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Emphasis Added: The Foreign Policy Week in Pieces (6/13)

June 13, 2013 ·

From nuclear weapons to unicorns.

“Failure is not an option”

Nuclear deterrence has to be perfect, or close to perfect. A cata­strophic all-out nuclear war could result from any failure of nuclear deterrence, so there is little margin for error. One could say for nuclear deterrence, failure is not an option.

Rethinking the Utility of Nuclear Weapons, Ward Wilson, Parameters

The Day the World Dismantles its Last Nuclear Weapon, Unicorns Come Out of Hiding

[Air Force Assistant Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration Garrett Harencak] also poked fun at the idea that nuclear weapons could be eliminated anytime soon, despite President Obama’s iconic 2009 speech in Prague. At that time, the president promised “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” albeit “perhaps not in my lifetime.” 

“I hope that day comes. I hope that day comes soon. And when it does, I want to invite you all over to my house for a party,” Harencak said of eliminating nuclear arms worldwide. “I’d just ask that you don’t feed any of the hors d’oeuvres to my unicorn.”

U.S. General: Nuclear-Capable Bomber Cameo Quieted North Korea, Elaine Grossman, Global Security Newswire

A War Crime as a Robot Might See It

Brandon Bryant says he was sitting in a chair at a Nevada Air Force base operating the camera when his team fired two missiles from their drone at three men walking down a road halfway around the world in Afghanistan. The missiles hit all three targets, and Bryant says he could see the aftermath on his computer screen – including thermal images of a growing puddle of hot blood.

“The guy that was running forward, he’s missing his right leg,” he recalled. “And I watch this guy bleed out and, I mean, the blood is hot.” As the man died his body grew cold, said Bryant, and his thermal image changed until he became the same color as the ground.

Former drone operator says he’s haunted by his part in more than 1,600 deaths, Richard Engel, Open Channel: NBC News

For Erdogan, Short Trip From Micro-manager to Iron Fist

And there’s the hitch. The prime minister has emerged as the strongest leader Turkey has had since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the republic — but he remains not much of an architect or urban planner. Like other longtime rulers, he has assumed the mantle of designer in chief, fiddling over details for giant mosques, planning a massive bridge and canal, devising gated communities in the name of civic renewal and economic development. The goal is a scripted public realm. Taksim, the lively heart of modern Istanbul, has become Mr. Erdogan’s obsession, and perhaps his Achilles’ heel.

In Istanbul’s Heart, Leader’s Obsession, Perhaps Achilles’ Heel, Michael Kimmelman, the New York Times

Assad or Islamist Militants: a Choice Made in Hell

Just as [the death of Hamza Ali al-Khateeb at the hands of government forces] crystallized the rage against President Bashar al-Assad, [14-year-old Muhammad al-Qatta’s] killing stoked similar feelings against a new power that has emerged during the war. It focused anger on hard-line Islamists, including foreigners, some of whom have seized on the conflict in Syria as an opportunity to impose their mores. For Muhammad’s mother and some her neighbors, the tyrannies were indistinguishable, trapping many Syrians in a vise.

Syrian Teenager’s Public Death Reveals Growing Anger as Civil War Continues, Kareen Fahim and Hania Mourtada, the New York Times