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21 January, 2009

Notes From All Over 1/19/09

A collection of recently published articles, essays, reports, and blog posts of merit.


Freedom House has released its annual Freedom in the World Report. Freedom in the World 2009 is a thoroughly depressing document, with only one region - Southeast Asia - making significant gains. An image of the corresponding "Map of Freedom" can be seen here.

The COIN debates are heating up again. Colonel H. R. McMaster has an interesting essay in World Affairs comparing the American experience in Vietnam with her current overseas adventures that I recommend reading. Here is an excerpt:

"Thus, one possible answer to questions that historians continue to ask about Vietnam, and now ask about Iraq: How and why did America go to war in these places, and what best explains the subsequent course of these wars? ...That body of evidence indicated that the answers to these two questions were connected; the unique way in which the United States went to war in Vietnam had a profound influence on the conduct of the war and on its outcome. In Iraq, too, the way the United States went to war influenced everything that followed. A fixation on American technological superiority and an associated neglect of the human, psychological, and political dimensions of war doomed one effort and very nearly the other."

Continuing on in that theme, an amazing introductory essay on American efforts in Afghanistan was published in Foreign Policy earlier this month. Written by John Nagl and Nathaniel Flick, it discusses what is and was is not working in Afghanistan. Followed by an interview with CENTCOM commander David H. Petraeus, this is a must read for those interested in American security.

Gian Gentle and Andrew Exum get into a big argument over the utility of COIN operations here. Yes, reading the whole 70+ comments will make you smarter.


Let me take a moment to call to attention the situation in the Congo-Things here truly make me sick. For those in the North Kivu, my prayers are with you.

17 January, 2009

Climate Change in Perspective

A friend recently asked my position on climate change policy. This lecture by Bjorn Lomborg pretty much nails it.



Hopefully I will get to write a bit more on this later in the week; until then enjoy Mr. Lomborg's presentation.

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Additions to the Blog Roll

As part of The Scholar's Stage's face lift, I have updated the blogroll on this site. The "Blogs of Note" now selects 10 random blogs from my personal reading list. Along with this change came the addition of several blogs to the list. I will offer a brief highlight of these for the benefit of my readers:

Foreign Policy has decided to enter the 21st century with their new website. With this reengineering if their online presence, they have been able to get a diverse group of international relations experts to blog for their magazine. The highlights include Shadow Government, a blog ran by a group of former government officials now delegated to the 'loyal opposition', Best Defense, a one man show put on by Thomas Ricks, senior fellow at the CNAS, and Daniel W. Drezner, an international relations blog ran by a Tufts University professor of the same name.

I have greatly expanded my coverage of Northeast Asia with the addition of a few Japanese and Sino-centric blogs. Observing Japan is probably the best resource I have yet to come across for deep and insightful commentary on Japanese politics. Shisaku and Global Talk21 are also blogs where I have found some quality analysis on Japanese foreign relations and domestic politics. China Beat is a blog focusing on domestic and international media coverage of China and is always an interesting read. And to top this section off, we have Trans-Pacific Radio, a podcast and news portal full of economic and political analysis of the issues coming out of Northeast Asia.

Threesources is a blog I comment too much on not to add it to the blogroll. While only loosely related to the broader vision of The Scholar's Stage, it is very much a place I go to keep on track of right-wing news and commentary.


Fabius Maximus is another blog I find myself checking daily. While I disagree with FM on more than one count, the blog is a wellspring of insightful and informed analysis on issues surrounding geopolitics. Douglas Farah, former WaPo Bureau Chief, is another smart geopolitical analyst whose material is always worth reading.

My final addition to the blogroll is Zenpundit, a blog whose posts ranges from 4th Generation Warfare to cognitive studies, depending on the fancy of the author.