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Standing at center-right in America

first_imgNorman B. “Norm” Coleman Jr., the former Republican U.S. senator from Minnesota, delivered a clear message to a Harvard audience last night (Nov. 17), saying that “America is a center-right nation today, as it has been for generations.”That “simple truth,” as he called it, has strong political implications. Power in the future — “a lasting majority,” said Coleman — will go to whichever party stakes “a legitimate claim to independents [and] welcomes its center-right people along with its most hard-core members.”Republicans and Democrats alike have hard-core elements in the far left and right, Coleman told the crowd at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum. But it is important to be welcoming to moderates, to the practical, reformist core that has guided American politics since Abraham Lincoln.Coleman, who served in the U.S. Senate from 2003-09, acknowledged that Republicans have sometimes failed to welcome youth, women, Hispanics, and gays. “We have to do a better job of reaching out … if we expect to be a majority party,” he said. Failing that, added Coleman, Republicans could one day find themselves “a regional party” sequestered in limited geographic strongholds.In particular, the Republican Party should be attractive to college-age voters, who seem so “in control of their lives” and attracted to individual initiative, he said. “The philosophy of conservatives really is more in line with the reality of your generation. I just don’t think we’ve done a good job of articulating it.”One year into the Obama era, political shifts may be under way. Coleman parsed the recent Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races, both close contests that went to the Republican candidates who attracted independent swing votes. He added that recent national polls show for the first time in 12 years that people believe government is “doing too much.”The former senator and onetime mayor of St. Paul, Minn., is a fellow this week (Nov. 16-20) at the Institute of Politics (IOP), which sponsored the event. IOP Director Bill Purcell — himself a former mayor of Nashville  —described his colleague as “a voice of moderation with a pragmatic approach to problem-solving.”In running a city, “you learn to be responsive,” said Coleman, right down to taking calls about snow plowing. He described his city hall experience as gritty and valuable, even though it occupies “the bottom of the political food chain.”Coleman’s St. Paul tenure demonstrates his political journey. He was first elected mayor as a Democrat in 1994, and the second time as a Republican in 1998.Coleman, a onetime anti-war activist at Hofstra University on Long Island, earlier attended James Madison High School in Brooklyn. Some of its famous graduates are on the political left, including U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Coleman joked that he “never met a Republican until I went to college. There weren’t any.”But in the 1990s, as a former state prosecutor struggling to revive St. Paul as mayor, Coleman discovered that his business-oriented, reformist urges were better expressed in the Republican Party. He went from being Democrat Bill Clinton’s state campaign representative in 1996 to Republican George W. Bush’s in 2000.After what Coleman described as “six turbulent years” in the Senate, his thesis — that the United States is at its core a center-right nation — came into greater focus. He enumerated the main points of that thesis to an audience that interrupted him with occasional bursts of applause.The center-right doesn’t mind government action as long as “effectiveness and results” are the endpoints, said Coleman. “They want government action that has good bang for the buck.”Health care reform is a good example, he said. There is broad national consensus to bring costs into line and to maintain quality, but reform has to have practical meaning, said Coleman. “Folks in center-right America want reform, but they want it to work.” Meanwhile, he said, the same people, who he said tend to be modest and frugal, want to see their tax dollars spent with care.The center-right core also has a vision of economic prosperity driven by innovation and individual effort, not by government intervention, said Coleman. “They embrace an entrepreneurial spirit rather than a collectivist vision.”For dramatic effect, he recited a list of addresses: all garages where big companies started small, including Disney, Ford, and Hewlett Packard.That same center-right core “trusts markets that usually work, over government regulation that occasionally does,” Coleman said, and it measures progress in job creation.Beyond economics, the core center-right believes that the American judiciary is meant to interpret laws, said Coleman, “not use its power to make social changes that legislatures are unwilling to do.”Yes, social issues generate the most heated public debates, he said, including cultural turbulence over gay marriage, abortion, and the right to bear arms.But even within this national clash over values, consensus is possible and necessary, if the United States is to maintain its national security. Coleman quoted onetime Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who described politics as “the art of the possible.” And he praised the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, whose senatorial skills involved friendship and “finding common ground.”On foreign policy, center-right beliefs maintain that “we are exceptional in the world” and that Americans “use strength as the path to peace,” said Coleman, though they harbor no illusions of perfection.That sense of being exceptional includes a sense of American national pride and dignity, one that is offended to see a president bow to “the emperor of Japan or the king of Saudi Arabia,” said Coleman. “Courtesy is one thing, but we don’t willingly surrender, even symbolically, [to the idea] that they are better than us.”Coleman’s sense of the nation’s place in the world was unapologetic. “We still believe Lincoln’s words,” said Coleman of the center-right, “that America is ‘the last best hope of Earth,’ and I think our leaders should behave accordingly.”The Senate is a place where friendship is possible, he said, but where consensus and action are often difficult.Coleman gave an example, citing a bipartisan attempt he was part of to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, and to give nations like Iran and Venezuela “less bark and less bite.” What has to be done is clear, he said. America needs more conservation, more renewable energy, more environmentally safe energy exploration, and more nuclear power.It’s also a time for new Lincolns, he said. Coleman called the 16th president “the hero of the center-right” for refusing to embrace political expediency in favor of “enduring values.”Lincoln had one other quality shared by the enduring core of the center-right, said Coleman. “He dreamed great dreams.”last_img read more

