Weekend Reading: Easter Edition

April 18, 2014

Happy Friday, all! We hope all of our Jewish readers had a wonderful Passover and we extend a Happy Easter to everyone celebrating this weekend. But, what’s a family gathering without a little bit of foreign policy, national security, and alcohol-related debate? Here is our Weekend Reading list to help you spark lively conversation with grandma at Easter brunch.

Have a great weekend!

Pulitzer Disappointments: Benjamin Wittes, writing for Lawfare, criticizes the Pulitzer Committee’s decision to give its public service award to the Washington Post and the Guardian for their NSA secret surveillance program coverage that the committee deemed “insightful” (the former) and aggressive enough to “spark a debate” (the latter). In response to this praise, Wittes argues that the Post grossly misreported facts surrounding the NSA programs, and contributed to spreading misinformation on routine intelligence collection. Further, he argues, sparking a debate is an exceedingly low standard for one of the most prestigious awards in journalism.

Countering the Violent Veteran Narrative and the Failure of the Media: Thomas Gibbons-Neff wrote a great piece for the Daily Beast this week countering the narrative of PTSD-fueled violence that is currently playing out in mainstream media outlets. Following the most recent Fort Hood shooting, news outlets pointed to PTSD as the shooter’s motive without any direct evidence that he indeed did suffer from it, while a recent New York Times op-ed drew weak correlations between veterans and white supremacist groups. Gibbons-Neff argues that this narrative is widening the civil-military divide and that as a country, we owe it to our veterans to do better.

The Social Media Gurus of Jihad: Researchers at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation have spent the last 12 months compiling a database profiling 190 Western and European foreign fighters, most of whom are affiliated to the two most prominent groups fighting the Assad regime in Syria: Jabhat al-Nusrah and the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS). The center’s recently released report examines how foreign fighters in Syria receive information about the conflict and who inspires them.  The report also reveals how social media is being used by radical preachers to inspire western Muslims who are waging jihad in Syria. The Guardian has a good overview of the report here.

When Russia and the U.S. were BFF4L: Check out this infographic from the Daily Beast that traces the history of deals worth billions of dollars cut between the United States and Russia since the 1970s. For more on U.S.–Russian relations this week, read Henrik Ø. Breitenbauch’s “NATO: Conventional Deterrence is the New Black” and Michael Neiberg’s “Crimea and Getting the Great War Right” both at War on the Rocks.

James Clapper is Ruining Everything: Elizabeth Murray, writing for Consortiumnews.com, argues that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s refusal to reverse his decision to shut down public access to the U.S. government’s World News Connection (WNC) is a mistake. WNC provided the public access to its translation of foreign news articles and transcripts; however, it was terminated as of Dec. 31. Murray writes that the absence of this service will “result in the further ‘dumbing-down’ of the already-dismal quality of U.S. news reporting on international issues … and the undercutting of informed scholarly debate and analysis of global events and their implications for U.S. policy.”

Your Booze-related Article of the Week: Woodford Reserve, a mid-shelf bourbon, is under fire this week for its new national ad campaign that many are calling sexist. The New Yorker examines this campaign and the larger trend of sexist alcohol advertising, in which the bottom line seems to be: “Bourbon defines a man’s world, and women are welcome only if they play by the men’s rules.”

Pirates are Here to Stay: Bridget Coggins, writing for The International Relations and Security Network, looks at maritime piracy and why it is unlikely to disappear. While the threat is manageable, the short attention span of the international community and its tendency to divert funds to more pertinent conflicts in the region — as well as the difficulty in convincing governments to take serious measures to counter piracy on land — make it likely that piracy will remain a problem for years to come.

WOTR Weekly Roundup: Here on some great reads from War on the Rocks this week:


Lauren Katzenberg is an assistant editor at War on the Rocks.


Photo credit: Johan Hansson