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The National Interest online seeks to provide a space for vigorous debate and exchange not only among Americans but between U.S. and overseas interlocutors. This is the new home for informed analysis and frank but reasoned exchanges on foreign policy and international affairs.
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30 марта, 21:12

Kurds and White Helmets Spar Over Coronavirus Sanctions Relief in Syria

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Matthew Petti Security, Middle East These two Syrian opposition groups disagree on whether to keep international sanctions on the Syrian economy. Syrian Civil Defense and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council have been sparring over whether to lift sanctions aimed at the Syrian economy in the face of the growing coronavirus threat.  International calls are mounting for the United States and its allies to lift international sanctions in light of the novel coronavirus disease pandemic, but groups opposed to Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus disagree on whether the economic sanctions campaign aimed at Damascus harms ordinary Syrians as well.  The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, called for the international community to reject any demands for sanctions relief. The search-and-rescue group, which operations in the rebel-held northwest, warned that “any economic aid provided to the Syrian regime will be used to support the regime itself and its networks of corruption.”  The March 22 statement also claimed that the regime has a “far too atrocious record of targeting and destroying hospitals and killing medical personnel to be trusted to act out of genuine concern for the health of Syrians,” and asked international organizations to push for access to Syrian prisons.  But another group opposed to Assad’s rule, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), contended that sanctions are hurting the population as well as the regime.  Sinam Mohamad, the SDC’s chief diplomat in Washington, told the National Interest on Monday that sanctions are causing a “negative effect” on the entire population due to high prices caused by the depreciation of the Syrian lira relative to the dollar.  She added that a “political solution for the Syrian crisis” has become “critical” due to the addition of the coronavirus crisis.  The SDC is the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which controls large parts of northeastern Syria.  Syria reported its first death from the coronavirus in the government-controlled territory on Sunday. Religious pilgrims returning from Syria may be spreading the coronavirus to neighboring Iraq as well. International observers have warned that territory controlled by the northwestern rebels, the Syrian Democratic Forces, and the Assad regime are all dangerously vulnerable to coronavirus outbreaks.  The United States and European Union have imposed various human-rights related sanctions against the Assad regime since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011. U.S. Congress most recently passed the Caesar Act, which cements the sanctions regime targeting various sectors of the Syrian economy, in January 2020.  U.S. sanctions law exempts humanitarian organizations operating in Syria, and the U.S. Treasury has issued numerous general licenses for financial transactions to rebel groups in the northwest, where the White Helmets operate.  But the U.S. Treasury has not issued these licenses to the SDC-affiliated autonomous administration, preventing it from exporting oil or performing many other transactions with the outside world.  The United Nations stopped using a border crossing into SDC-controlled territory for humanitarian aid last year and instead forced the SDC to rely on the central government in Damascus. The border crossings from Turkey to the rebel-held northwest remain open.  Matthew Petti is a national security reporter at the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter: @matthew_petti.  Image: Reuters

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30 марта, 20:55

Know the Symptoms: How to Tell If You Might Have the Coronavirus

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Hunter DeRensis Public Health, World Do your duty. Hash your hands. Stay home. Hydrate. In the span of one month, the United States has gone from less than one hundred positive cases of the coronavirus to over 140,000 spread across every state in the union. As more people become infected, it is increasingly important for people to be able to recognize the symptoms of the disease in themselves and others.  For a majority of people, symptoms will look like the regular seasonal flu. This includes a dry cough, a fever, a headache, and body fatigue. “Self-management at home for mild symptoms would be similar to other colds or the flu: rest, stay well hydrated, isolate away from other family members,” recommends Dr. Abraar Karan, a Harvard Medical School physician. Folks with mild cases may treat their symptoms with over-the-counter medication Tylenol.  “I first noticed a headache that seemed to originate behind my eyes and through my temples. I had a dry cough and difficulty breathing that I only noticed when I exerted myself, like when I was running up the stairs, when I was playing with my dog, or when I tried to work out from home. I felt achy and had the chills,” described a nurse who developed the coronavirus.  For individuals self-quarantining at home because they show symptoms, or isolating themselves because they’ve already tested positive, it’s important that they avoid as much contact as possible with the people they live with. This includes eating separately, sleeping alone in a bed, and the regular disinfecting of common surfaces like knobs and the bathroom.  “I wipe down the doorknobs, the light switches, the faucets, the handles, the counters with disinfectant. I swab my phone with alcohol. I throw the day’s hoodie into the laundry at night as if it were my scrubs. I wash all our towels, again and again,” wrote a wife, describing life with her husband who has tested positive for the virus. The intensity of these flu symptoms vary widely depending on the individual and their health history. They can range from exceedingly mild, to near debilitating. “It gradually got worse every day. I started feeling very weak, having bad headaches. My neck hurt. I was nauseous. I couldn’t take a deep breath. My chest hurt, my ribs were sore, it hurt to breathe,” described another victim. Roughly 20 percent of people with coronavirus will require hospitalization because of more dangerous symptoms. If a person is suffering from shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing, they should be taken to a hospital immediately. They may require the use of a ventilator to maintain healthy breathing for the duration of the virus.  The reason the virus has been able to spread so widely is that so many of the people infected are actually asymptomatic. They carry the virus, and are able to pass it on, without having any of the physical signs that have been described. That’s why it’s important everyone, whether they feel sick or not, practice social distancing for the duration of the pandemic.  Hunter DeRensis is a senior reporter for the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter @HunterDeRensis. Image: Reuters

