Mideast compared to the Balkans


Just as the Balkans provided the match for World War I, the Middle East is “a pile of tinder that could ignite a much wider conflict,” writes retired Adm. James Stavridis in Foreign Policy.  “The Syrian civil war is ground zero, with Iran, Russia, and China on one side, and the United States, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and much of NATO on the other,” the former Supreme Allied Commander in  Europe says. It’s impossible, Stavridis writes, to ignore the possibility … of a 21st century assassin’s bullet like the one that killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914. Even as he acknowledges that the region is such a mess “few even try to comprehend it all,” Stavridis urges U.S. diplomats to strengthen relations with Israel, coach Egypt toward stability and not give up.

Missing in action

Is the military underrepresented among top Obama administration officials? the National Journal asks.

In Obama’s first term, 12 percent of officials reported military experience. That figure has dropped to  9 percent.

The Journal asks current officials for their background and finds: 33 percent have a law degree; 30 percent are from think tanks or academia; 30 percent spent time in state or local government; 29 percent have worked on Capitol Hill; 23 percent claim experience as business executives; 13 percent have been lobbyists and 5 percent in elective office.

Spooks to study climate 

The Central Intelligence Agency is spending $630,000 to study whether geo-engineering can stop global warming, Mother Jones reports, citing a post on the National Academy of Sciences website.  Edward Price, a spokesman for the CIA, says, “It’s natural that on a subject like climate change the agency would work with scientists to better understand the phenomenon and its implications on national security.”  Scientists will examine whether pumping particles into the stratosphere can reflect sunlight away from Earth.

Religious myths

Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and progressive commentator, says a study by Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution punctures holes in caricatures of American believers.
For example, Hispanics are often perceived as being more theologically conservative than white Americans, but the study shows that they are more likely to be theologically liberal (23%) than whites (18%) or blacks (14%), Reese writes in the National Catholic Reporter.

Detroit shrugged

Descriptions of a bankrupt Detroit sound strikingly similar to a town in an Ayn Rand novel, Daniel Hannan, a Conservative member of the European parliament, writes in his Daily Telegraph blog.

Twentieth Century Motor Company once hummed in Starnesville in “Atlas Shrugged,” but socialism, Rand says, leaves it a ghost town. “A few houses still stood within the skeleton of what had once been an industrial town. … The inhabited houses were scattered at random among the ruins.”

 Compiled by M.S. Scully. This Just In rounds up the best reports on the Web.