12th of October: Scheduling Conflict

Seriously considering shifting this post to another day at this point. I want to sleep but I feel a misplaced sense of loyalty to you all so here I am.

As ever, you can subscribe to get this sent to your inboxes instead of having to go ALL THE WAY to click on the link at this link.

Didn’t have a particular “song of the week” in mind and my usual “look at lastfm for the week” trick failed because I think the gym playlist has started feeding into it, so at the moment it’s just Chaka Khan, Nicki, and Taylor, which I mean, amazing, but nothing I haven’t shared. So, because I was listening to it on the nightbus just now and because there are a couple of great lyrics and no (AFAIK) overtly problematic ones, have a bit of Yeezy.

EDIT: JFC I sort of thought the last verse was from another song. Turns out the single worst lyric in a Kanye song (arguably) was in the song I called unproblematic. Good job me. Content warning for racism tbh.

This week’s article was the first of two parts of my (last!) piece for NATO Council of Canada, on the British contribution to the war on IS(IS). And now allons-y.

  • Again with the IS(IS). Good John Bew piece, including a critique of current British foreign policy. Two really interesting and absolutely-worth-reading close looks at IS(IS) (sick of writing that out) – one on the apocalyptic ideology they are increasingly expressing, and one on the brilliant Georgian general providing their most impressive tactical victories.

  • Solid argument for humanitarian engagement within a realist/self-interested politics.

  • Rather lovely, if terrifying piece on the movement from ENORMOUS TERRIFYING protests in Brazil in 2013 to a presidential run-off between the same two parties as ever in 2014 (pt.)

  • This, on the Ebola dog, starts out funny and then punches you in the gut so watch out

  • Roxane Gay, who is unambiguously having a moment, dissects that as an idea and is brilliant

  • This is a bit horrific. Response to a seemingly appalling troll-piece on sexual assault that 100% stands on its own merit.

  • Kind of annoyed that my erstwhile Madrid drinking partner is now writing things of this calibre, but this, on donating to charity in the face of corruption, is wonderful

  • Elon Musk, of privatising space travel-trips to Mars-excitement fame, did an interview, which is quite delightful to read. This article takes a look at the gene science of his statements.

  • Sick and tired of Owen Jones, his retweeting of praise, and his generic blandness. So seeing this 500-word dismissal of his book was A++ stuff, readers. Speaking of which, also sick of Greenwald + co so, similarly, this was fun.

  • See if you can detect the enormous, almost audible, sigh in this critique of the Sun’s awful “no more skinny” campaign

  • The other day I hit a brick wall on the dissertation so spent two or three hours reading Ask Polly columns – that one in particular is lovely. Time well spint – decided I might be happy someday.

  • As promised, some Bridget Jones thinking.

  • Hadly Freeman excellent as ever on the “wake up call” twitter thing

And that’s it! Have a lovely week everyone x

October 5th: Exit Polls

Longest ever break, that – we just skipped, I think, two weeks? I very nearly missed today, not through lack of internet so much as wanting to play more Far Cry 2. Couldn’t even write it at 4 in the morning like I used to as I was up at the crack of dawn to trek (quick and empty bus almost directly from home) to queue up (there was no queue) at the Brazilian embassy all day (I was out in 15 minutes). So that was exciting – certainly the most significant election I’ve ever voted in.

Anyway, I have now settled into the flat, but not into the rhythms of actually studying. My Pocket queue has gotten absurd, as whenever I do read it’s for tedious university stuff, so we’ll see how much there is to share every week, but for now, I’ll stay with the same system. Meanwhile, there’s a veritable glut of links to be getting on with this week, so I’ll get straight (says he, 165 words in) to it!

Weekly-ish reminder that if you’d rather receive this direct to your inbox instead of hassling ALL THE WAY to click the link yourselves, you can subscribe here

Song of the week is hardly a secret, but I’ve listened to it about seven times in the past 24 hours. We watched Bridget Jones again this week* and then it came on at a house party and jumped into my gym playlist – it’s Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman”.

 

First up, a couple of my NATO Council pieces dropped out of the system while I was away. This was supposed to come before the piece on India’s submarines (as evidenced by the transitional bits all over it), on Brazil’s own programme, while this, when I wrote it, was a reasonably topical look at France finally deciding to suspend the sale of the Mistral-class warships to Russia.

