Weekend Reading: April 11


Happy Friday, WOTR readers! Here in DC, the cherry blossoms are in bloom, we’ve gone at least 30 hours without a freak snowstorm, and it’s the weekend. So things are looking pretty good for us, and we hope that goes for all of you, as well.

As always, another Friday brings you WOTR’s roundup of the best things we read this week. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!


Seymour Hersh controversy: This week, Seymour Hersh generated a lot of buzz with a controversial article about the Obama administration’s alleged secret involvement in Syria. Two great pieces we read that responded to Hersh’s claims come to you from Eliot Higgins at Brown Moses and Aaron Stein at Arms Control Wonk.

Your weekly eye roll: Have a laugh on the American public this Friday. Over at The Monkey Cage blog, a group of political scientists examined whether Americans know where Ukraine is. You won’t believe the map their survey generated, but the correlation they uncovered between geographic ignorance and views on the crisis might not be totally shocking).

Rwanda, 20 years on: This week marked the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.  Over at the new vox.com, Zach Beauchamp has a helpful primer on the terrible violence that began on April 7, 1994. For political scientists interested in the issue, Political Violence @ a Glance has an interesting academic perspective on the genocide from Christian Davenport.

Realism and Crimea: Jarrod Hayes argues in Duck of Minerva against a realist explanation for Russia’s incursion into Crimea. Breaking down the costs and benefits, Hayes suggests that “materialist and rationalist approaches to international relations like realism, despite their intuitive appeal, provide limited traction in this case.”

Qualified success: In Armed Forces Journal, Joseph Collins of the National War College weighs in on the QDR.  His thoughtful evaluation has some useful food for thought both on this year’s document and on defense planning in general. “In short, the Pentagon essentially got it right,” Collins concludes, “and deserves two cheers for what it did, and a parting kvetch for what it was not able to do.” Points for excellent use of ‘kvetch.’

Day after a deal: In the Washington Post, Gen. David Petraeus and CNAS’s Vance Serchuk offer an interesting perspective on nuclear negotiations with Iran: what happens if an agreement is successfully reached? They argue that it’s naïve to think that a nuclear deal would lead to détente with Iran – rather, it might empower Iran in a way that would compel the U.S. to rethink its Middle East engagement.

Indian elections: Starting this week, Indian voters began participating in the world’s largest election. Here’s everything you need to know about the election, including some helpful visual aids. And at Vox, WOTR friend Max Fisher takes a close look at favored candidate Narendra Modi.

Afghanistan at a crossroads: CFR’s Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking argue on the Defense in Depth blog for a slow drawdown of U.S. forces and military assets from Afghanistan. Interestingly, they point to the case of Bosnia and the relatively successful efforts to stabilize that country post-intervention as a model for Afghanistan – while also warning that political opinion in the U.S. may be an obstacle to a successful transition.

INF troubles: Is Russia violating its arms control obligations? Rumors of Russian cheating on the INF treaty have been swirling for some time now. WOTR contributor Elbridge Colby has a piece in Foreign Affairs outlining how the U.S. could handle the issue in a way that addresses potential violations while maintaining the strategic benefits of arms control.


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


Photo credit: robposse