• Addressing the National Security Threat of White Supremacist Terrorism

    In 2018, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tracked 50 extremist-related murders, 49 of which were committed by far-right extremists and the majority specifically perpetrated by white supremacists. In the past decade, far-right extremists were responsible for 73 percent of extremist-related murders in the U.S. The Aug. 3 shooting in El Paso took the lives of 22 people, making it the most violent white supremacist attack in 50 years. Jonathan Greenblatt and George Selim write that white supremacist violence is on the rise—but it is not new. Not unlike groups such as the Islamic State that are attempting to push back on modernity, white supremacists rage against trends like demographic change and globalization. Their anger toward outsiders typically is racial in nature, as they rail against “brown” or “black” people, and they perceive the Jewish people as their ultimate enemies, responsible for a global conspiracy that includes “open borders,” “multiculturalism” and “globalism” as strategies to engineer “white genocide.”

  • Why America Isn’t Equipped for the New Rules of War

    Sean McFate is a former paratrooper in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division; he’s also worked as a private military contractor in West Africa. Today he’s a professor at the National Defense University and Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.  His book The New Rules of War, published earlier this year, dissects the ways warfare must change in order for America to succeed. MIT Technology Review’s war reporter Janine di Giovanni sat down to ask him about his vision for the future of conflict.

  • Bomb Attacks Are Now a Normal Part of Swedish Life

    “Normalization” is a term that we have come to associate with domestic violence: the victim begins to think of abuse as a part of everyday life. Paulina Neuding writes that explosions have become so normalized in Sweden that SVT, Sweden’s equivalent of the BBC, did not even mention the three explosions in the country’s capital on its national news program that evening. The explosions were left to the local news. Wilhelm Agrell, professor of intelligence analysis at Lund University, has warned that the situation has become so dire that the integrity of the Swedish state is in jeopardy. “The state’s monopoly on violence, the actual token of a sovereign government, has been hollowed out bit by bit and no longer exists,” he wrote a few weeks ago. “The armed criminal violence is having effects that are increasingly similar to those of terrorism.”

  • They’re Not All Racist Nut Jobs – and 4 Other Observations about the Patriot Militia Movement

    The so-called patriot movement is grabbing headlines once again, as its members pledge to protect Trump supporters at the president’s campaign rallies across the country. The patriot movement is a fragmented and fractious coalition of groups that distrust the federal government. Members believe the government is impeding their rights and liberties – but the movement is not monolithic, and it less black and white. Despite public perceptions, few members of the various appeared to be mentally ill or outwardly racist. Instead, their grievances and principles stem from a range of motivations, personal circumstances and political philosophies.

  • Autonomous Protection System to Defend Satellites against Attacks

    Satellites do a lot of things — they help people navigate from one place to another, they deliver television programming, they search for new stars and exo-planets and they enable the U.S. nuclear deterrence strategy. But until recently, one thing they haven’t done — or needed to do — is defend themselves. Sandia launches campaign to develop autonomous satellite protection systems.

  • German Domestic Intelligence Chief on the New Wave of Hate

    In an interview with Der Spiegel, Thomas Haldenwang, the director of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, discusses the new threat of extremism in the wake of the Halle attack and his agency’s need for greater authority in the monitoring of such threats. “What’s new is the international dimension,” Haldenwang said. “Right-wing extremism as we know it was long a particularly German phenomenon. But now, we see Anders Breivik in Oslo, Brenton Tarrant in Christchurch, Patrick Crusius in El Paso, the perpetrator in Halle. It’s like links in a chain, almost an international competition. Another insight is that it appears that no deep ideology is needed to radicalize and develop plans for attacks. All that’s needed is this emotion, hate, incitement, the web-based instigation and this convergence of people who, on the basis of simplistic messages often rooted in fake news, arrive at this world view and think they have to strike immediately.”

  • Have We Become Too Paranoid about Mass Shootings?

    Many Americans worry about when – not if – another mass shooting will occur, and a Gallup poll from September found that nearly half of Americans fear being a victim of one of these attacks. Should we be? My research has shown a big discrepancy between the actual threat of mass shootings and the way the public perceives that threat. In other words, people think mass shootings are far more common than they are. Why does this discrepancy exist? And what sort of ramifications does it have?

  • Indecision in Washington Compounded the Kurds' Dilemma

    The American military presence in northeast Syria was always an anomaly, unlikely to be sustained indefinitely. The manner of its termination has nevertheless proven inept and unnecessarily costly. If the military advantages of partnering with the YPG were clear, it was equally clear that none of their neighbors would indefinitely tolerate an independent Kurdish state. Turkey was most agitated by this scenario given the Syrian Kurds’ links to the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a designated terrorist group that has waged a low-grade insurgency against the state for decades. In the end it appears the Tump administration proved unable to choose among its competing interests in Syria, James Dobbins and Jeffrey Martini write. “Statesmanship requires the ability to choose between sometimes unpalatable alternatives. Statecraft requires a rigorous process of refining and a timely means of deliberating on those alternatives. These qualities have been notably lacking in charting the administration’s Syria end game thereby compounding the unavoidable costs of withdrawal with charges of betrayal and a retreat under fire.”

