NATO Needs New Thinking, Not New Money

Donald Trump’s rough-and-tumble diplomacy in Europe overshadowed more pressing concerns for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Trump harangued allies to spend more on defense even though NATO members had already agreed in 2014 to strive for spending 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024. “NATO’s European members already spend more than enough money given the relatively limited objectives they set themselves – deterring a weak and declining Russia; countering terrorist groups; engaging in limited crisis management missions mainly in Africa; and cyber defense,” explains Jolyon Howorth, visiting professor with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. Nations confront a range of security threats and Russia has devised new attacks against the Western alliance, including election meddling with the Brexit referendum and the 2016 US presidential election. Howorth urges reform: “NATO needs to be radically re-thought because it fails to reflect the necessary reconfiguration of European and American forces in a world of rapid power transition.” Excessive military spending without adequate thought could cripple economies. – YaleGlobal

Yale’s Minja bringing interventional radiology training to Tanzania

These figures show a radiograph taken during transarterial chemoembolization for cancer of the liver

After leading the implementation of a Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) to dramatically improve access to medical imaging in his home country of Tanzania, Dr. Frank Minja at Yale School of Medicine (YSM) is working alongside residents and faculty from Yale and other institutions to establish a three-year longitudinal program in Tanzania geared at training radiology residents, nurses, and technologists in interventional radiology.

Interventional radiology (IR) is a versatile and minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to treat complex medical conditions and diseases through a tiny incision in the skin. IR was initially developed as a subspecialty of diagnostic radiology and has been an established clinical specialty in the United States, Europe, and East Asia since the 1960s, with an estimated 3,000-4,000 practicing IR physicians in the United States alone. However, in most of the world, especially in countries with limited resources like Tanzania, there is little to no access to the numerous benefits of IR because few doctors in those countries have been trained to use it.


Technocratic Traps of Policy Reforms

Russia's President Vladimir Putin thanks fans and Russians demonstrate against reforms

Rejecting the expert opinions of educated specialists in trade, finance and other areas is tantamount to killing geese that lay golden eggs. “Nations that hope to contribute and compete in the modern world require skilled professionals, especially in complex areas such as taxation and banking, and political leaders cannot govern without such professionals,” explains Vladimir Gel’man, a professor at the European University at St. Petersburg/University of Helsinki. Disrespect for technocrats hinders reform efforts and encourages corruption. Trends include delegation of tasks for the purpose of blaming others, increased influence of outside special-interest groups, emphasis on quick fixes rather than long-term analysis, and intense focus on the whims of a few political leaders. Gel’man offers examples from post-Soviet Russia, but the warning applies to any nation with leaders who get their way by disparaging the experts. – YaleGlobal

Yale Assyriologist discovers evidence of lost city in Iraq

An ancient Sumerian tablet with cuneiform writing with local administrative text from the city of Irisagrig

When Eckart Frahm, professor of Assyriology at Yale, received a call from Homeland Security with a request to come to New York to assess cuneiform tablets, he was intrigued by the opportunity to provide an assessment of the content and origins of these ancient artifacts.

Frahm, who is one of only a few hundred people worldwide who can accurately read cuneiform texts, was taken to an undisclosed location in the city, where he had about two and half days to study these texts in a warehouse in which they were being temporarily stored. Each tablet was about the size of a cell phone, and many were in a poor condition, with salt incrustations covering large portions of their surfaces.

Yale Cyber Leadership Forum reports on key areas of cyber risk

Oona Hathaway speaking at the Yale Cyber Leadership Forum

Cyber security experts from Yale University have released a report detailing the critical and challenging areas of cyber risk in the modern era. The report synthesizes discussions held at the second annual Yale Cyber Leadership Forum in April. Oona Hathaway, Director of the Yale Cyber Leadership Forum and a Professor at Yale Law School, edited the report, together with Ido Kilovaty and Edward Wittenstein. The report is free and available to the public on the website of the Yale Cyber Leadership Forum.

The Forum focuses on bridging the divide among the law, technology, and business communities in cybersecurity, and exploring effective approaches to recognizing, preparing for, preventing, and responding to cyber threats.

A Designer’s Approach to the Cape Town Water Crisis

Cape Town has water problems. Essentially a massive oasis in the desert, the city’s water supply has been drained in recent years by drought and population growth. For a while this year, Cape Town seemed destined to reach “Day Zero,” when the taps would run dry and people would need to stand in line for drinking water. Strong seasonal rains helped push back the date to 2019, but restrictions limiting personal consumption to 50 liters per day remain in effect.

The city has tried a variety of techniques to encourage people to conserve. A class of Yale students has been testing a new approach: design. Led by Jessica Helfand, lecturer in design and management, Yale SOM and Yale School of Architecture students spent the spring semester approaching the water crisis the way a designer would, with an emphasis on collaborating and fostering innovation. Throughout the semester, the course built toward the Cape Town crisis, culminating in a trip to South Africa for a week of on-the-ground research. Split into small groups, the students studied different parts of Cape Town’s civic life—a luxury hotel, a poor township, a wealthy suburb, hospitals, and elder care homes. Back at Yale, they presented their ideas for moving the needle a little more toward conservation. For example, the students working with the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel suggested playing off a series of historical cartoons hung in the five-star hotel with a version stressing short showers and other water-saving actions. The team whose project was based in a wealthy suburb proposed covers that could turn ubiquitous swimming pools into water storage tanks or aqua gardens.


Replacement Fertility Declines Worldwide

Falling population, dropping support: A sharp drop in population is reported for Ukraine, and the United States is among the nations with low public spending for family benefits

Many countries in the world are undergoing demographic transition, with fertility rates below replacement level for more than 80 nations, about half of the world’s population. Women are choosing to have fewer children for many reasons related to financial and personal costs as well as uncertainty over good jobs and reliable social protections. Bleak projections warn of declines in populations, accompanied by smaller working-age populations and a larger proportion of elderly dependents. This problem is especially apparent in developed countries, and current immigration levels are not enough to offset the potential repercussions of a smaller working-age population and the economic costs of a larger elderly population. Too many governments ignore the challenge until confronted with costly government programs and a shrinking workforce. Fertility incentives are costly and deliver only modest impact. Demographer Joseph Chamie concludes, “Communities that refuse to adjust will only exacerbate the consequences of these powerful demographic trends.” – Yale Global