  • Naturally, it’s an ISIS-heavy list. The problem is, I’ve read so much on ISIS these past weeks that it’s all blurred into one. If it’s made it into the list, I think it’s good, and there are some that have stuck in my mind, like this overall look at Middle-East politics by Andrew Bacevich or this meditation on how hysteria has developed over ISIS, or this anatomy of mission creep. Otherwise, it’s just one, two, three, four, five pieces on ISIS that are all worth reading if you’re interested but broadly indistinct.
  • Lovely, bittersweet piece on how Odessa and its residents have been affected by the past year’s events in Ukraine
  • On a similar topic, I’ve not liked much leftist writing on Ukraine, as most of it seems about as sophisticated as the rant I got off the hippie who drove me to Madrid, but even though I don’t agree 100%, this is a really good critique of the West’s role in the crisis (without degenerating into The Nation-esque apologetics)
  • Also, good rebuttal of abusing recent events to fit them into a ‘clash of civilizations’ framework
  • A few good pieces on today’s presidential election in Brazil – one impressed by Marina Silva, one less so (Pt.), and a profile of Dilma Rousseff.
  • Sad profile of some of the campaigning mothers who have lost children to police violence in Brazil
  • In more positive news, this recognition of a quilombo community’s right to its land in Rio is a very interesting and encouraging sign – more context on the quilombos’ campaign here
  • Again, a bit late but this is quite good on what would have happened to the respective militaries had Scotland left the union – does nothing to dispel my belief that we could have reannexed them if necessary
  • Encouraging reminder that sometimes international climate efforts work – the ozone got better
  • Corrective to the idea of China as a “lonely diva”
  • A reflection on R2P
  • You can always count on Jay Ulfeldler for some well-sourced optimism – this on the “end” of the era of democratisation is good
  • Examination of what happened when Britain de facto secretly decriminalised cannabis (nothing good)
  • Mostly obvious stuff but some quite interesting bits and pieces from an informal experiment replicating Tinder
  • Powerful column on street harrassment**
  • 100% here for writers taking Kim Kardashian seriously
  • Two plane articles. One which will make you never want to fly EasyJet again because you know how the other half live. One, long, horrifying, dripping with tension, which will make you never want to fly again because you know that, basically, humans weren’t meant to fly.
  • Good response to a column on the “death of masculinity” in television (I didn’t read the original because I don’t like to waste free clicks on paywalled sites on hatereads, but this response stands alone).
  • Oliver Burkeman turns his guns on empathy
  • This is lovely on being a Sikh woman in business
  • As if #gamergate (ugh) wasn’t already enough of a nasty, sad, pathetic “movement”, it’s chief British supporters are the terrible Milo Yiannopoulos, and James bloody Delingpole, who is once again shown to be a troll by the devious trick of comparing his articles with each other. All it needs is for Toby Young to lend his support and it’d be a collection of the worst humans.
  • Finally, I loved this two-part examination of alliances in The Lord of the Rings films and its attempt to draw real-world lessons from the Battle of Helm’s Deep***.

 

 

 

  • * Which reminds me – I watched it with a friend who loathes the series, while I really like it, but I was wondering – are they explicitly, textually anti-feminist? Not the character of Bridget herself, which is where most criticism pointlessly goes, but the intention – I mostly noticed the negative portrayal of the ambitious lawyer lady, as well as the straw-feminist that is her sweary mate. IDK. Still love the films.**though it is a baffling haircut

    ***One minor quibble though – I’m pretty sure the elven reinforcements in The Two Towers come from Lothlorien not Rivendell, which mildly undercuts her point about overcoming isolationism. *adjusts spectacles*

31st of August: Final Stretch

In the UK at least, summer seems to have collapsed in on itself. Which can only mean I’m that much closer to moving into a flat and restarting some semblance of a life again, so with any luck, these posts will get a lot more streamlined. Until then, I’m still pinging across London multiple times a day, several days of week, with all the scope for consuming enormous amounts of reading. Without any further ado, then, let’s get stuck in.

