Recent controversies over the resettlement of refugees from the Middle East (especially Syria), both in Europe and the United States, have been dominated by emotionally charged rhetoric. Taking a step way from that may be helpful for objectively illuminating both the problem and developing workable policy alternatives.
Category Archives: Defense & National Security
On August 20, 2012, President Barack Obama announced a “red line” that would cause the US to intervene in the Syrian civil war: the use of chemical or biological weapons.
We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people. We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.
He reiterated this position on December 3, 2012:
The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.
This position is an example of the Precautionary Principle, and perhaps ironically, it is similar to the one that motivated President George W. Bush to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
The Report of the Comprehensive Review of the Issues Associated with a Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was released by the Department of Defense on November 30, 2010. The Report summarizes and interprets a pair of large-scale surveys of Service members and spouses hat was sponsored by DoD and conducted by WESTAT, a major consulting firm. Immediately thereafter, Congress took up the question whether to repeal the law on which the Department’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is based.
This post is about the Report’s statistical back story, and why the conclusions given in the Report are unreliable as a guide for policy-making — regardless of whether one prefers to repeal the law, retain the law, or replace it with a more stringent one.
The Washington Post reports today that the ranks of experts in nuclear weapons forensics is declining, and that the situation requires immediate action by government to avoid a crisis.
The subject of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate of Iran’s nuclear weapons program is not the dominant subject of news reporting that it was when we first posted on it. However, a conventional narrative has developed to the effect that Iran’s nuclear ambitions and developmental efforts are no longer a legitimate concern.
Today we hope to finish our series on this subject showing why this narrative is based on value-based preferences that various people and interest groups hold, and is not supported by the NIE itself.
Read More →