|I'm thinking of subscribing to a couple more journals so I asked tb for his recommendations. I thought the threadizens might enjoy reading his comments (by permission):|
FA is at the top because it's the only place that really does a first-rate job at mixing a focus on the real world, top intellectual substance, and accessible presentation. (It doesn't always succeed, of course, but at least it tries.) There are some other good venues, each of which can on occasion publish excellent stuff, but in general each falls short in at least one of those areas. Here's a guide to the competition:
Quarterly. Organ of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Britain's top national security thinktank. Imagine a collection of the wonkier pieces from FA and you've got it. Solid authors, solid topics, solid conclusions--but all usually a bit drier than FA, and geared to a professional rather than a general audience (although still clearly written and accessible).
The National Interest
Quarterly. Started in the mid-80s as a conservative alternative to FA, and run until recently by a brilliant, quirky editor named Owen Harries (unknown to the public but respected highly by good people in the field). At its best a true competitor to FA; for example, it published Fukuyama's "End of History" piece and was set to publish Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" piece as well before it got snatched by FA. Each issue still contains some good solid stuff, and occasionally some fascinating, well-written pieces that go beyond mere wonkery. And it's a good source for neocon writing at a length greater than the Weekly Standard can accommodate. But the drop from best to worst in an issue is steep, IMHO.
World Policy Journal
Quarterly. Imagine a liberal version of a cross between Survival and The National Interest. That is, wonkery plus some general intellectual stuff, at its best excellent, the rest solid but a bit dry.
Bimonthly. Put out by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Formerly the no. 2 in the field, basically a knock-off FA (it was started in the early '70s by young turks in the field as a direct competitor). They decided a couple of years ago to shoot for a larger audience, and the result has not been to my taste. It looks great, and it's more accessible, but essentially it's gone from being a journal to a magazine. Along with the redesign, moreover, came a near-exclusive focus on globalization as a substantive theme. This has upsides (good coverage of that issue) but also downsides (much less coverage of everything else). Bottom line: its circulation numbers have gone up, but professionals in the field generally lament the loss of a serious outlet.
Other places worth mentioning would include these:
Journal of Democracy
Quarterly. Put out by the National Endowment for Democracy. The kind of thing academics should be doing but rarely do these days. Concentrates on topics related to the study of democracy and democratic transitions. First-rage coverage of that beat, and surprisingly accessible. But most nonprofessionals will find it dry and arcane.
Quarterly. The top academic journal for security studies in the US. Tries to bridge the academy and the real world, and sometimes succeeds. At its best excellent, but most nonacademics will find it much too theoretical and arcane.
Political Science Quarterly
Quarterly. A second-tier general journal in political science that includes a decent number of pieces on foreign-policy-related subjects. Quite accessible for an academic journal, has a decent academic cachet, and occassionally has some good stuff. But by and large its top contributors would prefer their material to appear in a more prestigious or widely-read venue, and so it rarely gets first crack at important pieces.