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Emphasis Added: The Foreign Policy Week in Pieces (5/22)

May 22, 2013 ·

From austerity to Al Nusra.

We Have Met the Enemy Again and He Is Still Us

I remember when an American friend came to Yemen and I took her to Abyan, and I was … afraid AQAP would recognize her as an American and might do something bad to her [said Yemeni activist Farea Al-Muslimi]. So [we] covered her in a niqab, we even covered her hands, and she made a hole for her fingers so she could use her iPhone. … But, in Abyan, we heard a drone above our heads. … I told her, “I am not more afraid about your life from al-Qaida, I’m more afraid for your life from your own government. 

Drone victim: U.S. strikes boost al-Qaida recruitment, Wajahat Ali, Salon

Arrive With a Bang, Exit With a Whimper

Ryan Crocker, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, said the United States rushed into countries, relied primarily on military force and expected immediate change.

"Let's punch out their lights and realign their society," is how Crocker explained it. "And then when we find out the latter is more difficult than we expect, we say 'OK, let's go somewhere else.' That's what our enemies count on -- and our allies fear."

The U.S.'s Anemic Civilian Outreach Abroad, David Rohde, the Atlantic

Drone as Panopticon*

The data stream is still growing, thanks in part to new data-gathering technology such as Gorgon Stare, a drone-mounted sensor with nine cameras that can scan an entire city at once. And the number of drone combat air patrols (CAPs), defined as having one drone aloft on a mission 24/7, is currently at 61 and is scheduled to increase to 65 later this year.

Obama Drone War ‘Kill Chain’ Brings War’s Toll Home To U.S., David Wood, Huffington Post

*The Panopticon is a type of institutional building designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The concept of the design is to allow a watchman to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) inmates of an institution without them being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. (Wikipeida)

Death by Degrees

Joseph Holliday, a former Army intelligence officer who has studied the conflict for the Institute for the Study of War, in Washington, suggested that the regime was attempting to use the weapons in a way that would frighten the rebels but wouldn’t cross the red line. “Assad has been extremely calculating with the use of force, increasing the levels of violence gradually, so as not to set off alarm bells,” he said. “First it was artillery. Then it was bombing. Then it was Scuds. A year ago, he wasn’t killing a hundred people a day. He’s introducing chemical weapons gradually, so we get used to them.”

The Thin Red Line, Dexter Filkins, the New Yorker

Protecting Syrians Takes a Back Seat

Other meetings with Western and Arab intelligence services have shown a similar obsession with Al Nusra, the [Syrian rebel] commander said.

"All anyone wants is hard information about Al Nusra, it seems to be all they are really interested in. It's the most valuable commodity you can have when dealing with these intelligence agencies," he said.

America's hidden agenda in Syria's war, Phil Sands, the National

The “notion that slashing government spending boosts investor confidence does not stand up to scrutiny”

As the economist Paul Krugman and others have argued, this claim assumes that consumers anticipate and incorporate all government policy changes into their lifetime budget calculations. When the government signals that it plans to cut its expenditures dramatically, the argument goes, consumers realize that their future tax burdens will decrease. This leads them to spend more today than they would have done without the cuts, thereby ending the recession despite the collapse of the economy going on all around them. The assumption that this behavior will actually be exhibited by financially illiterate, real-world consumers who are terrified of losing their jobs in the midst of a policy-induced recession is heroic at best and foolish at worst.

The Austerity Delusion, Mark Blyth, Foreign Affairs