Weekend Reading: 25-27 October

October 25, 2013

Greetings, WOTR friends! Another week has come and gone and as always, we’ve collected the top reads from the past seven days for you to ponder over the weekend. Feel free to send us your feedback or send us a Tweet with your recommendations for next week’s reading @WarontheRocks, or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WarOnTheRocks.

The Attraction of War: The Disorder of Things blog has a great piece focusing on the German war veteran and author Ernst Jünger, best-known for his personal account of WWI, Storm of Steel. The piece offers great insight into Jünger’s as a veteran struggling with his own experiences.  It transports Jünger’s account to the present day, forcing the reader to “confront the fascination and aesthetic attraction that war and its spectacles continue to exert upon us.”

The Evolving Structure of Terrorism: On Tuesday, the New America Foundation hosted a conversation between Jacob Shapiro, Bruce Hoffman, and WOTR’s Will McCants – with WOTR’s Brian Fishman moderating – about the structural differences between terrorist groups, as documented by Shapiro. The discussion centered on how these findings change our current understanding of al-Qaeda, as its structure continuously transforms.

The Government’s Overclassification Problem: Steven Aftergood, writing for Secrecy News, answers the question, “What is overclassification?” Aftergood critiques the Information Security Oversight Office’s definition of overclassification as cited by the Inspector General of the Department of Justice’s new report and further offers a more workable definition. According to Aftergood, classification decisions involve multiple interests and therefore, a more consensual approach to the classification process is needed.

Mapping Conflict Zones before they Happen: Danger Room has a great map, which forecasts conflict levels in Afghanistan for June 2014. The map comes from the Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone, which gathers electronic news from around the world and then analyzes it to forecasts, based on short- and long-term trends that could potentially be used in the future to prepare for crises.

A History Less from James Madison: The New Republic has a great historical read on James Madison, and his vacillation across his long career about how security should influence the power we invest in government. Authors Ritika Singh and Benjamin Wittes trace Madison’s career to demonstrate that in modern times, attitudes and values do change, and should change, as citizens strive to maintain the balance between self government, liberty, and security over time.

Causes of Damage and National Interest: Paul Pillar, writing for the National Interest, argues that damage to U.S. foreign policy and national interests following the endless number of NSA secrets leaked to the public is not due to the NSA programs, rather the leaks themselves. This has contributed to a (mis)impression that calls for weighing the repercussions of potential leaks against the value of intelligence collection itself.

The Syrian Tragedy Brought to you in Comic Form: Slate has a dark and informative comic illustrating the nearly 10% of Syrians who have fled their home and are now refugees.

Those Crazy DARPA Kids are at it again: DARPA recently announced a new Cyber Grand Challenge competition with a cash prize of $2 million to the winner. What is the challenge you ask? Just build an automated cyber reasoning defense system and compete it against other cyber defense systems in a public throwdown. After the success of DARPA’s Grand Challenge in 2005, we’re expecting that this competition will generate big things in the field of cyber security.

The spark of the next Great War?  The New York Times has posted an amazing multimedia presentation entitled, “A Game of Shark And Minnow.” It depicts, in vivid detail, the front line of one of the most dangerous territorial disputes in the world – that between China and the Philippine over the Spratly Islands. Very highly recommended.

WOTR weekly roundup: If you’re only just catching up on this week’s WOTR posts, make sure you don’t miss these great reads:

Timothy Hoyt poses three questions that need to be asked about the ongoing drone debate to better inform policy and discussions.

Lawrence Freedman makes the case that the basis for deterrence in Europe is not nuclear weapons, but a continuing alliance with the United States.

Frank Hoffman has a great review of Andrew Bacevich’s new book Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country.


Lauren Katzenberg is an assistant editor at War on the Rocks.


Photo Credit: Rosita Choque, Flickr