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


From Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

How to Make Sure the Labs Researching the Most Dangerous Pathogens Are Safe and Secure

The history of lab accidents and lab-worker infections is disturbingly long, and the possibility that an incident could spark an outbreak cannot be discounted. Nor should policymakers ignore the potential that malevolent actors might misuse research coming out of BSL-4 labs. Worryingly, there is no authoritative international body tracking the number of BSL-4 labs or one mandated to provide research oversight. A stronger biorisk management program is urgently needed. 

— Gregory D. Koblentz, Joseph Rodgers, Minh Ly and Filippa Lentzos (King’s College London)


From Smerconish.com:

Trump Was a Symptom, Not the Disease—and It’s Become a Global Pandemic

Yet for many, it remains a puzzle as to why.

—Jack A. Goldstone


From the Conversation:

Political Frustration in Northern Ireland Has Heightened Tension Around ‘Marching Season’

As a scholar who works at the intersection of religion and politics, I share the concerns of those who see the potential for impending violence. The fear is occasions like the July 12 marches provide an opportunity for these frustrations to boil over into unrest, especially given recent political developments.

—Ger FitzGerald


From Asia Times:

Why the U.S. Should Focus More on North Africa

Yet in more recent decades, as US focus in the Arab world became concentrated in the Gulf region or on Arab-Israeli peace, North Africa has felt the decline of American attention and interest.

—Ellen Laipson


From the Washington Post:

A Political Tirade in Search of a Target Hits Virginia’s Higher Education

The latest salvo fired by the Republican Party of Virginia’s chairman at a University of Virginia professor needs to be called for what it is: political malfeasance and an assault on higher education.

—David Ramadan


From the Washington Post:

Glenn Youngkin’s Rookie Mistake

Retail Politics Rule No. 1: Never lower your guard around people you don’t personally know and trust.

—Mark J. Rozell


From the Hill:

Confronting China on Trade

Speaking of consensus, rather than incensing our allies on trade as the Trump administration often did, the U.S. should revive the Trilateral Commission with the EU and Japan in developing an effective response to China. This would allow a more coordinated and forceful way to address China trade issues.

—Kenneth A. Reinert


From WOLA:

Peru Has a New President, But Fujimori’s Election Lie Imperils Democracy

Fujimori did not say anything about the fact that now that her loss is official, prosecutors are likely to seek a date to initiate the trial against her, in which she faces charges of money laundering, leading a criminal organization, and obstruction of justice. She faces a possible prison term of 31 years. Her husband, U.S.-born Mark Vito, also faces criminal charges for corruption.

—Jo-Marie Burt


From the Atlantic Council:

Will Russian Forces Really Leave Libya?

But can Moscow maintain a military presence in Libya when it has agreed that armed groups and militias in Libya should be dismantled? Yes, it can.

—Mark N. Katz


From the Hill:

Authoritarianism: It Can Definitely Happen Here

What saved the country was the deep conviction among military leaders that the military should stay out of politics.

—Bill Schneider


From DAWN:

The Living Legacy of the Arab Spring

But let's consider an alternative, and in our view, more persuasive interpretation. The Arab uprisings should not be evaluated solely on their immediate political outcomes, but on more incremental shifts that reflect the evolving attitudes and adaptive approaches of rising generations demanding change.

—Ellen Laipson and Mona Yacoubian


From Russia Matters:

Russia, the United States, and the Counterrevolutionaries: A Trilateral Chess Match in the Middle East

Regardless, what is certain is that regional actors will continue to exploit these tensions however possible in order to advance their own agendas.

—PhD Student Jon Hoffman


From the Washington Post:

Virginia’s Fall Election Will Illuminate How Changed Voting Laws Affect Turnout

The GOP has yet to prove wholesale election fraud to justify the hundreds of restrictive bills it is pushing nationally. Stranger still, a careful look at last year’s results and voting trends deflates the party’s political rationale for making voting harder.

—Mark J. Rozell


From the Hill:

Biden’s High-Wire Political Challenge: Deliver Infrastructure and Please the Base

President Biden is trying to be bipartisan and partisan at the same time. It will be a neat trick if he can bring it off.

—Bill Schneider


From Defense One:

Israel’s Drone Swarm Over Gaza Should Worry Everyone

Local, national, and international law enforcement agencies should also search for indicators of terrorists seeking drone swarm capabilities, such as large drone purchases and known extremist work to develop or modify drone control systems.

—Policy Fellow Zak Kallenborn


From Lawfare:

The Rift Between Turkey and Israel Continues to Deepen

Perhaps more than anything else, what concerns Turkey the most about this competition is its rapid expansion to Turkey’s strategic underbelly: the eastern Mediterranean corridor. Diplomatic, economic and military relations between Greece, Israel and the Arab states of the CRB have grown exponentially as part of the broader struggle to shape the post-2011 regional order.

—PhD Student Jon Hoffman