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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Kendra McSweeney

‘Drug policy is conservation policy,’ researchers say

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Add yet another threat to the list of problems facing the rapidly disappearing rainforests of Central America: drug trafficking.

In an article in the journal Science, seven researchers who have done work in Central America point to growing evidence that drug trafficking threatens forests in remote areas of Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and nearby countries.

Traffickers are slashing down forests, often within protected areas, to make way for clandestine landing strips and roads to move drugs, and converting forests into agribusinesses to launder their drug profits, the researchers say.

Much of this appears to be a response to U.S.-led anti-trafficking efforts, especially in Mexico, said Kendra McSweeney, lead author of the Science article and an associate professor of geography at The Ohio State University.

“In response to the crackdown in Mexico, drug traffickers began moving south into Central America around 2007 to find new routes through remote areas to move their drugs from South America and get them to the United States,” McSweeney said.

“When drug traffickers moved in, they brought ecological devastation with them.”

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"I am Colonel (Retired) Peter Mansoor, former executive officer to General David Petraeus during the surge in Iraq and now a professor of military history at The Ohio State University. AMA."

So began Mershon affiliate Peter Mansoor's AMA – or Ask Me Anything – one of the most popular features on the social site Reddit.  In an AMA, one person answers questions from online participants. Although anyone can conduct an AMA, the most popular ones are with notable people such as President Obama, Madonna, Bill Gates, Rachel Maddow, and Roger Ebert.

Mansoor got talked into doing an AMA by his daughter Kyle, 25, and son J.T., 19.  "They are big fans of Reddit, and … they felt my story would be compelling," he said.

Compelling, it was.  In his AMA, Mansoor gave Redditors a look behind the scenes of the surge in Iraq and discussed his candid views of colleagues in the Iraq War and issues in the military. 

Questions ranged from whether the war in Afghanistan was winnable, to the leadership of Donald Rumsfeld, to how to address PTSD.

Unlike most AMA conductors, Mansoor spent an entire day answering questions.  His AMA garnered 3,478 comments and more than 23,000 up and down votes. Some questions and answers include:

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Each year, the Mershon Center for International Security Studies holds a competition for Ohio State faculty and students to apply for research grants and scholarship funds.  

Faculty and student research grant applications must be for projects related to the study of national security in a global context.  We are also interested in projects that emphasize the role of peace-building and development initiatives globally, as well as projects that strengthen the global gateways in China, India and Brazil.  We will also consider projects related to campus area studies centers and institutes, or projects that address the university’s Discovery Themes of health and wellness, energy and the environment, and food production and security.

The Mershon Center has also established the International Security Study Abroad Scholarship to support undergraduates whose professional training and career plans lie in the field of international security and who would benefit by studying in a foreign country.  Students are encouraged to take foreign language courses, especially those deemed critical for national security.  As many as 12 scholarships of up to $2,000 each will be awarded.

For more information, including application forms and instructions, please see the Grants section of the Mershon Center website.  The deadline for all applications is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, February 28, 2018.

Bear Braumoeller

Mershon affiliate Bear Braumoeller, associate professor of political science, was recently awarded the ISA (International Studies Association) Best Book Award for his book The Great Powers and the International System: Systemic Theory in Empirical Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

The book received an excellent review from H-Diplo, and was featured in Popular Science and National Geographic.

Here is what the ISA Best Book Award committee, led by Joyce Kaufman, Jeffrey Hart and Vesna Danilovic, had to say about Braumoeller’s book:

"This is a truly exceptional book that draws on the accumulation of knowledge on theory on great powers and the international system. Professor Braumoeller masterfully builds on the body of past research while at times modestly describes the model he presents as a 'synthesis.'

"In reality, his 'nested politics model' is much more than a synthesis but represents an innovative approach to demonstrate that we do not have to choose in the agent-structure debate.  Rather, his theory presents international relations as an organic whole in which agents (states, not as block boxes, but broken into domestic constituencies and their leaders with domestic incentives) shape the international structure materially (power) and ideologically, and whose policies are, in turn, also shaped by that structure.

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