Weekend Reading: July 26

July 26, 2013
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Happy Friday from the WOTR team!  The end of another week means another weekend reading roundup from our editors.

Don’t forget, if there’s something you’d like to see in our roundup, you can always tweet your suggestion to @WarontheRocks.

Here are this week’s picks. Be sure to tell us what you think in the comments. And have a great weekend!

Syria’s unlikely weaponeers: From Wired comes a riveting long read about ordinary men in Aleppo who have become weapons manufacturers. Matthieu Alkins tells the story of Abu Yassin, a former engineer whose new job is “seeking to innovate ways of killing people.” In spectacularly haunting detail, Alkins’ piece describes the rebel groups that are building rockets and other weapons with a “DIY approach.”

Secrets, secrets: In the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, anthropologist Hugh Gusterson makes a distinction between the ”strict military secret” and the ”public secret,” the latter being something that many suspect but nonetheless deny. Gusterson argues not only that Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden revealed public secrets, but that this is unsurprising given the current state of U.S. intelligence.

(Readers, we’re interested to hear how you think this piece fits in with another anthropologist’s examination of Snowden: WOTR contributor Marc Tyrrell’s recent piece on Snowden as Robin Hood.)

Memo to expats: According to a new report, the world’s most expensive city for foreigners is…Luanda, Angola.  Based on a basket of goods and services, the consulting firm Mercer found that Angola’s coastal capital was the priciest city to live in. Quartz.com has a nice summary of the report’s findings. Other cities that made the top 10: Geneva, Hong Kong, and N’Djamena, Chad.

“You there with your empire:” How would hosting Snowden have impacted Venezuela’s relationship with the United States? In the New Yorker, Boris Munoz explores how Caracas, and in particular Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro, reacted to the “crazy manhunt” undertaken by the American “Gringos” (his words, not ours). A quick and interesting read, Munoz’ article grapples with the important issue of how Snowden-gate may impact America’s relationship with other countries.

Happens to the best of us? We loved this timely graphic on Information is Beautiful depicting the decade’s biggest data breaches. A number of household names appear in the feature as past victims of leaks, from Apple to Yale University to TRICARE.

The Brotherhood’s fall from grace: A Reuters special report, “How the Muslim Brotherhood Lost Egypt,” interviews a number of Egyptian politicians, officers, activists, and diplomats to trace the roots of Egypt’s revolution. From the ‘lemon-squeezers’ who moved their votes to Morsi in the 2012 election to the US and the EU’s frantic attempts to broker a compromise, the essay is rich with detail about how Egypt ended up at the brink.

Lady in black: We’ve covered Pakistan extensively in our first few weeks, but here’s something lighter: coming to Pakistani TV in August is Burka Avenger. She’s a female superhero named Jiya who fights not just the show’s main villain Baba Badook, but also the pervasive barriers to women’s rights in Pakistan. “Don’t mess with the lady in black, when she’s on the attack,” as one of the show’s jingles puts it.

We’re on the rocks: Earlier this week, WOTR Contributing Editor Frank Hoffman wrote a piece on U.S strategic thinking that gets to the heart of what we’re doing here at WOTR. Suggesting that strategy is needed to fill the gap between policy and operations, Frank argues that “we are on the rocks until we come to a better collective understanding about human affairs and the enduring realities of war.” If you haven’t read the full piece yet, be sure to do so this weekend.

Usha Sahay is an Assistant Editor at War on the Rocks.