In light of recent national
and international events, REED magazine invited alumni, faculty
members, and students to share their thoughts about the future.
all forms of terrorism
By Aaron Rhodes 71
Terrorism and its relationship to
human rights is not a new problem in the new democracies of Europe and
the former Soviet Union. The International Helsinki Federation for Human
Rights represents human rights organizations throughout the 55-member
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). As its director
since 1993, Ive encountered this dilemma in a number of contexts.
Turkey has had a problem with terrorist campaigns by the PKK, a radical
Kurdish organization responsible for numerous deadly attacks. Meanwhile
the Turkish military ravaged the southeast of the country, destroying
or depopulating thousands of villages and displacing hundreds of thousands
of ethnic Kurds who are not allowed to be considered a minority, whose
political parties and newspapers are suppressed, and whose representatives
and defenders have been harassed, tortured, and killed. All these responses
confirmed for many that the violent, leftist ideology of the PKK made
Although some claim the acts to have been the work of the Russian secret
police, Chechen terrorists have apparently killed numerous civilians.
Following a pattern of brutality established hundreds of years ago, the
Russian government has sought to neutralize the independence movement
by military means, and still every day Russian soldiers and Chechen civilians
die. Over the past six years or so, entire villages have been wiped out
in house-to-house execution raids.
Another case is in Kosovo. I have a vivid and painful memory of speaking
with Albanian villagers in the Drenica region, where the violence really
started in 1998. An old Kosovar farmer said that he was ready to take
up arms, even though his hunting rifle had been confiscated by Serbian
police. Everywhere was evidence of the effort by the Milosevic regime
to suppress the independence and human rights movement by torture, rape,
and murder. Some months later when the conflict had become a war
a Serbian parliamentarian told me in Belgrade: We need your
help, Dr. Rhodes. We are under attack by terrorists.
Now we come to the situation in Central Asia, the countries referred to
as the stans in the Washington lingo. Radical Islamic terrorist
groups have tried to destabilize Uzbekistan, and they move about in the
other countries as well. None of these governments has had a democratic
change in 10 years, and poverty and corruption continue to worsen. In
Uzbekistan, a member of our affiliate group was tortured to death in detention
recently; there are thousands of Muslims in prisons described as concentration
camps; no political opposition or independent media are allowed
all in the name of fighting terrorism. Several years ago we met
with human rights activists from a region in Kyrgyzstan where an incursion
by Islamic militants had taken place. They said that the local people
trusted these militants more than they did their own officials.
There is indeed a terrorist threat in these countries, based in part in
the sources of radical Islam that spread from Afghanistan. There is no
contradiction between opposing terrorism and promoting human rights
quite the contrary. But state repression that destroys the confidence
of ordinary citizens in their government and gives credence to terror
campaigns is itself a serious security threat. A campaign against terrorism,
in order to succeed, must also be a campaign against state terrorism.
That is the message we are carrying into an increasingly oblivious international
|Aaron Rhodes 71 is executive director
of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, a self-governing
group of non-governmental, not-for-profit organizations that act to
protect human rights throughout Europe, North America, and the Central
Asian republics formed from the territories of the former Soviet Union.
A primary specific goal is to monitor compliance with the human rights
provisions of the Helsinki Final Act of 1975. Rhodes will be Reeds
2002 commencement speaker.
Art mirroring life
By Helen Lessick 76
Sudden catastrophe and bellicose
acts are good for the business of public art; the September attacks on
symbolic U.S. facilities renewed American interest in public art. Unbidden
memorial proposals arose from artists, architects, and designers. Their
quick responses for permanent art should be critically evaluated over
Neglecting the process and intentions of public art, many designers suggested
columns of light for the World Trade site. The concerns of residential
complexes, small craft aviation, and shore birds are never vetted. Energy
use and economic effects, factual and symbolic aspects of this proposal,
are ignored. Criticizing these volunteer visions can bring swift indignation.
Public art here salves emotions, heedless of repercussion.
In Boston an artist proposed a local memorial to honor all firefighters
responding to the three crash sites. Starting from a published photograph,
he altered the source material; the three Caucasians became a rainbow
team. His explanation, that this re-presentation was more accurate than
photographic reality, de-faced the actual firemen, excepted women in the
battalions, and convinced no one.
The business of public art may be bad for artists when reactionary forces
come to bear. Good art takes time and thought. Rushing the public art
process compromises the vision of the artist and intentions of public
Terrorism and revenge are difficult subjects. Great public art must surpass
reactionary tendencies in order to create a work of tragedy or triumph.
Public artists must challenge themselves to make art with vision greater
than last months telecast, to commit to artistic excellence beyond
illustration, to speak in a voice not yet heard, and to create room for
discussion, and ambiguity, within context.
All nations, societies, and individuals are ephemeral in our being and
understanding. The task of the public artist is to hoist high the lamp,
reflecting things greater than the mirrors surface.
|Helen Lessick 76 is a Seattle-based visual
and public artist. In September 2001 she was in Padova, Italy, as
an artist in residence. Currently she is on the design team for the
city of Portlands Waterfront Park master plan.
Shifting national defense capabilities
By Michael Goldblatt ’74
It is too long ago to remember why,
but during my time at Reed I read Thomas Kuhns The Structure of
the Scientific Revolutions. It was my first encounter with the word paradigm.
Now I find myself responsible for leading the team chartered to develop
technologies capable of creating paradigm shifts in national defense capabilities,
an assignment that spans the sectors of biology, medicine, material science,
advanced mathematics, and computational science.
The events of September 11 have transformed the concept of asymmetric
threat from being the subject of hypothetical scenarios into a new
realization of vulnerability and in turn an urgent need for new capabilities.
The traditional threats posed by state aggressors are relatively easy
to identify and counter. However, the threat from individuals willing
to use weapons of mass destruction and sacrifice their own lives in the
creation of terror is new, and methods of detection are almost nonexistent.
Hence, in my line of work, the creation of new classes of antibiotics
is accelerating. We are attacking the fundamental mechanisms of pathogenesis
to address both known infectious agents and the unknowable the
genetically engineered. Similarly, therapeutics are being pursued for
threats that are currently untreatable once contracted (superantigens
and smallpox). New ways of developing and evaluating vaccines are being
pursued to decrease the 20-plus years it now takes to develop and market
a vaccine product. New sensors are now necessary for the real-time detection
and identification of biological and chemical threats in the environment.
Public health tools have also become a necessity for the real-time detection
and treatment of those exposed to weapons of mass destruction prior to
the expression of clinical symptomology.
Among the most difficult challenges presented by someone determined to
commit a terrorist act is the identification of that persons affirmative
intent to act and the deception masking the intended action. Is it possible
to attain a sufficiently robust understanding of the language of the brain
in order to access deception and intent? Can the technology be developed
to achieve this access non-invasively from a distance? Science fiction
is always ahead of reality; sometimes current events, however, drive you
to close the gap.
Michael Goldblatt 74 is director
of the Department of Defensess Advanced Research Projects Agencys
(DARPA) defense sciences office. DARPA manages and directs selected research
and development projects for DoD, and pursues research and technology
where risk and payoff are both very high and where success may provide
dramatic advances for traditional military roles and missions. The defense
sciences office emphasizes programs in medical approaches to biological
warfare defense, biology, materials, and advanced mathematics.