Weekend Reading: Valentine’s Day Edition


Happy Friday and happy Valentine’s Day, WOTR readers! Between digging yourselves out of snowdrifts and celebrating with your valentines, we hope you’ll have time to check out our roundup of the best reads on foreign policy and national security.

Resistance is not futile: WOTR contributor Elbridge Colby, writing for The Strategist, argues against the notion advanced by Jake Douglas that pushing back against Chinese revisionism is an exercise in futility. Colby suggests that the situation with China is much more malleable than skeptics acknowledge, and therefore that the United States should remain resolute.

(Want more? Here’s another response to Douglas, which also appeared this week in The Strategist).

“Faith seemed to falter:” The unfolding drama with the Air Force nuclear missile corps has many wondering: what’s going on with the missileers? An in-depth story by Robert Burns of the AP reminds us that these problems – and many of the proposed solutions – are not new. Have a read, and look out for a quote from WOTR’s own Robert Goldich.

(Want more? In The National Interest, James Joyner uses the Air Force scandal as a jumping-off point to explore the possibility  of a broader cultural and behavioral problem affecting military officers).

A2AD throwback: Writing for the CIMSEC blog, Mark Munson has an interesting take on Anti-Access/Area Denial, or A2AD. While we usually think of A2AD in the context of East Asia, Munson points out that A2AD weapons actually played a major role in Egypt’s missile campaign against Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Afghan versus Afghan: Kate Clark of the Afghanistan Analysts Network has an analysis of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan’s 2013 Protection of Civilians report. The essay contains a number of insights about the political and military implications of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. Clark concludes that the report is “a good indication of how the Afghan conflict will likely progress as the foreign military presence continues to fall away.”

Obstacles to innovation: Here’s an interesting piece from the Harvard Business Review blog on the ‘air sandwich’ that prevents organizations from becoming as innovative as they could. As Tim Kastelle explains, eliminating gaps between those who formulate strategy and those who implement it can greatly enhance a firm’s innovation capability.

Rejecting maximalism with Iran: George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Piece wrote a response to recent testimony offered to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Perkovich uses the testimony to expose flaws in the notion that Iran and other nuclear aspirants will fully give up their ability to enrich uranium, a question that has spurred much debate. “Purity has its attractions,” the author concludes, “but it is not a luxury that statesmen are afforded.”

(Want more? Here’s a useful and extensive summary from Joe Cirincione of the issues that negotiators will need to deal with regarding Iran’s nuclear program).

Question on everyone’s mind: What is Hamid Karzai thinking? That’s what Peter Tomsen wants to know. Tomsen, the former Special Envoy to Afghanistan, explores in POLITICO magazine the mercurial actions of the Afghan president, and how Washington can better understand its man in Afghanistan in order to avoid strategic defeat.

Interview: The Majalla published an interview with Abdullah Anas, the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden’s former mentor and a participant in the Afghan mujahideen struggle against the Soviets. Among other issues, Anas discussed the similarities and differences between the foreign jihadists in Afghanistan in the 1980s (the ‘Arab Afghans’) and those flowing into Syria today.


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


Photo credit: Ben Schumin