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30 марта, 19:52

Amazing: Check out the Powerful New Radar the Navy Is Testing on Its Warships

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Kris Osborn Technology, Americas A big improvement. The Navy is moving quickly to integrate a new family of tailored radar systems across the fleet as part of a coordinated effort to stop dangerous attacks from farther distances and stop multiple attacks at the same time. The service is integrating its emerging AN/SPY-6 family of radar systems onto its Flight III DDG 51 destroyers and also tailoring variants of the technology for amphibs, Frigates and Carriers. There are many attack scenarios wherein anti-ship missiles, aircraft and even ballistic missiles can be fired by enemies in a coordinated fashion, requiring defensive technologies to detect and discriminate multiple threats at one time. The new radars are much more sensitive, longer range, and engineered to discriminate threats from one another. The current SPY-6 integration initiative, now underway at a rapid pace, is changing Navy surface warfare tactics, according to The Navy’s Above Water Sensors Program Manager, Capt. Jason Hall. Hall said multiple track functionality, signal processing and increased sensitivity provide “the heart” of how SPY-6 radars change tactics for ocean warfare. “We are looking at how you get after the increased capability that it (SPY-6 radar) brings, vs. the SPY-1 (current AN/SPY-1) legacy system. We have run the gamut as to what this radar can do,” Hall said in January of this year at the Surface Navy Association Symposium, Arlington, Va. Hall further explained that the SPY-6 radar systems, combined with fire control and an advanced software-ballistic missile defense system called Aegis Baseline 10, set the technical foundation for the fleet. “We will be leveraging this combat system as we look at Frigate, amphibs and carriers,” Hall said. Multiple-track sensing and detection is expected to bring the desired radar detection strategy, as SPY-6 radars combine air-warfare and ballistic missile defense into a single system. When it comes to application, the SPY-6 radar systems streamline otherwise disparate fire-control and detection technologies; the SPY-6 can cue short-range, closer-in interceptors as well as longer-range ballistic missile interceptors such as an SM-3. This shortens sensor-to-shooter time and offers war commanders a longer window with which to make decisions about which countermeasure is needed. This integration is precisely the kind of defense needed to counter a multi-pronged, coordinated enemy attack potentially combining ballistic missiles with cruise missiles, drone attacks...and more. The SPY-6 family moves beyond existing AN/SPY-1 ship-integrated radar system and, according to an interesting essay in "Microwave Journal"...”handles 30 times more targets and has 30-times greater sensitivity than the SPY-1D(V).” (“Radar and Phased Array Breakthroughs,” Eli Booker) Digital Beam Forming, according to Navy and Raytheon developers, can make multiple-track radar applications possible. An interesting essay in a publication called "RadarTutorial" explains how “multiple independent, narrow beams steered in all directions can be formed in the digital beam forming processor. This brings improved dynamic range controlling The essay further describes that “adaptive digital beam forming and radar signal processing functionality further improve the radar’s ability to function in adverse conditions.” Interestingly, the Microwave Journal essay specifically cites some of Raytheon’s digital beam forming technology… stating: "….Raytheon is developing a mixer-less system with direct RF analog-to-digital conversion that has greater than 400 MHz instantaneous bandwidth and is reconfigurable, able to switch between S- and X-Band... -- Microwave Journal, “Radar and Phased Array Breakthroughs” (Eli Booker) Hall addressed this synergy between multiple beams as involving “S-band radar, X-band radar and a Radar Suite Controller (RSC). RSC coordinates S and X band interfaces.” S-band, according to “Radartutorial,” provides wide-area volume search, target tracking, Ballistic Missile Defense discrimination and missile tracking. X-band, the essay describes, “provides horizon search, precision tracking, missile communications and final illumination of guidance to targets.” This multi-beam integration is what helps facilitate the simultaneous tracking of several threats at once, as it can synthesize horizon scanning and precision tracking with wide-area volume search and Ballistic Missile Defense discrimination. Discrimination is of course a vital advantage associated with increased radar sensitivity, as it can discern threat objects from other less-relevant items such as friendly platforms or flying debris. Raytheon’s SPY-6 radar transmitter uses a material known as military-grade Gallium Nitride (GaN), a substance explained by Raytheon developers as up to 1,000-times more efficient that the existing Gallium Arsenide used today. “GaN converts electrical power into radar, creating greater efficiency which allows us to see a smaller object,” Scott Spence, Director for Naval Radar Systems for Integrated Defense Systems, Raytheon, told Warrior in an interview. Alongside the SPY-6 (V)1, Raytheon and the Navy are now integrating several additional SPY-6 variants for carriers and amphibs, specifically tailored to their respective mission scopes. The SPY-6 (V) 2, for instance, is a smaller rotating radar and a SPY-6 (V) 3 has three fixed radar faces on the deck houses. These variants will go on both Nimitz class and Ford-class carriers. The (V) 3 has nine radar module assemblies. The (V)3 has three fixed spaces looking out at a different angle, covering 360-degrees with 120-degree panels each. Finally, there is a SPY-6 (V)4 which will be integrated onto existing DDG 51 IIA destroyers during a mid-life upgrade. The (V) 4 has 24 Radar Module Assemblies, compared to the (V) 1, which has 37. The use of a scalable antenna, composed of 2ft X 2ft X 2ft Radar Module Assembly building blocks, enables developers to engineer tailored, mission-specific, radar applications for different platforms. A 2017 Pentagon Selected Acquisition Report, written earlier in the development process of the SPY-6 radar, explains that each RMA is comprised of four Line Replaceable Units (LRU). “Each LRU can be replaced in less than 6 minutes.The back-end radar controller is fully programmable and uses commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) 86 processors, which allows adapting to future threats, easy upgrades with future COTS processors and no obsolescence.” (Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) As of FY 2017 President's Budget Selected Acquisition Report (SAR). COTs processing equipment refresh “upgrades will be implemented using a ‘refresh by attrition’ approach… software updates,” the SAR Report states. “We moved to a modular maintenance concept so that is a real big change. We are able to break down the elements themselves into modular structures …. then you can adjust form factor to whatever size you want,” Hall explained. What all of this amounts to is … more time and options for Commanders tasked with ship defense. For instance, an approaching ballistic missile might likely require a longer-range SM-3 interceptor missile….a sea-skimming cruise missile might require an Evolved Sea Sparrow Block II interceptor …..and approaching enemy aircraft, helicopter or drone might require an SM-6, deck-mounted guns or even laser weapons...and fast-approaching small boats might require the Close-In-Weapons system -- all of which comprise different elements of a ship’s layered defenses. Advanced automation, and even human-controlled AI-enabled processing, sensors and networked fire control might quickly allow Navy ships to employ many of these to operate simultaneously in response to multiple tracks detected by SPY-6 radar. The radar is built in a 30,000 square foot automated facility in Andover, Mass; Raytheon leads an industry team of more than 125 suppliers that build SPY-6. Virtual Tour HERE Finally, it goes without saying that increased networking, computing speeds and signal processing require extensive “hardening” of networks, a reason why Hall stressed that the Navy is working closely with industry on cybersecurity. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army - Acquisition, Logistics& Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University. Image: Reuters

