Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 81

Britain last week joined the coalition in Syria, after a favourable parliamentary vote. On Kingsofwar, some thought on the rationale, and wisdom, of British intervention.

In the meanwhile, SecDef Carter announced that the last barriers will be removed to women in the armed forces. A survey shows that the rank-and-file is sceptical about the measure.

Sandy Berger, National Security Advisor to President Clinton, died at the age of 70. These are a few pages of an oral memoir, discussing some of the major foreign policy crises faced in the 90s, from the crisis of the Mexican peso to Kosovo.

This is an Italian blog, and there is news in Italian defence policy this week. The first  F-35 Lightning II has been delivered to the Italian Air Force, assembled in Italy. More are to come, although the number has been cut by more than half since the original planning (more news in Italian, here).

Maps are an important part of how the images of the world. This Burmese map challenges our conventional view of cartography, and the world.



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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 37

Happy new year from Venus in Arms! Whatever this year will bring, US defence and foreign policy decision will keep being decisive in shaping the world to come. This long essay of James Fallows discusses the “tragedy of the American military” as the outcome of a long-term process of separation of the armed forces from American society that led to the paradoxical outcome of making war less relevant for Americans, and at the same time more likely.

How’s the new US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter going to manage the defense apparatus in such critical times? Well, he might follow what Joshua Jones calls the Rolling Stones’ rule of leadership: “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.” That is: refine priorities, create better communications between civilian leaders and uniformed men in the Pentagon, build long-term relations with Allies and friends, improve the procurement process. Not easy tasks…

Where will conflicts be in 2015? French strategist Jean-Marie Guéhenno selects ten hot spots where violence might persist or rise this year. Apart from the usual suspects (Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya), he’s pessimist about chances of peace in Africa (from DRC to Nigeria) and perhaps in Latin America too (oil prices might deeply affect Venezuela’s political stability).

On the brighter side, Steven Pinker and Andrew Mack on Slate argue that the world is not falling apart. While news always (inevitably) focus on what happens, and thus conflict and violence seem ubiquitous, numbers would show that violence – from homicides to mass killings – are on decline. At least in the “long run”.

If you still have time (a lot, in fact), the NSA released at the end of last year internal reports on activities documenting abuses as well. You can start from here.


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