weekly roundup and best writing, 10/27-11/3

Another busy week in foreign affairs, opening with further Snowden “revelations” (check out Farrell/Finnemore at Foreign Affairs on hypocrisy as a strategic asset) and a rather unexpected abandonment of the NSA by both White House and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence personnel. A possible domestic terrorism case at LAX targeting the TSA capped off a horrid week for the U.S. government inside and outside national security policy, what with the continued travails of HHS and healthcare.gov.

Yet not everything went wrong. No setbacks afflicted the launch of future-warfare-porn-star USS Zumwalt, and Lockheed Martin’s announcement of the SR-72 distracted the hordes with wistful promises of Mach 6 movement. Granted, announcing a future weapons platform should not prove difficult. But given the F-35’s history, one must inevitably set expectations to stunning depths.

And some varied writing presented itself, as always.

Elias Groll, of Foreign Policy, tracks the absurd pretensions of war journalist Robert Young Pelton, who comes off as as having underlearned the lessons of Steve Irwin. And stingrays aren’t even compatible with small arms usage. Young Pelton’s condescension-soaked quest to find LRA leader Joseph Kony dovetails well with a fine Max Fisher piece over at Washington Post. Fisher contrasts AIPAC’s failure to lobby successfully for a U.S. cruise-missile strike on Syria with Invisible Children’s relative success in getting the U.S. to re-double its special operations efforts to find and dismantle the LRA. It’s a fascinating, slightly #slatepitches argument that does have some structural errors. Stephen Walt, amidst his caricatures of Fisher, does correctly note that the two cases aren’t particularly comparable in the breadth and depth of their respective political objectives. Worth a read, in any case.

Staying in the region, Hayes Brown quotes Laura Seay extensively in his accessible narrative on recent successes of the U.N. intervention brigade in eastern DRC. Such success is massive news for the oft-pilloried U.N., which quickly and effectively changed the playing field of a long-standing conflict. The efficacy of Invisible Children in playing up LRA issues asserts itself once again, as the relative coverage of these two Central African conflicts remains woefully disproportionate.

Lastly, Barry Watts graces The National Interest with a consolidation of his earlier CSBA report on the evolution of precision-guided munitions. I found the report itself a fine read, but Watts displays his writing chops in boiling down 30-odd pages of prose into a concise article.

Since I’m running out of room and patience, I leave you with Lawfare’s weekly roundup and the same from Just Security, two stolid national security law publications. Paul Rosenzweig’s undelivered testimony from Tuesday’s HPSCI hearing is particularly readable.

BONUS FEEL-GOOD INTERNATIONAL STORY OF THE WEEK! The Boston Globe’s Bob Hohler reports on Japanese Red Sox closer Koji Uehara’s blog, which a Harvard student kindly translated. Quite touching.

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