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30 марта, 19:48

Lincoln Chafee: Stop Endless Wars To Deal With Coronavirus Pandemic

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Matthew Petti Politics, But the former governor and Libertarian candidate doesn’t think anyone else can do that. Lincoln Chafee once shared a debate stage with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. This year, he’s running for President again—as a Libertarian. Small government is not a popular position to take in the face of a terrifying pandemic. But the former Rhode Island governor thinks that the Libertarian message of responsibility is actually well-suited for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. And he feels vindicated in his message of ending America’s resource-draining overseas wars.  The former Rhode Island governor is the candidate with the highest national profile in a crowded Libertarian race, which has been dominated by the academic Jacob Hornberger and performance art prankster Vermin Supreme. Below is a lightly-edited transcript of the conversation between Chafee and the National Interest. Your campaign slogan is "end the wars, end the reckless spending, tell the truth." I think that's a pretty good summary of what's consistently been your message throughout your political career. I'm wondering why you think these are the three issues that you want to put at the forefront. Well, now more than ever, these issues are relevant, and with the $24 trillion deficit, we're just unprepared for what is inevitable. These crises that occur, whether it's Katrina, or a health crisis such as we have now, we have to be prepared and have the resources available. Now, we're just adding $2 trillion to what is a record deficit. That deficit was built up largely by our adventures overseas, and the high cost of veterans coming home, the need for post-traumatic stress disorder help, and other issues that veterans have been dealing, especially since the Vietnam War—it's all very predictable. They all come together. If we could have a more peaceful world such as we did in the 90s after the breakup of the Soviet Union, that's when we had our surpluses, because of the peace dividend. Now, more than ever, it's relevant to curtail our military aggression and take care of issues here at home. It's interesting that you brought up the need to have resources for health crises because I think Americans might be taking the opposite lesson [from the coronavirus crisis]. Now, there are people clamoring for government help. Unemployment might reach thirty percent and Congress just passed a multi-trillion dollar stimulus bill in response to coronavirus. Do you think Americans should be taking the opposite lesson, that we can't spend our way out of a crisis? In the crash of 08, different countries addressed it differently. That argument has been made recently. Germany and some of these other countries were not as generous with their stimulus packages. We were. I think history would show that the corporations here rebounded well after the crash of 08, but the middle class did not. Maybe we learned some lessons in this stimulus, our multi-trillion dollar package is better-tailed than the one crafted after the crash of 08. We shall see. Looking to the future, if we can have a more peaceful world, and change our policies from the Project for a New American Century—that we're going to be the policeman of the world and dictate to the rest of the world, the philosophy that came in with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney—a change that, then we can have better surpluses such as we had in the 90s. I think that actually has a lot more consensus support among Americans than cutting spending right now. The Democratic debates, you pretty much had all the candidates, at least rhetorically embracing "ending endless wars." You have Republicans with similar rhetoric, and you have Congress for the first time forever passing war powers resolutions—two in the past two years. Are you optimistic about the direction of American foreign policy? Unfortunately, I'm not optimistic, because Trump is vowing to veto the bills you mentioned, the War Powers Act, enforcing it since 1973, especially in Yemen. It's been difficult getting the votes. There are Republicans, Mike Lee and others, that have been on it, but Democrats have been opposed. [Editor's note: The Yemen war powers resolution passed with unanimous Democratic support, but several Democrats voted against the Iran war powers resolution. President Donald Trump has vetoed the Yemen resolution, and is promising to veto the Iran resolution.] So no, I'm not optimistic. President Obama ran on an anti-war platform, and nothing changed. Over the next eight years, nothing changed. The Bush policies continued—torture of prisoners, extraordinary extradition of foreigners, drone strikes. They escalated, in fact. Trump promised to have change also, and now he's blocking enforcement of the 1973 War Powers Act. So, I'm not optimistic. Nothing changes. That's why I'm running as a Libertarian. The Libertarian Party's been very very consistent over their decades of history of non-intervention. The Libertarians had a moment in the national media in the 2016 election. We had two historically polarizing candidates. A lot of people really were looking for an alternative. It seems this time, now, Trump is less polarizing than he was in 2016, and Joe Biden—he has baggage but it's less well-known than Hillary Clinton's. Do you think Libertarians can be even more successful than they were in 2016? That's a good question. What happened, as you said in 2016—I think many Libertarians were disappointed that they couldn't crack five percent, couldn't make the threshold for the debates. I think that 2020 has the potential to be different. The crisis that we're in now, the failure of both parties to be fiscally responsible. Trump's base has been so solid up until now. I know my friends that were avid Trump supporters are questioning his performance now. I do think 2020 will be better than 2016—if I'm the nominee, to be frank. How do you see the odds of that? It seems like Jacob Hornberger swept up Super Tuesday. Do you think you could make a comeback? These are non-binding straw polls. The convention is different, and I'm new to the party. That's a liability for my campaign, being so new to the party, but I believe I make up for it with experience, and now, in the challenging times we're in, there's just no substitute for that kind of experience, and a record of performance under pressure. I mean, yeah, you have a pretty distinguished political career, which actually brings me to one question I wanted to ask. Back in 2006, you opposed John Bolton's nomination as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Now we see with Iran and Venezuela and North Korea the fruits of Bolton's policy. Do you feel vindicated? Absolutely. I never thought he was a good diplomat. Never would be anywhere near diplomacy. All the hearings about how he—when he had the position as Undersecretary for Arms Control, whatever it was at the State Department, his performance there, absolute disqualifier for any kind of post trying to resolve conflict issues with cool heads. Yet for three years he was given the second-most powerful position in the White House. It definitely questions the people that chose him. I couldn't believe when President Trump started mentioning John Bolton's name. Like a bad penny. If you found yourself in the Oval Office come January, what do the first hundred days look like? I have, in some ways, what some might consider a liability, but I consider it a liability, of having been a Republican, an Independent governor, and a Democratic candidate for President. The first hundred days would be what Abraham Lincoln did. Bring in the team. That's one of the problems this country has, the rancid polarization of the two parties. Yes, they got the stimulus done. But nothing else positive is happening. Supreme Court justices and warfare. That's the first order of business. I have legs in all camps, having been a Republican, an Independent, and a Democrat, and having a good team that can address the tremendous challenges we face. Top three specific policy priorities? Ending the wars, addressing the deficits, and protecting our constitutional liberties. Those are the Big Three for me. Any time you have a crisis, it seems our liberties get compromised, and that's another area the Libertarians are so strong on. They all kind of come together. If you could end the wars, you could address the deficits, less reason to say, "security reasons, we're tapping your phones without warrants" or whatever the infringements might be. Whatever you might say about Edward Snowden, he certainly pointed out the illegal behavior of the government. If you do secure the Libertarian nomination, what's your strategy look like in the general election? Those three issues, I think, are appealing to Libertarians and also to the American public, to American voters. We all have to balance our books. We can't just keep printing money. I know, having been a governor and a mayor, you can't print money at the local level or the state level, and it has bad consequences. I think everybody knows that in their heart. Not only does it cost us to pay the interest on the debt, which is $400 billion a year right now at low interest rates, but it's just not good for the long-term health of the economy. If you don't indeed win the nomination, do you plan to drop out and endorse the Libertarian nominee, or are you going to continue your campaign as an Independent? No, no, no. I'm a Libertarian. I've always been a party loyalist, for the different parties I've been in. Is there anything else you'd want to add? I know I’m new to the Libertarian party, but any time you're applying for a job, there's nothing like a good resume, and I believe I have that. Matthew Petti is a national security reporter at the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter: @matthew_petti

