June 6, 2014
Camel Tank

Big week in the national security and foreign policy realm, so much so it might be hard to keep up. That’s why War on the Rocks has rounded up all of the top reads right here in our Weekend Reading list. Don’t worry, friends, we’ve got you covered from the Bergdahl swap-a-roo to the anniversary of D-Day. You’re welcome.


The scoop (and a bit more) on Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl: Getting straight to the hot topic of the week – the Bergdahl POW release – the Wall Street Journal has a Q-&-A that offers a good overview of how the U.S. tried and failed to find Bergdahl in the past and the now-heated debate overtaking the media on “whether the Obama administration was right to bypass Congress to secretly transfer five Taliban officials in exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl, and whether Sgt. Bergdahl deserves a hearty welcome home in light of questions over his disappearance.”

The Afghanistan Analysts Network has a fantastic analysis of the “Guantanamo Five” who were swapped in exchange for Bergdahl. It sheds some much-needed light on the “mistakes on facts, misconceptions and problems with basic justice” recorded as U.S. “intelligence” in these detainees’ files. The AAN advised that this intelligence information, which is being released by major media outlets, be double-checked for accuracy, yet most outlets have failed to do so.

As for the controversy over the conditions under which Bergdahl was made a prisoner, Fox News strategic analyst Ralph Peters brings the heat to the National Review, attacking the Obama administration for what he says is making light of the crime of desertion.

Now that Shinseki is gone, what’s the game plan? So, we know this was a whole week ago, but remember when Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned last Friday? Phillip Carter, writing for Slate, offers up six well-thought-out ideas to start fixing the VA. Keep these in mind as we wait to see who the White House nominates to take over as the next secretary.

Someone figured out how to explain the news to Americans, and it isn’t Vox. A new study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that Stephen Colbert is doing a better job than mainstream cable news shows of educating the public on serious issues, specifically super PACs and 501(c)(4) groups, as well as “campaign finance regulation regarding these independent expenditure groups.” PolicyMic has a good summary of the findings here.

Remembering D-Day. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy that helped lead to the defeat of the Third Reich. To mark the event, Washington Post has some historic photos from the D-Day invasion. Additionally, the last Navajo code talker died this week. Chester Nez was the last survivor of the 29 Navajo Americans who developed an unbreakable code used for vital communications during WWII. Chester was 93 when he passed away in his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Boko Haram strikes again. At least 200 civilians were slaughtered in three villages in northeastern Nigeria on Monday. Witnesses said Boko Haram militants dressed as soldiers arrived in Toyota Hilux pickup trucks and after saying they were there to protect the villagers, started shooting at them. This attack occurs in the wake of the kidnapping of 300 girls from a school on April 15, in the same state of Borno. This is one of the worst attacks by Boko Haram in the region, as it steps up its insurgency against the government and civilians.

Some more smart people writing about theory and power. At the end of May, the Center for International Maritime Security has launched a series called Personal Theories of Power, in which it asked a group of national security professionals to provide their theories of power and its application. Covering sea power, air power, defense industrial base, and more, this series offers some “personal theories as a starting point for a wider and deeper national security and strategy discussion.”

WOTR Weekly Roundup: With the launch of a new blog “Charlie Mike” last week and “Molotov Cocktail” this week, War on the Rocks had a solid week of top-notch publications (we think so, at least). Let’s get down to business.

  • From “Charlie Mike”: Emma Stokien argues that changing the infantry officer course policy allowing female Marines to retake the initial endurance test, as put forth by Ellen Haring last week at WOTR, will not do female Marines any favors.
  • From “Molotov Cocktail”: Jarret Brachman offers up a delicious review of the Laphroaig “Cairdeas” whisky series.
  • Marc Tyrrell says that taking photos of the dead might be controversial, but it is all too human, in response to news that two RAF service members were being investigated for posing in photos with dead Taliban fighters.
  • Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Henry Appel assess an al-Shabaab strike in Djibouti and its significance.


Lauren Katzenberg is an assistant editor at War on the Rocks. She is also the managing editor of the veterans news and culture site Task & Purpose.


Photo credit: DVIDSHUB