Top 5 by Venus in Arms – Week 85

Happy New Year from Venus in Arms! What resolutions did you set? It also depends on how you see the world around you evolving. This is how James Lindsay see the world around the US in 2016, and which questions should drive US national security planning.


2016 begins with an enduring rivalry getting hotter. The relationships between Saudi Arabia and Iran are critical. Generally this was noticed by most people (consumers), because of oil prices increasing, but not this time, as Keith Johnson reports.


2016 is Presidential elections time! We’ll examine national security platforms of the contenders in the coming months. In the meanwhile, while primaries still rage, let’s explore the most unlikely (early opinions) and still most successful candidate on the Republican side, Donald Trump.


2016 is likely to be characterized by the continuation of the “migrant crisis”. So the Italian Defence Minister Pinotti argues, as the underlying causes of the crisis (e.g. instability in Libya) have not been solved.


Finally, on our own resolutions. One is to read more books. As the dissolution of states in the Middle East has been making the headlines in the past months, we might as well start from a better understanding the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, and read Eugene Rogan’s The Fall of The Ottomans (Allen Lane).


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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 57

ISIS always makes headlines. And it still seems to surprise several observers, some of whom foresee its rapid demise every week it does not make important territorial gains. Well, ISIS recently reached the historical city of Palmyra, in Syria, worrying strategists and archeologists alike. The human cost of war in the area is staggering as well.

And ISIS did not stop there, but is trying to cause havoc in the Kingdom (of Saudi Arabia) as well. A recent mosque attack might signal more to come, also due to the radicalization of (a part of) Saudi youth.

So, why are teenagers joining ISIS? The New Yorkers’ Ben Taub tries to provide some answers.

Not many good news for US policy-makers, then. The good ones seem recently to come often from technological advances. Even manpower-intense activities such as Special Operations should greatly benefit, for instance, from increased speed of DNA reader in conducting terrorists’ searches.

Obituary: John Nash died in a car accident on Sunday. He reached popular fame after the movie A Beautiful Mind portrayed both his genius and his mental illnesses. He was, among other things, one of the fathers of game theory, one of the branches of mathematics that affected the most strategic theory, especially during the Cold War. His legacy is rich, and often non-penetrable to laymen. But RAND Corporation, where Nash was a consultant for several years in that period, still maintains a section on game theory and its several applications for social sciences and policy.

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