An Anxious World, Contemplating a Fiery Extinction, Turns to...Harvard

| Thu Oct. 12, 2006 7:12 PM EDT

It's easy to make fun of Harvard (but why is it so easy?) -- and it's also fun, so let's. As "malign narcissist" Kim Jong-Il poises a manicured finger over the nuclear button and all of humanity cringes in fear, the Harvard Crimson will not (will not!) be distracted from Topic Number 1.

This is a headline. A real one:

Nukes in Korea, But Eyes Turn To Harvard

And this is a real lead paragraph:

North Korea's alleged nuclear test this week occurred deep underground in a mountain tunnel in the North Hamgyong Province, but in its aftermath, the world's eyes are on Harvard Square.

Harvard is on this.

Harvard's experts are in demand because the University's extensive infrastructure, including the MTA Project at the Kennedy School of Government and the Harvard Negotiation Project at Harvard Law School, has been geared toward resolving the stalled talks and nuclear problem in North Korea since long before Monday's approximately half-kiloton nuclear blast.

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Um...okay. (Heckuva job!)

So what should we think? What can we do? What does this all mean?

  • "This is what happens when you are long on heated rhetoric but short on consequences." -- Ashton Carter of Harvard's Preventative Defense Project

  • "[I am] shocked but not surprised" -- Carter again (we laypeople may be surprised, but only experts get to be shocked.)

  • "Despite the fact that [North Korea] has previously been warned, they disregarded it at a cost they were prepared to take." -- Graham Allison of the Kennedy School

  • "The next step should be to stop, take a deep breath, look the reality in the face unblinkingly, and recognize that the policy we and others have followed has failed." (Allison again)

  • "One may consider a few sanctions, but those would be largely symbolic since North Korea is pretty isolated." -- Jeffrey G. Lewis, head of Harvard's Managing the Atom project.
  • Next up: Harvard psychologists on Foleygate ("Clearly, this is a guy who's into young boys"); Harvard literature profs on Orhan Pamuk's Nobel Prize ("This will undoubtedly raise his profile."); and the stars of the Kennedy School on the Iraq war ("We stay, we lose; we leave, we lose; Oy!"). Where would we be without Harvard?

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