Song of the week was my favourite revelation of last week’s VMAs – Usher and Nicki Minaj have done a song together, and it sounds like something that could have come off Confessions, which was lovely as I’ve kind of lost touch with Usher since then. NB: Going to be a Nicki-heavy week*. EDIT: There’s a real video! Excitement!

 

First up, NATO Council of Canada article this week involves neither Canada or NATO, but it is on procurement, so I just about stayed on-topic – I looked at Brazil’s military modernization programme.

Also, weekly reminder – I’m still sending this out in newsletter form every Sunday, hoping that it’ll eventually hit critical mass – you can subscribe here.

  • Lots on the Islamic State this week** A thought-provoking John Schindler essay (/polemic) on what he sees as the generational struggle against militant Islamists. IDK. Worth reading, possibly overblown.
  • A couple of good pieces looking more closely at IS – this one on the Britons going to join it, and this on its rise, relationship with Al-Qaeda, and future
  • Boris Johnson is a cretin.
  • Interesting discussion of why we respond so much more to IS’ violence than, for example, gang violence in Latin America, given their apparent similarities
  • Clear pushback on the emerging idea that we should side with Assad against IS
  • Great essay on the vacuum of power (but not a “why won’t Obama lead”) in the Middle East
  • Kind of terrifying article embedded with the Shia militias on the frontlines in Iraq
  • Important reminder from a while back that bombing Syria last year would have done fuck-all, and diplomacy has eliminated their chemical weapons
  • Investigation of the possible legal justifications for American airstrikes against IS in Syria
  • Another good Stephen Saideman piece on reforming NATO
  • First of the week’s New Yorker backlog clearout – long feature on Putin and the new anti-Americanism in Russia
  • Lot of talk of Obama’s foreign policy falling apart this week. A reminder that the low-hanging fruit is gone.
  • Hopi Sen continues his hot-streak in his first appearance this week, on the “Stop the World” coalition – I remember wanting to argue with something in this but not finding anything.
  • Second New Yorker is a feature on the Sri Lankan civil war. Hard reading, but nothing that’ll surprise anyone who watched the Channel 4 documentary (go watch that if you haven’t)
  • This profile of an abortion doctor in Mississippi is a great look at a wonderful man, that doesn’t lose sight of the fucked up conditions he is forced into
  • Couple of good pieces on the dangers of condescending reporting on the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa. This one, at the Atlantic, is heartbreaking (that ending – chills). This one, at the Monkey Cage (I know), more scholarly
  • Hugh Muir is excellent on the continuing horrors coming out of Rotherham and the shameless attempts to blame them on PC gone mad.
  • Thoughtful essay on admitting your white privilege
  • History of race riots in the USA, and growing more positively out of similar fuckery in the UK, a history of the Notting Hill Carnival
  • Harsh piece on war reporting today
  • Rather weirdly beautiful piece of writing on war through the eyes of the C-130 transport plane
  • Obviously this is a great blog on what all the horrid images shared on Twitter do to us, but I’m mostly sharing it because despite having consigned Thinking Fast and Slow to the “two-thirds read” pile***, I recognised the quote!
  • Fascinating account of the botched rescue of the Iranian embassy hostages
  • I may have linked to this before, but you should all be checking out Willard Foxton’s WW1 History Tumblr – based on a collection of contemporary magazines, he also shares little anecdotes or histories. Really interesting little tidbits every day.
  • Hopi Sen, again, on the need for a Spotify for news – I feel this.Even if money wasn’t a concern, the hassle is maddening – the Financial Times is pretty egregious in this regard.
  • Told you Nicki was going to feature heavily. These two posts that I found really helpful provide context to the brilliant Anaconda video– plenty overlap, but this one is a snappy Tumblr, and this one is a bit boilerplate feminist. Meanwhile, this by Emily Reynolds is just quite funny.
  • Now that Playboy have de-perved their website (mostly), can respectably link to them. This, on the whitewashing of hip-hop, is great.
  • Suspect time-lapse videos are going to be everywhere soon (Dad showed me the new Instagram app), but until then, this one of the Panama canal is quite incredible
  • IDK if I’m horrified or enticed by Arby’s Meat Mountain but this is a brilliant article
  • I defer to no man**** in my love for About a Boy/Bridget Jones Hugh, but this is funny.
  • As the start of the academic year approaches, this might be helpful to some of you.
  • Finally, Fuck this tortoise.

