1st June 2013: Proposal for ISA’s 2014 Annual Convention

The International Studies Association is holding its Annual Convention for 2014 in Toronto, Canada.

 

Below is one proposal I have submitted for consideration by the International Political Economy and International Security sections:

 

Geopolitical Flashpoints, Systemic Risk & Distal-Influenced Spatiality

 

Abstract: Geopolitical flashpoints and systemic risk are now global arbitrage opportunities for hedge funds and political risk firms. Bridgewater (Ray Dalio), AQR Capital Management (Aaron C. Brown), PIMCO (Bill Gross & Mohamed El-Erian), Roubini Global Economics (Nouriel Roubini), and Stratfor (George Friedman & Robert D. Kaplan) have each contributed to media, policy, and practitioner debates about the 2008-10 rare earths bubble, the United States pivot toward Asia, and Iran-Syria-Russia oil speculation. This paper uses develops a Bayesian inference framework which emphasizes distal (far away) and spatial cause-effect relationships, in order to explain how hedge funds and political risk firms as non-state actors can enact global arbitrage and actively influence/shape public debates. I integrate analytical research from the sociology of finance (Donald MacKenzie), international security (Stephen G. Brooks), critical world security (Michael T. Klare & Naomi Klein), intelligence studies (Amy B. Zegart, Robert Jervis, & Gregory Treverton), hedge funds (Andrew Busch & Andrew Lo), and fictional speculation (Richard K. Morgan), to develop a new, inductive theory-building alternative to current explanations that emphasize proximate (near) and temporal causes. This paper advances new understanding about ‘casino capitalism’ (Susan Strange), expert networks, hedge fund activism, and political risk arbitrage.

18th February 2012: Tim Weiner’s FBI Book

Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner (Penguin)

 

Legacy of Ashes author Tim Weiner has a new book out: Enemies: A History of the FBI (New York: Penguin USA, 2012). Weiner’s research fits a critical tradition of intelligence studies, and also the ‘journalists as investigators’ model that Barry Saunders and I wrote about in a 2009 conference paper. For me, the academic challenge is: when do I get the time to immerse myself in Weiner’s reportage?

A Rejoinder to Bernard Keane’s ASIO Claims

During a 2006 Monash postgraduate class on intelligence analysis our adviser made several observations on how the Australian Security Intelligence Agency (ASIO) is misrepresented and misunderstood. The ‘S’ stood for domestic security not secrecy. ASIO had an accountability and audit regime at multiple levels: legislative limits, the Treasury budget process, appeals processes, external audits and supply contract review, and reporting to the public and to bipartisan government committees. Australia’s intelligence resources were mo stly deployed in military agencies for signals intelligence. Finally, media coverage of ASIO rarely evolves to the sophistication seen in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Bernard Keane’s Crikey article ‘The Answer is ASIO‘ (24th February 2010) risks continuing this trend in media coverage of intelligence issues. I want to illustrate below how Keane’s own arguments can be interpreted as having their own “deeply-flawed logic” in his accusations of Labor’s “security propaganda.”

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