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30 марта, 19:28

You Can Get Free (Or Nearly Free) Internet from Comcast, Verizon or Charter

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Stephen Silver Technology, Thanks to the Coronavirus.  With much of the United States shut down during the coronavirus quarantines and many Americans working from home, Internet access is as important as ever. Some Internet service providers have announced offers of free Internet service, while also waiving late fees and suspending disconnections for those unable to pay. Comcast announced a series of initiatives earlier this month. It opened its Xfinity WiFi Network nationally for free, even for non-subscribers, while also offering two months of free Internet to its low-income Internet Essentials customers, with the speed also boosted for those customers. The cable giant also made its Internet plans unlimited and paused disconnects and late fees. “During this extraordinary time, it is vital that as many Americans as possible stay connected to the internet — for education, work, and personal health reasons,” Dave Watson, CEO of Comcast's cable division, said in a statement at the time. “Our employees also live and work in virtually every community we serve, and we all share the same belief that it’s our Company’s responsibility to step up and help out.” The country's other largest cable company, Charter Communications-owned Spectrum, announced, on March 13, that it is offering 60 days of free access to broadband and Wi-Fi for new customers in households with K-12 and/or college students. Last Friday, Charter announced that it was expanding the earlier offer to include the offer to educators, including K-12 teachers and college/university professors. Charter also said that it will partner with school districts in order to make households aware of the offer, and that it will also, like Comcast, open its  Wi-Fi hotspots for public use, and will drop its data caps and hidden fees. Altice, another cable company, announced a similar offer to Spectrum's, offering a free 60 days of its Altice Advantage 30 Mbps broadband product to households with K-12 and/or college students. Altice has also vowed to not terminate broadband and voice service to any customers unable to pay their bills, while also opening Wi-Fi hotspots and waiving late fees. Meanwhile, Verizon announced Friday that, among other initiatives, it is waiving consumer and small business Fios and DSL broadband internet plan restrictions and some fees.  Comcast has been criticized, we reported earlier this month, for using the rented routers of current customers to provide that free Wi-fi. Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. 

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30 марта, 19:24

Why Focusing on the Coronavirus Is Good for Peace on the Korean Peninsula

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Timo Kivimäki Security, World Here's what the data says. The threat of the Corona virus has changed the global security environment. A conflict qualifies as a war by standard statistics of violence if it produces at least 1000 battle deaths per year. Since March 27, Covid-19 has produced more than three times that number, every single day. By the time this article is published, Covid-19 will likely have killed more Americans than the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Globally the Corona virus has already killed as many people as all conflicts in the world killed during an average year of the first decade of the twenty-first-century.  A comparison between the magnitude of the threat of war and a virus may be artificial. However, there is evidence about what effect focusing on a pandemic has on the likelihood of wars. Some commentators refer to the letter by President Trump to North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, offering cooperation to help fight the pandemic, while others point to the possibility that North Korea uses the distraction this global pandemic offers, to engage in further tests and developments of its nuclear capacity. Will the coronavirus pandemic increase or reduce the likelihood of a war? An extensive dataset in the research data depository of the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, provides evidence on how different U.S. approaches and presidential discourses precede U.S. military engagements and increase the chances of conflict fatalities in such operations. When the U.S. president speaks about protecting Americans or others, he is more often than not referring to methods of protection that aim at changing someone else’s behaviour by means of power. The United Nations Security Council discourse emphasises power in the same way, but only in less than one fifth of the time it deals with protection of people. Clearly, the focus on hard power is as American as an apple pie. This is, perhaps, unsurprising given the position of the United States as the world’s most powerful nation.  However, if we link the data on U.S. Presidential Papers with Uppsala University’s conflict data, we can see that the more U.S. presidents focus on changing the behaviour of others, the more they authorise war fighting and the more these wars produce fatalities. This seems to be the case both if we look at a time series or the countries a given U.S. president talks about. For example, whenever and wherever a U.S. president talks about protection by changing some else’s behavior, there will be a war and battle deaths.  Conversely, when the focus is on protection that prevents health crises, environmental degradation or economic underdevelopment, the framing is cooperative and there will be less wars and conflict fatalities. This has been proven by a study on modern humanitarian interventions. Whenever, U.S. presidents have focused on the protection of the environment, for example, they have been much less willing to engage in destructive wars, and whenever the focus in protection has been related to fixing domestic problems that threaten the wellbeing of Americans, such as domestic crime, less Americans have died in far-away wars.  Thus, Trump’s letter to North Korea is in line with the general pattern: in the midst of the coronavirus attack, America is more likely to be able to cooperate with other countries, and less likely to have to fight wars. This is not simply because of the fact that the United States is faced with a greater danger than foreign conflicts. It is also not due to the fact that U.S. resources are taken up by the domestic problem of fighting the pandemic. The fact that the world focuses on a threat that is caused by a virus rather than a dictator, a terrorist or a global criminal, changes—at least temporarily—the diagnosis and prescription in world politics. In other words, U.S. security is not in this instance threatened by bad guys that need to be stopped. American government can also protect its people by cooperating with others, learning from the experiences of allies, and working hard without focusing on how U.S. power could change the behaviour of other countries.  When America has worked within this framing of the world—protecting the environment or helping poor countries like North Korea in their efforts to save lives—less people, including Americans, have died in conflicts. Thus, the fact that the world is now focused on a common, unintentional threat, the coronavirus, could be good for peace on the Korean peninsula and in the world. While it is unlikely that there will be formal peace treaties, let alone a global ceasefire as the UN Secretary General is calling for, there will still be a reduced threat of war due to the new framing of world politics that the virus has imposed on us. Timo Kivimäki is a professor at the University of Bath. Image: Reuters

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30 марта, 19:14

The Little-Known Indo-Pacific Plan to Combat the Coronavirus

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Jeff Smith Security, Asia These four democratic countries are now working with South Korea, Vietnam, and New Zealand on a plan to battle the coronavirus and expected to tackle vaccine development and the “challenges of stranded citizens, assistance to countries in need and mitigating the impact on the global economy.” Is the Quad expanding its horizons? After a ten-year hiatus, this group of four Indo-Pacific region democracies—Australia, Japan, India, and the United States—formally resumed their quadrilateral dialogue in late 2017, and has been meeting twice a year since. Late last year, the group upgraded the dialogue to the level of foreign minister/secretary of state.    On March 20, officials from the Quad countries gathered to discuss a new issue: the coronavirus pandemic, also known as COVID-19. It was a virtual meeting, of course. And there was another new wrinkle: this time they were joined by three new partners—South Korea, Vietnam, and New Zealand. According to India’s Ministry of External Affairs, the seven countries “shared their assessments of the current situation with respect to COVID-19, and discussed ways to synergize their efforts to counter its spread.”  The call, described as a “Quad-Plus video-conference” by the Times of India, was reportedly organized by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun. The seven countries are “expected to continue the conference call on a weekly basis, covering issues like vaccine development, challenges of stranded citizens, assistance to countries in need and mitigating the impact on the global economy.”  The videoconference appears less a formal Quad initiative than an assembly of like-minded countries determined to tackle a common challenge. Either way, it was a welcome development. It joins the Quad with Vietnam (the current chair of ASEAN), New Zealand (a “Five Eyes” partner), and South Korea, one of America’s closest regional allies.  Since 2013, the Heritage Foundation has organized annual Track 1.5 dialogues using the same terminology used in the Times of India report. The Quad-Plus Dialogue assembles officials and experts from the Quad countries along with a rotating external partner to explore areas of common interest. These “Plus” partners have included the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan, France, and Sri Lanka.  Initially, the Quad-Plus Dialogue (QPD) was designed to encourage the original Quad members to reconstitute the formal discussions that collapsed in 2008. Since the Quad was revived in 2017, the QPD has explored ways to improve the group’s effectiveness, inform its agenda, and promote cooperation with like-minded external partners. To that end, we were encouraged to see the Quad hold its first counterterrorism exercise in India in late 2019—one of the Heritage dialogue’s focuses.  This month’s “Quad-Plus video-conference” was another step in the right direction—one with an important precedent. The origins of the Quad trace back to the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of Christmas 2004 that claimed an astonishing 230,000 lives. In the aftermath, Australia, Japan, India, and the United States formed a Regional Core Group, serving as first responders until the United Nations sprang into action in mid-January.  A Quad-Plus response to the COVID-19 crisis would carry forward this tradition and strengthen the foundations of the Quad 2.0. It also makes a lot of sense: crisis response, humanitarian aid, and disaster relief are areas where the four democracies are highly capable, face little internal political resistance, and can expand their soft power reach in the Indo–Pacific region. Finally, it offers the Quad a valuable opportunity to gain experience forming functional coalitions with Plus-partners to tackle pressing regional challenges.   If history is any guide, what looks like a small step forward for the Quad today could have larger implications for regional security and stability in the years ahead. Jeff M. Smith is a research fellow focusing on South Asia issues at The Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Center.  Image: Reuters

