Weekend Reading: May 9 Edition

May 9, 2014

Happy Friday, readers! It’s been a busy few days in the foreign policy realm from Michelle Obama pouting on Twitter for the #BringBackOurGirls campaign to the Benghazi witch hunt, so we’ve rounded up the top reads of the week to get you caught up over the weekend. Read it, Tweet it, and send us your thoughts!

The #BringBackOurGirls Bandwagon: Everyone jumped on the #BringBackOurGirls campaign this week, calling for the release of nearly 300 girls who were kidnapped last month by the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram. For thoughtful commentary, see Elizabeth Pearson and Jacob Zenn, writing for the Guardian, who offered insight into how Nigerian police have also detained women and children as a tactical weapon of war against Boko Haram (these two were on top of this issue back in March in a piece for War on the Rocks). Additionally, Hayes Brown weighed in on why Nigeria hasn’t been able to find the missing girls for ThinkProgress.  And finally, Daniel Soloman compared the responses from the public to the #BringBackOurGirls and Kony 2012 campaigns.

Your Boozy Visual of the Week: Visual Statistix has a great infographic showing the data results of pouring every drink in the world into one big glass. Using Paul Knorr’s book Big Bad-Ass Book of Cocktails, he extracted the ingredient list of all 1,500 recipes and then determined the average cocktail, which he named the Teetotaler’s Terror. We’d be game to try it.

Alternatives to USAJobs and Other Tips for Joining the Intel Community: On the Source and Methods blog, McKenzie Rowland argues why when searching for an analyst job, USAJobs.gov is not the way to go. Instead, she offers agency sites to use for intelligence organizations and some advice for navigating misleading career pages.

Misunderstanding NATO and the Ukraine Crisis: Sean Kay, writing for the National Interest (check out their new website redesign!), has a great long-read on understanding and misunderstanding NATO’s role in the Ukraine crisis. Kay addresses the question, would the American public or the European allies really risk war with a nuclear Russia to defend the Baltic countries by looking at the problems with NATO enlargement.

Video of the Week: Check out this great video, sent to us by WOTR contributor John Thorne, promoting the Navy’s Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman. Everyone enjoys the outdoors!

“Small” NGOs Making Big Bucks: The Wall Street Journal has an investigative piece on how a “small” NGO pulled in +$700 million of USAID money in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the article, International Relief and Development (IRD) increased its annual revenue from $1.2 million to $706 million largely through USAID funding for lofty projects in warzones doing everything from building roads to funding wheat production. However, many of these projects failed to achieve their objectives, and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction is now investigating claims of civil fraud on one Afghanistan road project, which wound up costing $317 million.

Mattis Doing What he Does Best: Being a Badass: On April 23rd, Retired Marine General Jim Mattis gave a speech at the 3rd Annual Salute to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans in which he addressed the ongoing narrative  in the public sphere of painting veterans as victims. “I would just say there is one misperception of our veterans and that is they are somehow damaged goods,” Mattis said. “I don’t buy it.” If you don’t have time to watch the whole speech, veterans blog Task & Purpose had a good summary of it this week.

The Bottom Line on Benghazi: We’re pretty sick of the Benghazi headlines too, but Jane Mayer writing for the New Yorker, offers a nice reflection on the response of President Reagan and Congress in 1983 and 1984 after a series of terrorists attacks in Lebanon. Bottom line: “If you compare the costs of the Reagan Administration’s serial security lapses in Beirut to the costs of Benghazi, it’s clear what has really deteriorated in the intervening three decades. It’s not the security of American government personnel working abroad. It’s the behavior of American congressmen at home.

WOTR Weekly Roundup: As always, don’t miss these great reads published by War on the Rocks this week:

  • WOTR Editor-in-Chief Ryan Eyan argues why Afghanistan needs the interpreters to stay.

  • Daveed Gartenstein-Ross questions the consequences of NATO’s “good” war in Libya.

  • Commander Elton C. Parker, III and Bryan McGrath debate U.S. engagement versus estrangement with China.

  • Stanley J. Wiechnik makes the case that democracy in Iraq is the Kobayashi Maru; a no-win scenario.


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