‘Jazz’ diplomacy

first_imgIn 1963, Richard Holbrooke was a 22-year-old Foreign Service officer in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, where a war that would inform U.S. policy for a generation was just beginning to widen.Nearly 50 years later, he is still involved in diplomacy, now for the White House as special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Measured and frank, Holbrooke spent an hour recently discussing foreign policy issues at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). Among other things, he shared his concern for Afghanistan (critical), his belief in negotiating styles (flexible), and his relationship with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai (respectful).The longtime diplomat spoke along with Graham Allison before a capacity crowd at the JFK Forum on March 4. (Allison, a friend of Holbrooke’s going back to Vietnam, is Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at HKS and director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.)The first question was one that Holbrooke acknowledged he is asked a lot, “but never by anyone under 50”: Is Afghanistan America’s new Vietnam?Not really, he said, naming a “core difference,” in that North Vietnam and the Viet Cong were never a threat to the U.S. homeland. The Taliban and al-Qaeda, on the other hand, represent “a direct, unambiguous threat to the United States,” said Holbrooke. “They know what they want. They want to create chaos … to destroy a civilization they hate.”It was not a mistake to get into a war in Afghanistan, he said of the months following 9/11, but “the tragedy is, we got diverted to Iraq.”Allison cited Holbrooke’s noted skills as a negotiator. For instance, he was the chief negotiator behind the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, which ended the Bosnian civil war.“Negotiations are a lot like jazz,” said the 68-year-old diplomat. “They’re improvisations on a theme.” The bargaining table is a place for both focus and flexibility, he said, but final agreements had better be both acceptable to all parties and enforceable.Still, any classic assumptions about negotiation are confounded in Afghanistan, because “the Taliban do not represent a government,” said Holbrooke, who called the group instead “a political movement led from sanctuary.” Al-Qaeda, which he said is “even more shadowy,” represents the same bargaining complication. “There’s nothing they want we could give them,” said Holbrooke, “and there’s nothing we could give them they want.”Also, there are places that U.S. diplomacy does not go these days, and one is Kashmir, he said, because “an outside negotiator can’t do the job.” Since 1947, India has been pitted against Pakistan in conflicts that have erupted three times over that disputed area.India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are the center of what may be “the most volatile part of the world today,” said Holbrooke, and are important to international stability. Other nations have security interests there, including Russia, China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. It’s “a very, very large terrain,” said Holbrooke, which in diplomatic terms includes “a lot of moving parts.”At the unsteady center of this unstable region, he said, is Afghanistan, “a weak and poor country” wracked by 31 years of warfare.Thirteen months ago, Holbrooke and his new team at the White House were “astonished at what a mess we had inherited” in Afghanistan, he said. Back then, the United States was represented by just 300 civilian employees and — more disturbing, said Holbrooke — only 10 agricultural specialists in a country that was once a breadbasket to the region. (A year later, those numbers, respectively, are 900 and 100.)The United States halted a poppy seed eradication program that was driving farmers into the arms of the Taliban, he said. Cash-for-work programs are in place for farmers, and U.S. National Guard teams are bringing agricultural experts to the countryside.There are also more efforts now to train Afghan police and army units.With these “vast changes,” said Holbrooke, comes an ancillary fact: There has been no emphasis yet on bringing international diplomacy to bear on Afghanistan. But in the wake of America’s civilian buildup, he added, the United States is now ready to look at issues of international terrorism.For future diplomats in the HKS audience, said Holbrooke, Afghanistan offers an opportunity for an active posting analogous to the one he took as a young man, distributing U.S. aid in rural Vietnam. “It was greener,” he said of the Mekong Delta, but in Afghanistan parallel opportunities await.Holbrooke praised other changes in the U.S. response to Afghanistan in the past year, including a provision requiring a minimum tour of one year for federal civilian employees, up from six months under the Bush administration. Recruitment for the civilian buildup has been accelerated by “3161 authority” provisions in the U.S. Code, he said, a process that streamlines getting federal civilian employees into reconstruction zones. The same authority, said Holbrooke, is needed to speed U.S. federal civilian employees on their way to Pakistan.But U.S. aid of any kind should avoid what he called a “dependency trap,” through assistance that overrides or neglects local authorities. “Classic direct civic action” can certainly accomplish good deeds, said Holbrooke, but if it stays American-only, it is not sustainable.At any rate, starting in July 2011, the United States expects to begin military withdrawals from Afghanistan, the “pace and scope” of which are yet to be determined. But “the civilian effort must continue,” said Holbrooke.last_img read more

