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Posts Tagged "war"

Anecdotes from the Archive

The Army in the air

Before there were B-52s and F-15s, there were balloons. The issue from November 13, 1909, reported on the status of aeronautics in the U.S. military, which at the time was under the control of the Signal Corps, a branch in charge of the transfer of information and intelligence. According to the article, the United States [...]

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Why Gaddafi’s Death Doesn’t Fill Me With Joy

I was going to let the demise of Muammar Gaddafi pass without comment—after all, what does the murder of this tyrant have to do with science, right? But a bizarre essay in The New York Times on October 26, “Dictators Get the Death They Deserve,” by the historian Simon Windbag—I mean Sebag—Montefiore, has pushed my [...]

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Drone Assassinations Hurt the U.S. More Than They Help Us

Predator drone firing missile

A lot of my liberal friends are bitterly disappointed with President Barack Obama’s performance in the past three years. They complain that via action and inaction, he is perpetuating many of the policies of his predecessor. In one key area related to military policy, equating Obama to President George W. Bush is unfair—to Bush. Obama [...]

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Did the U.S. Overreact to the 9/11 Attacks? Undoubtedly

chart comparing annual fatality risks

A decade ago I was wrestling a paragraph in my home office when my wife called out from another room, alarm in her voice. The music station she was listening to had interrupted a song to announce that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. We turned on the television, which had a [...]

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Sebastian Junger’s documentary film Restrepo deserves an Oscar, but his theory of war is wrong

Sebastian Junger  War

Sebastian Junger knows war firsthand. Best known for his monster best seller The Perfect Storm (made into a hit film), Junger started reporting from war zones in 1993 when he traveled to Bosnia. Since then he has covered conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Afghanistan, which he first visited in 1996. In 2007 and [...]

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Margaret Mead’s war theory kicks butt of neo-Darwinian and Malthusian models

Why war? Darwinian explanations, such as the popular "demonic males" theory of Harvard anthropologist Richard Wrangham, are clearly insufficient. They can’t explain why war emerged relatively recently in human prehistory—less than 15,000 years ago, according to the archaeological record—or why since then it has erupted only in certain times and places. Many scholars solve this [...]

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Margaret Mead’s bashers owe her an apology

cover of The Trashing of Margaret Mead

Thirty-two years after her death, the anthropologist Margaret Mead remains a favorite whipping girl for ideologues of all stripes. Did you know that she cooked up the global-warming "hoax"? Some over-the-top global warming deniers say it all started in 1975 when Mead organized a conference to address overpopulation. Most attacks on Mead focus on her [...]

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Are war crimes caused by bad apples or bad barrels?

When soldiers commit atrocities, we must ask why. The question is being raised once again by reports that a handful of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan carried out premeditated killings—murders—of Afghan civilians. The soldiers allegedly took photographs of themselves posing with corpses and body parts, including fingers and heads. The alleged ringleader is Sergeant Calvin Gibbs. [...]

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Battle fatigue: Can pretend warfare cathartically curb real war?

My teenage son, Mac, shot me. Twice, on the same day. I felt pride. And pain. Together with about 60 other guys, Mac and I were playing an "Airsoft" war game in a wooded Army Reserve training camp in Tolland, a tiny town in western Massachusetts. Airsoft is like paintball, except that the gas- or [...]

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Contemplating the end of the world, math, mystery and other things

I suffer from eschatological obsession. That is, I spend lots of time brooding about ends. So the cover of the September Scientific American—which reads simply "the end."—made me all shivery, like when I hear the spooky sitar opening of The Doors’ apocalyptic rock poem "The End." (I’m never more Freudian than when I hear Morrison’s [...]

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Obama’s choice for warrior in chief, Gen. James Mattis, calls Iraq invasion “the dumbest thing we ever did”

James N. Mattis is the four-star Marine general whom Barack Obama just nominated to head the U.S. Central Command, with oversight of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. If confirmed by the Senate (a hearing is set for today), Mattis will replace David Petraeus, who took over command of troops in Afghanistan from Stanley [...]

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Observations

Ukraine’s Top Scientists Turn to Academic Unity in Call for Peace

Image: Alex Khristov/Wikimedia Commons

The political unrest reverberating throughout the Ukraine has prompted its top scientists to send out a plea for peace. Since the crisis escalated last week, after Russia moved to establish control over the largely Russian speaking Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine, it has fueled fears that the conflict will boil over into military action between [...]

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Observations

Post-Conflict Libya and Iraq Should Now Wage War on Diabetes and Heart Disease

demonstration in libya

In a chaotic Libya or a post-war Iraq, achieving individual safety and the most basic of health care might seem to be the best any government or aid organization could hope for. But areas in transition and those still tending to the societal wounds of war are actually well poised to combat chronic conditions, such [...]

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Observations

What are contemporary warfare’s hidden assaults on public health?

DENVER—Few human undertakings have had such apparent and ceaseless negative impacts on human health and well-being as violent conflict. War might seem such an obvious assault on overall public health that it would hardly bear discussion at a scholarly meeting on that subject. But a slew of researchers are working around the globe to uncover [...]

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Observations

One in 10 veterans returns from combat in Iraq reporting serious mental health issues

iraq war veterans 10 ptsd depression functional

Veterans of war have been known to suffer from high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and traumatic brain injury in addition to any physical wounds. And a new study of thousands of U.S. Army soldiers returning from combat duty in Iraq found up to 31 percent reported symptoms of PTSD or depression as [...]

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