This Week’s Foreign Policy Must Reads

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The Drone Papers—The Intercept

The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The documents, provided by a whistleblower, offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone wars.

On first read, Drone Papers looks as significant as Snowden revelations.

Why Russia’s Alternate History of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Matters—Julia Ioffe, New York Times Magazine

This is supposed to be the age of fragmented, unfiltered, self-tailored information, and yet Putin still manages to hold his people’s gaze — and practically remove them from the political decision-making process — through one of the most traditional media. The West can’t seem to puncture Russian television’s hermetic seal, or understand what Putin has always known: The boob tube is the key to the kingdom.

Russia: The World’s Largest Information Enclave.

ISIS Against Humanity – Dominic Tierney, The Atlantic

[ISIS’s] acts of aggression and barbarism have mobilized a vast enemy coalition, which includes almost every regional power and virtually every great power (and notably the United States, often compared to the Roman Empire in its hegemonic strength). Yet, incredibly, this alliance seems incapable of rolling back the Islamic State. How can a group of insurgents declare war on humanity—and win?

Because no one sees a battle against ISIS as essential for security. Not yet. Therefore no one is willing to lose 10 soldiers to kill 1,000 ISIS warriors. One day, that will probably change, and ISIS won’t look quite so effective. It will probably take an ISIS attack in an American, British, French or Russian city.

Little Match Children—The Economist

Over the past generation, about 270m Chinese labourers have left their villages to look for work in cities. It is the biggest voluntary migration ever. Many of those workers have children; most do not take them along. The Chinese call these youngsters liushou ertong, or “left-behind children”…One result has been the stunning growth of cities and the income they generate. Another has been a vast disruption of families—and the children left behind are bearing the burden of loss.

Family (or the lack of one) provides our formative experience. This isn’t just a China story. It’s a story about a world coping with ever-more rapid change and its many consequences—both positive and negative.

How School Shootings Spread — Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker

Since Sandy Hook, there have been more than a hundred and forty school shootings in the United States. School shootings are a modern phenomenon. There were scattered instances of gunmen or bombers attacking schools in the years before Barry Loukaitis, but they were lower profile. School shootings mostly involve young white men. And, not surprisingly, given the ready availability of firearms in the United States, the phenomenon is overwhelmingly American. But, beyond those facts, the great puzzle is how little school shooters fit any kind of pattern.

Guns + intense cable TV coverage + the Internet + the adolescent tendency toward imitation = a phenomenon that makes different kinds of people behave in similar and horrifying ways.


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