CES announces student grant winners

first_imgThe Center for European Studies has announced its 2011-12 student grant winners, continuing its long tradition of promoting and funding student research on political, historical, economic, social, cultural, and intellectual trends in modern or contemporary Europe. Thirty-nine undergraduates will pursue thesis research and internships in Europe this summer, while 16 graduate students have been awarded support for their dissertations over the coming year.CES undergraduate senior thesis travel grants fund summer research in Europe for juniors in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences preparing senior theses. Graduate summer travel grants and graduate dissertation research fellowships fund students who plan to spend either a summer or up to a year in Europe conducting dissertation research, while graduate dissertation writing fellowships are intended to support doctoral candidates as they complete their dissertations. These grants and fellowships are funded by the Krupp Foundation and by the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies.For more information about the grant winners.last_img read more

From skin cells to motor neurons

first_imgA team of Harvard stem cell researchers has succeeded in reprogramming adult mouse skin cells directly into the type of motor neurons damaged in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), best known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). These new cells, which researchers are calling induced motor neurons (iMNs), can be used to study the development of the paralyzing diseases and to develop treatments for them.Producing motor neurons this way is much less labor intensive than having to go through the process of creating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC, iPS cells), and is so much faster than the iPS method that it potentially could reduce by a year the time it eventually takes to produce treatments for ALS and SMA, said Kevin Eggan, leader of the Harvard team.Importantly, the direct reprograming does not involve the use of any factors known to trigger cancer or any other disease states, and the factors in fact make the fibroblasts, the connective tissue cells that make and secrete collagen proteins, stop dividing.The work by Eggan, a member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute principal faculty and an associate professor in Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (SCRB), and his colleagues builds on and advances work by SCRB co-chair and Professor Doug Melton, who pioneered direct cellular reprogramming, and Marius Wernig of Stanford, who used direct reprogramming to produce generalized neurons.In a paper given “Immediate Early Publication” online by Cell Stem Cell, the Eggan team reports that the cells they are calling iMNs appear to be fully functional. “One of the most important things we’ve done is show that when you put them into the embryo they function normally like motor neurons,” Eggan said in an interview. “They move to the right place and function on their own.”When placed in the spinal cord of a chicken embryo, the iMNs settle into the cord and send out their projections to connect with muscles. “That’s a unique thing,” Eggan said. “We showed [that] they have contact with muscle cells and make synapses with them.”When the iMNs cells were placed in a lab dish with muscle cells, they made what appeared to be normal contact, Eggan said, “and when we add curare to the dish, that contact stops over time — which is exactly what curare does in nature; it is an antagonist to the receptors on the muscle cells.” Curare, which is used as a paralyzing agent by anesthesiologists, is the substance some South American native people place on the end of darts to hunt game.“One of the utilities [of this new method for producing motor neurons] is it makes a much more rapid way to grow motor neurons. This could allow us to test very rapidly whether a new therapeutic is likely to be effective,” Eggan said. “Realistically, it takes about a year for us to create an iPS cell line; this [approach] takes weeks.” In the past, producing iPS motor neurons from a patient’s skin cells, and producing them in large quantities, could require the effort of 100 people. “This reduces both the time involved and scale of effort, which is particularly important in these tough economic times, as it obviously also reduces the costs involved.”Explaining how this success was built on previous discoveries, Eggan said, “We had been taking fibroblasts from mouse embryos, skin cells, and were able occasionally, rarely, … to turn those cells into motor neurons using a set of factors we developed. We were struggling. And at that moment, Marius Wernig came up with a system for what I would call making generic neurons; they were electrically active, they looked like neurons, but they didn’t have the properties you could assign to any neural cell type. But when we combined our factors with his factors, it allowed us to go on and make motor neurons.”last_img read more

