Hugh Gusterson

Hugh Gusterson

Articles by Hugh Gusterson

30 June 2009

Iran: Looking forward

Hugh Gusterson

Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian regime had two choices when their blatant rigging of the election was met with massive street protests. They could stand aside, a la the decrepit regimes of Eastern Europe in 1989; or they could send out uniformed thugs to beat, kill, and intimidate the protesters until their movement buckled, a la China's Tiananmen Square strategy.

They chose the latter, and we will all pay the price.

1 June 2009

The CTBT debate begins again

Hugh Gusterson

North Korea's nuclear test on May 25 has increased the urgency of the nuclear test ban cause but also raised further questions about the feasibility of achieving a truly universal ban. President Barack Obama has promised to seek "aggressive" and "immediate" ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Signed by Washington in 1996, the CTBT was brought before the Senate for ratification once before in 1999.

1 May 2009
Humans are storytelling animals. As such, the future of nuclear weapons depends on the yarns that political leaders and the public spin about them.
27 April 2009

Why Thomas Friedman is wrong about the National Ignition Facility

Hugh Gusterson

Tom Friedman's brain is flat. That is the only conclusion I can reach after reading his New York Times piece on Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's National Ignition Facility (NIF). A flat brain cannot tolerate complexity. It turns things--such as globalization and laser facilities--into cartoon versions of themselves.

27 March 2009

The Washington Post's distorted take on Yucca Mountain

Hugh Gusterson

Newspapers maintain a distinction between news stories, which are supposed to be balanced and factually accurate, and editorial pages, which afford more license for point of view and factual cherry-picking. But there is still a line between responsible and irresponsible editorials. Wherever that line is, a recent Washington Post editorial on Yucca Mountain in Nevada is on the wrong side of it.

10 March 2009

Empire of bases

Hugh Gusterson

Before reading this article, try to answer this question: How many military bases does the United States have in other countries: a) 100; b) 300; c) 700; or d) 1,000.

18 December 2008

The legacy of Ed Grothus and the Black Hole

Hugh Gusterson

    --"Jesters do oft prove prophets," William Shakespeare, King Lear
    --"When one is legendary, one must do legendary things," Ed Grothus

24 September 2008

The bursting global security bubble

Hugh Gusterson

In the 1930s and 1940s, the West's financial and security structures collapsed. In the grip of a speculative bubble, and in the absence of proper oversight, banks had been allowed to lend more money than they responsibly could. (Sound familiar?) When queasy depositors sought to withdraw their money en masse, the result was a massive collapse of banks and the stock market, followed by the Great Depression.

5 August 2008

Project Minerva revisited

Hugh Gusterson

In my last column, as well as in a column for Foreign Policy, I expressed reservations about Project Minerva--a $50 million Pentagon initiative to mobilize anthropologists and other social scientists to do research in aid of the "war on terror." I argued that such research should be sponsored by a civilian agency such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) rather than by the Pentagon

20 June 2008

The U.S. military's quest to weaponize culture

Hugh Gusterson

The Pentagon seems to have decided that anthropology is to the war on terror what physics was to the Cold War. As an anthropologist, this makes me very nervous.

Where former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld believed that the United States would vanquish its enemies through technological superiority, his replacement Robert Gates has said that cultural expertise in counterinsurgency operations will be crucial in the future wars he anticipates.