A long one, but there you go. Lots to be getting on with – see you in September! x

*I have some thoughts on Super Bass, which for some reason, I hadn’t heard before, and I have a platform so: 1) the aesthetic of this video is terrifyingly frenzied. Just that blinking in the first verse is disquieting 2) first time I heard it, I was immediately reminded of the soundtrack to Thomas Was Alone and this felt like a really good insight. Look!

**I’ve noticed that about half of these articles are still referring to ISIS. There are sound political reasons for this (not legitimising them as a state, chiefly) but I go with IS largely out of laziness and Twitter character limits.

***started it up again last night after writing this

****admittedly I probably don’t need to

24th of August: Inexcusable Delay

In my head, you’re all desperately refreshing the page waiting for this to appear, so I’m feeling very guilty at how late this is going up. I’ve increasingly come to realise that there was something depressingly self-aware about committing myself to be at my computer at midnight on a Saturday every week, but I can’t even claim I was too busy enjoying the Carnival or something – after the terrible Doctor Who episode and a couple of Sopranos, I got bogged down in a losing game of Company of Heroes (wild times all around). Anyway. It’s here now.

Song of the week is a struggle because I’ve pretty much been listening to Taylor Swift non-stop for the past week, and I have some concerns about maintaining a dignified air. Still this song is very catchy so, even if the video is flawed, so fuck it.

This week’s article was a hesitant look at the broader consequences of the BRICS Bank. Would love to hear criticism and that of it, because I was pretty nervous when writing it.

  • Strong call for an honest debate about what confronting IS will actually require
  • A lot has been said about the Kurds’ moves towards independence – this article takes a look at their prospects
  • There’s definitely something problematic about the disparity in attention paid to the horrific death of one American and the deaths of hundreds of others in the same way, but it is what it is, and it is certainly very sad. Two excellent tributes to him at Vox and the Independent.
  • Stephen Saideman gets irritable about “fixing” NATO
  • Two interesting pieces by Robert Farley on US-Russian relations, one reviewing a book on the topic, and another on the American magazine The Nation’s weird turn to Putin apologetics and what it tells us about “left” foreign policy
  • Amidst the litany of grimness, this is a reassuring bit of qualified optimism from Jay Ulfeldler
  • A look at what an independent Scottish defence policy will look like*
  • Powerful piece on the “price of blackness”
  • With Ferguson rolling on, unresolved, in the background, people were sharing James Baldwin’s work this week. At the same time, the New Yorker** sent Teju Cole to follow in Baldwin’s footsteps, a delightful combination if ever I heard one.
  • Great profile of Nina Simone***
  • Clive Martin reports on the sad fate of a pub not far from my neck of the woods****  (though, as ever, I’m torn between my irritating at dickhead trendy bars, and my discomfort with traditional British old man pubs.) Also on gentrification, this, from a woman who I vaguely recall became an internet sensation during the riots, is good.
  • Funny but worrying on moving back in with your parents as a legit adult
  • Really fun piece on a game of watergun assassin
  • I have so much time for writers that take popular artists seriously and engage with their themes and shit. This on Lana del Rey, is great – though minor quibble: I’m currently listening to the original of The Other Woman, and I do kind of prefer Lana’s.
  • Interesting trawl through DC Movies scripts that never happened
  • Utterly surreal piece on a conversation between a jihadi and a Iraq war veteran on Twitter about Robin Williams
  • I’ve missed Charlie Brooker
  • Nerd alert. This ‘diary’ of a game of Crusader Kings II using the Game of Thrones mod is very funny, and makes me all the sadder that the mod doesn’t run properly for me.

That’s that. See you next week, hopefully a bit earlier in the day x

As ever, you can subscribe to my newsletter and get this in email form every week if you prefer, though I CBA to do one today.

*the first version of this I saw had the Scottish Army project at 5,000 men, and I died laughing. Turns out it was a typo, but I still think we can take them. Day after the referendum, roll tanks over the border to reannex them. for banter.