Robots to the rescue

first_imgIn the past, robots were designed for factories. Americans became upset when they lost jobs on the production line to mechanized arms that could do more work in less time — without salaries, health insurance, sick days, or vacations. Robots were big and clunky. Humans were kept away from them.Today, that’s rapidly changing.  New robot systems are soft and safe to be around, and even can be wearable. Robotics has never looked so people-friendly.In keeping with the changing times and attitudes, more than 200 people representing 18 companies and 20 universities from as far south as Washington, D.C., and as far west as Michigan attended the sold-out Second Annual Northeast Robotics Colloquium at Harvard last weekend.Conor Walsh, assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), is one of the pioneers of this new robotic world, and he presented his work to the conference.Demonstrating the soft exosuit he has been developing, Walsh said, “We are designing robots specifically for people.” It’s a “totally different way than what people have done for 50 years,” he said.Walsh’s exosuits are designed to be worn, and thus are pliable and moveable, with no resistance in movement. Walsh said the exosuit involves “smart interfacing with the body and smart ways to send information,” and enables the wearer to walk with less muscle activation. That might sound relaxing, but it’s not about being lazy. The exosuit has medical, military, and recreational applications. For instance, a recovering stroke patient could don the suit to help to restore his or her level of muscle function, allowing a better integration back into the community.The research, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is especially useful for the military. Soldiers carry heavy loads for long periods. The suit “delays the onset of fatigue and protects the joints from injury,” by taking on a portion of the stress and movement from its wearer, Walsh said.The suit can help people who have trouble moving, but cannot help people with paralysis.Walsh and his team of Harvard faculty, grad students, postdocs, and research staff also developed a “soft disposable elastomeric robot” — in layman’s terms, a robotic cast that provides physical therapy while patients recover from injury.For example, a cast is usually applied to a broken hand. But a casts doesn’t allow the hand or fingers to move at all, so when it comes off, the hand is stiff.But a soft disposable, elastomeric robot cast, can be plugged into a small battery pack four times a day and will then move the hand and fingers through a range of motions pre-set by a physical therapist, essentially administering physical therapy while the patient heals.Robert Howe, Abbott and James Lawrence Professor of Engineering at SEAS, presented his i-HY, an open-source robotic hand developed and named for Harvard-Yale, the other university with which he collaborates. The i-HY hand “combines optimized passive mechanics with five motors that can use precision fingertip grasps.”If, for example, a hurricane destroyed a power center, it would be too dangerous for humans to enter the facility to make repairs. But a robot equipped with an i-HY hand could be able to do the job. The goal, Howe said, is to have human-quality hand manipulation: “Robot hands for the real world.”Howe said, “Real-world robustness and low cost are essential.” But after years of research, untold money, and hundreds of Ph.D. dissertations, “We still can’t do it. Forty papers have been published since the ’80s. None are able to do unstructured environment manipulation.”So Howe left old dogmas behind and turned to the lobster as a model, creating a prototype with a 3-D printer, a three-fingered hand that can do everything from a pinch to a wrap grasp. He realized that a “hand doesn’t have to have the same dexterity as the human hand” to be effective. The i-HY also has sensors, and Howe encouraged the conference attendees to download the program and let him know the results.The Northeast Robotics Colloquium was sponsored by Jaybridge Robotics and the Wyss Institute.last_img read more

Crowdsourcing science

first_img Read Full Story Traditional social science research tends to skew toward “WEIRD” subjects—that is, toward the Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic—according to four Harvard researchers who are trying to expand the reach of modern data collection and analysis.Pioneers in the field of crowdsourced, Web-based research, they offered a vision of large-scale citizen science experiments in a November 14 panel discussion titled “Taking Research Out Into the Wild.” Part of the Computer Science Colloquium series, the event was hosted by the Center for Research on Computation and Society (CRCS) at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).It is not unusual for academics to involve the public in research—think of the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count and the Harvard-led Personal Genome Project. With the advent of the web and social media, however, researchers can now learn from massive swaths of the world population, instantly, without ever bringing them into the lab. And the payoffs for both parties can be significant.last_img read more

