Archive | 3:14 pm

Crucifying Peter To Redeem Paul

29 Mar

2001: A Space OdysseyIn the interests of ecumenism and optimism for this impending Easter holiday on Sunday (May 5 for the Orthodox) and Passover (March 25-April 2), and a healthy reverence for the market in all things pastel, bunny, and candy, I am declaring myself neither a believer nor an atheist. Yes, religion (along with war) is a predicament human culture devised instead of reason, which is still only a minor element in science fiction.

Ask Justin Barrett and David Sloan Wilson what religion is for.

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Do Nothing With North Korea

29 Mar

B-2s Over KoreaThe latest round of North Korean “measured madness” has prompted me to consider just what good nukes do for a country. Does a nuclear arsenal provide deterrent capability, or even the license to compel, revisionist powers, like North Korea, to back down or change its ways? Tensions on the Korean peninsula have spiked recently, although the average South Korean, and even I, don’t seem to mind, in terms of what I do everyday. No one here is spending her day in a subway tunnel fearing nuclear death from above. The stores are still well-stocked. Most importantly as an indicator, my wife went shopping an hour ago.

The United States, however, did make a show of its nuclear-capable B-2s. And then Pyongyang, after cutting only one of a number of hotlines between it and South Korea, ordered its “rocket forces” to prepare strike targets in the Pacific and continental United States.

The question is, can a major power such as the US, with all its nukes, compel the North Koreans, with perhaps a handful, to see the light of less provocative madness and rejoin the international system. According to Todd Sechser and Matthew Fuhrman, no. And, North Korea isn’t going to get what it wants either.

Are nuclear weapons useful for coercion and intimidation?

We recently conducted a study that found a surprising answer.  Our study, published in the journal International Organization, investigated whether nuclear states enjoy more coercive success than other states. We found that they do not: nuclear weapons have little impact on the effectiveness of coercive threats.  (Note that we use the term “coercive” to refer to attempts to persuade an adversary to change its behavior or give up something valuable.  This is distinct from deterrence, where the goal is to preserve the status quo, not change it.)

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Revenge Killings

29 Mar

Unmanned Drone Poilots This is no joke, and it just might change your perspective on clean war.

Because drone operators (those who fly drones by remote control) target and kill enemies, they are targetable as participants in combat. But American drone operators are not normal combatants. They live with their families. Their civilian and military worlds are intertwined.

For example, a drone operator sitting in a base in Nevada may control a drone buzzing over Afghanistan. Though the operation may be conducted within a military compound, far removed from civilian populations, the problem arises when a drone operator completes a shift and goes home.

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