What Were We Thinking? Selected Schar School Op-Eds (December 2022)


From Politico Magazine:

How Demographic Shifts Fueled by Covid Delivered Midterm Wins for Democrats

According to the study, which used data from Florida and Ohio counties, registered Republicans and Democrats died of Covid in equal numbers in 2020, but once vaccines became widely available in summer 2021, the number of Republican excess deaths nearly doubled those of Democrats. The disparity grew even wider during the winter of 2021.

—Justin Gest


From Bloomberg Law:

ABA Should Update Ethics Guidance on Using Private Investigators

As my former law firm’s representation of Harvey Weinstein showed, attorneys are often tasked with hiring and managing these operations so clients can protect their findings under the cloak of attorney-client privilege. Snyder, likewise, employed a law firm to hire the private investigators that harassed and intimidated dozens of former team employees.

—Ally Coll


From the National Interest:

Is China’s Free Market Experiment Really Over?

Is China trapped between economic growth and state control? This is the riddle of China’s new journey, and it’s as old as empire. Only this time, the future of globalization hangs in the balance, with an equally momentous question: China intends to stay in the exclusive club of globally integrated economies, but what will happen when it tries to remake the rules?

—Hilton Root, et al.


From the Washington Post:

What Congress Needs Is an Uprising of the Serious

The instinct of Democrats has been to gloat as members of the other party form a circular firing squad. But if, as they often profess, moderate Democrats are really interested in cooperating with serious Republicans, they should give McCarthy the votes he needs to become speaker.

—Steven Pearlstean


From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Disgraced Presidents Shouldn’t Get Tenure

Based on our research, presidents have little time to contribute to scholarly research in their field and rarely teach while in office. They are likely unprepared to meet the needs of today’s students in the classroom. Faculty and staff, however, probably appreciate a successful former president’s work, and students may look forward to taking a class from him or her. But is burdening an institution financially by granting tenure to presidents who disgrace themselves, and possibly their institutions in the process, appropriate?

—Judith Wilde and Jim Finkelstein


From defenceWeb:

Security to Be Tight for U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit

According to the organizers, the summit aims to serve as a demonstration of the Biden administration’s commitment to the African continent and provide a forum for new joint initiatives between the United States and countries in Africa. According to senior White House officials, approximately 50 heads of state and senior government officials from African countries are expected to attend the summit, including from South Africa.

—Pearl Matibe


From American City and County:

2023: Ten Predictions for a Year of Increased Insecurity and Opportunity

Having spent a good deal of time scanning the collective wisdom of others, I offer my annual take on what trends will be most prevalent in cities and counties across the nation. We begin the new year with continued worries about inflation, fear of a recession and political insecurity. 

—Alan R. Shark


From the Hill:

Ignoring Social Security’s Financial Shortfall Is Hurting Future Retirees

To address the Social Security shortfall, Congress will have to adopt tax increases, benefit cuts, or other spending cuts. Those measures will be unavoidably painful. By waiting to address the problem, however, Congress is inflicting another, entirely avoidable, harm: Americans cannot properly plan for retirement because they do not know what Congress will ultimately do to their taxes and benefits.

—Sita Slavov


From Foreign Policy:

America’s Electoral System Is Vulnerable. It Can Learn from Brazil.

To start, Brazil has established a constitutionally independent and specialized court that resolves election disputes, reinforced by an independent prosecutor’s office. Second, the Brazilian electoral system is more centralized at the federal level, unlike the diffuse U.S. system. Finally, its crown jewel is an electronic voting system that counted all votes in just over three hours and swiftly certified the result before anyone could sow doubts about its legitimacy.

—Justin Gest and Clifford A. Young


From the Hill:

Preventing U.S. Weapons from Escaping Ukraine Is a Challenge

Furthermore, American-made weapons originally sent to Ukraine may be dispersed to other countries, a problem endemic in U.S. arms sales that has allowed adversaries and terrorist organizations to acquire advanced U.S. weaponry.  

—Jordan Cohen, et al.


From Taiwan Insight:

Taiwan’s Mid-Term Elections: Most Politics is Local, the KMT Remains a Force to Be Reckoned with, and the DPP needs to Regroup

As these are obviously local elections, they are definitively not an indicator of the respective parties’ positions in the national elections in early 2024. However, the current elections were primarily driven by the fact that at the local level, the Kuomintang still has strong patronage networks and administrative experience in dealing with local issues starkly contrasts to presidential and national legislative elections, in which China-Taiwan relations and national security are prominent issues.