  • Getting the Nukes Out of Turkey: A How-To Guide

    Almost as soon as Turkish troops began their invasion of Syria, old debates resurfaced about whether or not the United States should withdraw the roughly 50 B61 nuclear gravity bombs at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey also began resurfacing. Unlike in years prior, however, this time such a move may actually be in the offing. Pulling the nuclear weapons out of Turkey may seem like a bold step, but the United States has been reducing the number of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe and consolidating the remaining ones at ever fewer bases since the end of the Cold War.

  • If Germany Can’t Stop the Rise of White Nationalism, How Can Canada?

    Between 2017 and 2018, anti-Semitic and xenophobic crimes both rose nearly 20 percent in Germany. In June, following the assassination by a neo-Nazi of Walter Lübcke, a conservative politician who supported Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies, the BfV, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, busted Nordkreuz, an extremist organization which compiled a kill list of 25,000 liberal politicians considered “pro-refugee” while also acquiring weapons, 200 body bags, and quicklime, which prevents the rotting that makes corpses smell. The BfV says that it is now tracking 24,100 known right-wing extremists in the country, of which 12,700 have been classified as violent. “That these developments are happening in Germany, a country known for an unflinching view of its own horrific past, might be considered surprising,” Sadiya Ansari writes. “And if Germany is struggling to contain this [extremists’] threat, what does that mean for countries that haven’t been as vigilant?”

  • Monitoring Hurricanes: Better Life-Saving, Property-Preserving Decisions

    When a natural disaster strikes, first responders step in to reduce harm and save lives. They risk their lives in highly unpredictable environments — often without clear knowledge of the dangers they are facing or where they are needed most. Now, imagine if responders could make use of cutting-edge disaster forecasting models in conjunction with real-time data to predict a disaster’s impact and then use that information to make better-informed decisions. Fewer lives would be lost and more people would receive the help they need.

  • The Intelligence Fallout from Trump’s Withdrawal in Syria

    The chaotic nature of the U.S. withdrawal from Syria—following an impulsive, snap decision by President Donald Trump during a phone call with the Turkish president earlier this month—is unnerving those who have been involved in all levels of the fight against ISIS. This is because “forever war” in Iraq and Syria was built around the work done by local U.S. allies. The fight against ISIS was America’s, but it was also being fought by Syrians, Kurds, and Iraqis—a U.S. strategy known as “by, with and through.” These partnerships have proved invaluable to the war against ISIS – but at the same time, they have also opened a small hole in the secrecy which typically shrouds the U.S. special operations community—by giving the local partners who work with those forces a rare and up-close view of who they are and how they do their jobs. Experts worry that any potential deal between the Kurds and Assad will include “not just speaking with Syrian intelligence officers but Russians and Iranians,” one expert said. “It’s going to turn out that all of a sudden the ways that elite American counterterrorism forces operate are known to the opposition.” Another expert said: “None of these issues were thought through or prepared, no consequences considered. It’s a disaster.”

  • A Cheaper Nuclear Sponge

    “With today’s technology, land-based [ballistic] missiles are an embarrassment,” the late, great strategist Thomas Schelling wrote in 1987. Steve Fetter and Kingston Reif write that so long as U.S. adversaries possess nuclear weapons, we believe the United States should maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal to deter nuclear attacks against itself and its allies. But the Trump administration’s approach to sustaining and upgrading the arsenal is unnecessary, unsustainable, and unsafe. Nowhere is this more evident than with respect to its plan to build a new ICBM.

  • Why We Must Ban Facial Recognition Software Now

    Facial recognition technology, once a darling of Silicon Valley with applications for policing, spying and authenticating identities, is suddenly under fire. Conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats have strongly criticized the technology. San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Somerville, Mass., have barred all of their government agencies, including the police, from using it. And several Democratic candidates for president have raised deep concerns about it, with one, Senator Bernie Sanders, calling for an outright ban for policing.

  • Keeping Students Safe Is a Growth Industry Struggling to Fulfill Its Mission

    There is a lot of federal, state and local money spent to “harden” school buildings and campuses. It’s a booming business that by 2017 had become an estimated $2.7 billion industry with about $1.5 billion directed toward K-12 school safety. But based on my research on school safety practices, I believe that – in addition to doing more to regulate access to automatic weapons – what’s actually needed is more funding for mental health services in communities and schools to help heed and address warning signs before someone becomes violent.