Recommended Reading (2009-12-08)

– Supposedly Russia is really modernizing this time. The fact that none of us have heard of it is intentional, according to NPR. In general (and theoretical terms), these are definitely steps in the right direction: a professional NCO class, the ouster of 50,000 officers (with supposedly another 150,000 on their way out). You can also appreciate the renewed focus on small, local, and regional conflicts, as opposed to “fighting the big one.” More than anything, though, I think the real bottleneck for the Russian military is the conscript system. Until the whole dedovshchina system of hazing – which pretty means all conscription – is abolished, the Russian military will never be of the caliber it wants to be (as for domestically designed Russian small arms, what’s wrong with the AN-94?)

– Parag Khanna at TED talking about the borders (not just political) in the world. Which ones matter? Possibly borderless: connected spaces, and unconnected spaces. “Globalization, Chinese-style.” Reversion to the Yuan Dynasty? Also a shout-out to the Kurds versus Sunnis, fighting over pipelines – not borders, but the arteries of network. The nation-state and geopolitics don’t necessarily mean the same thing.

– “Glass Half Empty“: the coming water wars?

– UAVs might be more humanizing than thought, at least in the same way that snipers get to know their enemy. Reaper pilots and unmanned flight. And I suppose that Las Vegas probably is more pleasant than a combat zone. Live in Nevada, commute to Iraq… UAV piloting has the potential that America’s Army never quite tapped.

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