battles, which reveals how violent non-state groups compete for territorial control, co-operate in illicit cross-border activities and replace the state in exerting governance functions in borderlands. Borderlands are like a magnifying glass on some of the most entrenched security challenges of the world. In unstable regions, border areas attract violent non-state groups ranging from rebels and paramilitaries to criminal organisations who exploit their neglect by central governments. These groups compete for territorial control, cooperate in illicit cross-border activities, and substitute for the governance functions usually associated with the state. Studying the Colombian borderlands where armed conflict and organised crime converge demonstrates that the gap between state-centric views on …

With the Brexit deadline on the horizon, Britain could enter a new beneficial relationship with Australia and other Anglosphere countries – a development that is slowly gaining traction. On February 11, several prominent UK MP’s called for the prioritisation of a free-movement area – similar to the free movement of persons provision in the European Economic Area – between Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Britain, after the UK eventually exits the EU.  Towards a CANZUK Alliance These pronouncements followed the release of the report titled ‘Global Britain: A Twenty-First Century Vision’, co-authored by Conservative MP Bob Seely and the Henry Jackson Society  – a bi-partisan British Foreign Policy think-tank. One of the main proposals of the report was to reach out to Australia, New Zealand …

President Donald Trump promised a “very big trade deal” between the US and the UK after Brexit. Prime minister Boris Johnson, however, was less certain, stating that it will not be “plain sailing.” As third prime minister since the Brexit referendum, he is aware that at the moment “the only certainty is uncertainty.” While Mr. Johnson insists that Brexit will take place on 31 October, it remains unclear what will come after Brexit. Brexit optimists paint a picture of unbound potential. Britain freed from the shackles of the EU and Common Market rules and regulations, is able to freely negotiate new trade deals. Embracing the Commonwealth is presented as alternative to remaining in the EU, which is seen as being …

There are at least four reasons why one might expect Brexit to be a high-profile, politicized issue in Czech politics. First of all, there is increasing evidence that the European Union (EU) crises, of which Brexit is currently probably the most acute one, have led to increased politicization of EU politics in many member states. Secondly, the Czech EU debate is generally politicized and characterized by a predominantly critical tone. Indeed, the country has long been one of the most Eurosceptic EU member states, with a strong tradition of party-based Euroscepticism and a low level of public trust in the EU (according to the latest Eurobarometer survey, it has the third lowest level of public trust in the EU after …

Recent years have brought about improvements in corporate transparency regarding content takedown requests by governments. Google and Twitter, for instance, specify details of content takedowns in their transparency reports, allowing to identify which government authority demanded what content to be removed and why. Other takedowns can be demanded by private actors on copyright grounds for instance. The Lumen database gives more insight into takedowns of such nature. However, little to almost no transparency exists when it comes to mobile app stores. Mobile app stores are a sort of marketplace on phones and allow for the download of health, productivity, privacy, and other apps. These marketplaces are very opaque, and it is a challenge to know why an app was removed. …