One ending, many beginnings

first_img 18Elizabeth Mary Parker attends Commencement activities outside of Winthrop House. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 10Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian starts Commencement at the traditional cry, “Sheriff, pray give us order!” Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer 2President Drew Faust and the Rev. Jonathan Walton shake hands after the annual Baccalaureate Service, held inside the Memorial Church. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 21Jack Reardon (center) is applauded after receiving a special award as Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith (left) and Harvard Corporation senior fellow Robert D. Reischauer (right) look on. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer 16Aretha Franklin receives an honorary degree in the arts. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 5Dean Donald Pfister received a standing ovation during Class Day at Harvard University. Pfister is the outgoing interim dean of Harvard College. Rakesh Khurana, the Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development at Harvard Business School, will become the new dean of Harvard College on July 1. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 14Spectators watch Commencement from above Pusey Library. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 20During the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association, the oldest alumna in attendance, Lillian Sugarman ’37, heads the row and shares a laugh with Happy Committee member Brandon Geller. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer 3Graduate Taylor Evans was among seven other ROTC members who received their first military assignments during the ROTC Commissioning Ceremony. Evans’ mother (not pictured), his wife, Stephanie, daughter, Haylee, and son, Connor, joined him for the event. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 7Members of the Bedford Minuteman Company, a marching and ceremonial unit, parade through Tercentenary Theatre during Commencement. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 22Michael R. Bloomberg speaks during Commencement exercises. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer 8President Drew Faust (center, in black) and Harvard Provost Alan Garber (front row, second from left) pose with this year’s honorary degree recipients: (front row, from left) Seymour Slive, Michael Bloomberg, former President George H.W. Bush, Peter Raven (back row, left to right), Patricia King, Joseph E. Stiglitz, Isabel Allende, and Aretha Franklin. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer 1Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church Jonathan Walton and Harvard President Drew Faust lead the procession to the Baccalaureate Service for the Class of 2014. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 12Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin acknowledges the crowd after delivering a moving rendition of the national anthem. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer 6A lone graduate passes the Littauer Building on Commencement morning. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 15Shilpa Murthy (top row, from left), Kanchana Amaratunga, and Jennifer Cai cheer on fellow graduates. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer 23Harvard University President Drew Faust is named the 2014 Radcliffe Medalist. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer 19Incoming Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana tosses his cap at a Cabot house diploma ceremony. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 13Harvard Business School graduates Malike Abacioglu (from left), Marisa Clark, and Diva Ramola enjoy Commencement exercises. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer 17Former President George H.W. Bush acknowledges applause after receiving his honorary degree. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer 4Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg shared an onstage laugh during Class Day, where she was the featured speaker. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer 9Harvard Corporation member James Breyer (left) and Commencement speaker Michael Bloomberg onstage. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer On Commencement Day, a sea of crimson can be seen from every corner of Harvard Yard. As each graduate prepares to take the reins on a new chapter of life, thousands of spectators — friends, family, colleagues, spouses, even pets — cheer in support. They sit in the front rows, perch on top of Pusey Library, and stand on the steps of Widener Library to be a part of this tradition. Bringing together people from all walks of life, Commencement Day is filled with thousands of vignettes of every person in attendance — graduates, military members, alumni, faculty, a former president, and even the “Queen of Soul.” People who otherwise may never cross paths come together to celebrate Commencement Day ceremonies.— Crystal Chandler 11Hazel Harmon, 2, looks on in wonder with her father, James Harmon ’93. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer 24President Drew Faust embraces former Harvard president Neil Rudenstine after she received the 2014 Radcliffe Medal. Rudenstine recruited Faust to Harvard, and Faust was the founding dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographerlast_img read more

