1) The Bomb Didn’t Beat Japan…Stalin Did: The most interesting read of the week goes to Ward Wilson’s argument in Foreign Policy that the Japanese surrender had far more to do with the Soviet Union’s entry into the Pacific Theater than with the dropping of the atomic bombs. Revisionist bits like this are nothing new, and the debate on Japan’s surrender has raged on for more than half a century. However he does make a convincing case, which I encourage you to read. But in the end, Wilson is not completely right or completely wrong; there is no silver bullet in history that explains a particular event. Whether you agree with him or not, the significance of the question of surrender and the experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are at the heart of everything we think about nuclear weapons.
2) Syria’s future tied to freedom for captured Christian leaders: Prior to the Syrian conflict roughly 10% of Syria’s population was Christian. If the Christian community wants any future as a tolerated minority in their home-country, the release (or lack-thereof) of two Orthodox Christian bishops may decide their fate. Moreover, while uncertain now, the future for any minority group’s survival in Syria, be it religious, social or political are also at stake. But the op-Ed calls for the Turkish government to negotiate their release. Considering what they have been doing to their own minority Orthodox Christian community, this may be wishful thinking; or you can make the argument that Turkey does not want any more Christians in their country, and the threat of Syrian-Christian refugees flooding their country may be enough for Ankara to push for a guarantee the Ancient Church has a future.
3) The most embarrassing graph in American drug policy: A few decades and hundreds of billions of dollars later, the policy community has little to show for their argument that billions of dollars spent on supply-side narcotics interdiction works. The theory of “Incarceration is a proxy of risk” is not being played out in the real world.
4) Another piece on Turkey this week, but only because of the monumental historical event that took place: The Fall of Constantinople. On May 29, 1453, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks. The fall of the city marked the end of the Byzantine Empire and the significance of this cannot be overstated. Some have argued that many Byzantines fled to Italy, bringing with them ancient literature, philosophy and art that would culminate into the Renaissance. As the new capital of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople became a symbol of Islamic power, and the religion gained a foothold in Eastern Europe. The Fall is celebrated by Turks to this day, as it marks the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire. In recent years, fears of a “neo-Ottoman revival” have been circulated but I don’t buy it; that assumes Turkey completely dominates the Middle East again, which is unlikely. What is more likely however, is Turkey’s “soft power” in politics, economics, and diplomacy. Turkey may very well be the key to a more stable Middle East.