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Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

Jean-Léon Gérôme, "View of Medinet El-Fayoum," 1870. Via the National Gallery of Art.

Jean-Léon Gérôme, “View of Medinet El-Fayoum,” 1870. Via the National Gallery of Art.

On Monday Daniel Larison thoughtfully responded to my recent piece on Ukraine, Syria, and the credibility argument.

In 1971, weaponized smallpox was accidentally released in the USSR. Only quick action by authorities prevented what could have been a catastrophe.

Via Andrew Lebovich, Morocco’s language debate over colloquial and Modern Standard Arabic. Teaching in colloquial language could improve early education, but others fear it would isolate the country from the wider Arab world.

Another take, this time from Matt Fay, on the question of whether retaining the nuclear weapons it inherited from the USSR would have helped Ukraine.

Also on Ukraine, Christian Caryl reminds Nicholas Kristof that the world has changed (if it ever was a simple as Kristof assumes): Just because people learn English, listen to American music, and wear jeans they don’t necessarily support American foreign policy goals.

Scott McConnell discusses Secretary of State John Kerry’s “apartheid” comment regarding Israel: “What Kerry said may be a gaffe, but it is one that most people know to be true. And look around: more and more are ready to take the flak and abuse hurled at those who speak the truth out loud.”

But aside from the wasted lives and human wreckage left by the Israel-Palestine impasse, Roger Cohen has a point. “Permanent occupation is what several ministers in Netanyahu’s coalition government advocate,” he recently wrote in the New York Times. “Backed by the evidence, they are certain it can be managed. They are right.” (Via Allison Beth Hodgkins.)

Steven Cook and Michael Brooks argue that President Obama’s Middle East policy is as good as could reasonably be expected in unpredictable times. The opening of relations with Tehran is firmly in the “too soon to tell” category, and it’s possible future observers will condemn the world’s failure to act in Syria. But I tend to agree that it is difficult to see what an otherwise measured Obama administration should have done differently, except in hindsight.

A new House bill threatens the editorial independence of Voice of America. “You can’t mix media and government PR, or propaganda, or whatever you call it,” comments Negar Mortazavi.

Relatedly, a question: is the recent all-Venezuela-all-the-time Voz de América leader a reflection of a story that flatters US foreign policy, or simply because the ongoing protests are genuinely the biggest story in the Spanish-speaking world?

The changing face of São Paulo’s “Crackland,” the distinct culture of the drug-centered neighborhood, and Latin American governments’ efforts to combat domestic drug consumption.

Why the course of transgendered people’s rights in South-ish Asia is not identical to the Western (intolerant) model.

From Thursday, more linkage at Political Violence at a Glance.

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