- You are a Chinese warlord, and the reason I just read a long academic paper called “Twenty-First Century Warlords: Diagnosis and Treatment?”
- I had thought that the term “warlords” would only be applied to a person from the true olden days, like many hundreds of years ago, but you and Wikipedia and the author of this paper have proved me wrong.
- You and the other Chinese warlords were active at the beginning of the 20th century, and that was what everyone called you.
- Why it is only Chinese warlords who were given this job description in the 20th century, I could not say.
- I have my suspicions, and I am sure you do too, but it is pretty early in the day to start accusing someone of rampant Western imperialism.
- I know I am right, though.
- Here, according to the paper, is what you need to do in order to qualify for the position:
- a) operate in a collapsed or collapsing state
b) be motivated by narrow commercial self-interest
c) have access to balanced armed forces
d) be violent and contemptuous of international law and human rights
e) be undemocratic and unaccountable.
- I mean.
- Surely we can point to multiple examples. Surely.
- The point is that the paper contains the following sentences:
- “The focus in the first and second sections is on placing warlordism in an historical context and identifying criteria for identifying warlords. The objective is to bring some degree of academic rigour to the currently vague and general warlord debate.”
- Wow! “The currently vague and general warlord debate.”
- “Paul Rich asserts that the modern warlord is not truly an incarnation of previous generations and that he bears little relationship to, for example, the Japanese samurai.”
- Am I wrong in finding this whole thing utterly bonkers from premise to execution?
- My own experience of academia has been largely characterized by the feeling of being slowly and painfully disabused of the fond delusion that I have ever had a good or original idea.
- That’s what academia is. You start out with your cool thoughts about your dissertation, and then your supervisor inquires into the nature of your methodology, and then you have to change that whole bit, and then this chapter doesn’t work at all, and then you realise that you might need to temper some of your claims and suggestions because who knows what a hostile examiner might think, and then at the end you are left with a pale, denuded shadow of your first idea. A ghost.
- That’s what academia is for a lot of people, I think, but certainly not for the author of this article.
- The author of this article went “You know what I want to write about for 30+ pages is my opinions about the unwelcome entry of the term ‘warlord’ into the international security lexicon.”
- Everyone who read this article at every stage went “ok I like it. No problems here. No questions about the tonal instability or the numerous methodological challenges or anything. Go on.”
- This almost never happens.
- Happy Birthday.