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Must Reads of the Week: NSA, U.S.-Iran Relations, Uighers in China and More

Author: CFR.org Editors
November 8, 2013

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No Morsel Too Miniscule for All-Consuming NSA
By Scott Shane
New York Times

"From thousands of classified documents, the National Security Agency emerges as an electronic omnivore of staggering capabilities, eavesdropping and hacking its way around the world to strip governments and other targets of their secrets, all the while enforcing the utmost secrecy about its own operations."

Exclusive: The CIA, Not the Pentagon, Will Keep Running Obama's Drone War
By Gordon Lubold
Foreign Policy

"There remain distinctly different approaches to 'finding, fixing and finishing' terrorist targets. The two organizations also use different approaches to producing the 'intelligence feeds' upon which drone operations rely. Perhaps more importantly, after years of conducting drone strikes, the CIA has developed an expertise and a taste for them. The DOD's appetite to take over that mission may not run very deep."

Asia's Middle Eastern Shadow
By Shlomo Ben-Ami
Project Syndicate

"After all, Asia is no less a demanding theater than the Middle East. Indeed, dealing with it might require reconciling the pivot to Asia with an ongoing presence in the Middle East, if only because the two regions have much in common."

uigher man sits outside his home in Turpan, Xinjiang province An ethnic Uighur man sits outside his house near a busy market in Turpan, Xinjiang province (Photo: Carlos Barria/Courtesy Reuters)

China's Demonization of Uighurs
By Rebiya Kadeer
Wall Street Journal ($)

"Heavy-handed policies are responsible for the upsurge in tensions, not jihadism or terrorism, and this is creating a vicious cycle. Without a fundamental change in policies toward Xinjiang and other minority areas such as Tibet and Inner Mongolia, Beijing's quest for "stability" is self-defeating.

Envisioning a Peaceful Israel, Scientifically
By Bernard Avishai
New Yorker

"It is difficult to determine the opportunity cost of the conflict. How well might the Israeli economy have done if the conflict hadn't taken place?"

South Africa Breaks Out
By Joseph E. Stiglitz
Project Syndicate

"International investment agreements are once again in the news. The United States is trying to impose a strong investment pact within the two big so-called "partnership" agreements, one bridging the Atlantic, the other the Pacific, that are now being negotiated. But there is growing opposition to such moves."

U.S.-Iran Thaw Grew From Years of Behind-the-Scenes Talks
By Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee
Wall Street Journal ($)

"The White House heralded Obama's call with Rouhani as a milestone of last-minute diplomacy. But officials began planting the seeds for the exchange months earlier."

Somalia Starts to Pick Up the Pieces
By Mary Fitzgerald
Irish Times

"'For the first time in a very long time, people here have hope,' says Liban Mahdi, one of scores of diaspora Somalis who have returned to Mogadishu since al-Shabaab were routed from the city by African Union and Somali forces in August 2011."

Rethinking German Pacifism
By Jochen Bittner
New York Times

"Germany is Europe's unrivaled superpower, its largest economy and its most powerful political force. And yet if its response to recent global crises, and the general attitude of its leaders and citizens, are any indication, there appears to be nothing that will get the German government to consider military intervention."

Call Tiananmen Attack What It Was: Terrorism
By Alessandro Rippa
The Diplomat

"What happened in Tiananmen, it seems assumed, is just another example of the repeated violence we have witnessed in recent years, ultimately rooted in Beijing's disastrous policies in Xinjiang. But is this really the case? Isn't Tiananmen a turning point?"

The Ghost at China's Third Plenum: Demographics
By David Pilling
Financial Times ($)

"It is hard to overstate how fast China is ageing. Life expectancy has more than doubled from 35 in 1949 to 75 today, a miraculous achievement. Meanwhile, the fertility rate has plummeted to 1.5 or lower, far below the 2.1 needed to keep a population stable. Cai Fang, a demographer at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, says the country will have moved from labour surplus to labour shortage at the fastest pace in history."

The Seduction of George W. Bush
By Peter Baker
Foreign Policy

"The story of Bush's eight-year pas de deux with the master of the Kremlin, reconstructed through interviews with key players and secret notes and memos, offers lessons for President Obama as he struggles to define his own approach to Putin and shape the future of the two nuclear powers."


Must Reads sample analyses, reporting, and inquiries on foreign policy from around the web selected each week by CFR Editors. See more Must Reads here.

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