Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 19

After long holiday, Venus in Arms is back. The summer has been intense, if not for Venus, at least for its creators (who tried to finish a book manuscript). And it was a very eventful – to say the least – August indeed in international politics. With clashes in Gaza stopping, attention remained directed to two major fronts. The first is Ukraine, where signs of unfreezing seem to emerge as this post is being published. The last days were still pretty tough, and with the President of the European Council in pectore, Polish PM Donald Tusk, calling for Europe not to fall into the traps that led to the Nazi invasion (of Poland) in September 1939 and Vladimir Putin sending “humanitarian aid” in Eastern Ukraine, the situation is still very uncertain. One of the constitutive elements of this uncertainty is “how far will Putin go”: Royal United Services Institute’s experts examine possible military strategies of Russia towards Ukraine.

In the meanwhile, Iraq and Syria are still on fire. The Islamic State’s fast appearance on the geopolitical map has been striking and left most observers as well as policy-makers pretty unsettled. President Obama’s prudence also surprised (and/or annoyed) those who wanted decisive action by the US. An article of a couple of weeks ago, however, sheds light on the domestic constraints to a more forceful US approach against ISIL.

NATO’s role in the two crises is still uncertain, and NATO troops moving eastwards these days are not (yet?) a clear clue of the alliance’s intentions.  Foreign Policy magazine’s David Francis reports on the troubles of the Alliance. A good read-ahead for the NATO Summit that will take place in Wales later this week.

The inevitable focus on Ukraine and the Middle But should not obscure that other events are unfolding. The Guardian reports on US action in Somalia to disrupt the al-Shabab network organization, which is far from being defeated according to the same report.

Finally, (the return of ?) power politics in Asia. New Indian PM Narendra Modi visited Tokyo and called for close cooperation between the two countries so that they can better cope with the growing Chinese presence in the region. More than twenty years  after the end of the Cold War, is it really time for the realization for an extended version of John Mearsheimer’s “back to the future”?



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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 2

Looking back at the dramatic siege of Sarajevo after 20 years. Our advice is to read (again and again) probably the greatest paper ever written on the Bosnian war: “The Clandestine Political Economy of War and Peace in Bosnia” by Peter Andreas (here, gated). As stated by the author, the 1992–1995 war cannot be explained without taking into account the “critical role of smuggling practices and quasi-private criminal combatants”.

Current conflicts: Russia and Ukraine. Kyle Dropp and other scholars provide an interesting perspective on public opinion and military interventions. According to their post on The Monkey Cage, the less Americans know about Ukraine’s location, the more they want U.S. to intervene!

A lot of debate on elections in Afghanistan. We suggest two different broader views on the war. Steve Sternlieb emphasizes how inadequate revenue is threatening Afghanistan’s stability. While  Antony Cordesman warns against lack of strategic plans for the country.

The Atlantic” focuses on religion and violence, highlighting the interesting results of a recent report by the Pew Research Center. Surprisingly enough, some of the least religiously diverse countries also experience some of the most religious violence (here the post by Emma Green)

Final recommendation. “The Guardian” reveals new Russian plans of annexation! Is Venice in trouble? (Mmm, maybe the gigantic cruise ships are more dangerous than Putin for the “Serenissima”)


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