April 3, 2003 – Vol. 22 No. 13

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    The Chronicle’s biweekly column In the News offers a digest of commentary and quotations by a few of the University faculty members, students and alumni who have been headlining the news in recent weeks. Chicago faculty members are some of the most frequently quoted experts, so space allows publishing references to only selected examples. To read many of the full newspaper articles mentioned in this column, visit the In the News column at the University News Office Web site: http://www-news.uchicago.edu/.

    Media outlets in the United States and abroad have extensively interviewed McGuire Gibson, Professor in the Oriental Institute and Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, as coverage continues regarding threatened Mesopotamian antiquities in buried ancient settlements throughout Iraq. Gibson was an expert source for stories reporting on how the war in Iraq and past wars put these ancient sites at great risk. Stories were carried by various news media, including The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press Newswires, BBC Radio, Reuters English News Service, National Geographic TV, the Canadian Press and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and Newsweek magazine.

    Robert Pape, Professor in Political Science, wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Friday, March 21 New York Times and another that was published in the Sunday, March 23 Boston Globe. In his NYT op-ed, Pape wrote that a war with Iraq will not be won by air strikes alone, as this same strategy has failed in past conflicts the United States military has fought. He described what he calls the “hammer and anvil” approach, which deploys planes that act as a hammer and ground troops as the anvil. In his Boston Globe op-ed, he described what he calls “soft balancing.” “International relations specialists speak of ‘hard balancing’ when countries form military alliances to curb a strong nation,” wrote Pape. “But America’s rivals today, with no hope of matching our military power, are pursuing their interests by other means, and they will continue to do so. Unless the United States radically changes course, the use of international institutions, economic leverage and diplomatic maneuvering to frustrate American intentions will only grow. The era of ‘soft balancing’ has begun.” Pape also was a guest Wednesday, March 19, on All Things Considered on National Public Radio.

    Christopher Faraone, Professor in Classical Languages & Literatures and the College, was a guest Tuesday, March 11, on Northeast Indiana Public Radio’s Todd Mundt Show. Faraone discussed the prominence of witchcraft in ancient times and how recent findings indicate that the practice persisted into the period of the late Roman Empire. He described some of the archaeological evidence that shows professional witches once cast spells for a price. Faraone, whose research currently focuses on ancient magical spells, also wrote a scholarly article that appears in the March/April issue of Archaeology Magazine.

    Rashid Khalidi, Professor in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations and the College, wrote an op-ed that was published Monday, March 17, on the Financial Times Web site. Khalidi wrote about the United States’ future occupation of Iraq, noting past occupations of that country and other surrounding Arab states as historical lessons worthy of review. “Iraq has an educated, politically aware population–the most avid readers in the Arab world. They can bring the country out of the nightmare produced by the current regime, its criminal wars and the devastating effect of a decade of sanctions. Such people can rehabilitate their ravaged country if they are free of external intervention and of a foreign military occupation that will quickly be perceived as intolerably oppressive.” Khalidi also discussed the war in Iraq as a guest of WBEZ-FM Radio’s World View program on Monday, March 17.

    Cass Sunstein, the Karl N. Llewellyn Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School, wrote an op-ed that was published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Monday, March 17. Sunstein wrote about how people usually underestimate some risks, such as obesity and sun exposure, while overestimating others, including the risk of being harmed in a terrorist attack. Individuals will react to risk, including making decisions about the purchase of insurance, based on visual reminders of disasters. “If our behavior is affected by vivid images, we inevitably will be fearful of some trivial risks and neglect others that are actually serious. There is a warning here. When newspapers, magazines and news programs stress highly improbable risks, people’s concerns will be out of proportion to reality. And if government responds to unjustified concerns, we will spend too much of our time and money on pointless precautions,” Sunstein wrote.

    Marvin Zonis, Professor of Business Administration in the Graduate School of Business, was a guest on CNN’s financial program Street Sweep on Thursday, March 20. Zonis discussed the cost of the war in Iraq and how the economy in a post-Hussein Iraq and in the Middle East region might be affected once the war has ended. Zonis said, “I think what’s really important is that, as soon as possible, the fate of Iraqi oil can be turned over to a new Iraqi oil ministry and the Iraqis should be in charge of getting those fields developed, inviting western companies and probably nonwestern companies as well.” Zonis also was interviewed about the war in Iraq on Wednesday, March 19, on WBBM-TV in Chicago.

    Bruce Cumings, the Norman & Edna Freehling Professor in History and the College, wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Monday, March 24 issue of The Nation. Cumings wrote of the increasing danger in North Korea and the political tensions that are arising between the United States and its ally South Korea, which–under its newly elected President Roh Moo Hyun–has tried to initiate talks with the Bush administration to solve the nuclear problem in the North through dialogue. “We can expect trouble in the near term because of grave threats of pre-emption and counter pre-emption,” wrote Cumings, “and because of the chasm between Roh Moo Hyun and Bush over how to deal with North Korea. In the long run, however, the only way to solve this problem is for the United States to return to direct and meaningful talks with Pyongyang (North Korea). In other words, Roh Moo Hyun’s conciliatory position is correct, and he is supported in this position by all the relevant parties: Japan, China, Russia and the European Union.”

    Caleb Alexander, a Research Fellow in the Robert Woods Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, was interviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times about a study he led regarding the general public’s view of physicians who fudge medical records to obtain insurance coverage for their patients. The findings, which were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that one out of four adults think it is OK for doctors to lie on their behalf for this purpose. “Our results speak to the amount of distrust the public places in health care institutions,” said Alexander in the Tuesday, March 18 Sun-Times article.

    Alumnus Eric Whitaker (M.D., ’93) was the subject of a story that appeared in the Wednesday, March 26 Chicago Sun-Times. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has chosen Whitaker to serve as the state’s new director of public health. Whitaker, who works at John Stroger Hospital in Chicago, opened a clinic in the Woodlawn neighborhood called Project Brotherhood, which helps young African-American men get needed health care.