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30 марта, 19:11

What American Can Learn From How South Korea Protects Its Doctors From the Coronavirus

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Justin Fendos Public Health, Asia Can Seoul’s success be repeated? With the United States and many European countries accumulating COVID-19 cases at an alarming rate, medical professionals across the globe are bracing for a deluge of patients. Many authors have already commented on the dangers of healthcare systems being overwhelmed while others have described the risk of doctors and nurses becoming infected, inadvertently facilitating the virus’s spread and crippling healthcare capacity.  As a professor of cell biology living in Busan, South Korea, I have had the opportunity to observe, firsthand, how Korea’s infectious disease SOP (standard operation procedure) works to protect healthcare professionals. Having received many questions and reports from abroad, both through people I know and the media, I feel some details need sharing. These ideas offer ways for medical personnel to be shielded from viral transmission and unnecessary losses of time and energy, allowing greater focus on the pertinent medical tasks associated with an outbreak. Not every location handles COVID-19 With COVID-19 treatment demand likely to increase significantly across America and Europe in coming weeks, the fact remains that demand for other medical services will persist in parallel. People will still need to have surgeries, give birth, and receive cancer treatment. To this effect, it is important to consider, in advance, how these two types of demand will be balanced.  In South Korea, this balance is decided through the first component of the SOP, which gives the Korean Center for Disease Control (KCDC) powers to designate which medical centers will handle COVID-19 testing and treatment. Korea, like any other country, has many clinics and hospitals that lack appropriate facilities (like negative pressure wards) and staff (e.g. respiratory specialists) for COVID-19.  These sites generally can not offer useful treatment and are often more susceptible to visitor-to-staff virus transmission, potentially threatening their ability to provide normal services such as oral surgeries and colonoscopies. An old student of mine—let’s call her Amanda—works in a small surgery clinic in the United States and said she is “scared to death” every time someone comes in asking about COVID-19 testing because she knows each unnecessary visit increases the chances of transmission to the clinic’s small staff. Having spoken to others in similar situations, I can say Amanda’s anxieties are widely shared.  In South Korea, the KCDC maintains a curated list of all hospitals and clinics in the country, with detailed information about their capacities to handle infectious disease. Based on this information, only those with adequate facilities and qualified staff are chosen to be designated sites (DSs). A second list of locations with lesser qualifications is also kept, in case the first isn’t enough.  When the public is properly informed (more on this later), the distinction between DS and non-DS can help reduce the number of infected individuals visiting non-DSs in search of COVID-19 services, reducing contamination risk. Amanda’s clinic, for example, would be more protected as a non-DS, increasing its ability to stay open and provide normal services. Information support shields non-DSs and medical staff The distinction between DS and non-DS doesn’t hold much value unless the public is adequately informed about where to go. As I and others have noted, the South Korean government has been very active in making a wide variety of COVID-19 information available online and through real-time text messages.  The locations of DSs are no exception, with weekly messages reminding people of their nearest facility based on their phone’s geographical location. Telephone hotlines also provide answers to basic coronavirus questions, helping guide people to their nearest DS. Map apps are required to carry this information too, allowing for efficient navigation of symptomatic people to DSs and away from non-DSs. Unlike in America, where hospital hotlines are often staffed by nurses, potentially diverting useful time and energy away from other duties, COVID-19 hotlines in Korea are staffed by government employees or volunteers trained to answer calls using booklets made by the KCDC. These booklets contain answers to many basic COVID-19 questions, providing a layer of information support to help insulate medical professionals from menial tasks.  Moreover, dedicated COVID-19 hotlines allow emergency numbers for first responders and other services to remain separated, preventing coronavirus queries from inundating other channels. A friend of mine—let’s call him David—is a triage nurse at a community hospital in the United States. He says COVID-19 calls have increased in number so much that he is afraid other emergencies are being drowned out. Here too, I have found his concerns to be shared by many. Physical advertising is another requirement. All Korean hospitals and clinics are required to hang banners at each major entrance, clearly identifying whether they are a DS or not. When the location is a non-DS, at least one non-medical employee or volunteer is required to stand outside, giving directions to people looking for a DS. This individual must be dressed in gloves, mask, and long-sleeve gown (I have seen disposable raincoats too) and functions as a buffer between the public and medical staff inside. Both advertising and volunteers help turn away potential COVID-19 patients, reducing contamination risk while, again, freeing time for people like David and Amanda to focus on other things. Paths diverge and all entries are screened For both DSs and non-DSs, another important SOP requirement is that medical staff and hospital visitors be separated as much as possible. This means the two groups, where possible, use separate entrances, parking lots, restrooms, and cafeterias. This separation helps reduce visitor-to-staff contact while also preserving exclusive routes for staff that can be better protected from contamination.  In large hospitals, elevators, stairwells, and corridors are often allotted separately, with volunteers or non-medical staff gatekeeping the flow of people. The Korean SOP requires door handles, elevator buttons, and other common contact surfaces to be sterilized regularly (my local hospital says they do it twice daily), further reducing transmission risk. Two colleagues of mine, one in America and another in France, are currently trying to implement similar procedures in their hospitals. At every entrance into a Korean hospital or clinic, teams of volunteers screen entries for COVID-19 symptoms, using handheld thermometers to check temperatures. Most large hospitals supplement the handhelds with thermal detection tunnels, like the ones used in airports. People with respiratory symptoms or high temperatures are immediately separated from the rest and taken to an isolated area for COVID-19 testing. For most DSs, these areas are usually tents in a parking lot equipped with air pumps for negative pressure.  In these isolated quarters, tests are administered by medical or military staff dressed in full protective gear. Having testing separate, again, functions as a buffer to protect medical personnel inside the hospital. Drive-through test centers help protect medical staff further by channeling potentially infected individuals away from hospitals entirely. David lamented the fact that the few tests his hospital has administered were all conducted by nurses in normal examination rooms in the absence of negative pressure, significantly increasing the risk of transmission.  In Korea, non-essential hospital visitors who exhibit symptoms, once tested, are sent home immediately until their test results are reported, usually a wait of three to twelve hours. The interiors of isolation tents are sterilized regularly to protect future visitors. Staff entrances are also manned by symptom checkers with thermometers, who have the authority to submit any personnel for testing if a cough or fever is detected. Questionnaires help screening, even retroactively After passing the thermometers, visitors without masks are either turned away or given one. Once through the entrance, each visitor is required to write their name and contact information on a questionnaire and give answers about recent travel and illness.  Questionnaires are again administered by volunteers and the travel and illness information is used to help screen for isolation and testing. Been abroad recently? Off to the tent you go. It is only after the questionnaire is filled out that people can take a pump of hand sanitizer and finally go about their business inside the facility. Contact information collected on questionnaires is kept for up to two weeks to alert people retroactively about on-site infections. If, for example, I visited a hospital at 10:00AM and an infected individual was later identified as having been there at 11:00AM, I, along with anyone else there at a similar time, would receive a text message about the incident, warning me about the potential need to be tested.  Most Korean medical centers record, on computers, the times patients check in at different departments, like when receiving an injection or undergoing a test. This provides a loose trail of travel points to help inform the hospital about which staff might need testing or monitoring due to their proximity with infected individuals. David told me his hospital has the capacity to do this but, so far, has not. I imagine this is a common situation for many hospitals, an important option to explore. Personal protection is a must Another critical aspect of the Korean SOP is personal protection. Explicit national guidelines are given for the types of protective gear worn by different personnel. Nurses staffing information desks, for example, are required to wear an N95-grade protective mask, gloves, and a long-sleeve gown. Staff handling COVID-19 testing, on the other hand, are required to wear gloves, full protective gear, and a face shield.  These guidelines specifically cover every type of personnel imaginable: x-ray nurses, respiratory nurses, biohazard waste handlers, and even sterilization teams. Yes, Korean DSs have dedicated sterilization teams that regularly clean emergency vehicles, respiratory patient wards, and isolation quarters. Even ventilation cleaners are given explicit guidelines.  Although I have observed some instances of hospitals and clinics running out of gloves or masks, occasionally forcing personnel to fall short of the requirements, the overall level of compliance has been extraordinary. With the Korean government actively supporting and coordinating activities while providing clear and consistent guidelines, the local doctors and nurses I have spoken to all say confusion and hesitation has been virtually non-existent. Many credit this to annual infectious disease training all personnel are required to take. When I mentioned this training to David, he just sighed heavily, telling me many of the nurses in his hospital either don’t wear masks or don’t know how to use them. He described a pair staffing an information desk who would put their masks on only when a visitor came but then take them off as soon as the visitor left. He said many of his colleagues don’t yet seem to fully grasp the importance and reasoning behind personal protection, making him worry an in-facility outbreak is inevitable. Manufacturers do their share The Korean SOP, understandably, creates high demand for protective gear (especially masks) and sterilization chemicals (alcohol and bleach). The domestic manufacturing of masks and their distribution nationally by day of the week have been well-documented. Receiving less attention, however, are the Korean wine and beer manufacturers who have shifted their activities to produce tons of alcohol for medical use. This cooperation from the manufacturing sector is an integral part of the Korean SOP, something other countries will likely need to emulate if outbreaks persist into the summer. In closing, I do acknowledge some elements of the Korean SOP might be difficult to implement in certain contexts. Many components I describe, for example, connect to or rely on testing, which remains a primary deficiency across the United States and Europe. Here too, the manufacturing sector has a critical role to play.  Even without testing, however, I think it is immensely important to share information about the procedures Korea has used to help protect its healthcare staff. As the pandemic continues, these professionals will be risking their lives on the front lines to save us. All should be done to shield them from unnecessary risk. I have been volunteering to help, have you? Justin Fendos is a professor at Dongseo University in South Korea. Image: Reuters

