Weekend Reading, Nov 8 – 11

November 8, 2013
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Happy Friday from War on the Rocks. We’re bringing you another round-up of the top reads from the past week to indulge in over the weekend. If you would to be included in our weekly roundup, tweet us your article suggestions @WarOnTheRocks.

From all of us at WOTR, have a great weekend. We’ll see you on Monday.

Exposing Potential War Crime: Matthieu Aikins has written another gripping piece this week; this time for Rolling Stone, documenting the U.S. Special Forces “A-Team” that was forced out of Wardak province in Afghanistan by the Afghan government, after allegations of torture and murder against the locals came to light.   You can also watch Aikins speak about this piece in an interview with Democracy Now!

From Our Fearless Leader: Don’t miss WOTR Editor-In-Chief, Ryan Evans, and his review of three books that highlight difference perspectives from the war in Afghanistan: the experience of the American soldier, the coverage from a war journalist, and a political officer with a unique understanding of his district and the history of the country. Evans captures the strength of each book not just to grasp lessons learned in Afghanistan, but how the United States must approach conflicts in the future.

Code for Dummies: This visual from Information is Beautiful demonstrates how many millions of lines of code there are for anything from an average iPhone app to a U.S. military drone to an F-35 fighter jet.

Dubya and Vladimir Sittin’ in a Tree: Peter Baker has an excellent piece in Foreign Policy on George W. Bush’s relationship with Vladimir Putin, excerpted from his book, Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House. Baker tells a rich story, but perhaps the most important and least surprising takeaway is how Vice President Cheney’s foreign policy instincts were frightening and dangerous.

To Ease or Not to Ease (Sanctions that is): This week in Foreign Affairs, Kimberly Ann Elliot made the case for easing sanctions on Iran after analyzing 204 instances of sanctions in the twentieth century. Her research showed that sanctions only achieved parts of their objectives about a third of the time, and in only 12 cases did sanctions lead directly to their intended results.  Elliot argues that Congressional action to prevent the easing of sanctions or pile on more will likely make the Iranian regime feel more threatened and more convinced that a nuclear weapon is necessary for its security.

Quantifying the Government Shutdown: The Atlantic has a good summary of the impact of the 16-day federal government shutdown quantified into some pretty disturbing facts. You can read the White House’s full report of the costs of the shutdown here.

Reading Diaries is not just for Little Brothers Anymore: This week Al Jazeera obtained a copy of the diaries of Abu Zubaydah, one of the highest-profile prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Once labeled a key figure in the War on Terror, Zubaydah has been in captivity for over ten years and has yet to been formally charged. Al Jazeera has compiled highlights from his first notebook and also posted the original translated document online. According to Al Jazeera, the notebooks “cast fresh light on Zubaydah and provide a fuller picture of the official U.S. accounts of the campaign against Al-Qaeda and related organizations.” We look forward to reading more on this from our readers and contributors.

WOTR Round-up: Don’t miss these great reads posted this week.

  • Scott Cheney-Peters writes about how not to go to war with China. Specifically, he notes that the U.S. needs to focus on efforts that sow respect and improve familiarity.
  • Peter Munson looks at the Office of Net Assessment as he argues that society’s shifting political preferences and conceptions of the role of state are changing the way leading states prioritize their efforts, allocate their resources, and conceive their international objectives.
  • Sir Lawrence Freedman discusses lessons learned from JFK’s strategy in this podcast of him speaking at the British Embassy in Washington. DC.


Lauren Katzenberg is an assistant editor at War on the Rocks. She raises baboons in a wildlife reserve in her spare time.



Photo Credit: Jack Somerville