Saturday Reads


Iran Signed On To A Nuclear Agreement, But Can They Be Trusted?
Ephraim Asculai and Emily B. Landau note that small technicalities were omitted from the deal with Iran, but that larger issues remain, such as, whether Iran “is willing to give up what it has consistently denied having – its military nuclear program and aspirations.”

Furthermore, they contend a secondary question is whether Iran can be trusted at all. Ephraim Asculai is a senior research associate at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University, and Emily B. Landau is Director of the Arms Control program at INSS, and the author of “Decade of Diplomacy: Negotiations with Iran and North Korea and the Future of Nuclear Nonproliferation.”

” The second central question – that depends very much on the answer to the first – is whether Iran can be trusted to uphold any final agreement that resolves all the above issues. Based on past experience, as long as Iran has not made a decision to reverse course in the nuclear realm, it is highly doubtful. In this case, any future agreement will again be a bad compromise, leaving dangerous uncertainties and Iran with breakout capabilities, albeit at a slower pace and with the risk of a stronger international reaction,” they write in The National Interest.

Analysts Should Not Ignore Local Input In Deriving Global Policy
Pranab Bardhan lays out the case the while generalized studies serve a purpose, there is a risk in ignoring “depth study” which can “give insights into political, social and economic processes that do not easily lend themselves to sweeping global generalities or to the building of a policy consensus named after some global city.

A professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, Bardhan criticizes the “conceit of economics” that often trump social anthropology in policy formulation.

“Think instead of the possibility that even in a country with poor governance in general there are often some sectors and regions where foreign aid to improve public infrastructure or health facilities or technical assistance can and has been shown to work to a large extent, but to find those niches and opportunities one needs many more mundane and tedious area-specific studies and investigations which cannot be globally generalized.”

History already has demonstrated how the outbreak of an illness can literally wipe out civilizations. Our own experience with the avian flu and other communicable diseases inform us about the dangers of not adequately preparing or monitoring the spread of disease, so it is important to take note of a new model that can predict the spread of disease. Sydney Brownstone reports on the details of a radical new model that could predict the arrival times of the next global pandemic.

Almost A Century Later, World War I Still Haunts Us
Margaret MacMillan describes how the ambiguity surrounding the events that led to the outbreak of World War I continue to haunt us. She notes that several fundamental questions remain:

“But there’s another reason the war continues to haunt us: we still cannot agree on why it happened. Was it caused by the overweening ambitions of some of the men in power at the time? Kaiser Wilhelm II and his ministers, for example, wanted a greater Germany with a global reach, so they challenged the naval supremacy of Britain. Or does the explanation lie in competing ideologies? National rivalries? Or in the sheer and seemingly unstoppable momentum of militarism? As an arms race accelerated, generals and admirals made plans that became ever more aggressive as well as rigid. Did that make an explosion inevitable?”

And Finally . . .

The Daily Mail wonders whether thinking in a foreign language impacts the quality of an individual’s decision-making.


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