**not that I don’t love having free access to their archives but my Pocket queue is now about thirty massive New Yorker pieces that I haven’t ever got the energy to read on the train, so they just linger. they need to stop.

***including a critique of Kanye’s “Blood on the Leaves” that actually seems fair and not sneering

****insofar as I have a neck of the woods other than “First Capital Connect trains” these days

17th of August: 5.7% My Own

This week hasn’t really been a great deal better, has it? A couple of times, I was almost scared to go to sleep, for fear that any number of the world’s ongoing crises would degenerate even further before I woke up. Even though this has been a week where we’ve seen Ukraine and Russia seem to have taken a step closer to open war, the Ebola virus continues its spread, and a Brazilian presidential candidate killed in a plane crash, the reading list is remarkably homogenous this week – about a third each on Ferguson, MO, and Iraq – hence the title.

Song of the week is by Ben L’Oncle Soul, one of the few French artists I left Ferney with any appreciation for, much to my embarrassment. Delightfully cool and swinging – you’ll wish you were in Paris by the second verse.

Due to weird scheduling, my NATO Council pieces have appeared throughout the week instead of their usual “five minutes after the reading list” posting. I wrote one about European Security and Defence Policy, and one quite International Relations theory one on NATO, Russia, and the Security Dilemma.

Given the reasonably even split this week, we’re going back to categories. Also, if you remember the old days, you’ll recognise the increasing sprawl of these posts as I find myself spending more and more time reading on trains. Sorry – working on it.

Iraq, Syria, and the Islamic State

  • Compelling argument in the Evening Standard (!!) against the calls to bog down British foreign policy in parliamentary consultation
  • Another brilliant Hopi Sen post (he’s on fire just as all his interventionists pals go from low to low) – the Pakistan comparison is something brilliant I’ve never considered
  • Deeply pessimistic take on the prospects for the American campaign against the IS
  • Interesting comparison of Syrian and Russian propaganda strategy
  • Very important pushback against the narrative taking hold that “if only we had DONE SOMETHING in Syria, the Islamic State wouldn’t have happened”, on arming the rebels in particular
  • Vox gets a lot of flak, but I’ve found them very helpful recently – meanwhile, this essay on the US’ diminished influence in the Middle East, meanwhile, is just quite interesting
  • Detailed look at British options for intervening against IS
  • Just as I was starting to warm to the idea of a Clinton presidency, she gave that interview and ugh.

Ferguson, Police Brutality, and Racism

  • It’s to my great shame that until I read this incredible piece on the issue, I hadn’t really thought about Michael’s Brown death as a separate and particular tragedy, either because I only became aware of it once the situation had escalated, or just because young black men being murdered feels like such a depressing regularity. Nevertheless, as Musa Okwonga argues, we can’t forget him.
  • Great report “From the Front Lines of Ferguson” – aptly titled. Another good one, at The New Yorker
  • Stinging critique of “broken windows” policing
  • Thought-provoking roundtable on police brutality
  • Powerful defence of “black anger”
  • It must be interesting being a writer of such calibre that people are desperate for you to return from holidays so you can weigh in on an issue. Ta-Nehisi Coates is that man.
  • Stephen Saideman draws out some interesting political theory ideas from the situation
  • Finally, bitterly funny.

Literally anything else

  • Sticking with the grim for a second – two interesting, overlapping pieces on international responses to Israel – one clarifying the French “ban” on pro-Gaza protests, and one on broader trends of anti-semitism
  • Important rebuttal of #notallmen
  • Explainer on Brazil’s imminent elections*
  • Number of interesting articles from defesanet.com.br, a cool Portuguese-language defence news site I found. On the peacekeeping mission in Haiti. On the Brazilian Armed Forces’ search for a role. On the politics of Brazilian arms imports.
  • Report from cracolândia
  • Feature on the Obama administration’s counter-terrorism policies in North Africa
  • Two mythbusters at War on the Rocks – on WW1, and on French military prowess during WWII
  • Cool walkthrough of the investigating process at Brown Moses’ new venture, bellingcat
  • Beautiful writing on coping with depression
  • Helpful advice on being a bit less of a dick – will try and bear it in mind this September
  • Finally, important for those of you (?) who have just received exam results, and the rest of us, who exist – how to be OK with failure.