Iran steps back

first_imgAfter 20 months of fitful negotiations, a coalition of world powers led by the United States announced Tuesday that it had reached a deal with Iran to limit that country’s capacity to a build nuclear bomb for at least a decade. In exchange, the international community will lift harsh sanctions that have had dire effects on Iran’s economy.The agreement calls for Iran to reduce its supply of nuclear materials, places strict limits on all activities and research by Iran’s nuclear program, and gives inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency permanent, unfettered access to sites of known or suspected nuclear facilities and supply chains in Iran. Any violations could see sanctions “snapped back” into place within 65 days. President Barack Obama called the deal the best available opportunity to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and possibly spurring a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Critics say the deal clears the way for Iran to become an accepted nuclear superpower in 10 years and places Israel at greater risk. Matthew Bunn is a professor of practice at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and co-principal investigator for the Project on Managing the Atom research and policy program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He spoke with the Gazette about the accord.GAZETTE: What’s your overall assessment of this agreement?BUNN: I think it’s inevitably a compromise, but I think it’s a good deal. It’s a far better deal than I originally expected we’d be able to get with Iran. It cuts off the plutonium pathway entirely — that is, the plutonium pathway to a bomb. It greatly reduces Iran’s ability to move forward on the uranium enrichment pathway to the bomb. It cuts Iran’s installed centrifuge fleet by two-thirds. It eliminates 95 percent of the enriched uranium that Iran has built up, which is important because when you’ve enriched to just a few percent, you’ve done two-thirds of the work of going all the way to 90 percent enrichment for a bomb. So it eliminates material that would otherwise give Iran a two-thirds head start on making nuclear bomb material. And it greatly expands inspections.Now it is a compromise, and there will be many people saying, “Oh, we should have gotten more.” But we have to look at the realistic alternatives. If we reject this deal and try to move back toward sanctions, the rest of the international community won’t be with us. They’ll say, “You had a perfectly reasonable deal, and it’s your fault, not Iran’s fault, that you’re not going with that.” And Iran will return to building up more centrifuges, and we’ll have less international support for sanctions to try to stop them, and Iran will drift closer to a nuclear weapons capability, and we will drift closer to a fateful decision as to whether to acquiesce or to use military force to try to set their program back.Another option would be going straight to military strikes. But there are huge risks to U.S. and world security in that, and the consensus is that they would only set Iran’s program back by perhaps two to five years and probably convert it from a program that gives them an option to pursue a bomb to a program that goes straight to a nuclear bomb. So in the net, this agreement is much better for U.S. national security — and for world security, including Israeli security — than the available alternatives are.GAZETTE: How much of what the U.S. and its partners were hoping to achieve did they get, and what did they compromise on?BUNN: Of course, they would have liked still deeper cuts in Iran’s centrifuge capacity. They would have liked still more far-ranging inspections. They would have liked less relaxing of sanctions. In particular, one of the controversial parts of the deal in the United States certainly will be that, over quite a period of time, it will lift the arms embargo and the missile embargo on Iran, which were originally imposed because of the nuclear program.But what the deal does do, because of the lifting of sanctions, is Iran will be getting more money from selling its oil and various other commercial activities. And with the lifting of the arms embargo over time, they will be able to spend that money on weapons. And so there are countries in the region that are very concerned about increased Iranian power resulting from that mass lifting of sanctions and the lifting of the arms embargo.GAZETTE: What do you make of the argument that Iran will not apply all of the capital (now freed up as a result of the sanctions being lifted) to its civilian infrastructure problems, but instead divert a portion to bolster its support for terror groups and activities in the region in order to placate the Revolutionary Guard generals? Is that a real threat and, if so, how does the coalition guard against that?BUNN: I think Iran will make its own sovereign decisions as to how it wants to spend its money, just as it has been doing today. And it will have somewhat more money. The reality is Iran does things in the region that the United States objects to. Some of the things Iran is doing in the region are actually in line with what the United States wants. Iran is providing some of the main forces on the ground fighting the Islamic State, among other things. But there are many other things Iran does in the region — supporting Hezbollah, supporting the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, supporting Hamas and other groups attacking Israel — that pose real threats. But Iran has been doing that already, even under the intense sanctions that it’s under.The United States has many options to strengthen the security of Israel and of the Gulf states, and the Obama administration has been moving forward on that already. The administration has made clear, and in fact [Israeli Prime Minister] Bibi Netanyahu has made clear, that the United States has done more to strengthen Israel’s security in a variety of ways under the Obama administration than has ever been the case before. So, it is a cost of this agreement, lifting sanctions, there’s no doubt about it. But the sanctions were imposed in order to get a diplomatic resolution to Iran’s nuclear program, and we need to be willing to take yes for an answer.GAZETTE: Unlike the framework that was announced last spring, do the U.S. and Iran see this deal in the same way?BUNN: At that time, it wasn’t the same document. Not everything was written down at the time in April when they issued conflicting press accounts. One of the things about this deal is that it is remarkably detailed. And I think that’s partly because of these past disagreements. They wanted to get as many things written down as possible. So those who are not technical experts will find it quite difficult to wade through the document.I think that many aspects of the document are reasonably clear. It does establish a joint commission, which has a very interesting procedure for dealing with compliance disputes. In particular, there’s a clever approach for what’s referred to as “snap back” sanctions, whereby if there’s a dispute, the United States would be able to veto lifting the sanctions, but China and Russia would not be able to veto re-imposing the sanctions if there was a violation. That’s an interesting — and in a way more positive than I had expected would be possible — aspect of the agreement. But the reality is the United States and Iran, those two governments, deeply distrust and dislike each other. And that hostility will continue. Iran will continue to pursue what we consider outrageous behavior in the Middle East, and that will continue to be part of the international landscape. This is not by any means “peace in our time” or anything like that. This is a negotiated truce over Iran’s nuclear program, with all of the other issues between the United States and Iran still festering and still creating difficulty. But it does create an opportunity to work on those other issues.Another key thing about the agreement, and I think one of the legitimate criticisms of it, is that while the verification arrangements and the plutonium restraints last indefinitely, the enrichment restraints end after 15 years. So 15 years from now, we’ll be in a situation where Iran can build up its enrichment capacity again, and we won’t have any bounds for complaint because that’s part of the agreement, and there won’t be any sanctions in place to deal with that scenario.GAZETTE: Is that one of the aspects that has the potential to create problems going forward in terms of enforcement or global politics?BUNN: Yes. I think in essence what we’ve done is we’ve bought time with this agreement. The key question now is, what are we going to do with that time? If we have exactly the same Iran and exactly the same relationship in 15 years, that will be a problem, I think.GAZETTE: Are there other signs the U.S. will be looking for beyond the IAEA inspections to feel assured that Iran is fully complying?BUNN: A very large fraction of verifying that they’re complying will rely on U.S. intelligence agencies. But the restraints that are agreed to will help a lot in making sure that Iran not only is complying at its known, declared facilities, but also not building covert facilities. So there are inspections of the places where Iran manufactures centrifuges. There are constraints on Iran’s ability to purchase anything for centrifuges outside of a declared, monitored channel. This shipping out of almost all of the enriched uranium would mean that a covert site would either also have to have a covert source of enriched uranium, or it would have to be three times as big or take three times as long as it would have if it had a source of enriched uranium already available to start with, rather than having to start from natural uranium. So there are a variety of things in the restraints, as well as in the inspections, that will help both the IAEA and the intelligence agencies confirm that there isn’t a covert site. I personally think it was always very unlikely that Iran would try to race to the bomb at a known, inspected site. The real deal is what happens at covert facilities.GAZETTE: How will presumably improved relations between Iran and the U.S. affect other nations and actors in the Middle East?BUNN: I think there will be ripple effects, but I think that in the cooler light of some weeks from now, people will realize that in fact the risk of an Iranian nuclear bomb is lower as a result of this agreement, not higher. There will be efforts by Saudi Arabia and others to try to build up some nuclear capability of their own to balance the nuclear capability that Iran is left with under this agreement. They have actually very limited capability to do that just technologically. So I think that this agreement in the net helps to prevent rather than to encourage a nuclear competition in the Middle East. But there will be an effort to build up civil nuclear programs in a number of countries. And of course, Israel has already made clear its strong objections to the agreement, but that’s been true for quite some time. I think Israeli objections are misguided and that, in the net, this is much better for Israel, as well, than the available alternatives. But they would have preferred an agreement in which Iran capitulated completely. I simply don’t think that was ever in the cards.This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.last_img read more

