Weekend Reading: December 12-14

December 12, 2014
Red Flag 11-2

Happy Friday from War on the Rocks, where our heads have been spinning all week trying to pay attention to everything that’s been happening in the world—and unfortunately, not much of it is cause for celebration. Here’s our weekly round-up of the best pieces we read this week.

First things first: Yes, the torture report. If you need to be brought up to speed, former MI6 deputy chief Nigel Inkster summarizes the key findings for IISS. The Pew Research Center shows how public opinion in America regarding torture has changed over time. The latest surveys show that a narrow majority (53%) of Americans believed that the use of torture could often or sometimes be justified while only 42% believed it could rarely or never be justified. You might also be interested in this commentary by John Little, author of Blogs of War. Bottom line: “No enemy should ever be able to use fear to drive us one inch closer to systematically adopting the extremes that they embrace”.

A new AUMF for ISIL? In Lawfare, Jack Goldsmith analyzes yesterday’s testimony by Secretary of State John Kerry before the Senate Foreign Relations committee on the need for a new AUMF for ISIL. The big news is that Kerry laid the administration’s cards on the table about what it wants in an AUMF for ISIL: Quite a lot.

Why did Qaddafi give up his nukes? Check out this fascinating piece by William Tobey in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in which he explores the diplomacy and intelligence efforts that led Libya to abandon its weapons of mass destruction.

Pearl Harbor anniversary. Sunday marked the 73rd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. We dug up Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech, delivered the day after the events.

“You go to war with the Army you have.” This infamous quote by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, led Don Gomez to write about his own experiences regarding the inefficiencies of modern combat logistics. At one point in Gomez’s post, which features in his blog Carrying The Gun, he talks about his unit running out of food during the initial invasion of Iraq.

PTSD, suicide, and the Army. In Task&Purpose, Stephen Carlson explains how his experiences in Afghanistan nearly drove him to suicide. He argues that no amount of funding, counseling, and hotlines, can eliminate the darkness and misery that comes from the loss of friends in combat.

Who is doing what in the counter-ISIL campaign? The Atlantic Council compiled an interesting infographic detailing the individual contributions of the coalition fighting ISIL. For Breaking Defense, Robbin Laird and Ed Timperlake weigh “boots on the ground” against air strikes in an attempt to find the most appropriate response to the evolving situation in Syria and Iraq.

Every step you take shows your leadership, so don’t run in the Pentagon. For Government Executive, Col. Michael Musso communicates the valuable lessons he’s learned regarding leadership, time management, and organizational operations.

The dragon pours concrete. David Lewton analyzes Chinese air base hardening efforts for Air Force Magazine. He explains that China has not only deployed a growing arsenal of ballistic missiles and advanced land-attack cruise missiles to allied airpower bases, but has also made significant efforts to harden its air base infrastructure.

“On average, there are 16 hidden tracking programs on every website.” This was the shocking conclusion reached by James A. Lewis of CSIS regarding the massive communications surveillance carried out by the NSA. He also claims that any reform to this highly effective intelligence tool will bring with it great risk to the American public.

Maps! Agathocle de Syracuse released this map highlighting the various areas of control in Syria. The Institute for the Study of War provides a regular, very detailed geographical update on the situation in Iraq.

And of course, check out the great reads published this week on War on the Rocks!

  • Aaron Stein provides an insight into how the Turkish-Syrian relationship turned sour and explores the likelihood that an “air exclusion zone” can succeed.
  • With Iraqi officials considering establishing a National Guard force to organize tribal militias into coordinated provincial defense forces, Patricio Asfura-Heim presents the ten rules for building militias in an era of terrorism and persistent conflict.
  • Michael Kugelman analyzes India’s intensifying communal troubles and explains that many Indians fault the country’s new government for this.
  • Myra MacDonald explains how Pakistan, despite the battering it’s taken since 2001 and its decline in relation to India, has found renewed confidence in its ability to control militancy inside its borders.
  • Jerry Meyerle argues that challenges to American primacy from a newly aggressive Russia and a militarily growing China reinforce the need for a robust nuclear deterrent.