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Furniss Book Award
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Jesse Driscoll
Ukraine's Civil War
Thursday, September 14, 2017, 03:30pm - 05:00pm
Mershon Center for International Security Studies
1501 Neil Avenue, Room 120
Columbus, Ohio 43201

Jesse Driscoll

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Jesse Driscoll is an associate professor of political science and serves as chair of the Global Leadership Institute at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California--San Diego. He is an area specialist in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Russian-speaking world.

His first book, Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States (2015), is winner of the Mershon Center's Edgar S. Furniss Book Award, given annually to an author whose first book makes an exceptional contribution to the study of national and international security.

Published in the Cambridge Studies on Comparative Politics series, the book maps the processes by which well-functioning domestic hierarchies emerged after relatively short periods of anarchic violence in Georgia and Tajikistan. Driscoll argues that when a state has failed, and promises by the nearby great power (in this case Russia) to provide security guarantees are not credible, policy-makers would do well consider state-building as a complex coalition formation process by local violence entrepreneurs (warlords).

Driscoll has a secondary interest in political behavior, observer effects in social inquiry, and the ongoing task of cultivating ethical best practices for responsible data collection from active conflict zones. He leverages new technologies and experimental techniques to track public opinion by populations that reside in violent places, including in Somalia, Ukraine and Georgia.

He earned his Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University.


Many Western analysts have been reticent to use the term civil war to describe conflict in Ukraine. The obvious harm is that the term reproduces Russian disinformatziya designed to distract from the violation of Article II of the UN Charter in the Crimean Peninsula. There are two non-obvious advantages to conceptualizing Ukraine as a civil war. First, the language draws attention to a range of bargains that might be acceptable to the great powers, facilitating the emergence of a shared language useful for diplomacy. Second, comparative examination of the processes of civil war settlement in Eurasia draws attention to reasons why indigenous Ukrainian social actors might find it in their interests to escalate the conflict as a strategy to draw Western assistance. France is ideally positioned to take the lead in conflict resolution.


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