Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 15

Violence rages in Middle East, the Ukraine crisis is far from settled. Instead of looking at how events unfold, let’s take a step back and wonder what these crises might have in common. Benjamin Miller on Foreign Affairs argues that the disconnection between state and nation is at the roots of these crises, and there is little ground for optimism or, at least, for what one might consider optimal “solutions”.

From intra-state wars to inter-state competition, US-China sea rivalry is going to be a hot topic for a long time (here, Venus in Arms featured an essay on the topic). A major topic is “deterrence”, with the re-emergence of good Cold War lexicon on conventional and nuclear balances. War on the Rocks provides an assessment of the balance and on how China might exploit asymmetric advantages. It is drafted by a US Navy officer, and thus contains a clear viewpoint, but that’s exactly what we need to incorporate into the analysis, as this will be more and more shaped by “hawks and doves” interaction.

Now, three articles on “critical defense”. Glenn Greenwald’s new project The Intercept keeps scrutinizing the NSA: all those who watched Enemy of the State think that they know or imagine most of the scary details, but the article is very informative and also contains an interesting map of undersea fiber optic cables.

Social media, and Facebook to begin with, have been in the news because of “experiments” that caused new debates on privacy of users. Sentiment analysis, just to add to the debate, is becoming central for military organizations as well, as it might reveal patterns of behavior useful to predict crises and so on. Again, technology matters as it provides incentives, but to get the full pictures of how this going to affect individuals we should keep looking at regulation too.

Last, The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart casts more than a doubt on the “social functions” of war, an argument with a lot of supporters (and not just among Prussian warmongers. On the centennial of World War I, Beinart argues that war limits liberties at home and creates opportunities for governmental repression of dissent. Often, also it is the poorer people that pay the highest price for increasing social control. The aftermath of war can be oppressive too. We read a lot about Italy and Europe: May Day is a wonderful short story written Francis Scott Fitzgerald about coming home from the Great War in the US.



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