Plenty for you to be getting on with, I reckon. Have a lovely week – let’s hope it turns it around a bit.

Also, weekly reminder, that if you’d rather, I send this out in newsletter form as soon as it gets wrote Saturday night. You can subscribe to that here.

*panic-inducingly soon actually

13th of July: They Think It’s All Over

And, mercifully, it almost is. It’s been a wonderful Cup but I’m ready for the footballing humiliation to end and the irritating coverage of Brazil to go away. That means it’s the last of the Brazilian choices. To suit the mood, the beautiful “Tive Razao” by Seu Jorge. Come for the effortlessly cool video, avoid weeping over the Brazil team’s goal difference in the last two games, and stay for Jorge’s gorgeous voice.

With that, off we go. One thing: I forgot how publishing works when it’s not just me alone in my room pressing “post”, so the next NATO Council piece will actually be up this week, maybe.

  • Somewhat reassuring look at how the USA will retain the capacity to deter Chinese expansion until domestic factors make China less of a threat
  • Then again, with the continuing absurdity that is the F-35 program, maybe the optimism is misplaced…
  • Analysis of the different possible motivations and strategies behind IS(IS?)’s violence
  • Great piece for the IR nerds by Adam Elkus on the “state of the state”. His “ISIS as Jay Gatsby” analogy is my favourite thing
  • Consideration of the pro-Russian narrative in Ukraine on Kiev’s atrocities
  • Bit glib, but within this comic there’s a really interesting story of the AU peacekeeping mission in Sudan
  • Charlie’s blog is really hitting its stride – I’m actually starting to get the hang of the complexity economics thing he keeps going on about
  • I snark enough about reporting on Brazil here, so only fair to highlight – this is a good piece on the World Cup serving as an introduction to Brazil for the world and vice versa*, this is a sweet piece on kids who won tickets to the final (Charlie Bucket eat your heart out), and this is both snark on crappy reporting and a nice look at Brazilian’s reaction to the Mineiraço
  • 😦 **
  • While it is all a bit obvious, this is a useful reminder that everything is fucked in case you’re also struggling to find a job and hating everything – it’s not all your fault***
  • Brilliant little Civil War story
  • Occasionally I think I might stop dodging the draft and go and do my Brazilian military service. This piece, on Royal Marine Commando training, was a nice deterrent. It’s also interesting to note how sophisticated it all seems compared to the “Curahee” episode of Band of Brothers
  • The Emmy nominations were this week, and I saw a lot of “OMG why didn’t X get a nod” stuff circulating. This is a good Voxplainer on the process behind the awards that goes some way to explaining all the anomalies, like Jon Hamm not winning all the awards ever.
  • I like Mindy Kaling a lot, The Mindy Project a lot less, but it’s great that it exists as a show if it inspires these sorts of conversations. Article itself is a bit flabby – it’s one of those Buzzfeed “roundtables” that gets too rambly. A lot of interesting stuff about second-generation immigrant alienation, among other things.
  • This is stunning – behind-the-scenes footage of the VFX work on Game of Thrones work
  • Looks like this could be an interesting series on Lana del Rey. Could also be tossy and dull of course, because it’s the New Inquiry, so one to watch
  • Super exciting news about a republication of The Sun Also Rises, along with a lovely collection of all the covers through the years

Finally, it’s back. I’m trying to be a more positive, professional voice here, but I made the mistake of reading this and ugh. I should have known better – king of the smug interventionists John Rentoul linked to it on Twitter, and the title itself is a warning as to just how smug it’ll get, but god. In response to all the sneering, let’s just take a whistle-stop tour through all the problems with it; massive public opposition to further intervention in the Middle East is dismissed as “cheap campaign promises”; the Iraqi government’s agency in refusing to sign the Status of Forces Agreement is dismissed in favour of scoring cheap shots at Obama; “an attempted détente” with Iran is pitched as a bad thing; the excellent Daniel Drezner is smeared as “one of the administration’s “realist” apologists”…. I mean I could go on, this is just me scrolling through and letting the irritation take me. There is only one thing left to say:

tumblr_mshgsbUsd61qfkqupo1_500

Enjoy the final tonight, and have a lovely week, guys xx

 

*of course if the introduction happens via shitty sensationalising and “oooh how exotic” reporting then….