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30 марта, 18:55

Verizon Fios Has a New Wi-Fi 6 Router (And You Might Just Love It)

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Ethen Kim Lieser Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator, Here are all of the reasons why.  It often seems that 5G garners most of the headlines, but what can get lost in the shuffle is the newest and fastest version of Wi-Fi, which is called Wi-Fi 6. Verizon is a leader in this new technology, and through its Fios Wi-Fi 6 Router, it hopes to reach the masses and enable them to fully enjoy 5G and faster and broader coverage. If you’re only looking for speed, you’re definitely in luck. Wi-Fi 6 has been shown to achieve wireless transfer speeds as high as 1,500 Mbps, or 1.5 Gbps, which is about 60 percent faster than Wi-Fi 5. It’s indeed a huge boost even from Verizon’s own previous routers, as the top speeds are now about 60 percent faster and boast 63 percent wider coverage. Speed and coverage are surely important, but what the Fios Wi-Fi 6 really excels in is its ability to handle multiple devices. Today, with the constant use of smartphones and tablets to laptops and home security systems, many of the older routers have a hard time keeping up. “As more and more people adopt smart home technology and connect more devices, the need for a reliable router that provides more coverage throughout the home has become a necessity,” Heather McDavitt, vice president of Verizon Consumer Products, said in a press release. “Verizon’s new Fios Home Router and companion Fios Home Wi-Fi Extender are the perfect solutions for Fios customers who want to blanket their home with powerful and secure Wi-Fi.” The Fios Wi-Fi 6 features a 2.4GHz network and two separate 5GHz networks, which have become the standard for most Wi-Fi users as they are indeed faster, although they do have a shorter range and have a harder time going through certain walls. One of the 5GHz networks can be used for a dedicated Wi-Fi 6 backhaul connection between the router and Fios Home Wi-Fi Extenders. Those extenders build a mesh network that can provide stronger Wi-Fi signals all throughout a home. Make sure to keep in mind that the Fios Wi-Fi 6 can only transmit data as fast as your internet plan allows, so you may have to upgrade to a more expensive plan if you really want to see a difference. Moreover, although these routers are compatible with older Wi-Fi devices, the faster speeds will only benefit devices that support the new Wi-Fi standard. As for the price, you can rent the new Fios Wi-Fi 6 Router for $15 a month or buy it outright for $299. The Fios Home Wi-Fi Extender will cost $10 to rent or $199.99 to buy. Ethen Kim Lieser is a Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV.

