Archives for war

Surprising Facts About Child Soldiers

The problem of children used as soldiers has been gaining visibility since, among other things, former child soldier Ishmael Beah published his memoir. But the image of the child soldier as a young African boy with an assault rifle slung over his shoulder isn’t as descriptive of the problem as you might think. Read More »

How Are Gliders Like Nuclear Deterrence?

In the years since the Cold War, the threat of imminent global thermonuclear war has receded in the popular imagination. Computer hackers are buying up abandoned missile silos. It’s been almost a decade since a major Hollywood film revolved around a U.S.-Russian nuclear exchange. But that doesn’t mean deterrence has succeeded in finally staving off nuclear war. Stanford University Professor Emeritus Martin Hellman, comparing his love of gliders with his interest in nuclear deterrence, wants to remind you that when a system is 99.9 percent safe but the remaining 0.1 percent contains an absolutely catastrophic outcome, it’s not a great system. Sound familiar? Read More »

Embracing the Meshugganah

This piece from Tom Ricks, the military correspondent at the Washington Post, has some excellent stories about creative anti-terrorist strategies used by the British to fight the I.R.A., including a laundromat where they run the clothes through a machine that tests for bomb residue before they dry clean the clothes. To pin down where the […] Read More »

The Social Upheaval/Zombie Movie Index

Annalee Newitz, editor of the science-fiction blog i09, created a chart showing the number of zombie movies produced annually in the West (mostly the U.S. and Europe) since 1910: Chart design by Stephanie Fox. The chart shows several spikes in zombie-movie production that, according to Newitz, “always seem to happen eerily close to historical events […] Read More »

U.S. Troops to Iraqis: Leave Your Lights on at Night

A fascinating U.C.L.A. study challenges the success of the U.S. troop surge using a creative metric: satellite images capturing the amount of light at night in Iraqi neighborhoods. The idea is simple: lights at night are an indication of activity. According to the article, no lights imply that people have fled or have been ethnically […] Read More »

My father has a lot of ideas. Some of them are pretty good. Others get me into a lot of trouble. Back in July of 2005, my dad had an idea I thought was interesting enough that I passed it along to the staff of Barack Obama. This is well before Obama was running for […] Read More »

War Is …

According to the Yale Book of Quotations (whose future editions are being improved by Freakonomics readers), war is: “hell” (Napoleon Bonaparte), “too serious a matter to entrust to to military men” (Georges Clemenceau), and “a condition of progress” (Ernest Renan). What follows below are 12 replies to the question “What do you think about war […] Read More »

Shaping the World at Versailles: A Q&A With the Author of A Shattered Peace

Any history book will give you a chapter on the Treaty of Versailles, during which delegates from around the world gathered in France to hammer out peace terms following World War I. The men (and occasional woman) who negotiated the outcome may have had their own individual and national agendas, but their decisions arguably set […] Read More »