Weekend Reading: February 28

February 28, 2014

Happy Friday, WOTR readers. This was a really exciting week for us, with the publication of our interview with General Martin Dempsey and a special contribution from Representative Randy Forbes. But like all good things, this week must come to an end, so we’re still glad it’s Friday, and we hope you are too.

Enjoy another installment of the week’s top national security reads, curated by our editorial team. We’ll see you in March, which we hope will bring some warmer weather!

Budget madness: This week, Secretary Hagel previewed his proposed DoD budget in 2015, and a flurry of commentary predictably followed. To get stared, here’s a video of General Dempsey discussing the budget.

Have a read of Sara Sorcher and Jordain Carney in National Journal on the winners and losers of Hagel’s proposal. Then, check out WOTR’s Bryan McGrath critiquing the Hagel budget and what it represents about the US in the world. And for an opposing viewpoint from a political science perspective, here’s David Edelstein in The Monkey Cage arguing that we can live with a smaller budget.

(Want more? What about the endangered A-10? We loved this piece from the Christian Science Monitor, which offers some background and history on the Warthog).

“The worst job in Washington”? That’s how Eli Lake described the job of James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, in this fascinating profile in The Daily Beast. The piece discusses the ongoing problems caused by the Snowden leaks, the way the intelligence community has responded to the upheaval, and Clapper’s role as “the lone narc at Woodstock.”

Meanwhile, in South America… Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro hasn’t had the best of weeks. Here’s a detailed read from Der Spiegel on Hugo Chavez’s handpicked successor, the man at the center of his country’s recent political turmoil.

Hard questions on dealing with China: Writing for The Diplomat, WOTR contributor Patrick Cronin addresses the question of alliance cohesion between the US and Japan when it comes to handling the rise of China. Notably, Cronin agues that there are three key areas where the US-Japan relationship could diverge, and recommends that we start a dialogue about those areas before it’s too late.

(Want more? Another WOTR regular, Robert Haddick, argues in The National Interest that the US may finally be “ready to abandon a previous policy of forbearance toward China.”)

The award for most colorful language goes to… Is the US provoking an “angry nuclear tipped teddy bear?” This excellent diatribe from Lynn Rees at Zen Pundit argues that and much more about the United States’ ‘feckless’ attempt to insert itself into the Ukrainian conflict.  Come for the straight talk on strategy and national interests, stay for the excellent turns of phrase. We’ll be keeping this one in mind: “If you can’t kick a man when he’s down, when else exactly are you supposed to kick him?”

Longread on realpolitik: Our own John Bew has a tour de force on realpolitik in the newest issue of The National Interest. What does the term even mean, and what is its relationship to realism? Pour yourself a drink and enjoy Bew’s insight on these and other questions.

Trouble in the Gulf of Aden: On the CIMSEC blog, Niklas Anzinger looks at the role of Al-Qaeda’s maritime activities in Yemen. Anzinger links these developments to the weakness of the Yemeni state, suggesting that US efforts should focus on making sure that AQ can’t present itself as a viable counter to the government in Sana’a.

Bush, Ukraine and democracy: continuity or change? Peter Beinart, in The Atlantic, has a refutation to the idea that Bush would have more aggressively promoted democracy in Ukraine. Bush’s idealism notwithstanding, Beinart writes, his record on democracy promotion isn’t necessarily any better than those who came before him, or the President who followed him.

Another view on Ukraine: Dmitri Trenin and Andrew Weiss of the Carnegie Endowment have an article focusing on Crimea, an autonomous republic of Ukraine and a particular hotspot these days. Trenin and Weiss suggest that the recent volatility in Russian-Ukrainian relations, and the supposed ill will of the West, have made the Crimean issue all the more unpredictable.

(Want more? Jim Goldgeier of American University was kind enough to chat with us about Ukraine this week. Read the latest edition of 5 Questions here).


Usha Sahay is an assistant editor at War on the Rocks.


Photo credit: zoetnet