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Friday’s Reading List

By Taylor Marvin

August Macke, "Portrait of the artist's wife with a hat," 1909. Via Wikimedia.

August Macke, “Portrait of the artist’s wife with a hat,” 1909. Via Wikimedia.

Stories I enjoyed this week:

James Simpson recounts how a 29 year old Soviet fighter pilot defected by flying his MiG-25 interceptor to Japan, revealing the feared aircraft’s capabilities. Japanese authorities returned the MiG to the USSR in pieces, and “cheekily, the Japanese included a bill for $4o,000 to cover the shipping costs and damage” caused by the pilot’s wild landing.

David E. Hoffman discusses the 1983 “Able Archer” NATO exercise, which a paranoid Soviet leadership nearly interpreted as preparations for an unprovoked nuclear strike (via Erik Loomis).

Somewhat relatedly, Dave Majumdar questions the wisdom of Russia’s ambitious efforts to acquire and develop a diverse mix of different combat aircraft.

Médecins Sans Frontières has released their initial report on the early October US attack on a Afghanistan hospital that killed dozens of patients and MSF staff.

In an interview with the Washington PostColombian president Juan Manuel Santos praises the US’ Colombia policy: “I can say without the slightest doubt it has been the United States’ most successful bipartisan foreign policy of the past several decades. The peace process is just the cherry on the cake.” Flagging the interview, Boz writes that the US “should be as willing (or more willing) to provide economic and development aid to consolidate peace as we were to provide military and security assistance when Colombia’s conflict threatened the country’s stability.”

The continuing tragedy of the Middle East’s minority communities: more and more Christians flee Iraq, increasingly intending never to return. “Even if the situation in Iraq gets better, no matter how safe it is, there’s no guarantee it won’t happen again,” says one refugee.

After the death of Ahmed Chalabi this week, many are reflecting on his responsibility for the Iraq war. Despite George W. Bush’s ignorance and warmongering enthusiasm, Martin Longman writes, he “would not have found it so easy to lead our foreign policy establishment and our nation into war if Ahmed Chalabi hadn’t been going around Washington DC for years telling everyone how simple it would be to get rid of Saddam” (via Ed Kilgore). In response to a piece by Aram Roston, on Twitter Matt Duss remarks that “there’s been a very troubling amount of ‘blame the wily foreigner’ in the coverage of Chalabi’s death.” Hannah Allam remembers Chalabi in Iraq during the occupation (via Kelsey D. Atherton).

Despite reaching the nuclear deal this summer, hardliners within the Iranian state are cracking down – often targeting Iranian-Americans – in what appears to be a backlash against President Rouhani’s successes. It’s worth remembering that the risk of these spoiling tactics was anticipated by Rouhani himself (via John Allen Gay), and he has not done much to reduce oppression within Iran (via Melissa Etehad). Barbara Slavin also reports on rights abuses and potential means of pressuring Iran.

Beth Alvarado on groundwater poisoning in Tucson, caused by the chemicals used to clean airplanes:

“Clear patterns didn’t emerge, but sometimes several people in one family would die. Finally, the city tested the water. Some estimates showed TCE contamination at 1,000 times the federal health standards. They closed wells. There were court cases. Red lines were drawn around the housing developments, housing developments where 75 percent of the residents were Hispanic and low-income; once the developments were red-lined, it was impossible to sell those houses, so people stayed where they were.”

This is also via Erik Loomis, who comments “that most of the people suffering in this Tucson neighborhood are Latino should be expected as the correlation between pollution exposure and race is well-documented and is a classic example of environmental racism.”

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