Weekend Reading: 14 March

March 14, 2014

TGIF, WOTR readers! It’s Friday, which means another roundup of the week’s best foreign policy and national security reads from around the Web. While nothing in this roundup can beat this, it’s been another interesting week in foreign affairs, so we hope you’ll check out what we’re reading this weekend.

“The most powerful vice-president in history:” In the New York Review of Books, Mark Danner has a long piece looking at two memoirs by Dick Cheney, as well as a new documentary about him. It’s a great look at the tenure of, if not our most powerful Vice-President, one of our most fascinating, but also a useful retrospective on the Bush administration’s conception of American power.

In the news this week: Senator Dianne Feinstein made headlines this week when she publicly took on the CIA for allegedly spying on a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation. To put the story in context, check out this Washington Post article, which delves into the history of the years-long tension between Feinstein’s committee and the CIA.

DoD budget gets Wonkblog’ged: It’s Friday, so we know your brain could use a break – especially when it comes to processing the details of budgets. Head over to Defense News’ Intercepts blog, where Marcus Weisberger has posted a handy series of charts to visually represent DoD’s budget proposal for FY 2015.

Flunking the Kissinger test on Crimea: In The National Interest, Dimitri Simes and Paul Saunders of the Center for the National Interest offer a harsh critique of the Obama administration’s policy towards Ukraine. The authors close by warning that if Obama doesn’t change his policy, and soon, “he will flunk the Kissinger test by clinging to a policy that has begun badly and could well end even worse.”

Single-digit carrier fleet? Mackenzie Eaglen and our own Bryan McGrath wrote a piece this week for RealClearDefense.com, weighing in on the debate about how many carriers the Navy should have. “The Administration should double down on American sea power,” they write, “and pursue a twelve-carrier force.”

“Pawns in the nuclear chess game:” If you followed the story of the three hikers who were imprisoned in an Iranian prison from 2009-2011, you won’t want to miss this feature in Mother Jones, written by the now-freed prisoners themselves. The piece, which is based on memoirs being released this month, offers harrowing detail about the ordeal that the three Americans faced.

Quick hit: Writing in The Diplomat, Robert Farley questions the need for the Air Force’s new bomber. The LRS-2, he writes, offers little strike capability that we don’t already have – a reflection of the fact that, in general, “the dedicated bomber is an endangered species.”

John Mueller and Crimea: Will Moore wrote an interesting post this week on the Political Violence at a Glance blog, in which he analyzes the applicability of John Mueller’s thesis about the banality of ethnic violence to the current situation in Crimea. Moore suggests that while few scholars subscribe to Mueller’s idea that nationalism is only a surface motivation for the “opportunistic marauders” who conduct ethnic violence, it may be a useful way to understand what’s going on in Crimea today.

Interview on ASB: Harry Kazianis of The National Interest interviewed Rear Admiral James G. Foggo, III, the Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Operations, Plans and Strategy, about AirSea Battle (ASB).  Starting with the central questions of what ASB is and why it’s important, Kazianis and RADM Foggo discussed a number of issues that will be of interest to WOTR readers.


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


Photo credit: Hermanus Backpackers