Love in the crosshairs

first_imgWhat are the secrets for long-lasting love? Lean closer to find out.— Keep curiosity alive.— Never assume anything about each other.— And, last but not least, open a joint bank account.With Valentine’s Day near, experts in negotiation, mediation, and lasting marriage shared that advice to a rapt audience at a panel called “Negotiating Love: Interpersonal Negotiation and Romantic Relationships,” held today at Harvard Law School (HLS).The session was organized by the Harvard Law School Negotiators, a student group, to spread the word that effective techniques in interpersonal negotiation apply not only to the vagaries of international trade agreements and mergers and acquisitions but also to people’s everyday lives and to relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners.The panelists said that practicing negotiating skills such as conflict management, mediation, and dispute resolution can help to decrease the number of quarrels that couples have, and they said that partners can start moving in that direction simply by avoiding making assumptions about each other. Perhaps surprisingly, the panelists said, the latter practice is more common among long-lasting couples.“The longer people are together, the less accurate they are about their partners,” said Richard S. Schwartz, a psychiatrist and part-time associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (HMS), drawing laughs from the audience.“The longer you’re together, the stronger your assumptions are that you know everything about your partner,” he said. “You lose your curiosity and your wish to explore.”By keeping curiosity alive, partners are less inclined to make assumptions, the root of many misunderstandings that can create havoc in relationships. Assumptions such as “If you loved me, you should know what I like” or “If you loved me, I wouldn’t have to tell you” should be avoided, the speakers warned.Instead, couples should speak frankly about their likes and dislikes. If that fails to produce understanding, they at some point can move on to try couples counseling or negotiation skills, said David Hoffman, founding member of the Boston Law Collaborative and the John H. Watson Jr. Lecturer on Law.When Hoffman asked the audience members how many have taken a negotiation course, half the people in the room raised their hands. Then he asked them to raise their hands if they have used what they learned in their personal lives, and they all indicated they did.Partners should also practice compassion and appreciation for one another instead of being judgmental and quick to criticize, the panelists suggested.“We’re experts in what’s wrong with the other,” said Jody Scheier, teaching consultant at the Program on Negotiation at HLS. “When we tell our partners we want to have a conversation with them about something they did, it’s because we want them to change. And that conversation is not going to work.”One thing that does seem to work is having a joint bank account, according to Hoffman.“There is strong data that shows that a joint bank account is a robust predictor of success in the marriage,” he said. “When couples open a joint bank account, there is a sharing of responsibility, time, and money, and that’s a positive indicator.”A student asked whether it was a good idea to start using negotiation skills early on in a relationship.“Negotiation is not the path, early on,” said Jacqueline Olds, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at HMS. “You could accidentally kill your relationship.”Having more positive than negative interactions also helps to nourish the romantic bond, Hoffman said, recommending a ratio of 5:1 for a healthy relationship.Since the event took place three days before Valentine’s Day, organizers offered chocolate to all who attended.Rishi Shroff, a student in the master of law program, came with his wife to see if they could learn something.“I negotiated a few agreements as a junior lawyer,” he said while his wife listened intently. “This is more interesting.”last_img read more

