Weekend Reading: January 24

January 24, 2014

Happy Friday and happy weekend from WOTR, where we’re looking forward to some warmer temperatures coming our way.

Here’s what our editorial team is reading this weekend:

News this week: As the U.S. contemplates its post-2014 presence in Afghanistan, what lies ahead? Here’s Borhan Osman with the Afghanistan Analysts Network looking back at the peace process over the last year, and offering some thoughts on prospects for peace in the future.

(Want more? Here’s Joe Banavige on WOTR with a different idea: rethink development assistance, and use it as leverage with Karzai.)

For the movie buffs: The classic Dr. Strangelove turns 50 this month. To mark its birthday, here’s Eric Schlosser in The New Yorker on the nuclear strategy behind the film.

(Want more? If you haven’t already, make sure you listen to last month’s WOTR podcast on nuclear strategy).

Al-Qaeda is not Kobe Bryant: It’s getting harder and harder to keep up with the prolific Daveed Gartenstein-Ross. Daveed’s latest piece in the Daily Beast discusses President Obama’s latest remarks about the state of al-Qaeda, using that to present two competing views of the jihadist group: the ‘minimalist’ conception and the ‘expansionist’ conception.  What is it with basketball players and national security?

“A century on we still search for its causes:” Now that it’s 2014, you can bet you’ll be hearing a lot about the 100 year anniversary of World War I, both in these pages and elsewhere. To get started, here’s R.J.W. Evans in the NYRB reviewing six books on the conflict. Evans’ review is a good place to bulking up your WWI reading list, and he offers some interesting insights of his own about the conflict.

Breaking down Obama’s speech: What should we take away from President Obama’s NSA speech? Here’s Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare breaking down what you need to know, and arguing that Obama in fact delivered “a strong and tactically clever defense of the intelligence community.”

Misinformation on cyber: Are we looking at cybersecurity all wrong? In the LA Times, Peter Singer breaks down what is – and isn’t – scary about cyberspace.

We laughed: Over at CIMSEC, it’s International Maritime Satire Week, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Members of the Center’s staff including WOTR contributor Scott Cheney-Peters bring you a series of humorous satires about all things maritime. We especially enjoyed this riff on a new maritime strategy, the “swivel to Africa.”

Longread: This week, Iran and the P5+1 began to implement their respective ends of the agreement negotiated in Geneva last November. In the New York Review of Books, Jessica Mathews of the Carnegie Endowment offers some background on the Iranian nuclear issue, the troubled history of US-Iran relations, and the way forward from here.

Graphic: How have global nuclear arsenals shifted over time? We liked this informative graphic from Matt Vasilogambros of National Journal, with information on the number of nukes in the world – and the US – and the changes in those numbers since 1945.

Rejoinder on the Air Force: In December, WOTR friend Robert Farley had a piece in Foreign Affairs arguing that the U.S. doesn’t need an independent air force. Here’s a response in The National Interest by Adam Lowther. Lowther argues that we should take a broader, campaign-level look at the value of each service, rather than having a “parochial” focus on any individual one.

Rethinking intrastate conflict: Why does so much conflict scholarship take place within the context of ‘interstate’ conflict? In a long piece for Political Violence @ A Glance, Christian Davenport and Scott Gates tackle that question and the conventional wisdom on interstate vs. intrastate conflict.  They argue that “intrastate conflict is now essentially the bigger game in town,” and point out that intrastate conflict can be relevant to studying traditionally ‘international’ conflict.  Have a read, and stay tuned for part 2 of this discussion.