Weekend Reading: February 27 – March 1

February 27, 2015

Welcome back, party people! The weekend is here, the llamas are safe at home, and we have your assigned reading for you.

When a butterfly goes nuclear. In the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Emily Strasser pens an elegant reflection on the origins of nuclear war. She writes:

The uranium in the Hiroshima bomb was about 80 percent uranium 235. One metric ton of natural uranium typically contains only 7 kilograms of uranium 235. Of the 64 kilograms of uranium in the bomb, less than one kilogram underwent fission, and the entire energy of the explosion came from just over half a gram of matter that was converted to energy. That is about the weight of a butterfly.

Uprising in Kabul. At the Afghanistan Analysts Network, Thomas Ruttig revisits the “six days that shook Kabul” – the first urban uprising against the Soviet occupation of the capital city. It actually kicked off when the Soviets arrested key Shia leaders. As one participant recalled, that night “all the people went on the roofs of their houses and they were yelling Allah-o Akbar. One of my memories of that time is that in the morning of that night all the people had sore throat for they shouted Allah-o Akbar during the night.”

75 Days. That’s how long its been since a U.S. servicemember has been killed in a combat zone – the longest in the post-9/11 era.

Mattis on Grand Strategy. Over at the Hoover Institution, retired General James Mattis, one of the most revered military leaders of our time, offers his thoughts on a new American grand strategy. “We have lived too long now in a strategy-free mode,” he says.

Sun Tzu on the Islamic State. What does the grand master strategist of ancient China have to say about the rampaging Islamic extremists tearing their way across the Middle East? More than you think, or at least that’s what Martin Sieff has to say.

How satellites see global commerce. Check out this amazing video from FleetMon that shows a satellite’s view of global shipping traffic. See just how vulnerable global trade is to disruption at geographic choke points.

Why do we negotiate in Geneva? Ever wonder why so many peace deals and agreements are negotiated (or attempted) in Geneva? We did, and we found out here at ISN.