Weekend Reading: August 14–16 Edition
“Humor and liquor are ingredients in most things I do.” With these words, Paul Mooney, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, won us over at Task & Purpose. He is behind a new sitcom called “Vetted,” which is about a veteran transitioning back into civilian life. Money is in the process of trying to sell it to a network. How can you help? You can watch the pilot on YouTube, where it is divided into four parts, and start some buzz about it. Here’s part one, which has 471 views as this sentence is being typed. Let’s see how much higher we can get it.
Don’t Say “Missile Gap.” At RealClearDefense, Kingston Reif pushes back hard against the argument that the United States needs to expand its nuclear arsenal to meet the threat from Russia.
August: Not a Month of Recess in History. As most of you probably know, the U.S. Congress takes August off. The month in general is the one most associated with vacation in many parts of the world. But some major historical events related to war occured in August and we’re going to recommend some great things you can read about four of them. We’ll offer some more later this month, on August 28.
- The Warsaw Uprising began on August 1, 1944 when thousands of Poles in Nazi occupied Warsaw rose up as the Soviet Red Army approached the city. But rather than rushing to the aid of Polish nationalists, Stalin’s army sat back and watched as the Nazis rallied and crushed the resistance, which included many Polish leaders who might later have given Stalin trouble as he ensured Poland became a communist satellite state. The historian Norman Davies wrote a monumental account of this event, Rising ’44: The Battle for Warsaw.
- Most of the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776 (that’s right, not July 4). If you have not read Thomas Jefferson: Author of America by the late Christopher Hitchens, you really should.
- Also on August 2 (but in 1990) Saddam Hussein’s Iraq rolled into Kuwait. Operation Desert Shield kicked off five days later. If you want to truly understand the madness and brutality that was the Saddam regime, read The Saddam Tapes: The Inner Workings of a Tyrant’s Regime, 1978-2001, which draws on thousands of hours of recorded meetings between the dictator and his inner circle. WOTR Senior Editor Mark Stout happens to be one of the three editors of this volume.
- On August 13, 1961, the Berlin Wall sprouted up. At first it was not a wall at all — just barbed wire. But it eventually became a 12-foot-high wall, more than 100 miles long. The wall came down decades later — a powerful story told by Mary Elise Sarotte in The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall. We have a review of this book here at War on the Rocks.
Let Me Take the Wheel. So says a U.S. Navy officer in the latest issue of Proceedings. Lieutenant Barry Scott makes a strong case for the Navy empowering younger officers with more command responsibility. What do you think?
Be sure to check out some awesome content from the first week of our brand spankin’ new website.
- Lawrence Freedman kicks off our new long-form series (which has its own unique layout — check it out) with a wonderful exploration of strategies of exhaustion and how they are playing out in Ukraine as Kiev faces off with separatists backed by Putin (who Josh Rovner says is strategically incompetent).
- Jim Goldgeier compares Obama’s efforts to strike a deal with Iran to JFK’s successful negotiations with the Soviet Union.
- C. Christine Fair busts some myths about Pakistan’s changing strategic behavior that are gaining some currency.
- And don’t forget to read this new report on U.S. security assistance by Dafna H. Rand and WOTR’s very own Stephen Tankel.