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The Fall of the Berlin Wall
Derek Chollet is the Principal Deputy Director of the Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff. Prior to joining the State Department, he was a Senior Fellow at The Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a non-resident fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Global Economy and Development Program and an adjunct associate professor at Georgetown University. During the Bill Clinton administration, he served in the State Department in several capacities, including as Chief Speechwriter for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke, and Special Adviser to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. Mr. Chollet also assisted former Secretaries of State James A. Baker III and Warren Christopher with the research and writing of their memoirs, Holbrooke with his book on the Dayton peace process in Bosnia, and Talbott with his book on U.S.-Russian relations during the 1990s. He was foreign policy adviser to Senator John Edwards (D-N.C.), both on his legislative staff and during the 2004 Kerry/Edwards presidential campaign.
Mr. Chollet has been a Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin and a visiting scholar and adjunct professor at The George Washington University. He is the author, co-author or coeditor of five books on American foreign policy, including The Road to the Dayton Accords: A Study of American Statecraft (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) and America Between the Wars: From 11/9 to 9/11, coauthored with James Goldgeier (PublicAffairs, 2008). His commentaries and reviews on U.S. foreign policy and politics have appeared in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, Washington Monthly, and many other books and publications. Educated at Cornell and Columbia, Mr. Chollet was raised in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Question: Why was 11/9 so important?
Derek Chollet: Well 11/9 was November 9th, 1989, and the fall of the Berlin Wall, which in many ways symbolized the end of the Cold War. It was a sort of paradoxical moment because of course it was a moment of great triumph. I mean, the images from that day of people dancing, literally dancing on the top of the Berlin Wall, young people chipping away at the wall, and for the United States it was a great moment of triumph. But the paradox was that within that triumph there was a sense that we had, in fact, been defeated in that fighting the Cold War, perhaps countries like Germany and Japan had really been the winners. And at that moment there was a sense that the U.S. was a declining power. Now what’s interesting, of course, is that the years that followed 11/9, the 1990s were a moment of extraordinary American power in which the U.S., almost incomparable in history, strode the world and sort of was able to wield its power in a way that few countries ever had been able to before. So it’s an interesting moment from which we sort of begin the story because it’s in many ways an ending of the Cold War and the beginning of this era that in some ways looking back many people think about as mostly one of confusion but also of American greatness and unipolarity is the term that sort of foreign policy wants to give it
Question: Who was influencing foreign policy at the time?
Derek Chollet: There were those in and out of government trying to do so. Starting those in government, George H.W. Bush, President Bush’s father, who was the President at the time of the fall of the wall and sort of presided over the end of the Cold War, he was hopeful that this would be a moment in which the international system that had been created four decades earlier by FDR and Harry Truman and others, the United Nations namely, could finally work. Because the Cold War had in many ways paralyzed the international system. The U.S.-Soviet standoff had made institutions like the U.N. basically feckless and Bush talked a lot about the New World Order as he called it, which really wasn’t a New World Order. It was more about making an old order, which was the U.N. system work, where the great powers of the world could help police international politics. The first manifestation of that he hoped and believed was the response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in August of 1990 when the U.S. and Soviet Union for the first time stood side by side and condemned an invasion. It was a former Soviet client state, Iraq, invading a current client state, Kuwait. So the type of situation that would have been the epicenter of this sort of super power showdown during the Cold War became what Bush hoped and believed would be an example of cooperation and the U.N. working. So that was sort of at the beginning. The New World Order was those inside government. Outside of government there was a huge debate both among liberals and conservatives about what the end of the Cold War might mean. One of the more famous essays at the time was written in 1989, actually a few months before the end of the fall of the Berlin Wall but while it was clear that communism was collapsing, written by Francis Fukuyama, who wrote a very famous article entitled “The End of History” and this is probably one of the least read but most cited articles in all of history. Fukuyama’s point, as many took it to be, was that with the end of the Cold War and the end of communism, the great ideological struggle that had sort of driven international politics for many years was over, and that in that sense history had ended and that it was somehow inevitable in many ways that democracy would spread and that the world would become more peaceful. Some took from this, and this was not Fukuyama intended, but some took from this as a way of saying the world matters less because the world will be less problematic. The Cold War was an aberration. The idea that the U.S. had to spend all this money and be so engaged in global problems was a response to this thing called communism and with that gone we didn’t need to worry about the world so much. Other countries could take care of their own problems or their own regions and the U.S. could go back to being a normal country. So what was interesting, the effect of that really on the conservative side of the political spectrum was that they kind of lost their sort of driving force. Anti-communism had been the glue that had held conservatives together and absent the Cold War, conservatives began to splinter apart when it came to foreign policy.
Recorded on: July 8, 2008.
Derek Chollet explains how the fall of the Berlin Wall affected US foreign policy.
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.
- Outplacement is an underperforming $5 billion dollar industry. A new non-profit coalition by SkillUp intends to disrupt it.
- More and more Americans will be laid off in years to come due to automation. Those people need to reorient their career paths and reskill in a way that protects their long-term livelihood.
- SkillUp brings together technology and service providers, education and training providers, hiring employers, worker outreach, and philanthropies to help people land in-demand jobs in high-growth industries.
Source: McKinsey Global Institute analysis [PDF]<p>Work in understanding the skills at the heart of the new digital economy is leading to novel assessments that allow individuals to prove mastery to faithfully represent their abilities—but also to give weight and stackability to the emerging ecosystem of micro-credentials that make education more seamless across time and education providers. And we are seeing the beginnings of a renewal in the liberal arts, focused on building human skills in affordable ways that are accessible to many more individuals and far more effective.</p><p>Amidst these dark times, there is much opportunity to refresh the nation's education and training solutions to support the success of individuals and society writ large.</p>