Weekend Reading: August 1

August 1, 2014
Bourbon barrels

Every Friday, War on the Rocks posts the best articles, analysis, and multimedia on foreign policy, national security, and current affairs for our readers in the Weekend Reading List. This week, we collected the must-reads on everything from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to progress at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Happy reading and happy Friday!

Mission Command is not lost: Brad Hardy, writing for Task & Purpose, counters the argument that without a war to fight and a steady flow of funding, support, and latitude with which to fight it, the concept of Mission Command will be lost in the Army. Rather, Hardy argues that “if peacetime problems are reframed as real leadership challenges and not a romanticized return to the boot-shining days of yesteryear.”

Smart takes on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: When it comes to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the coverage is vast, the opinions are strong, and the footage is heartbreaking. We’ve put together some smart reads analyzing how this could and should play out. From the Associated Press, Dan Perry offers analysis on the three potential outcomes of the conflict. Michael Koplow talks about how “this deep ideological bubble that so many are in leads to unrealistic expectations on all sides, because everybody wants to deal with a world that they want rather than the world as it is,” particularly when it comes to expressing opinions on social media. For War on the Rocks, Claire Yorke argues that if a new strategic and long-term solution is not seriously considered during this ongoing conflict, history is bound to repeat itself. And Jacob Stoil explains why a ceasefire is so difficult to attain.

Why we should be worried about Putin: In a Washington Post op-ed, Daniel Drezner worries that as things continue to go poorly for Putin in Ukraine, “then Putin will have cost Russian elites well more than $1 trillion for a proxy war that gained him nothing but a hostile, battle-hardened neighbor.” Therefore, as his popularity diminishes, he may be willing to take greater risks, making his actions even more unpredictable.

Actions and consequences: Over at Small Wars Journal, Greg Simons reflects on the state of current affairs and trends with regards to the West’s engagement in irregular warfare and revolution, and the potential consequences and costs of this engagement. Simons ultimately concludes that “the current military-centric approach to CT and COIN seems to ignore or at least underplay the important and decisive embedded political aspects to armed conflict.”

Visual of the week: BBC Future has an interactive visualization of every major commercial plane crash in the last 20 years (435 in total). Creepy and informative!

What’s new at the VA: This week, the Department of Veterans Affairs made some serious headway after Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) revealed a $17 billion plan to reform the VA, and Congress unanimously voted in a new secretary, former Procter & Gamble executive Robert McDonald. However, Jesse Sloman argues that the core problems stem from the “changing demographics of the American veteran population and the dramatic rise of the VA’s workload and costs.”

Foreign policy — American don’t get it: According to Daily Beast, American voters don’t understand foreign policy. During the 2012 presidential election, the Romney campaign, for which author Stuart Stevens worked, regularly polled Americans on what issues mattered most to them. Only 6% of respondents said foreign policy. However, while polls may dictate topics that dominate election debates, it leaves many issues untouched that will ultimately be heavily influenced by incoming presidents.

WOTR Weekly Round-up: Here are some additional highlights from WOTR over the past week:

  • Thomas Nichols shares his take on why the United States pulling out of South Korea is a really bad idea.
  • Talking about the robotics revolution, Paul Scharre argues that the revolution will not be won simply by developing the first or even the best technology, but by figuring out the best ways of using it.
  • The War on the Rocks weekly infographic details four decades of terrorism in the United States.
  • For Charlie Mike, Nicholas Murray warns that the failure to address the lack of true academic freedom undermines the ability of Professional Military Education to properly educate its officers to think critically.

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: wanderstruck