Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 39

“Terrorist hunt” has been in the agenda for decades, but recent events brought the practice under the spotlight even more. The New Yorker’s Mattathias Schwartz critically discusses the NSA strategies of controlling phones, arguing this is not necessarily bringing success, while it has high costs.

Non-traditional threats have been attracting the attention of armed forces in recent years. This is the account of the American General leading the mission to fight Ebola virus, on of the most recent, and demanding, of the new US Army’s missions.

Frequent travellers might worry about how widespread conflicts might affect their flights. The Israeli Defence Forces’ blog proposes an article on how technology can guarantee safety to airplanes – and their passengers – even in the midst of missile attacks.

While facing a complex range of new missions, armed forces are also rethinking the weapons they need. Which will be around in the next 20 years and beyond? The interplay between growing resource constraints and the rapid development of anti-access/area-denial weapons, for instance, is potentially underpinning the potential demise of stealth technology.

You might remember that in a 80s movie, Clint Eastwood flies an airplane invisible to radars. Well, now he’s an acclaimed director and just released a new movie, American Sniper. Is that a patriotic war movie or (another) disillusioned take at the myths of war and combat?

 

 

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 41

“Terrorist hunt” has been in the agenda for decades, but recent events brought the practice under the spotlight even more. The New Yorker’s Mattathias Schwartz critically discusses the NSA strategies of controlling phones, arguing this is not necessarily bringing success, while it has high costs.

Non-traditional threats have been attracting the attention of armed forces in recent years. This is the account of the American General leading the mission to fight Ebola virus, on of the most recent, and demanding, of the new US Army’s missions.

Frequent travellers might worry about how widespread conflicts might affect their flights. The Israeli Defence Forces’ blog proposes an article on how technology can guarantee safety to airplanes – and their passengers – even in the midst of missile attacks.

While facing a complex range of new missions, armed forces are also rethinking the weapons they need. Which will be around in the next 20 years and beyond? The interplay between growing resource constraints and the rapid development of anti-access/area-denial weapons, for instance, is potentially underpinning the potential demise of stealth technology.

You might remember that in a 80s movie, Clint Eastwood flies an airplane invisible to radars. Well, now he’s an acclaimed director and just released a new movie, American Sniper. Is that a patriotic war movie or (another) disillusioned take at the myths of war and combat?

 

 

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – week 8

Less talking about current events this week, we take some time to explore interesting stuff that does not always make the headlines.

Rosa Brooks’ “Portrait of the Army as a work in progress” describes the transformation of the US Army as it needs to refocus away from heavy deployment and is constantly challenged by the idea that technology could solve almost everything (and in a cost-effective way). “Regionally Aligned Forces” (RAF) are an attempt to overcome the current challenges by offering a model of forces ready for intervention in particular geographical areas, not to repeat errors linked to lack of cultural sensitivity that characterized recent expeditions.

The Atlantic features a James Fallows’ piece titled “Fear of Flying”, a tale of the disconnect between danger and fear. If you have always thought that “You Are More Likely to Be Killed By Boring, Mundane Things than Terrorism”, or on the contrary you’re very worried about terrorism, this is the thing to read.

Once again about robots, this Amnesty International blog post is about “stopping them before it’s too late”. As a reminder that future warfare will be influenced by technology but also by regulation, and how policy-making will deal with robotics matters (as much?) as the opportunities provided for by scientific and technological advancement.

On the London Review of Books a piece under the category of “seen from outside”, or how the foreign press sees Italy. It has little to do with defense, but a lot to do with the narrative about Italy. As usual, prejudices and conventional narratives emerge here and there. For Italians to dismantle them and for foreigners who know about Italy to come up with more nuanced accounts.

As European elections approach, Venus in Arms comes up with an endorsement. Not a political one, of course. Just go to the website of the project “EU and I” sponsored by the European University Institute and discover your political preferences as it comes to voting this weekend.

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Top 5 by Venus in Arms – Week 4

Quite difficult not to start with Ukraine, with the crisis apparently escalating (again). In the midst of several commentaries, data can be useful. Fivethirtyeight provides the usual insightful analysis on which regions might be the next Crimea, according to electoral, polling and demographic data.

A movie by David Cronenberg, a few years ago, beautifully reconstructed Russian mafia penetration in London. But Russian money as well might play a role in influencing UK stance on the Ukraine crisis. On Foreignaffairs.com Jonathan Hopkin and Mark Blyth offer a bleak but interesting picture of the links between London as a financial center and Russian money.  A catch-phrase: “(…) the Ukraine crisis has crystallized a broader trend in British politics: the increasingly subordinate attitude of the government toward the capital’s super-rich, many of whom are not even British citizens”.

Military transformation is taking place pretty much everywhere these days, in least in rhetoric. Israel has a long reputation of translating words into practice in the field, and here you can find more info on where that transformation is going: in a few words, more cyber and less tanks.

The US Army is also thinking about how to prepare for future challenges. A post appeared on Rand Corporation’s website pushes for the Army to remain “ready for battle” and avoid transforming itself in an organization devoted to nation-building or peace-support operations.

Finally, legendary reporter Seymour M. Hersh explores the international dimension of the Syrian civil conflict, providing a detailed account on intelligence that led to the escalation of the crisis, and Obama’s threat to intervene because of the alleged regime’s use of chemical weapons in August 2013. Hersh lucidly argues that intelligence on Syrian rebels developing their own gas was available, and that Erdogan’s government in Turkey was much more involved in helping rebels than generally recognized.

 

 

 

 

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