Weekend Reading: January 31st

January 31, 2014

Hello, WOTR readers. TGIF! We’re looking forward to a much-needed weekend after another polar vortex-plagued week. While everyone tries to keep warm, be sure to check these top reads from the past week.

China’s Policy in Africa: Bribery. Roads and Kingdoms has an interesting post this week about China’s “stadium diplomacy” in Africa, which is almost as literal as it sounds. Since 1970, China has been building national arenas across the continent in return for access to natural resources, votes at the United Nations and the marginalization of Taiwan. To sum up just how often this form of soft diplomacy strategy has been used, author Elliot Ross writes: “If there was a Millennium Development Goal for stadia per capita, Jeffrey Sachs would probably turn up one morning at one of his Millennium Villages and find that the Shanghai Construction Group had knocked up a 55,000-seater next to one of his newly dug wells, christened it Le Stade de la Fraternité, and carted off all the hardwood trees from the forest.”

In Graphics:  Pew Research has posted an interesting graph from Branko Milanovic, lead economist at the World Bank’s research department, demonstrating how two decades of globalization have changed the world. The “winners” of globalization turn out to be 200 million Chinese, 90 million Indians, and about 30 million people each from Indonesia, Brazil, and Egypt. Milanovic’s full report can be found here.

Why Hezbollah may leave Syria: Now has some interesting analysis on why Hezbollah will have to leave Syria. Author Hanin Ghaddar argues that Hezbollah and its leadership in Iran did not expect their battle in Syria to last this long and as a result, the party has suffered a major blow as its constituency starts questioning supremacy. She writes: “The decision to withdraw from Syria is becoming inevitable unless Hezbollah is ready to sacrifice not only the Shiite community in Lebanon but also the status and power of the party itself…Syria and its regime are mere tools to empower Hezbollah: they will not sacrifice Hezbollah for Assad.”

What your Booze of Choice says about your Personality: The Huffington Post has a piece this week on what your favorite liquor says about your personality. Fan of gin? Apparently, spring is your favorite season. Scotch drinker? (As is most of the WOTR editorial board.) You handle stress well and spend a lot of time reading. Fan of absinthe? Well, you’re probably just a hipster.

The Snowden Catalog: The Lawfare blog has a great catalog this week of the various revelations by Edward Snowden, regarding the United States’ surveillance activities. The leaked information is categorized by tools and methods, overseas USG locations from which operations are undertaken, foreign officials and systems targeted by the NSA, encryptions broken by the NSA, the identity of ISPs and platforms that NSA has penetrated or attempted to penetrate, and the identities of cooperating companies and governments. The catalog will be updated regularly, so stay tuned as it evolves.

The Costs of Corruption: Dave Clemente and WOTR Editor-in-Chief Ryan Evans have a new programme report published this month by Chatham House examining how the process of moving supplies into, around, and out of Afghanistan by the UK military has resulted in numerous occasions of local and regional corruptions with little question of the implications. Clemente and Evans looks how these and other problems and office recommendations for dealing with them as Western countries seek to dramatically decrease their presence in the country this year.

The Rise of Violence against Women in Egypt: Emily Dyer, writing for Foreign Affairs, looks at the soaring increase in violence against women in Egypt following the 2011 overthrow of Mubarak. Two recent reports (one from Thomson Reuters Foundation and another UN report) have sited Egypt as the worst place for women to live in the Arab world, with over 99 percent of them having experienced sexual harassment. While the constitution states the equality of men and women, it defers to sharia law within Egyptian legislation, thus leaving little room for improvement as the country tries to rebuild.

WOTR Weekly Round-Up: As usual, here are some of the great reads posted right here at War on the Rocks.

  • Christine Fair breaks down ten myths about U.S.-Pakistan relations that are regularly promulgated by Pakistani defense officials.
  • WOTR’s newest regular contributor, Patrick Porter, tackles the idea that technology mechanically transforms the world independent of human politics and the struggle for power.
  • WOTR poses five questions to Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret), former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and current Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
  • Evan Munsing argues that unless the U.S. begins pushing the Afghan National Security Forces to adopt policies more suited to needs and culture, then all of our efforts will be for nothing—AKA, COIN doctrine is not the solution.

Also, don’t forget to cast your vote for the WOTR merchandise that you’d like to see in our online store.

Have a great weekend!


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


Photo credit: Jack Somerville