Weekend Reading List: April 3-5 Edition

April 3, 2015

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Twitter Fight Club or death. I once again judged #TFC15 and asked contestants in my bracket of the Elite 8 for their recommended reads from the week. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to the annual Twitter Fight Club tournament for national security and foreign policy tweeters. (Here’s a write up from FishbowlDC about this year’s competition.)

Ballistic missile defense: taboo or strategic? Van Jackson, writing for The Asan Forum, offers a U.S. perspective on ballistic missile defense on the Korean Peninsula: “… military-technical trends in Korea’s regional security environment make [ballistic missile defense] more salient than in the past. North Korea’s capabilities, intentions, and force posture place growing emphasis on ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and UAVs. BMD’s ability to offer protections for the United States helps long-term alliance credibility. …  While no substitute for either strategy or diplomacy, from the US view, BMD is an increasingly important complement to a larger South Korean and alliance security hedge.”

What action justifies warfare? Christian Appy in an interview with Cicero Magazine talking about his new book “American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity,” and the difference between good and bad wars: “I believe there have been some just wars. There is a huge literature debating what conditions must be satisfied to wage a just war, but the most agreed upon principles in just war theory are a sensible place to start: armed violence should be a last resort defense against violent aggression. Part of what makes the subject so complicated is the great range of cases to be considered–from the foreign invasion of a sovereign nation, to terrorist attacks by sub-national groups, to armed revolution, to genocide.”

Infographic of the week: Check out this infographic detailing the chemistry of whiskey from Compound Interest, a blog by UK chemistry teacher Andy Brunning. The graphic takes a look at the varying chemical compositions, and how they contribute to the delightful array of flavors to be found in your favorite bottle.

The FBI’s reluctance to change with evolving threats. Nectaria Krokidis Gelardi at Overt Action, writing on the FBI’s difficulty transitioning from a law enforcement agency to an agency focused on integrated intelligence: “For over a hundred years, the FBI worked like this: a crime is committed, agents investigate the case, and the case is closed, hopefully, with an arrest. ‘Job well done,’ a supervisor might say, slapping his Special Agent on the back, ‘…now on to the next case.’ But after 9/11, the FBI was told to incorporate intelligence into their law enforcement world so the organization could better prevent another attack on the homeland.”

Where have all the bad guys gone? Scott Stanford’s piece for Small Wars Journal on the Army’s failure to realize that there will never again be a clear divide between good guys and bad guys in war: “It will come as bad news to many in the Army that there is no longer any such thing as ‘the enemy.’ Modern threats are not simply the ideological opponents of the past looking for a new way to fight. Today’s enemy is just as likely to be yesterday’s or tomorrow’s friend. …  Those who never imagined themselves as combatants or America’s ‘enemy’ will mobilize and fight U.S. objectives in ways assured to defeat those objectives if they feel that they must.”

SIGAR: the Pentagon only knows how it spent a third of its reconstruction budget. War Is Boring’s Matthew Gault on how the Pentagon lost track of $45 billion in Afghanistan contracts: “The rules on reporting foreign military sales changed in 2010, and the Pentagon has reported the information since then … but that doesn’t help resurrect eight years of Afghanistan contract information lost in a sea of data the Pentagon says is infeasible to sift through. That’s a problem because — for all the good it does — the American military has a propensity to waste a shitload of money in Afghanistan.”

War on the Rocks Weekly Roundup: In case you missed any of our great reads this week, here are a few not to be missed.


Lauren Katzenberg is an assistant 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.