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30 марта, 18:43

Coronavirus and the American Frontier Spirit: An Opportunity for Change

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Luke Nathan Phillips Coronavirus, United States “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” goes the old tongue-in-cheek political yarn. The famed historian Frederick Jackson Turner delivered a lecture in 1893 that has gone down in American historiography as near-myth. “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” has been hotly disputed in recent decades, but its essential thesis—that diverse settlers being forced by the brute circumstances of frontier life to conquer nature and organize themselves in a rugged society is the sociological foundation of American individualism and American democracy—inspired historians for decades. And to the degree that the historians of the early and mid-twentieth century shaped America’s consciousness of its own national identity, Turner has lived on as one of the chief historical interpreters of the American experience. Obviously, the "Western frontier" period has ended in American history (although whether it was in the 1840s, the 1890s, or 1930s does not really seem to matter). With that world went the literal way of life embodied by figures like Theodore Roosevelt, Wild Bill Hickock, Buffalo Bill Cody, Sitting Bull, Owen Wister, Annie Oakley, Jim Beckwourth, Kit Carson, and so many other half-mythical figures of the American past. The passing of the physical frontier though did not diminish its effect on the American soul and, more importantly, on American behavior. No sooner had the trail’s end been declared than adventurous Americans started finding new frontiers to tame. In the most literal sense, there is of course the legacy of American internationalism and imperialism, which received its first great boosts with the filibustering conquest of Hawaii in 1893 and the crusading seizures of the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico in 1898. Plenty of interventions into Latin America followed, and of course the American involvement in World War One was a turning point in American diplomatic history—one which foreshadowed a century and more of active international involvement. Then there’s the economic history. Although huge fortunes had started to accumulate by the 1870s, and unscrupulous hustling had always been Americans’ forte, America in the early twentieth century simultaneously pursued ever-larger concentrations of wealth, coupled with never-before-tried experiments in economic reform that testified to Americans’ restlessness and desire to shape their own world. Finally, there was the progress of science, most especially regarding electricity and that strangest new field of experimentation, flight. The early heroes of aviation were cast as heroic in the same way Lewis and Clark or John Wesley Powell were heroic, as were the early generations of astronauts. Although frontier rhetoric has declined sharply in recent decades—perhaps testimony to the decadence New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has been documenting for us—it seems clear that extrapolations of new frontiers, their conquests, and the cultural effects on us "conquering Americans," have made for an integral part of the American identity even in the relatively secure and affluent situation of twenty-first century modernity. There is one sort of frontier which appears to be truly timeless, and despite all our conceits to the contrary, and despite all the creature comforts and weird contraptions and petty prejudices of our time, it is one we haven’t mastered and probably never will. That frontier is the natural world itself. Climate change probably exacerbates most of the problems of extreme weather, but even if it weren’t happening, we’d still have hurricane season, severe droughts, polar vortexes, periodic riverine floods, and any number of other meteorological blights. The 2017 hurricane season—in which Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma among others battered the Caribbean, Latin America, and the American Southeast, and captured the American imagination—displaced thousands of Americans and destroyed billions of dollars’ worth of property. The 2018 and 2019 California wildfires caused similar mass destruction all across the Golden State, and various other wildfires simultaneously raged across the western United States. Then there’s the less frequent but equally traumatic extreme weather events—the tornadoes, the blizzards, the Mississippi floods, and more—that ravage other parts of the country, especially the broad, flat Midwest. And at this point, we don’t even know how we’d respond, socially and institutionally, to a major earthquake, a Pacific Northwest tsunami, or a massive crop die-off. American institutions—governmental, public-private, charitable, corporate, and civic—have all done reasonable jobs at responding to these crises and aiding communities in their recovery efforts. Response, recovery, and mitigation rule the day. But funding, manpower, and institutional coordination remain key challenges during each of these events, and will likely be so in the foreseeable future. The New Health Frontier So it is with our present crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic—the first global pandemic in our lifetimes to so fully dominate our imaginations and our livelihoods as to shut down entire industries and close off entire cities, even entire countries. It’s a daunting and chilling reminder that we human beings, despite our very real civilizational progress and scientific understanding, are not the masters of the natural world we’ve sometimes imagined ourselves to be. In America, the response was muffled at first, but as soon as a few key decentralized actors started making decisions—conferences and concerts being cancelled, universities sending their students home—the rapid national follow-up was swift, and for the most part Americans seem to be cooperating with each other to slow the virus’s spread. It didn’t catch us off-guard, per say—we had months’ worth of warnings from around the globe and from our own experts. It just surprised a lot of us, it seems, that it actually happened—that our free and pluralistic society could be jolted into mass collective action by a common natural threat. Thus the natural world and its raucous behavior is, in a strange sense, a frontier we’ve never really mastered, one which we must always be on guard against. The hurricane season will come and go, as will the wildfires, as will the pandemics, as will all the rest. There’s nothing we can do to stop them from coming. There’s nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide. The damage will be done. We live in nature’s world. We live on an endless frontier. But we can prepare, endure, react, and rebuild. Matt Frost wrote an excellent essay at The New Atlantis a few months back singing the praises of adaptation and mitigation amidst the ongoing reality of climate change; and as a citizenry, we should more explicitly adopt the language and mindset of adaptation and mitigation in an age where our natural disasters, be they microbiological or meteorological, stand only to get worse, and more disastrously disrupt our complex and networked social organism. And as the nobler aspects of our collective response to the coronavirus are demonstrating, adaptation and mitigation is not something to be left merely to the first responders and public leaders. It is something we as private individuals, as the people affected by these disasters but also as integral parts of the solution to these disasters, should be thinking about as well. There’s been a slight resurgence in enthusiasm for a new national service program in recent years, partly spurred by the rise of centrist-reformist advocacy groups, and given some aid when one-time presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg added a national service plank to his presidential platform. The merits of compulsory and universal national service are still up for debate, but it seems that the swelling of enthusiasm for national service in an age of nationwide natural disasters could be put to good use for rapidly scaling up voluntary recruitment. Washington DC mayor Muriel Bowser recently issued a call for volunteers for the city's Medical Reserve Corps to assist medical professionals in handling the COVID-19 response. The MRC, it should be noted, is a national network of local organizations that help public health agencies respond to situations like this. They take both medical professionals and the rest of us, as in crises like this, everyone can lend a hand. A national drive to recruit volunteers across the country to their local Medical Reserve Corps units, coordinated between various national political leaders, civic leaders, and even celebrities, might be a good way to help boost the manpower and funding shortages emergency responders and medical professionals inevitably will face, and even a good way to help boost national morale, and give ordinary citizens a higher stake in the war on coronavirus. A lot of young people are sitting around their parents’ houses now, reading panicky reports and sharing dank memes. Why not give those who are willing an outlet to be of service? Having a non-medical volunteer doing check-ins and preliminary surveys at a testing center frees up a medical professional to treat the sick. Someone who can’t volunteer might want to donate to help those in the field. Business leaders might be further compelled to move production towards medical necessities. And so on and so forth. More could come of this. The grand strategy of mass social mobilization efforts has always been to make for a more "prepared" citizenry, capable of rising to collective action to do what government bureaucrats and private philanthropists cannot do alone, but which is necessary for the common good. On the homefront during the First World War, the Boy Scouts of America conducted scrap-metal collection drives, setting precedents for public service in the BSA that have come down all the way to our own times. During the Depression, as part of the New Deal, the Civilian Conservation Corps, Public Works Administration, and Works Progress Administration put young people to work at various useful public tasks, and pioneered recruitment efforts that later became useful during the mobilization for the Second World War. Americorps and the Peace Corps, in the late 1960s, were not only designed to give young people service opportunities, but to create breeding grounds for new modern leaders—which, of course, both did. America’s national service programs today are insufficiently mobilized due to lack of public interest—but with a little reform and rethinking and a lot of crisis-era recruitment, we could bring them back up to speed and ready to mobilize in the environmental crises Americans will certainly continue to face moving forward. “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” goes the old tongue-in-cheek political yarn. The assault of coronavirus has laid bare something that should’ve been obvious for the last decade—that chaos and terror and destruction have not been banished from our history, but instead are always there on our doorstep, waiting to catch us off-guard. And yet, as has always been the case, the present generations of Americans have the opportunity to do as we have always done when these old gods came knocking. We can roll up our sleeves, circle the wagons, brave the elements, and get to work. Bear in mind that in the century after Frederick Jackson Turner published his famous thesis on the closing of the frontier, Americans peopled their continent more fully, pioneered flight, electrified and motorized their cities, amassed greater fortunes than ever before, constructed a welfare state compatible with democratic capitalism, built the materials and provided the manpower to vanquish two totalitarian empires and exhaust another, split the atom, put a man on the moon, pushed towards a post-racial society, and pioneered an international order that still sputters on in our new millennium. The frontier never ended. We just found new frontiers, of all sorts, to challenge us, and organized ourselves for the challenge. Our current moment is so unprecedented, so daunting—and yet, in a strange way, so familiar. Luke Nathan Phillips is an editor at Better Angels.

