Weekend Reading: Columbus Day Weekend Edition

October 11, 2013

Happy Friday! We know everyone is ready to kick off this holiday weekend, so as usual we’re starting it off with a round-up of the most interesting reads from the past week. Feel free to send us your feedback or send us a Tweet with your recommendations for next week’s reading list @WarontheRocks.

The Real History Behind Christopher Columbus: Ready for Columbus Day? The Oatmeal brings us the less known facts about Christopher Columbus and his “discovery” of the New World in an entertaining narrative with cartoons that offers a dark glimpse of Columbus’s legacy. Be sure to read it to your kids!

Engaging in Africa: In this Al Jazeera op-ed, Middle Eastern history professor Mark LeVine examines early foreign military engagements in U.S. history taking place in Africa. In doing so, he argues that even well-intended U.S. ventures in African countries are undermined by greed, corruption, violence and imperial agendas. Further, LeVine says, expanding militarization and securitization of U.S. policy in Africa is contributing to the conflicts and inequalities that foster terrorist groups the United States seeks to defeat.

Looking for Answers Behind Green-on-blue Attacks: Matthieu Aikins has another striking piece on Afghanistan, this time tracing the events and circumstances that have led to dramatic spikes in green-on-blue attacks across Afghanistan, particularly one in which a 17-year-old Afghan National Army police gunned down four Marines. Poignantly, he writes: “Greg Jr. died carrying out a strategy that seems likely to fail, in a war that may never be won, at the hands of a troubled teenager whose motives may never be clear.”

How to Deal with the Taliban: Malala Yousafzai schools Jon Stewart on the The Daily Show. Maybe we should be taking notes on her proposed strategy for dealing with the Taliban.

Apathy in America: The Small Wars Journal has a review of Andrew Bacevich’s new book Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country. In the book, Bacevich makes the argument that an apathetic citizenry is ultimately responsible for poorly implemented policy in the Greater Middle East for the last twelve years. Review author Jeong Lee criticizes Bacevich’s claim about American indifference, citing what he calls a “vociferous public outcry against intervention in Syria” that has forced the direction of American foreign policy. Be sure to check out the review, and the book, and send us your thoughts.

Egypt’s Liberals Have Lost Their Way: Farah Halime writes for Rebel Economy about Egypt’s new “liberal” government—which has been criticized by some for turning its back on political pluralism in favor of suppressing the Muslim Brotherhood—and how it will approach the challenge of an economic recovery. Halime argues that Egypt’s new liberals may well compromise their principles and follow whatever course the military decides upon.

Turkey’s “Democratization” Package. Spoiler Alert: It’s not all it’s Cracked up to be: Ottomans and Zionists has a good overview of Turkey’s recently released “democratization package,” aimed at correcting imbalances and righting wrongs in the Turkish political system. The article makes the case that the biggest problem with this package is not the absence of certain reforms, but the inclusion of others that may work against minorities and government critics.

China’s Small Arms Bad Habits: Zachary Keck of The Diplomat reviews a new report that identifies China as one of the leading proliferators of small arms and light weapons (SALW) across the globe. As concerning is that while China has signed international protocols regarding the transfer of SALW, it continues to resist transparency of its own transfers and action, remaining one of the least transparent countries in the world when it comes to SALW.

Feeling glum over the government shutdown? Don’t forget to call Congress and tell them how you really feel. Preferably while half in the bag.

WOTR highlights from this week: And from War on the Rocks, here are our recommended reads (or re-reads) from the past week:

·         Robert Haddick, by analyzing the past three QDRs, argues that the Pentagon shows no significant adaptation despite dramatic changes in the global security situation and America’s rapidly changing national and international security interests.

·         T.X. Hammes examines the ease in which America’s enemies can access commercial drone technology and how we need to rethink national security.

·         Frank Hoffman poses  and answers five questions drawn from the U.S. Pacific submarine offensive during World War II in order to prepare for war in the future.


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


Photo Credit: Gipsy Art, Flickr