Month: February 2008

The U.S. satellite shootdown: An unnecessary action

The U.S. satellite shootdown: An unnecessary action

The intercept of the disabled USA-193 spy satellite the United States conducted on February 20 set a new benchmark for military exercises that have no benefits, but come at a tremendous political cost. The intercept topped even the U.S. decision to deploy missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic as an ill-advised maneuver that could only bring scores of suspicion and mistrust–exactly what the deployments inspired in Russia, where missile defense now poisons virtually every other issue in U.S.-Russian relations.

Behind Iran’s nuclear weapons “halt”

Behind Iran’s nuclear weapons “halt”

The release of the declassified summary of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) “Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities” on December 3, 2007 was an event of major political and strategic significance. Its conclusion with “high confidence” that Iran halted its military nuclear activities in fall 2003 removed, for the foreseeable future at least, any grounds for military action to prevent Tehran’s further progress in the nuclear field. This outcome has been welcomed in many quarters in the United States and elsewhere, but it has also generated intense debate and some controversy.

New funds for foreign aid

New funds for foreign aid

Observers declared the new Bush administration budget request dead on arrival because it contains only a $70 billion request for Iraq and Afghanistan, assumes the president’s tax cuts will be extended, and cuts Medicare. When it comes to security spending, however, Congress should seize the opportunity to begin rebalancing the tools of U.S. statecraft. The 8.5 percent increase proposed for diplomacy and foreign assistance promises to begin the process of strengthening U.S. civilian instruments, which badly need reform and additional funds.

Fixing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Fixing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The United States operates 104 nuclear power reactors, which provide nearly 20 percent of the nation’s electricity. More than half have had their original 40-year operating licenses renewed for an additional 20 years. Encouraged by billions of dollars in subsidies and incentives in the 2005 Energy Bill, a handful of companies applied for licenses to build new reactors last fall, and other companies are expected to apply later this year.

Stethoscopes belong in museums

Stethoscopes belong in museums

A common criticism of today’s high cost of medicine is that physicians rely too often on advanced technologies such as CT scans and MRI machines to make diagnoses. Much of the overuse is blamed on perverse insurance-industry incentives that pay for these costly services.