Weekend Reading: March 28

weekend reading jelly beans

Happy Friday, WOTR readers! It’s the end of another busy week for foreign policy/national security watchers. To help you get up to speed, here’s our roundup of what the WOTR team is reading this weekend. See you on Monday!

Prospective President: This week, Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi announced his candidacy for president of Egypt, which will almost certainly be successful. But who is he, and how did he become such a dominant player in Egypt’s turbulent political scene? This profile from the BBC is a useful look at the rise of Sisi and the challenges he is likely to face as Egypt’s leader.

Fighting an enemy he helped create:” WOTR contributor Peter Neumann has a fascinating piece in the London Review of Books on Bashar al-Assad’s role in fostering the Syrian jihad. You certainly wouldn’t know it now, but part of the reason for the current successes of Syrian jihadist groups, Neumann argues, “is that Assad’s government had helped to set them up.”

The new normal? Over at Political Violence @ a Glance, Lionel Beehner uses Russia’s largely peaceful incursion into Crimea as an occasion to ask an interesting question: “Are bloodless interventions and annexations a new norm?” Beehner’s essay is a timely and thought-provoking examination of the changing role of military force in international politics.

Post bin Laden: The Foreign Policy Research Institute is out with the fourth installment of its “Smarter Counterterrorism” series by Clint Watts, which WOTR EIC Ryan Evans calls “some of the smartest essays on the jihadist movement I’ve read in years.” In this edition, Clint (who has been a WOTR podcast guest) looks at the “house of cards” that al-Qaeda has become since Ayman al-Zawahiri took over after Osama bin Laden’s death.

Longread on Congo: From James Verini at National Geographic comes a richly detailed feature on the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo. The piece is a disturbing look at the violence, disease, and suffering that have afflicted Congo for years, and the complex challenges facing UN peacekeepers there.

New issue: The March issue of the Combating Terrorism Center’s Sentinel is out. Have a look for features on infighting amongst Syrian jihadists, Iraq’s Baluch insurgency, and more.

Regaining the edge: Over at The National Interest, Congressman Randy Forbes and WOTR regular contributor Elbridge Colby have a piece analyzing how the US can fend off the challenge posed by China’s military rise. The shrinking gap between the US and China proves, the authors write, the “need to focus on maintaining and extending our traditional U.S. military advantages.”

1969 throwback: This week, we featured a piece by Major Chad Pillai arguing that Obama should model his response to recent global events off the Nixon Doctrine. Here’s the original Nixon Doctrine, which originated in a speech by President Nixon in 1969.

MILES shenanigans: This week, the Department of Energy got into hot water with Congress for requesting funding for the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System, or MILES. MILES is “essentially an advanced “laser tag” system,” which the United States provides to Russia for military training. Read Dustin Walker’s report on the kerfuffle at RealClearDefense.

Report: The Center for a New American Security just released If Deterrence Fails, a report by WOTR regular contributor Patrick Cronin on the possibility of escalation on the Korean peninsula. He argues the U.S. and South Korea can take a more strategic approach to the challenge presented by the North.

“From internationalist to wrecking ball:” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell played a key role this week in tanking the effort to provide new IMF support to Ukraine. But it wasn’t always this way: in POLITICO, David Rogers traces Mitch McConnell’s shift away from his earlier conservative internationalism – a shift that “has larger implications for Republicans — and Congress broadly — as Washington faces new challenges overseas.”

The NSA and Huawei: At Kings of War, cyber expert Thomas Rid offers thoughts on Shotgiant, the NSA’s investigation into Chinese telecom giant Huawei. His take on the latest ramifications of the Snowden/NSA scandal is worth a read.

Usha Sahay is an Assistant Editor at War on the Rocks and she now has fewer wisdom teeth than she did last week.