Janine Davidson

Defense in Depth

Janine Davidson examines the art, politics, and business of American military power.

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Weekend Reader: The Islamic State, the Russian Aid Convoy, Militarizing Police, and the Life of Robin Williams

by Janine Davidson
August 15, 2014

Comedian Robin Williams signs autographs for servicemembers at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Dec. 17, 2007, during the second stop of the 2007 USO holiday tour. (Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Defense.gov)


Who is the Islamic State? (or is it ISIS, ISIL, or something else?) Caerus Associates breaks down the origins and evolution of the Islamic State’s name in this handy reader, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Iraq and Syria.” For more reading on the strategic dilemma facing limited U.S. intervention in Iraq, check out my own piece on the Islamic State’s leveraging of the international community’s self-imposed boundaries.

Breaking down that suspicious Russian aid convoy. The world continues to watch as the Russian convoy to Ukraine has stopped at a Russian town close to the border; it is still unclear how this convoy “aid delivery” will end. Tensions in the region have continued to escalate with shelling in central Donetsk, a rebel stronghold surrounded by Ukrainian troops.  A speech by President Putin on Thursday has led to resurgence in the value of the ruble, a sign that his lip service to ending the conflict is being taken seriously.

The Over-militarization of American Police Forces.  The police response to the protests in Ferguson, Missouri reveals a troubling national trend.  Further blurring the line between law enforcement and the military,  local police units across America have acquired surplus military equipment – including large armored vehicles, apparently needed for the war on drugs; but also for crowd control at everything from football games to Pumpkin Festivals.  As the episode in Ferguson suggests, American cops’ bearing, language and tactics have also become increasingly militarized.  Check out the Washington Post’s coverage and photos, and this op-ed in Time magazine, by Rand Paul.

Remembering Robin Williams. As the world mourns the death of a comedy legend, the military community grieves in particular for a staunch supporter of the troops. Williams performed in thirteen different countries for over 90,000 troops with the USO. In the words of Secretary Hagel, “From entertaining thousands of servicemen and women in war zones, to his philanthropy that helped veterans struggling with hidden wounds of war, he was a loyal and compassionate advocate for all who serve this nation in uniform.” This clip, a mix of the irreverence and solemnity for which he was so well known, says it all:

Weekend Reader Video BonusGood moooooooooooorning Vietnam!


Post a Comment 1 Comment

  • Posted by Jack

    Well done with the Williams tribute. Didn’t realize he was involved with the military community.

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