By Mark Sharoff
In November, 2001, in a briefing with CIA Director George Tenet and NSA Director Condoleeza Rice, Vice President Cheney articulated what in years following would become the “One-Percent Doctrine,” the Bush administration’s approach to threats of “low-probability, high-impact” terrorism. The doctrine holds that if there is, in Ron Suskind’s words, “ a one percent chance of terrorists getting a weapon of mass destruction…the United States must now act as if it were a certainty.” Ten years later, this reasoning may still define the American approach to counterterrorism. In the “National Strategy for Counterterrorism,” released in June, the Obama administration identified nuclear terrorism as the “greatest threat to national security,” even though many analysts who have reviewed the intelligence predict that a biological attack on the homeland is more likely. And the administration’s FY2012 budget would give nuclear defense twice as much funding as biodefense. The administration’s rationale may be that a nuclear attack would be more deadly and would have a greater psychological impact, and because nuclear know-how and materials are easier to track and secure, money spent on nuclear defense might be money better spent. Even still, with concern about a biological attack growing, the administration’s counterterrorism priorities deserve greater scrutiny.
In April The Georgetown Public Policy Review announced its 2010-2011 edition. In light of the upcoming 10 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, our staff decided to focus the publication on “National Security in the New Millennium.”
For our headlining interview, Heather Vaughan sat down with Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. During his Senate career Hagel sat on the Foreign Relations and Intelligence Committees, was a notable critic of the war in Iraq, and is a foremost authority on the nuances of America’s national security policy.
by Christopher Lin
Sometime during the week of March 7, 2011, the House Committee on Homeland Security will hold hearings examining whether Muslim Americans are becoming radicalized and pose a threat to the nation’s security. Civil rights groups are worried that the hearings will turn into a political witch-hunt, akin to the anti-communist investigations conducted during the Cold War. As political leaders the world over begin to decry the “failure” of multiculturalism, one wonders if the United States will also begin to doubt the benefits of its pluralistic society. While “American culture” may be difficult to fully define, attempting to do so is an inherently political exercise; the fear is that the hearings will leave Muslim Americans increasingly ostracized.
by Joseph Cox
A treaty that is a priority of the President, advocated for by the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the head of the Missile Defense Agency, the Secretary of State, every Democrat in the Senate, the President of Russia, every member of NATO, U.K. leaders past and present, major Israeli lobbies, Republican Cabinet Secretaries Henry A. Kissinger, George P. Shultz, James A. Baker III, Lawrence S. Eagleburger and Colin Powell and the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would seem to be a slam dunk. Yet, in a testament to U.S. policy’s powerful status quo bias, the new nuclear disarmament START treaty is widely considered to be a long-shot for passage because of the objections of one Senator, John Kyl, the Republican whip.
by Ryan Greer
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has issued a decree banning private security firms from Afghanistan early next year, a move likely to drive out many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in reconstruction. Karzai – and even some American leaders – believe this is a necessary move to shore up Afghan sovereignty, but the priority in the volatile war zone needs to be stability, and funding may not be available to replace the fleeing development contractors (many U.S.-funded), and those groups that do fill in as replacements could exacerbate the danger to the region.