Weekend Reading: Second Edition

July 19, 2013

It’s Friday again and we’ve rounded up the most interesting content about foreign affairs and national security from around the Web. Here are this week’s picks of what our editorial team will be reading over the weekend.

Be sure to send us your recommendations for the weekend reading list every Thursday by emailing us at editorwarontherocks@gmail.com or tweeting us at @WarontheRocks.

Talking with the Taliban: A New ICSR Report: Did you miss last week’s presentation of the new ICSR/NAF report, Talking to the Taliban: Hope over History?, at the New American Foundation featuring WOTR’s Editor-in-Chief, Ryan Evans , WOTR Contributor Peter Neumann, and Ambassador Omar Samad? Don’t worry, KCL’s Kings of War blog has a great round-up of the discussion by David Ucko. 

Two Faces of Terror: Unless you were hiding in a cave all week, you probably heard about the controversial Rolling Stone cover featuring Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. While we’re keeping our opinions to ourselves for once, check out the feature here and let us know your thoughts. Don’t forget to also look at the photos released by a photographer for the Massachusetts State Police in an angry response to the Rolling Stone piece.

When less isn’t more:  this critical post from the Nervana blog breaks down a recent New York Times article by David Kirkpatrick on the political scene in Egypt. The author keenly points out multiple instances where the complexities behind Egyptian politics are oversimplified, thus skewing the truth.  The simplification of news by mainstream media demonstrates a failure to provide balanced reporting on the ongoing events in Egypt. The author argues that private media, and Kirkpatrick in particular, have compromised objectivity for a more sensationalist story of good guys versus bad guys.

Battle Royale: According to our very own W. Jonathan Rue, force modernization and readiness are squaring off in the Pentagon. Who will come out on top? I hear Modernization has more drones (which are apparently not as cool in the rest of the world as we think they are. Sorry Pakistan) but Readiness has killer pecs.

One night in Benghazi: Adapted from Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi, a new book by Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz to be published in September, this piece takes retraces the events of September 11, 2012, at the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi. Written as a gripping narrative, it illustrates how attackers seemed to have detailed intelligence of the mission’s layout, as well as some level of Libyan government compliance.

What Happens When We Actually Catch Snowden? David Pozen makes a very interesting argument about how a Snowden trial could undercut the public legitimacy that the National Security Agency depends on here in the U.S.  He also suggests that it could undercut other elements of our foreign policy interests.

Lessons in Diplomacy: William Luers, Thomas R. Pickering, and Jim Walsh recommend a renewed diplomatic path to the U.S. for achieving mutually acceptable limits on Iran’s nuclear program and opening conversations regarding Iraq and Afghanistan. While not underestimating the risks, internationally or domestically, of taking this approach, the authors argue that the longer negotiations are delayed, the greater the risk of more conflict in the Middle East.

For Our Afghanistan Watchdogs: If you’re in the mood for banging your head against a wall in frustration, be sure to read SIGAR’s most recent report on a $3.4 million school in northern Afghanistan that remains unfinished and dangerous to its occupants under an abandoned contract overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. If you can’t read the whole report, Stars and Stripes sums it up well here or skim through SIGAR’s Twitter feed for highlights of the disturbing findings.

Movie of the Week: Check out this article by Eli Sugarman comparing the 1992 Hollywood movie, Sneakers, to the U.S. modern surveillance state, particularly certain recently revealed NSA data collection programs.   To then watch this cinematic gem, just stream it online.

Wonk talk of the week: WOTR Contributor Bryan McGrath, who wrote a provocative myth-busting piece on AirSea Battle for us, spoke last night at the Navy Warfare Development Command in Norfolk.  Not only is it very much worth watching, but it should get you excited about next week, when WOTR is featuring a counter-attack to some of Bryan’s broadsides in support of AirSea Battle. Watch Bryan here!


Lauren Katzenberg is an Assistant Editor at War on the Rocks. 


Photo Credit: Kevin O’Mara