Links to Start Your Week 11/24/13

National Security

The Pentagon apparently actively doctors their budget reports to hide waste and potential fraud. But guys, seriously, just keep on trusting the Defense Department to act in your best interests. It’s no big deal. Oh, but the problem with tracking resources is not just limited to Pentagon money. It is also an issue with weapons, ammo, and other supplies.


Young women are still tricked and forced into arranged marriages in Kashmir, often being sent there by their families in Britain. The girls are sometimes told they are going to attend a relative’s wedding, only to be informed once they are on the ground in Kashmir that it is their own.


The latest information we have on a deal between the U.S. and Afghanistan sets the stage for American forces and funding to remain there indefinitely. Just Security provides a guide to some of the remaining issues that could still impact whether or not the deal is approved.

Middle East

A major deal was reached in Geneva to freeze Iran’s nuclear program for six months, until a more permanent agreement can be made. This is the most progress such talks have basically ever made, so it’s really awesome. Another disarmament goal was achieved without bombing or invading another Middle Eastern country! This is starting to seem downright un-American.

There was a bombing outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. As of right now, experts and reporters believe it was committed by Syrian rebels trying to force Hezbollah out of the country. Iran is a major state sponsor of Hezbollah.

When Americans and other Westerners talk about democracy, they are referring to a very specific form of liberal democracy based on the preeminence of institutions. That model, while it has many merits, has proven difficult to implement in other parts of the world. This author explores how local traditions, like the use of a Jirga, or elder council, in Pakistan, could be an opportunity to expand our understanding of democracy and adapt it to more diverse circumstances, a concept I find particularly valuable because democracy is supposed to be the form of governance most open to diversity.

This article is super interesting. It gets into the very difficult question of “ranking” refugees, or how you decide an asylum seeker from one country is needier than one from a different country. At the moment, it is a big question for Jordan.

There are unconfirmed reports that Islamist rebels in Syria have seized the country’s biggest oil fields. If that turns out to be true, it means that the Assad regime would have to import almost all of the oil for their tanks and well, basically all their machinery for war.

Latin America

Camila Vallejo, the charismatic young communist who led Chile’s major student protests in the past couple of years, has been elected to Congress. This is extra interesting to me simply because I met her once, very briefly, while I was studying abroad in Santiago.


Many Rohingya Muslim refugees from Burma have settled in Bangladesh. Restrictions on aid to these refugees threatens not only their survival, but also endangers Bangladeshis living nearby, who will also be affected if poor sanitation and medical care leads to a disease outbreak.


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