Weekend Reading: April 17-19 Edition

April 17, 2015

First off, we’d like to welcome Alex Hecht to War on the Rocks, who will be taking over the Molotov Cocktail blog, our vertical that features all things booze related. You can read about Alex’s background here.

Here’s what we’re reading and what you should be reading.

The time the AP used “brain was oozing out” to report a presidential assassination. “There was a rush towards the President’s box, when cries were heard — ‘Stand back and give him air!’ ‘Has anyone stimulants?’ On a hasty examination it was found that the President had been shot through the head above and back of the temporal bone, and that some of his brain was oozing out.” — On the 150-year anniversary of the Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, which took placed on April, 14, 1865, the Associated Press ran its original report of the attack, written by AP correspondent Lawrence Gobright.

What do Lagavulin 16 and ISIS have in common? The latest War on the Rocks podcast features J.M. Berger, William McCants, Denise Natali, Douglas Ollivant, and Ryan Evans with a Lagavulin 16 neat in hand debating the Islamic State’s war in Iraq and Syria and whether it’s possible to destroy ISIS or ultimately just degrade it in the next two years.

Don’t forget about China. “Nobody wants a military confrontation with China — the consequences would be catastrophic for the entire world and could include a nuclear exchange. An effective American strategy for maintaining the balance of power in Asia and avoiding a fight with China must combine diplomacy with military deterrence … Without adequate resources, the sound policy prescriptions and recommendations contained in Revising U.S. Grand Strategy Toward China are nothing more than wishful thinking.”  — Col. Stephen Liszewski, a fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that Washington needs to direct more attention and resources to offsetting China’s increasing military power and modernization efforts.

Want more? For War on the Rocks, Enrique Oti writes that Chinese hacking efforts aren’t  going away anytime soon. “The United States may protest China’s cyber activities and encourage them to take another path, but unless Chinese fears can be alleviated, or be replaced by an even greater fear, the Chinese have no reason to change a strategy that seems to be working in their favor.”

The Navy gets put on blast. “The majority of senior military leaders are white, Christian, conservative men with engineering degrees from a service academy, masters’ degrees from a war college, who grew up middle-class or privileged and whose wives do not have a career outside the home. There is nothing wrong with any of this — indeed, this is probably the profile of most executives in America. But this also means there’s a lack of diversity of ideas, a resistance to alternative ways of thinking, and the lethality of group think.” — Anna Granville writing for Task & Purpose on the four reasons she is resigning her commission as a naval officer.

Want more? In response to Granville’s open resignation, Lt. Roger Misso offered a rebuttal for why not to resign the Navy. He writes, “… junior officers can build the service we want. We can only do this, however, by staying in long enough to see real change pushed through. Every officer who can articulate essential changes that must be made to the service, yet leaves that service in disgust, erodes a vibrant young officer corps whose challenge is to prepare to lead a service with common sense and courage. We must achieve critical mass in order to transplant our grassroots dialogue of today into tomorrow’s occupants of Tingey House.”

Two cents on two percent. “Having a way of measuring whether and how NATO member states are sharing risks and burdens is very important. But the 2 percent goal is utterly ineffective in achieving this objective. To manage the challenge of burden and risk sharing, the alliance needs a more effective yardstick.” — John Deni, writing for the Carnegie Europe project, calls the 2% defense investment pledge set by NATO governments effectively useless.

Dark history. “The missionaries knew of the potential wrath of the Japanese, having lived under a tenuous peace in this border region just south of occupied China. Stories of the atrocities at Nanking, where the river had turned red from blood, had circulated widely. When the Japanese came into a town, ‘the first thing that you see is a group of cavalrymen,’ Herbert Vandenberg, an American priest, would recall. ‘The horses have on shiny black boots. The men wear boots and a helmet. They are carrying sub-machine guns.’” — Smithsonian Magazine just published a dramatic account compiled from records recently unearthed in the archives of DePaul University detailing the horrific retaliation by the Japanese against the Chinese in the aftermath of the Doolittle raid during World War II.

The WWII bombings of London visualized in new interactive tool. A new initiative called the Bomb Sight project is using web-mapping tools to illustrate the London World War II bomb census between July 10, 1940 and June 6, 1941. According to the site, the project has “scanned original 1940s bomb census maps, geo-referenced the maps and digitally captured the geographical locations of all the falling bombs recorded on the original map.” This result is this interactive map that can be viewed here. >> Hat tip to Christopher Mewett for finding this gem.

In case you missed it. Here’s a roundup of some War on the Rocks stories from the past week.


Lauren Katzenberg is an editor at War on the Rocks. She is also the managing editor of Task & Purpose, a news and culture publication covering veterans and military affairs. Follow her on Twitter @lkatzenberg.

If you have an article you think should be included in the weekend reading list, shoot it over to lauren.katzenberg@warontherocks.com.

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