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Must Reads of the Week: Syria's Civil War, Latin Migrants, Asteroids and More

Author: CFR.org Editors
November 22, 2013

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'Syria Is Not a Revolution Any More – This Is Civil War'
By Ghaith Abdul-Ahad
Guardian

"Ancient Russian tanks – rebel and loyalist – were lobbing shells at each other across a pistachio grove like street children throwing stones in an alleyway. The explosions sent orange columns of dust into the haze of the setting sun. Near the outpost, a government tank was smouldering, and a young girl lay dead, hit by shrapnel. A group of rebels crawled through the fields for a mile until they reached the edge of the outpost."

What Will It Cost to Cover China?
By Evan Osnos
New Yorker

"Today, the story is at once more accessible and more dangerous. To cover China is to chronicle the world's second-largest economy, a rising superpower, and one-fifth of the world's population. China is so central to our economic lives that journalists have had no choice but to engage China with greater technical analysis and precision."

Hamid Karzai Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a gathering discussing youth and national issues in Kabul September 17, 2013.(Omar Sobhani/Courtesy Reuters)

How Is Hamid Karzai Still Standing?
By William Dalrymple
New York Times

"Independent reports by human rights groups back Karzai's contention that there are too many civilian deaths in Afghanistan. But if they have become his rallying cry, it is also because they bring to mind the broader issue of Afghan sovereignty — the feeling Afghans have that they have become colonized subjects."

Latin Migrants Shift Sights From U.S. to Neighbors
By Miriam Jordan
Wall Street Journal

"In a noticeable and important shift in global migratory patterns, millions of migrant workers are no longer relying on the U.S. as heavily as they did for better-paying jobs that allowed them to send money home to families in Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia. Instead, they have moved more to developing economies, creating a shift in money transfers out of countries like Chile, Brazil and Malaysia."

Stuxnet's Secret Twin
By Ralph Langner
Foreign Policy

"With Iran's nuclear program back at the center of world debate, it's helpful to understand with more clarity the attempts to digitally sabotage that program…What I've found is that the full picture, which includes the first and lesser-known Stuxnet variant, invites a re-evaluation of the attack. It turns out that it was far more dangerous than the cyberweapon that is now lodged in the public's imagination."

Behind the Pentagon's Doctored Ledgers, a Running Tally of Epic Waste
By Scot J. Paltrow
Reuters

"At the DFAS offices that handle accounting for the Army, Navy, Air Force and other defense agencies, fudging the accounts with false entries is standard operating procedure, Reuters has found. And plugging isn't confined to DFAS (pronounced DEE-fass). Former military service officials say record-keeping at the operational level throughout the services is rife with made-up numbers to cover lost or missing information."

Qatar Sets Its Own Terms for U.S. Universities
By Ursula Lindsey
The Chronicles of Higher Education

"'How do you transform into a nation without also transforming the traditional, monarchical, patriarchal system?' [historian Allen Fromherz] asks. As the small but natural-gas-rich country emerges onto the world's stage, this and other questions are unavoidable: Are the American universities actors in the country's future or merely props? Can they teach students to think critically about the contradictions and changes in Qatar while under the patronage of its ruling family?"

Why Has the U.N. Given Assad a Free Pass on Mass Murder?
By Colum Lynch
Foreign Policy

"Is it better to use the bully pulpit to increase pressure on a government to treat its people humanely, or is it better to nudge the government quietly behind the scenes? For decades, U.N. relief workers have preferred to keep their concerns off the headlines and reveal little about the perpetrators of violence against civilians, thereby preserving their role as neutral healers and helpers. But a spate of internal reviews of U.N. responses to mass killings from Bosnia to Rwanda and Sri Lanka have challenged that view."

Will an Asteroid Destroy You Before You Finish This?
By Bloomberg Editors
Bloomberg

"New research suggests that space rocks as large as the one that fell over Chelyabinsk -- about 19 meters (62 feet) across -- are three to five times more numerous than scientists had realized. The study, led by Peter Brown at the University of Western Ontario, also found that larger and more dangerous ones are unexpectedly abundant. In other words, alien projectiles pose a serious threat. Is it a manageable one?"

Drowning Kiribati
By Jeffrey Goldberg
BusinessWeek

"In our interview, [Anote] Tong said he believes the Obama administration cares about the issue. But he noted that "there are people in Congress who are allergic to the term 'climate change.' " These are the people, he said, he wants to visit Kiribati before it's too late."


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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