Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 21

Iraq and the Islamic State are on the center of the global stage on their own this week. President Obama’s Administration is still struggling to find a balance between the perceived need to intervene and limit action of IS (roll it back, too?) and the mantra of “don’t do stupid s**t” that supposedly drive the current external action. But how much of a threat is the IS? This article reviews the American debate, showing the diversity of views among US policy-makers, pundits, and so on.

Still on perception and communication of foreign policy, Ryan Evans assesses the link between events occurred two years ago in Benghazi, Libya, with the killing of an American diplomat and Obama’s foreign policy (not just on Libya).  On the one hand, too much focus on a single event, related attempt to build a political case against the President’s management of the issue, can lead to overlooking the big picture. On the other, the case “laid bare” more structural shortcomings of “Obama’s national security communications apparatus” (Evans talks about “incompetence” and “cynicism”).

Israel is now disappearing from the news, with military confrontation in Gaza stopped. There has been some revival in the interest over Israeli nuclear program, starting from its origins. The Atlantic features an article calling for Israel to be more transparent on its nukes, arguably the country’s “worst kept secret”.

Thursday might be a historical moment for Scotland, as the vote on the referendum on independence will be cast. The London Review of Books presents a wide panel of opinions on the vote and its consequences for Scotland and the UK.

Finally, a group of American and Russian experts met in Finland for a classic “Track 2 diplomacy” initiative. Robert Legvold on the National Interest assesses the suggestions of the panel of experts and discusses critiques brought by opposers of the initiative.




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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 10 (D-Day Special Edition)

June 6, 1944 was D-Day. Today’s Top 5 is about memory of that event and the months that followed, through articles, books, and movies. Skip if you are into breaking news, as the most important event for current affairs related to that event (will Obama and Putin talk about Ukraine at the celebrations taking place in Normandy this coming Friday?) has to happen yet.


Antony Beevor’s book on D-Day is a classic account in the tradition of British military historians. That is, a cunning narrative full of details about what happened, how individual men contributed to shape the set of events that led to the liberation of Europe. Which had started in Sicily a year before, but Normandy was THE front.


The US Army features an extraordinary website on D-Day. There are videos, original pictures, and original documents. The maps of the beaches assaulted are really worth, and they stimulate a vacation on the areas of landing in Normandy. It is about memory, and beautiful sceneries. Oysters and cider help.


The Guardian provides amazing interactive photographs of D-day landings scenes in 1944 and now. You’ll find archive images taken before, during and after the operation Overlord.


Several movies featured the attack. But one stands out as a real classic: The Longest Day. Far from a masterpiece and abundant with rhetoric, its black-and-white scenes depict an engaging account of the largest seaborne invasion in military history.


Finally, have a look at the magnificent documentary “Dead Men’s Secrets” (History Channel) on the Operation Bodyguard, which was one of history’s greatest military deceptions. The aim was to mislead Hitler regarding the exact date and location of the invasion. An extraordinary success.

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