By Rolf Mowatt-Larssen
Belfer Center Senior Fellow
I recently saw a great flick entitled “Age of Heroes.” It is about the early days of the British SAS in World War II. A team of 8 commandos was airlifted covertly into Norway on a top secret mission to steal vital Nazi technology. It’s a hard driving, gut wrenching movie. I got goose bumps, just like I did when I watched classic war movies like “300 Spartans” or “Cross of Iron.” It reminded me why I went to West Point and dedicated my life to serving my country–with no regrets. “Age of Heroes” is a vivid reflection of the stuff heroes are made of — their courage, toughness, concern for their comrades, and a willingness to die, if need be, for a higher cause. In World War II, the threat was so real, so clear, so existential. War is a great evil, but unfortunately, sometimes it is unavoidable. Read more
By Juliette Kayyem
Member of the Board, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Over the past two weeks, I have started to use my Boston Globe column to explore the difficult and often painful issues around returning service members and veterans. I don’t want to say I stumbled on this issue, but I don’t believe I had quite grasped what was the growing recognition by the Pentagon that we have no idea what we are about to encounter:
Multiple deployments in unsure wars, a decade of back and forth, and a nation that can exist without barely recognizing their contributions. And in many respects this is a homeland security issue, not simply because of the impact the wars have had on the National Guard but because it does focus us to think about what happens to a nation that has sacrificed so little to wage war (no draft, no new taxes, service members constituting only .8% of the population) and yet will have to address the consequences of those wars for generations to come. Read more
By Richard Wilson
Richard Wilson is Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at Harvard University. He has been an affiliate of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is the author or coauthor of 910 published articles and papers. His research has focused on the structure of nuclei and elementary particles; nucleon scattering and the scattering of leptons by nucleons; and electron-positron colliding beams. He has also conducted extensive research on risk and risk-benefit analysis. He chaired a committee for the governor of Massachusetts on the effects of Three Mile Island, he has visited Chernobyl many times, including the inside of the reactor building, and received awards for that work.
(Professor Richard Wilson’s notes were written at 3 pm EDT Monday March 14, and updated Tuesday March 15 at noon.)
I think that it might be appropriate to give you a quick rundown of the situation on nuclear reactors in Japan and how that problem compares to Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.
Firstly in a reactor accident there are two steps. If anyone gets a radiation dose (effective whole body) of 300 Rems (3Sv) or more within a short time period, it leads to ACUTE RADIATION SICKNESS and the body fails within a week or two. At Chernobyl about 200 plant workers and firemen got this much and officially 31 died (my belief is 60 or so died because no one counted the army). But no one in the general public got acute radiation sickness. Read more
Graham Allison weighs potential alternative futures for Egypt in an assessment of the potential implications for the United States in the turmoil engulfing its largest Arab ally.
In a contribution to a virtual panel of experts on The Mark, a Canadian online forum, Allison says the aspirations of those taking part in such uprisings don’t always dictate the outcome. Just think of the Iranian and Russian revolutions.
Protestors from Al Azhar University gathered in Tahrir Square, Cairo, on February 1, 2011. (Iman Mosaad photo)
Allison, director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School, says it is highly unlikely that any successor government in Egypt would seek to disrupt the flow of oil to the United States. However, other events in the region might do so, especially if the revolts prove contagious and spread to countries such as Saudi Arabia. Read more