Current Research

Middle East Politics


Understanding Contemporary Islamism as a Nationalist Ideology

(Findings will be presented at the Midwest Political Science Association 2010 annual conference)


Click here to read an excerpt from this paper.  If you're interested in reading the complete version, email the author at jdj37 [asperand]


          This paper will argue that contemporary Islamism is a nationalist ideology.  The central claim is that adherents of this movement interpret Islam’s medieval political tradition through the lens of modern European theories of nationalism.  Accordingly, the paper first distinguishes modern from premodern types of political philosophy, and it locates classical Islamic political theory within the latter category.  It next recounts the theoretical development of nationalism as a modern ideology – drawing upon the writings of historian Elie Kedourie – and then describes the political philosophy that an Islamist nationalism entails.  The paper’s penultimate section explores Islamists’ motivations for adopting such a philosophy; the final section presents two case studies of modern Islamist political theorists to illustrate hermeneutically the influence of nationalist ideology on contemporary Islamism.



The Impact of Israeli Leaders’ Military Experiences on Israeli Foreign Policy

(Findings will be presented at the International Studies Association Midwest 2009 annual conference)


          This paper will investigate whether Israeli prime ministers’ military backgrounds have socialized them into Israeli military norms and doctrines and thereby influenced their respective governments’ foreign policies.  The paper’s first section draws on historical studies and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) data in order to articulate three dynamics which link military socialization to foreign policy decisionmaking.  The second section develops and tests several hypotheses on the connection between prime ministers’ IDF experiences and their negotiated or unilateral territorial concessions to the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.


          This paper’s findings are most applicable to the case of Israel.  Yet Israel is hardly unique in electing former military officers as its leaders.  The dearth of literature on this subject simply makes Israel – with its many military-careerists-turned-politicians – an ideal source of data with which to theorize the link between military experience and foreign policy decisionmaking.  And because none of the socialization dynamics identified in this paper relies on Israeli military idiosyncrasies, all may be adapted to other case studies or to a more generalized model.


International Relations


Political Ideology in International Relations


Click here to read an excerpt from this paper.  If you're interested in reading the complete version, email the author at jdj37 [asperand]


          This paper will develop a theory of international relations that explains states’ foreign policies as the product of their leaders’ political ideologies.  I begin by classifying human action as volitional, purposive, and rational, in the sense that individuals pursue their aims by choosing to act in accordance with their ideas about how to achieve those aims.  The second section argues that individuals who use coercion prevent others from acting on the basis of these ideas, whereas uncoerced exchanges permit individuals to continue acting on their thoughts.  The third part identifies uncoerced exchanges as the subject matter of economics, and the fourth tasks political science with explaining coercive actions.  Because the first section finds that ideas are the prime mover of human action, and later segments classify politics as the realm of human action in which coercion is employed, the fifth part concludes that the prime mover of political action is individuals’ ideas about the proper use of coercion – i.e., their political ideologies.  Accordingly, politicians craft foreign policies (as they craft other government programs) on ideological grounds.


Political Philosophy







(c) 2008 Jacob Jaffe