Friday Flashpoints – Our Weekend Reading List

The Diplomat’s Editor selects the top five defense and foreign policy articles for your weekend reading pleasure.

Every Friday, The Diplomat’s Harry Kazianis looks out across the net to find the best articles and analysis involving defense, strategic affairs, and foreign policy. From America’s pivot to Asia, China’s growing military power, North Korea’s seemingly daily threats to the various territorial spats across the region, The Diplomat has you covered with what you need to know going into the weekend.

Here is our top five this Friday. Have we missed something you think should be included? Want to share an important article with other readers? Please submit your links in the comment box below! Happy Friday!


White House Says it Believes Syria Has Used Chemical Arms (New York Times) – "The assessment could test President Obama’s repeated warnings that the use of chemical weapons by President Bashar al-Assad might precipitate American intervention in Syria."


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Shipbuilding Plan Portends a Navy in Decline (RealClearDefense) – "Listening to the Secretary of the Navy testify before Congress this week, one might be lulled into thinking all is well with U.S. Navy shipbuilding. But the president’s budget for 2014 shrinks and diminishes the Navy’s fleet. Again. Last year’s budget accelerated these same trends while permanently downsizing the Navy’s long-standing fleet goal from 313 to 298 ships."


Paper Tiger (Foreign Policy) – "Why isn't the rest of Asia afraid of China?"


Half of American's Can't Identify Syria on a Map (Washington Post) – "One in five respondents told Pew they thought it was Turkey."


China's Strategic Hedging (Orbis, paywall) – "China has sought to gain regional influence by utilizing a mix of energy investments and military modernization efforts. China's overall efforts aim to bring about three broad goals. First, China seeks to hedge its economic growth potential against the threat of energy source disruption. Second, it seeks to limit or deny access to areas of operations within the first island chain, effectively expanding their core strategic zone of interest within the South China Sea. Third, China wants to establish the Taiwan Strait as a ‘no-go’ zone preventing U.S. interference in the event of another Taiwan crisis. This type of hedging behavior can enhance a second-tier state's power without directly challenging the system leader. China has experienced some success in this approach but at a high cost. Its use of strategic hedging as an insurance policy carries a high financial and diplomatic premium."