Last month, news broke that the congressional committee studying the threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the United States was being forced to disband–at the same time North Korea specifically threatened an EMP attack as part of it’s alarming increase in nuclear tests. This is widely considered to be the complete opposite approach to protecting our nation’s national security in a mostly anarchic international environment. In fact, just six months ago, most experts thought North Korea’s nuclear arsenal was primitive, some academics claiming it had as few as 6 A-Bombs.
“Rogue state” is a self-deluding Western foreign policy term that has helped China eschew responsibility for enabling North Korea’s aggressive nuclear weaponization, and it is time to call China a sponsor of lawless North Korean behavior that it has a duty to reverse, including irresponsible nuclear proliferation. Other Western terms for North Korea have included “outlaw” and “renegade” – terms that focused responsibility on the Kim Dynasty and minimized China’s role as North Korea’s top trade, aid, and political sponsor. Outlaw, rogue, and renegade replaced Cold War terms such as proxy, client, and satellite in the lexicon of U.S. administrations eager to put the 20th Century Cold War behind them.
Radicalization and violent extremism are topics of concern that have become much more pronounced in recent years (Sedgwick, 2010), and radicalization can be defined as the development of extremist ideologies and beliefs (Borum, 2011). Many factors influence individuals to turn from nonviolent to violent ideologies, including propaganda on the Internet (Maher, 2007), social networks and communications with other extremists (Sageman, 2004), political leaders and authority figures (Moghaddam, 2005), and intergroup conflict (McCauley & Moskalenko, 2011). Any of these factors individually, or a combination thereof, may contribute as catalysts for heightened radicalization (Bubolz & Simi, 2015).
Homer noted, “History is the Oracle of Truth.” He was right. His concept of history taps a thread so fundamental to human existence that it influences almost every aspect of life and society. From insurance rates and educational opportunities, to legal proceedings and science, we can’t escape the pull of history. For thousands of years, mankind has understood we must capture and remember what was so we consider what may follow. History also demonstrates when people study the past they become masters of the present. Conversely, things we ignore often ironically remind us of what we must not forget.
There are so many important issues that can directly affect each and every one of us, but the news media, exploiting sensationalism at the expense of providing us with needed information, seems intent upon fanning the flames of discontent, division and partisanship. Which news are you watching tonight? ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC or the Fox News Channel? Too often we find ourselves watching the one we trust, which really means the one with which we most agree. Some of us, in order to provide balance, switch back and forth from one news channel to another trying to figure out some semblance of truth.
As the Trump Administration ushers in uncertain change, one of those changes must become certain if the Administration is serious about national security: a resilient U.S. electrical grid. Our continued failure to allocate the manageable expense of shoring up our grid against phasic-probability, high-impact destructive events is an unabating gamble with the survival of 350 million people and the progress of our predecessors. Some have defended the slow pace of proofing the U.S. electric grid, citing the low-probability of high-impact risks posed by Electromagnetic Pulse and/or solar Coronal Mass Ejection events. However, our nation’s resilience, defense, and security should not be left to luck. No one would step into an escape room with a 10% chance of death during the game, yet Lloyd’s of London assessed that there is a 12% chance per decade that North America will be impacted by a significant CME event. Furthermore, the insurance syndicate notes CME impact is “almost inevitable.”
There are 196 states in the world today. Each of these states holds a unique wealth of history, culture, tradition, and custom. Diversity is often celebrated and cherished by many. World travelers relish the thought of exploring the numerous cultures of the world and students seek foreign experiences to enrich their understanding and respect for other cultures, norms, and ways of life. In the political environment, however, diversity can plunge nation-states into deep and treacherous waters. Imagine an international environment where 196 states rally and vie for a limited supply of power, affluence, and resources, while attempting to remain solvent, preserve sovereignty, and project confidence in a truly anarchic international atmosphere.
We are not the only generation of Americans to face overwhelming odds. In 1777, the American Colonial bid for independence teetered on failure. At Valley Forge, Washington’s army dangled by a thread; diplomatic relations between the French and colonists had stalled; and elsewhere, the Continental Army experienced strategic losses including the British occupation of Philadelphia – America’s largest city.
The hope of freedom was fading. Within the Continental Congress, some leaders began resigning the cause to fate. What turned the table on hopelessness?
Since 9/11, the United States government has made extensive investments to safeguard citizens, cherished monuments, critical infrastructure and key government installations. Unfortunately, many safeguards are easily bypassed by overflight. On January 26, 2015, a small drone bypassed the fences and radar protecting the White House and crashed unceremoniously onto the south lawn.