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

In This Story


From the Kansas City Star:

Before Desegregation, Black Kansas City High Schools Dominated Science Awards

What we learned shocked me to my core. With the prejudice of the times, I remembered clearly assuming that Kansas City’s Black schools had to be inferior to the white schools. Now I could not avoid the conclusion that, in all probability, those Black students received an educational experience superior to mine—and mine got me into Harvard.

—Frank T. Manheim


From The Conversation:

Fifty-Nine Labs Around the World Handle the Deadliest Pathogens—Only a Quarter Score High on Safety

The vast majority of countries with maximum containment labs do not regulate dual-use research, which refers to experiments that are conducted for peaceful purposes but can be adapted to cause harm; or gain-of-function research, which is focused on increasing the ability of a pathogen to cause disease.

—Gregory Koblentz and Filippa Lentzos (King’s College London)


From the Moscow Times:

Depoliticizing Russian Gas in Europe

Nord Stream 2 has sparked bitter controversy. Biden’s waiver has stirred howls of protest from Congress, but it is unlikely to override the action. Now, policymakers may be wise to focus on finding compromises that protect essential interests of all key stakeholders.

—Richard Kauzlarich and William Courtney


From the Guardian:

Whether Covid Came from a Leak or Not, It’s Time to Talk About Lab Safety

In addition, gain-of-function research with coronaviruses, and other zoonotic pathogens with pandemic potential, is likely to increase as scientists seek to better understand these viruses and to assess the risk they pose of jumping from animals to humans or becoming transmissible between humans.

—Gregory Koblentz and Filippa Lentzos


From the Washington Post:

Peru’s Military Says Shining Path Insurgents Kill 16 Civilians. Others Are Not So Sure.

The campaign to blame the Shining Path for the Vizcatán killings—and Castillo by association—seems aimed at using long-standing public fears of terrorism in Peru for political advantage. The politics of fear may pay off for Fujimori: In the run-up to the final vote Sunday, public opinion polls put her neck and neck with Pedro Castillo.

—Jo-Marie Burt


From the Hill:

The National Security Risks of the U.S. Drought

The security risks of the drought are high, but not yet inevitable. Assessing and understanding these risks is the first step toward tackling them. Rapid action to scale up funding for adaptation and resilience measures should follow, as should efforts to build climate competence across domestic security practitioners in the U.S. military, the Department of Homeland Security, and others.

—Erin Sikorsky


From the National Interest:

What U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Talks Reveal About the Iran Nuclear Deal

How the Biden administration, Congress, and American policy analysts, in general, think about these questions should be informed about a similar situation that occurred during the 1970s when the United States was pursuing the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties (SALT) with the Soviet Union at the same time as Moscow and its allies were intervening militarily in the Third World.

—Mark N. Katz


From Asia Times:

Diplomacy Is Back in Middle East, With or Without U.S.

Other countries may be taking up the slack where they see a vacuum of leadership, or they may take the initiative, knowing that their interests in a particular conflict are quite different from America’s. Will the Biden administration try to reverse the trend with its “We’re Back” message?

—Ellen Laipson


From the Hill:

Israel, Democrats, and the Problem of the Middle East

But without any discernible peace process, the two-state solution seems to have become less and less realistic. Given ongoing settlement activity and annexations, Israel appears to be moving closer and closer to a one-state outcome. 

—Bill Schneider


From the Washington Post:

The Virginia GOP’s Diverse Ticket May Present a Problem for Democrats

Even before McAuliffe secured his party’s nomination, he began depicting Youngkin as a Donald Trump loyalist in a state that has soundly and repeatedly rejected the former president. Though a potent weapon in the past, can it generate a turnout large enough to win with Trump out of office and a GOP ticket now headed by an unthreatening, well-funded candidate?

—Mark J. Rozell


From WOLA.org:

After June 6 Elections, Peru’s Democracy Hangs in the Balance

A losing candidate attempting to steal an election by asserting fraud without any evidence may sound all too familiar.

—Jo-Marie Burt and John Walsh


From the National Interest:

How Would Brezhnev Have Assessed Putin’s Foreign Policy?

Brezhnev might point out, though, that when he was in charge, the Soviet Union came to be the sole external power with influence in Syria, whereas Putin has to share influence there with Iran, Turkey, and even the United States.

—Mark N. Katz


From the Washington Post:

Glenn Youngkin’s Difficult Pivot

Youngkin’s attempted pivot is complicated by Trump. It is one thing for a GOP nominee in the general election to soften his or her rhetoric on hot-button issues to win over moderate swing voters, but it is something entirely different to be with Trump for months and then take the former president’s base voters for granted after.

—Mark J. Rozell


From the Cipher Brief:

The Cost of Inaction in Myanmar

As much as Beijing has a stake in Myanmar, the global community also needs China’s cooperation to effectively end the crisis.

—Master’s of Public Policy Student Christopher Kernan-Schmidt


From the Hill:

Who Benefits—Buyer or Seller—from Gas Pipelines and Dependency Relationships?

They fear that if Germany imports more gas via the Baltic Sea pipeline, Russia can reduce its gas exports to Europe via Ukraine and Ukraine will lose the transit revenue it now earns from Russian gas. The theory continues that Moscow then would have greater leverage to cut off gas sales to Kiev if it doesn’t need Ukraine’s pipelines to export gas to Europe.  

—Mark N. Katz


From the Hill:

The Wild Card That Might Save Democrats in the Midterms

The odds don’t look great for Democrats in next year’s midterm elections. There’s a good chance that Republicans will win control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. That could mean the virtual end of the Biden presidency.

—Bill Schneider


From DAWN.org:

Why the U.S. Should End Its Unconditional Military Aid to Israel

It's time for the United States to fundamentally reassess this relationship, and recent events show why—morally, legally and strategically. Besides violating existing U.S. laws that are supposed to bar Washington from providing security assistance to countries that commit human rights abuses, military aid to Israel serves little to no strategic purpose for the United States.

—PhD Student Jon Hoffman