**unless if you’re spending most of your day playing Skyrim and Crusader Kings… then it’s kind of your fault

***this is a link, in case it isn’t clear

29th of June: Reading You Can Really Get Your Teeth Into

Bit of topical World Cup humour there. Jokes being the furthest thing from my mind as I sit shell-shocked on the sofa from that exhausting Brazil game. Still we’re through, so I don’t have to open the blog with a sad Brazilian song. Instead, have this delight from Jorge Ben Jor. Come for the weird title, avoid the weird lyrics, and stay for the all-round positivity of it all.

Allons-y.

First up, I’ve already linked to these on the blog, but I figure some of you must only come for the reading list posts – I’m very proud to announce my contribution to the NATO Council of Canada has gone live and can be found here and here (it’s a two-parter  – you guys should know I’m nothing if not concise). There are definitely gaps, and as soon as it went up I was unhappy with bits of it, but there it is and I’m very happy.

Now, for some actual good writing.

  • A number of excellent pieces prompted by the nightmare in Iraq. Wonderfully lyrical at War on the Rocks. Examination of the shifting balance of power in the Middle East by Immanuel Wallerstein*, and a consideration of the “uneasy anti-ISIS coalition” forming by David Wearing. Finally, one, two, three and (a delightfully nerdy) four pieces on the US response to the crisis and the absurdities of US foreign policy debate.
  • That the CIA toppled the Shah is one of those things that I’ve tended to just take for granted, so this well-researched account of the 1979 revolution was an illuminating rebuttal to that narrative
  • Good call for a more effective NATO, an interesting (if occasionally laden with dodgy politics) argument for why Germany is reluctant to pull its weight militarily, and an honest explanation for Europe’s ‘under-investment’ in defence.
  • Speaking of Europe, two excellent pieces on the utterly tedious debate over the Commission presidency at the Guardian, and the BBC.
  • Master Storifier Kelsey Atherton compiled these tweets in response to what sounds like a daft drone-panic piece – well worth scrolling through.
  • Speaking of tweet collections, Teju Cole is on top form here on the impossibility of sustaining the caring about #BringBackOurGirls
  • Don’t know if you read that dreadful Gary Oldman interview, but this is a good article on how it demonstrates the triumph of “PC gone mad” nonsense
  • Great profile of the wonderful Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Though he’s off making the world a better place in Kenya (I assume), Charlie is still finding time to post reviews of bafflingly complicated books
  • The excellent Mauricio Savarese has been telling us for months that the World Cup would not be the disaster everyone was predicting. This is his victory lap. On that note, this is another excellent piece giving Brazilians agency in taking advantage of the Cup – on favela residents renting out rooms in their homes for tourists – Hadley Freeman’s place in the Guardian’s World Cup team justified immediately
  • While we’re on the football, this is rather lovely on supporting teams because of the people you care about (NB: If Brazil crash out embarrassingly, I’m taking this piece as a Bible). Also a great profile of the different sibling relationships in international football, and a bit of bants from Marie le Conte on being a French supporter in London – identified strongly with bits and pieces of it but it’s funny either way.
  • Less lovely but important piece on the outrageous tossers who blacked up to “support” Ghana against Germany and FIFA’s lack of action in response
  • Brilliant idea for an app to support people in mental health crises
  • Fascinating account of how an almost unintentional decision to allow same-sex relationships saved The Sims – one of those pieces that really makes me want to re-install The Sims (fortunately Steam only has Sims 3 on sale)
  • I promised I wouldn’t link to recaps every week but Mad Men isn’t airing anymore and this is more of an essay anyway – on Betty Draper and the crippling limitations women of her time faced.

And that’s that – watching Colombia thunder over Uruguay now (delicious) so I’m not confident about Brazil’s chances on Friday. There’s a chance I’ll be writing the next post through my tears. Have a good week, enjoy the rest of the second round! x

*feels like First Year IR all over again