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Accountability and the War in Iraq
Lawrence Freedman has been Professor of War Studies at King's College, London since 1982. He was appointed Vice-Principal at King's in 2003. He was educated at Whitley Bay Grammar School and the Universities of Manchester, York and Oxford. Before joining King's he held research appointments at Nuffield College Oxford, IISS and the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1995 and awarded the CBE in 1996, he was appointed Official Historian of the Falklands Campaign in 1997.
Professor Freedman has written extensively on nuclear strategy and the cold war, as well as commentating regularly on contemporary security issues. His books include an Adelphi Paper on The Revolution in Strategic Affairs, an edited book on Strategic Coercion, an illustrated book on The Cold War, a collection of essays on British defence policy and Kennedy's Wars that covers the major crises of the early 1960s over Berlin, Cuba and Vietnam. In addition a book on deterrence was published in 2004 and the Official History of the Falklands Campaign was published in the summer of 2005. His most recent book, A Choice of Enemies: America confronts the Middle East, was published in 2008.
Lawrence Freedman: Well, I think there’s a distinction between the accountability of the punditry which, by and large, is not- I mean, it’s surprising- ‘cause I do it myself enough- how little people remember what you’ve said. Maybe that’s a reflection on me, but by and large, the- you know, a climate of opinion was created, not just by Administration officials, but by a lot of people who, you know- obviously, David Frum was in the Administration and then he was out of it- but a lot of people who talked up the war, again for reasons that I understand, but without thinking, “What’s this actually gonna mean in practice?” And, you know- and I think- I always sort of feel, as somebody who, you know, does get involved in these
debates, the most useful role the outsider can play in them is often just to try to analyze them as coolly as possible- here’s the upsides, here’s the downsides, here’s the risks- rather than be a sort of polemical advocate for a particular course of action, when actually you’re not responsible for how this is gonna play in practice. One of the reasons the neocons have gotten themselves into such a position on this war is that they’re blamed for creating the climate of opinion. But actually, they had very little influence over the conduct of policy itself. And so they get into the odd position of saying, “Well, this is a great thing to do, but you screwed up because you didn’t do it properly.” But, you know- what they’re asking the American government to do was historically a pretty challenging thing, and if you’re gonna be an enthusiastic advocate of the course of action, it’s no good to say, “Well, I’m sure all that will be sorted out.” And if, you know, you look at Ken Adelman’s commentary on the war, when, you know, he was the one who used the unfortunate phrase “Cake Walk”- and he was right in what he was talking about, if he thinks Saddam Hussein would be more of a “Cake Walk” than many of those who were warning of the difficulties that the American military would face. But he just assumed, and he said, as the war took place, “Hey, I’m sure Rumsfeld and so on have got great plans there. They’re great public servants and they know what they’re doing.” And then two years, three years later, he was saying, “Gosh, they screwed up.” Well, you know, it’s a bit late. So, I think there are issues of accountability when something as bold and ambitious and unusual as this, I also think- thankfully, the Americans do too often- was being planned.
Recorded on 5/19/08
Lawrence Freedman argues that journalists and policy-makers must hold themselves liable for their roles in affecting public opinion of the war.
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Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.
- The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
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- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
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- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Times of crisis tend to increase self-centered acts.