v8n2_10 - Thinking About Rogue Leaders: Really Hostile or...

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Thinking About Rogue Leaders: Really Hostile or Just Frustrated? by Akan Malici W hen the Cold War came to an end almost two decades ago, scholars contemplated that we might soon miss it. 1 The reason for such a counterintuitive feeling is simple: with the move from bipolarity to unipolarity, security threats no longer emanate from the rivalry of two superpowers but rather from the existence of rogue states. Rogue states are said (or partly known) to sponsor or practice international terrorism and to engage in the acquisition and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. 2 Their leaders are said to be genuinely belligerent and hostile, and sometimes they are even described as crazy. 3 In thinking about rogue states and their leaders, scholars, security analysts and observers of international politics have two fundamental options. The first option is to join the conventional wisdom, which is attractive because of its apparent plausibility. However, there is also a danger to this option. Judgments are often made on a purely descriptive basis without sufficient effort towards critically asking why rogue leaders behave in the ways they do. Simply asserting that they are crazy or irrational is too simple and, indeed, wrong. Too often labels and slogans are substituted for reflection and actual analysis. This, in fact, helps perpetuate our crises with rogue states rather than ameliorate them. Thinking about rogue leaders more deeply than is conventionally done is more important than ever. This is my main contention in this paper. The predominant strategy of the US towards rogue leaders takes the forms of containment or isolation. These strategies have proven to be fundamentally ineffective. The threat emanating from rogue states has increased, rather than decreased, over the last years. What is needed is a better informed and more context-sensitive strategic approach towards rogue leaders. This leads to the specification of the second option scholars and security analysts have. The second option is to leave the door open for the conventional wisdom, while simultaneously attempting to understand the crucial why , i.e. why rogue leaders behave the way they do. Understanding a leader means dwelling into his psychology. In a well-known article in peace and conflict scholarship, the renown political psychologist Philip Tetlock probelmatized the foreign policy decision-making Akan Malici is an assistant professor at Furman University in South Carolina. His research specialization is in peace and conflict studies, political psychology, and foreign policy decision making. He is the author of two forthcoming books titled When Leaders Learn and When They Don't (SUNY Press) and The Search for a Common European Foreign and Security Policy (Palgrave Macmillan Press). 103
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v8n2_10 - Thinking About Rogue Leaders: Really Hostile or...

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