Month: April 2007

The problem with expanding the U.S. military

The problem with expanding the U.S. military

The United States is at war; well, its military is anyway. The United States chose this war, chose badly, and conducted it even more poorly. Washington amply demonstrated that it’s not capable of exporting democracy and reconstructing a country–especially when that country is in the midst of a civil war unleashed by U.S. incompetence. Perhaps we’re learning that the world is a vastly more complicated place than our naive assumptions led us to believe.

Boris Yeltsin’s arms control legacy

Boris Yeltsin’s arms control legacy

Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first president, was never a cold warrior. Although he made his Soviet career in the Urals, the traditional stronghold of military-related heavy industry, his real background was in civilian construction. He ran the Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg) region in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a Communist Party boss, and although he was summoned to lead the Moscow party organization in December 1985, he hardly had an opportunity to involve himself in the details of the U.S.-Soviet nuclear superpower confrontation.

Mother Nature’s bioterrorism

Mother Nature’s bioterrorism

Bioterrorists, in this case Mother Nature, couldn’t have picked a better target against agriculture: honeybees. Cornell University’s Roger Morse and Nicholas Calderone estimate that the value honeybees contribute to U.S. agriculture through pollination grew from $9.3 billion in 1989 to $14.6 billion in 2000. (See “The Value of Honeybees as Pollinators of U.S.

The evolution and consequences of synthetic biology

The evolution and consequences of synthetic biology

In the 1970s, genetic engineering was the hot new technology in which DNA molecules from one organism could be spliced into another organism’s DNA. Today, synthetic biology could likewise revolutionize our way of life. But synthetic biology is orders of magnitude beyond genetic engineering because it can create completely novel DNA sequences. By human “intelligent design,” synthetic biologists could conceivably create new life-forms previously unknown to this planet.