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


From the Cipher Brief:

My Worry for America

Right before the Civil War, we had similar problems. I thought that was finished. Now I know, it’s not.

—Michael V. Hayden


From the Hill:

Bob Dole: Boss, Mentor, and Friend

As I write this, I am reminded that not once did I hear a fellow Senator say anything personally about him that was not kind. Trust me, a rarity then and even more so now.

—Ronald Marks


From WOLA:

Hope Amidst the Darkness: Victims Continue to Press for Justice for Wartime Atrocities in Guatemala

However, ongoing efforts of retired military officials, conservative elites, and members of the oligarchy to block such trials and co-opt the justice system threaten the future of these cases.

—Jo-Marie Burt and Paulo Estrada


From the New Arab:

A New Era in Turkey-UAE Ties? Economic Relations Warm as Ideological Tensions Linger

While political differences between the two countries are not expected to be resolved in the short term, the increasing level of economic cooperation emerging from the visit could prevent escalating tensions in the future if it leads to interdependence.

—Omid Shokri


From the Hill:

Vaccine Nationalism and the WTO

Vaccine nationalism involves mostly high-income countries producing, buying and hoarding vaccines for their own domestic use to the detriment of other countries. Because the virus knows no borders, this is ultimately self-defeating because it provides the virus more opportunity to mutate. 

—Kenneth Reinert


From the Syndication Bureau:

Recalibrated U.S. Policy Offers Little Hope to Hungry Afghans

This focus on rescuing Afghans presents some moral dilemmas.

—Ellen Laipson


From The Cipher Brief:

The Importance of TEMPEST Standards

It is this technology, when paired with adequate policy, that shields all sorts of classified information from eavesdropping or other forms of interception. It is also this technology which sadly seems to be little known among a rising generation of intelligence officers. That needs to change.

— Master’s in International Security Student Mason Goad


From the Washington Post:

Gov.-Elect Youngkin and the Precarious Matter of Rewarding the Far-Right

Now the stakes are higher. The hardliners believe that Youngkin owes them, and they will not afford him the indulgence he got as a candidate. 

—Mark J. Rozell


From The Cipher Brief:

Containment: A Poor Fit for China

However, any American policy predicated on economic decoupling and full-scale militarized containment of China is unlikely to work. The intertwined nature of the U.S.-China economic relationship, growing cost of military acquisitions, and uncertainty of continued U.S. economic growth threatens the viability of an economically separated, military-focused strategy based on outlasting China.

— Master’s in International Security Student Will Nelson


From The Cipher Brief:

Rethinking US-Africa Engagement

As the Biden administration formally creates its African strategy, observers are hopeful that it will include improved engagement that equalizes State Department and U.S. military visibility, confronts authoritarianism, and promotes technological investment on the continent. 

— Master’s in International Security Student Winston Favor


From Modern Diplomacy:

New Threats in Afghanistan and Pakistan: Taliban’s Capacity, Tehrik-i Taliban, and ISIS-Khorasan

The Taliban is an example of how it is impossible to win a war against an organization that has a strong military and vast financial resources. On the other hand, security vacuums in Afghanistan have generated a favorable ground for TTP and an ISIS franchise, ISIS-K, to pose a threat to the Taliban, Pakistan, and Western world by engaging in terrorist attacks.

—Mahumt Cengiz, Asma Ul Hussna Durrani, and Andrea Quinn


From the Cipher Brief:

Russia’s Arctic Expansion

The U.S. should focus on joint training exercises and knowledge gathering with partner forces in exchange for funding and support in the event of a conflict over the Arctic.

—Master’s in International Security Student Kieran Madden


From the Washington Post:

The Virginia GOP’s Focus on Education Policy Worked. It May Be Issue No. 1 in the Midterms.

Those issues include how race and sexuality figure into curriculums and what to do about remote learning, pandemic mask mandates and student gender identity in regard to school restrooms.

—Mark J. Rozell


From the Hill:

Despite Everything, Americans’ Opinion on Abortion Hasn’t Changed in 50 Years

If the Supreme Court upholds the Mississippi law and reverses Roe, it is likely to discover a great truth about American politics: Once a right has been established, you can’t take it away without provoking a fierce political backlash. That’s true of gun rights, and it’s true of abortion rights.

—Bill Schneider