—Gerrit van der Wees


From ISPI Online:

How the War in Ukraine Is Hitting the Middle East

Indeed, as long as the war in Ukraine continues, Russia may not be in a position to increase its military presence in the Middle East. It is not clear, though, how much the West, including the US, can come to the aid of Middle Eastern states feeling threatened by Iran, when America and Europe are more focused on both Russia in Europe and China in Asia. If they do not see either the West or Russia as able to maintain order in the area, regional powers in the Middle East may feel both a greater need to act on their own as well as less external restraint about doing so. Therefore, a prolonged conflict in Ukraine may lead to an increased conflict in the Middle East.

—Mark N. Katz


From 360Info:

How People Power Can Counter Corruption

People power efforts targeting corruption can disrupt dishonest activities and relationships; apply pressure through the power of numbers involving shared grievances and demands to elites; and engage with the public, powerholders, and institutions to gain support, shift loyalties towards civic initiatives, and back or even protect anti-corruption institutions, government reformers, and civil servants.

—Shaazka Beyerle and Layla Hashemi


From the National Interest:

Divided Government: Why American Voters Like It and Europeans Don’t Need It

In advanced European nations, the party or coalition in power develops plans for major legislation but apolitical ministry teams flesh out the details. The teams show drafts to affected constituencies with the objective of minimizing unnecessary opposition and flaws. If a draft is found satisfactory it goes to committees for further modification. Only then is the bill presented for a final vote in parliament. 

—Frank T. Manheim


From WOLA:

The Distortion of Justice in Guatemala

After a decade in which anti-corruption and anti-impunity efforts were beginning to bear fruit, these elites joined forces not only to bring down these efforts, but to co-opt key institutions, including the Public Ministry, the Supreme Court, and the Constitutional Court, and to turn the justice system into an instrument to punish those who were at the heart of Guatemala’s anti-impunity crusade, including judges, prosecutors, magistrates, and human rights defenders. 

—Jo-Marie Burt


From the Hill:

New Congressional Staffers: Welcome Behind ‘the Green Door’ of Intelligence

Second: Intelligence analysis is written far more carefully than you’ll ever read it. Analysts may spend weeks or months writing the material you read. The material goes through multiple levels of review. Words are parsed. Verbs are carefully chosen. And you’ve got five minutes in a cold, harshly lit secure facility to read it—and less than a minute to translate it for your boss.

—Ronald Marks


From Impakter:

How People Can Counter Corruption

Anti-corruption efforts by nature involve negatives—stopping, preventing, and punishing wrongdoing. There is also a need for more positive reinforcement of honest officials and anti-corruption practices and for shifting social norms toward integrity, collective responsibility and accountability.

—Layla M. Hashemia, et al.


From Russia Matters:

Despite Russian Reliance on Iranian Drones, Tehran’s Leverage Over Moscow is Limited

Has this recent Russian dependence on Iranian arms given Tehran a greater degree of leverage over Moscow than it had before, particularly over Russia’s policies in the Middle East? While Western and Ukrainian sources have claimed it has, Russia's desire to maintain good relations with America's traditional allies in the region—particularly Saudi Arabia and Israel, neither of which has joined in Western sanctions or other efforts against Russia—will serve to limit what Moscow is willing to do for Tehran.

—Mark N. Katz


From the Hill:

Reshuffling the Primaries: What It Means

President Biden is proposing to ban all caucuses and replace them with primaries. What’s the difference? A primary is an election. A caucus is a meeting. To vote in a caucus, you have to show up at a particular place and time, sometimes at a remote location and on a cold winter night.

—Bill Schneider


From CATO:

A Shaky Foundation: The Myth of Authoritarian Stability in the Middle East

The proauthoritarian approach in the Middle East also has its roots in essentialist assumptions regarding the compatibility between Arabs, Islam, and democracy. Assertions that Arabs in the Middle East are “not ready for democracy” have been repeated throughout Western academic and policy circles for decades.

—PhD Candidate Jon Hoffman


From Arab World:

The Republican Party’s Challenges and Foreseeable Positioning

Ultimately, the future of the Republican Party will depend on its ability to adapt to changing circumstances and to present a vision for the country that resonates with voters. While this may not be an easy task, it is essential if the GOP is to remain a viable and influential political force in the years ahead.

—David Ramadan


From La República:

Don’t Cross Me

Today, in an extremely volatile context, with 83 percent of the population demanding the closure of a Congress that has its back to the country and the call for new elections, the stigmatizing discourse of the terroir not only seeks to annihilate the humanity of its adversaries but, as we have seen, to justify their physical disappearance. We have already experienced this. It is necessary to stop it, before it is too late. For more than 25 Peruvian families it already is.

—Jo-Marie Burt