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30 марта, 18:22

How Social Distancing Can Save Millions of Lives (If Done Right)

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Hunter DeRensis Health, If these policies are followed, the spread of the coronavirus can be contained, and the disease more easily eradicated. Here is what you need to know.  Despite his earlier indications that he would recommend the end of social distancing measures by Easter, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he would be extending guidelines for another month, until April 30. This is in response to the coronavirus pandemic, of which 142,000 positive cases have been reported in the United States. "The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end," Trump said, tripling his preferred shutdown time of two-weeks. As the United States prepares for at least another month of social distancing, it’s important that Americans get an understanding of the Do’s and Don’ts, along with why they help contain the coronavirus. “Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Staying at least six feet away from other people lessens your chances of catching COVID-19,” explains Lisa Maragakis, M.D., senior director of infection prevention at John Hopkins University. The coronavirus can spread through an infected person touching their mouth or nose, and with the germs still on their hands, touching someone else, who then touches their face. The virus can also survive several hours on surfaces, making it possible to transfer the disease if two people touch the same thing without ever coming into physical contact themselves. While the virus is not airborne, infected people carry an active form of it in their throats, which they can breathe onto others. This is why keeping a six-foot distance is necessary. Social distancing is why large public events, including sports, theater, and music concerts have been canceled. Having large groups of people together, interacting, increases the likelihood that people who are already infected with the virus will spread it to others. For social distancing to be effective, however, it also involves practicing it in your professional life as well. Many companies have instituted policies for employees to work from home, if it’s possible. Other companies who are unable to operate outside of the workplace have temporarily closed for the duration of the public health crisis. But maybe most importantly, individuals have to enact social distancing in their personal life as well. This means avoiding going out unless it’s an absolute necessity, such as grocery shopping, caring for a loved one, or going to a doctor’s appointment. And even on these exceptions, remaining six feet away from other people. On a temporary basis, people should avoid parties or social gatherings that extend beyond the people they live with. If these policies are followed, the spread of the coronavirus can be contained, and the disease more easily eradicated. "We can expect that by June 1st, we will be well on our way to recovery, we think by June 1st. A lot of great things will be happening," Trump said yesterday. "I want our life back again.” Hunter DeRensis is a senior reporter for the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter @HunterDeRensis.

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30 марта, 17:35

Iran’s Karrar Main Battle Tank: Russian Technology with a Bad Paint Job?

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Caleb Larson Security, That seems to be the case.  Although Iran claims its Karrar MBT is 100% a ground-up Iranian design, it is likely largely based on the Soviet Union’s T-72 design. This would make sense, as Iran has a number of T-72s that could be showcased as something new. Just Another Tank? In 2017, Iran revealed its newest main battle tank (MBT), called the Karrar. At first glance, the Karrar is strikingly similar to the Russian T-90 Main Battle Tank. The Karrar appears to have some type of Explosive-Reactive Armor (ERA) panels on both the turret and the hull, as does the T-90.  The Iranian Tasnim news agency posted photos of the Karrar on Twitter and said that Iran was preparing to accept 800 of the “home-made” tanks in 2018, although no specific timeline was given. The locally produced tank is rumored to be kitted out with a whole suite of modern components, including an “electro-optical fire control system, a laser rangefinder, ballistic computer and could fire at both stable and mobile targets in day or night.” Similar to nearly all main battle tanks, the Karrar has a remote weapons station on top of the turret that. Besides the T-90-esque flying saucer turret, the Karrar likely shares the same main gun as the T-90, or could be something quite similar — the 125-millimeter main gun is larger than the M1 Abrams main gun, by 5 millimeters, and is thought to be smoothbore. Notably, Iran maintains a fleet of T-72s that also have a 125 millimeter autoloading smoothbore main gun, with fume extractor — possibly an indication that their new “Iranian” design leans at least somewhat on previous Soviet designs. Either way, the T-72 is a capable, if somewhat aged platform. Knock-off? In spite of the close similarities between the Karrar and the T-90, Iran claims that its newest tank in 100% Iranian made--although that seems nearly impossible. Iran possesses a fleet of Soviet/Russian T-72s. Upgrades to their turrets, main guns, and armor would be much more feasible than a new, ground-up tank design. Back in 2016, there was talk of a Russian-Iran T-90 tank deal that has since fallen through. This may be in part to a lack of money on the Iranian side with which to buy Russian armor, as well as a desire to get away from relying totally on foreign arms and arms designs in favor of domestic production. The Russian state-owned media outlet, Sputnik, ran a headline that said about as much shortly after the Karrar was revealed. According to their source, Iran has extensive experience with the T-72, and still has “some 500 units in service.” Copycat The Zulfiqar 3 tank is another supposedly domestic-production that is heavily reliant on American, British, and Russian designs. And, like the Zulfiqar, the Karrar is probably reliant on other foreign designs. Caleb Larson is a Defense Writer with The National Interest. He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture.