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Must Reads of the Week: Redrawing the Middle East, Poland Rising, and More

Author: Editors
July 3, 2014


"Colonial Powers Did Not Set the Middle East Ablaze"
By Roula Khalaf
Financial Times

"To emphasise Sykes-Picot in the Middle East's current predicament, is to miss the region's real problem: the tragic failure of successive postcolonial governments to build inclusive states that would reinforce a national identity. It is the tyranny of Syria's ruling Assad clan, the dictatorship of Iraq's Saddam Hussein and the ineptitude of Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, that have driven the Middle East to catastrophe, rather than century-old lines drawn in the sand."

A militant Islamist fighter gestures as he takes part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. (Photo: Courtesy Reuters)
"After Retreat, Iraqi Soldiers Fault Officers"
By C. J. Chivers
New York Times

"What was sometimes labeled cowardice or treason in the rank and file was often nothing of the sort, members of the border forces said in interviews in recent days. In the case of the Ninth Brigade, at least, its members insisted that they were eager to fight but were undermined by high commanders who failed to provide border forces with water and food, causing the brigade to abandon positions in the searing desert heat."

"War-Torn: CBS Reporter Cami McCormick's Latest Story about Combat and Its Aftermath Is Her Own"
By Alex Horton
The Washingtonian

"McCormick, 52, has spent countless months reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. War zones have become her natural environment. Landing in Kabul with Panetta, she was less worried about mortar strikes or suicide attacks...than about the seas of gravel outside official buildings and the steep ramps of military aircraft. McCormick's difficulties with terrain the rest of us consider manageable is one more thing she shares with battlefield veterans from the past decade. Like many of them, she took a ride in a convoy in Afghanistan and woke up in the United States with a piece of her body missing."

"Poland's Second Golden Age"

"Once considered the problem child of central Europe, Poland has seen its economy grow since the collapse of communism by more than any other in the EU. It was the only EU member to avoid a recession during the financial crisis. And it has managed to have more cordial relations than ever before with its two big neighbours (and former occupiers), Germany and Russia—or it did at least until Russia annexed Crimea earlier this year. It is hard to think of any country in Europe, rich or poor, that can't learn something from Poland."

"Celebrating FOIA on Independence Day"
By Jelani Cobb
New Yorker

"Escalating secrecy, the ambiguous prerogatives of national security, and an evisceration of the Fourth Amendment have marked the past two Presidential Administrations. FOIA's unlikely path to passage points to a clear, if seldom voiced ideal: if national security is an abiding rationale for government secrecy, it offers at least as convincing an argument for governmental transparency."

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