Humanities offer marketability in a competitive world

first_imgMy mom frequently told me that my eyes were bigger than my stomach, as I ambitiously piled food high on my dinner plate — and was only able to finish half.Similarly, I arrived at Harvard with a passion for history and the classics and the desire to know everything! Reality set in during my first shopping week, when my schedule had more on it than my dinner plate. Quickly my days — and nights — were spent translating Ancient Greek and theorizing the growth curve for Arabidopsis thaliana, while concurrently reading hundreds of pages of U.S. history. I was completely engaged, anxious to become the budding intellectual that I envisioned, yet the fact that there were only 24 hours in a day became apparent.As a first-semester freshman, well before I was confronted with the perceived correlation between a humanities concentration and a future as a street performer, I took a course in Roman history.As a lifelong student of history, I was well aware of the fact that the professor who taught the class was as much rock star as professor. I knew I was in for a remarkable intellectual experience under the guidance of Kathleen Coleman, the James Loeb Professor of the Classics, yet I had no idea that a single professor would change my attitude and subsequently, my life.Throughout the semester, I learned about Roman history, but also about reasoning, analysis, and using evidence to draw independent conclusions. This course opened up my perspective, which led me to pursue opportunities in humanities research, as well as an archaeological dig program in Rome this past summer. In a short period of time, my humanities studies at Harvard helped me become a more well-rounded citizen of the world.As my sophomore year unfolded, I continued to gravitate toward the humanities. I chose a concentration in Ancient History (Greek and Roman), secure in the knowledge that it offered me the ideal preparation for life off-campus. I quickly learned, however, that perhaps not everyone shared this viewpoint.After being asked, for what seemed like the 100th time, “What are you going to do with that?” I became curious as to why I felt mandated to justify my field of study. Related Roman history, trowel by trowel Undergrad immerses himself in ancient world during summer dig It was then that I realized some students come to campus with what they believe to be a roadmap to Silicon Valley or Wall Street. Their questioning my concentration choice felt like code for “Why aren’t you focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM fields)?”I began to ask myself why so many students believed that the humanities are not part of a roadmap to their desired profession. It was then that I started to ask my fellow sophomores how they felt about a concentration in the humanities vs. STEM fields. Their overwhelming, collective response was that employers or graduate admissions committees might view a humanities concentration as impractical.I argued the point because contrary to this commonly held belief, the humanities are neither antiquated nor undesirable. In fact, the study of such a dynamic and significant discipline allows students an even wider field of choice. Professor Colman shares this viewpoint, holding a strong belief that an education in the humanities, specifically in the classics, can prepare a student for just about anything.“Studying the fragmentary evidence from the ancient world hones your close reading and analytical skills and teaches discipline and scrupulousness in your treatment of evidence,” Professor Coleman explains. “These are diagnostic skills, useful for anything, from law to dentistry to engineering to journalism to financial management.“An undergraduate degree in classics is the quintessential interdisciplinary training,” she says. “[classics concentrators] go on to do everything. It allows students to go on to any field they want.”After speaking with several Harvard professors, my perceptions have undergone a decisive (and comforting) shift toward excitement in pursuing my passions while maintaining marketability in an increasingly competitive world. In fact, I have come to see my concentration as an investment in versatility and intellectualism. In response to fellow undergrads’ prying questions about my concentration, rather than explaining the value of humanities study, I have come to simply say, “law school.” While my postgraduate path has yet to be decided, I know that my humanities education will enable me to succeed in many arenas, law being just one possibility. Law is deeply rooted in the past; the history of the legal system is the history of the world. Also, the discipline requires the analytical thinking and problem-solving referenced by Professor Coleman. How these skills are developed and honed differs between disciplines, but the classics teach these skills effectively.“You get used to close-reading the ancient evidence, both textual and material. To make sense of a fragment of ancient poetry surviving in a medieval manuscript or a stray shard of pottery excavated from a drain requires rigorous analysis and also the utmost discrimination and care in reconstructing the original context,” Professor Coleman says.A humanities education teaches creative, outside-the-box thinking. In a world where the next big idea can give birth to a multimillion-dollar startup, thinking is a valuable commodity.“Close reading the evidence” allows one to also build creative, intellectual capabilities. What separates problems and evidence from world-changing ideas is a creative, analytical mind. And nothing creates such a mind like a Harvard education in the humanities. While I have learned to pace myself to avoid piling classes too high on my metaphorical plate, I am confident that pursuing a well-rounded education in the humanities will ultimately take me wherever I wish to go.Matthew DeShaw ’18 writes an occasional column about Harvard College experiences.last_img read more