What Were We Thinking? Selected Schar School Op-Eds (May 2021)

In This Story


From the Washington Post:

Why Do Some Muslim-Majority Countries Support China’s Crackdown on Muslims?

In 2019, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt were among 37 countries that signed a letter to the U.N. Human Rights Council praising China’s “contribution to the international human rights cause” — with claims that China restored “safety and security” after facing “terrorism, separatism and extremism” in Xinjiang.

—PhD Student Jonathan Hoffman


From the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

Was a Flying Killer Robot Used in Libya? Quite Possibly

Many people, including Steven Hawking and Elon Musk, have said they want to ban these sorts of weapons, saying they can’t distinguish between civilians and soldiers, while others say they’ll be critical in countering fast-paced threats like drone swarms and may actually reduce the risk to civilians because they will make fewer mistakes than human-guided weapons systems.

—Zak Kallenborn


From the Conversation:

Biden’s Budget: Why Investing in Innovation Is Crucial to Reach U.S. Climate Goals

My research career has been devoted to innovation policy, and I served on the White House staff under President Barack Obama. I’ve seen how smart public policies and savvy federal investments can help accelerate the innovation process.

—David Hart


From the Hill:

The Troubling Persistence of Trumpism

There’s only one way Republicans can be persuaded to abandon Trumpism. Democrats have to whip them in elections, beat them so badly that Republicans reach the point where they say, “We can’t go on like this.” 

—Bill Schneider


From the Washington Post:

Opinion: Glenn Youngkin’s Blank Slate May Give the Virginia GOP a Fighting Chance

His most delicate dance, however, is with the legacy of Trump and a GOP voting base militantly loyal to him.

—Mark J. Rozell


From the Hill:

One Cheer for Political Polarization: It Freed Biden on Israel

And that means that Joe Biden can stand up to Israel more than any president since Harry Truman. 

—Jeremy Mayer


From the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute:

What is AMLO’s Morena Party?

This type of party is more useful to solve the problems of party leaders or founders than to solve fundamental social problems.

—Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera


From Asia Times:

Israel-Palestine May Be Test Case of Declining U.S. Influence

President Joe Biden’s initially cautious and quiet response to Israel’s bombing campaign against Gaza is only the latest evidence of the erosion of American leverage over Israeli actions.

—Ellen Laipson


From Virginia Mercury:

Virginia’s GOP Gambles on Creative Ranked-Choice Voting for 2021 Nominees

For all of the talk now about the GOP still being under the spell of Donald Trump, unable to extricate itself from the failed ex-president and all the political baggage he carries in increasingly blue Virginia, the decision to use RCV signals perhaps an emerging realization by party leaders that it is time to look to the GOP’s future.

—Mark J. Rozell


From the Atlantic Council:

Experts React: What’s Next After the Israel-Hamas Ceasefire?

Although it wants to see the conflict come to an end, Moscow is not going to risk rupturing its multifaceted relationship with Israel—involving trade, deconfliction in Syria, and the warm Putin-Netanyahu relationship—for the sake of Hamas. 

—Mark N. Katz


From Cyber Security Intelligence:

Running Out of Cyber Gas

Now, I know the idea was to get the information out to everyone so they could patch and counter accordingly.  However, as some of us feared, it also limned out an attack mode for the bad guys. And the bad guys are not stupid—they are students of our vulnerabilities, they are increasingly sophisticated to a front-line nation state degree, and by our sharing we are educating them.

—Ronald Marks


From the Hill:

It’s Joe Manchin vs. the Progressives on Infrastructure

But instead of criticizing him, they might want to learn a hard truth from the senator, who knows how to use his one vote to protect his constituents. 

—Mark J. Rozell


From Just Security:

Want to Compete with China? Deliver on Climate Security for the Indo-Pacific

To reestablish itself as the partner of first resort in the Indo-Pacific, the United States should use its logistical, technological, and scientific skills to help these countries prepare for and prevent the climate security risks they fear. U.S. forces in the region already help to build the capacity of allies and partners to defend themselves against State threats.

—Erin Sikorsky and Caroline Baxter