Weekend Reading: Post-Turkey Edition

November 28, 2014

Happy belated Thanksgiving, everyone! This year, we are thankful for you, our WOTR readers, and this week, a lot has been happening.  So if you wish to tear yourself away from your leftovers, here are some interesting pieces that you may have missed this week.

Drone on. Kelsey Atherton of Popular Science discusses a nine-minute video of the history of drones. Since World War I, drones have had a variety of uses: reconnaissance, bombing, and now civilian purposes.  Importantly, Atherton highlights the distinction made in the film between drone strikes and “drones themselves, which are a technology that can be used for many strategies of non-conventional war.”

A not-so-happy-Anniversary. David Wise at Small Wars Journal reflects on the third anniversary of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s death on the Obama administration’s shortcomings in its Libya policy. Wise points specifically to the failure to learn lessons from Iraq in needing to have a “day after” plan after accomplishing regime change; the non-adherence by the Administration to its own “Engagement” strategy with troublesome regimes; the failure to use soft power, and thus open dialogue with more moderate players in the Islamic world, instead of continued aggressive military action to pursue objectives; and the failure of the Administration to place Libya within a broader geopolitical context that would not sour future U.S.-Russian and U.S.-Sino relations and prevent Security Council cooperation on issues such as Syria.

Losing Russia. Der Spiegel highlights the colossal failures that led to the standoff between the EU and Russia over the Ukraine conflict. Citing the meeting of 28 EU member states in Vilnius, Lithuania one year ago as “the moment Europe lost Russia,” this article looks at the warning signs leading up to the schism between Russia and the EU. Too many blind spots and misjudgments by politicians and leaders from the EU as well as Russia have accumulated, forming what has become one of the biggest crises since the Cold War. A divided Europe, a fragile Ukraine, and sparring Western and Russian leaders—the timeline leading up to the disintegration of the Ukrainian association agreement with the EU provides powerful insight into how this all went so wrong.

Testing the security dilemma in Asia. In the new issue of International Security, Adam P Liff and G. John Ikenberry explore if there is really an unavoidable security dilemma involving China. Their answer may surprise you.

No small footprints in the Middle East. In the face of the threat posed by ISIL and the ensuing debate about the best response strategy for the United States, some have pushed a “small footprint” strategy, similar to the U.S. approach to Colombia. Jorge Delgado at Strife, however, disagrees and states that the case of Colombia and the tactics employed there by the United States are too specific to the country itself, and therefore inapplicable elsewhere, such as in the Middle East..

Post-diplomacy diplomacy. In the aftermath of expired the nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran, Ilan Goldenberg and Elizabeth Rosenberg write in the National Interest about the need for careful diplomacy by American and Iranian negotiators in order to ensure that prospects for a future deal are not damaged.

Meanwhile at al-Monitor, Michael Herzog examines Israel’s stance towards the extended nuclear talks. Israel prefers no deal to a bad one, and while the Vienna talks did not result in any permanent one, the interim agreement itself is viewed as catastrophic by Israel, as it allows for the enrichment of uranium in Iranian territory. Herzog explores Israeli fears and reactions to the plodding nuclear negotiations.

No, not that Turkey. Aaron Stein deconstructs Turkey’s Syria’s policy over at Turkey Wonk.

The game that every strategist should play? It’s called Hnefatafl and it was invented by Vikings. Unlike chess, it involves asymmetry, as one side has fewer pieces than the other. Sort of like real life. And Vikings!

T’is the season to be ginny. Since Thanksgiving is over, it’s officially Christmas time, right!?  That means advent calendars. And apparently, this year has seen the (g)invention of a “ginvent calendar.” Instead of boring pictures or chocolates behind those little shutters, a ginvent calendar contains a selection of 24 adorable 30mL bottles of gin. While you may need to open your advent calendar in the evening if you don’t wish to smell like booze first thing in the morning (just because it’s made from juniper does not make it festive), this is a new spin on a Christmas tradition that might just take the edge off some of the other ones.

Before you totally discard the memory of Thanksgiving, read “War and Thanksgiving” – because as it turns out, you really can’t separate the two.


Juliana Shafroth is an editorial assistant at War on the Rocks. 


Image Credit: Mysid, CC