Weekend Reading: Global Crises Edition – TGIF

July 18, 2014

We think it really needs to be said today, Thank God it’s Friday. Crisis after crisis sparked nonstop headlines this week, from ongoing fighting between Gaza and Israel, to the downing of another Malaysian airliner, to a mysterious package left in front of the White House Friday afternoon. Yes, it is absolutely time for the weekend. If you feel out of the loop, we’ve got a round up to get you caught up for the weekend.

Getting the Arab Spring narrative wrong: Michael J. Totten, writing for World Affairs, argues that the two mainstream narratives that emerged in the West surrounding the Arab Spring in 2010 — a region-wide birth of democracy and a region-wide birth of repressive Islamist regimes — were both wrong because there simply is not one narrative that accurately traces the Arab Spring. Rather, Totten argues, each country impacted by the series of regime changes and revolutions developed its own narrative and ultimately its own unique outcome.

In defense of conservative foreign policy writing: At the New York Times, Ross Douthat argues that recently reform conservative writers and pundits are commonly being judged, dismissed, and criticized more for their affiliations and publications, rather than their actual stance on an issue, in this case foreign policy. He then goes on to acknowledge War on the Rocks’ own Elbridge Colby for his effective conservative foreign policy.

Infographics of the week: The Washington Post has a graph detailing the veterans population of the United States by county. And War on the Rocks has a series of graphics detailing the most active regions in terms of total number of terrorist attacks in Latin America since 1970, as well as a snapshot of terrorism in Latin America in 2013.

Remembering the Lion of Fallujah: Charlie Mike editor for War on the Rocks T.M. Gibbons-Neff published a beautiful profile of Marine Maj. Douglas Alexander Zembiec, also known as the Lion of Fallujah, who was killed in Baghdad in 2007, while serving with the CIA’s paramilitary arm. In detailing this story of courage and sacrifice, Gibbons-Neff spoke with Zembiec’s wife Pam, who said of him, “Sometimes I thought he was born in the wrong time, like he should have been born with the Spartans.”

The OCO argument: There’s been a lot of talk this week on the the Overseas Contingency Operation fiscal year 2014 funding request made to Congress this week to the tune of $58.6 billion. At Foreign Policy, Gordon Adams criticizes the funding, arguing, “As budgets continue to decline, both the Pentagon and the State Department are going to have to learn how to fit real needs into real resources. In response, writing for the Weekly Standard, Roger Zakheim defends the OCO funding arguing that its most basic value is to “to fund the current fight and to replace the equipment lost in the fight … Waiving the banner of budget purity and pointing to the peacetime budget as the more appropriate funding mechanism to address shortfalls smacks of rigid budget ideology blind to reality.”

The future of naval warfare: Deputy Chief of Naval Operations Vice Adm. Ted Branch has a great piece in Proceedings magazine this month detailing how the concept of information dominance will be indispensable to the next era of naval warfare. In its most basic form, Branch describes information dominance as the “means [of] delivering decision-quality information where it matters and when it matters.” To support this, the Navy is establishing a new command: Navy Information Dominance Forces, which is expected to be operational by October 2014.

Want more Navy? Check out B.J. Armstrong’s piece on naval strategy that argues we no longer have an endgame as we did in the 1980s, which is a problem and Shawn Brimley and Bryan McGrath talking about about getting unmanned naval aviation right.

WOTR Weekly Round-up: Check out these great pieces of commentary and analysis published this week right here at War on the Rocks.

  • Here’s everything we know so far on MH17, the Malaysia Airlines passenger plane that crashed in eastern Ukraine
  • Leslie Warner analyzes the rapid deterioration of South Sudan following its independence in 2011.
  • Peter Munson argues that the dysfunctionalism surrounding our national security network through disruption from the outside.
  • Sean Kay and Ryan Evans detail Rick Perry’s foreign policy sins laid out in his most recent Washington Post op-ed.


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.


Image Credit: Paul Sableman, CC