Gary Hart is a lawyer and former senator from Colorado. He currently serves on PSA’s Advisory Board. Norman Augustine co-authored the article. This article was originally published in the Los Angeles Times.
Why 9/11 Can Happen Again
In February 2001, a bipartisan federal commission on which we served warned that terrorists would acquire weapons of mass destruction and mass disruption. “Attacks against American citizens on American soil, possibly causing heavy casualties, are likely over the next quarter-century,” the Hart-Rudman Commission said. “In the face of this threat, our nation has no coherent or integrated governmental structures.” We added: “Congress should rationalize its current committee structure so that it best serves U.S. national security objectives.”
We identified 50 ways to improve national security, none of which was implemented before 9/11. One recommendation — to create a single agency to deal with homeland security — was not acted on until a year and a half after those tragic attacks.
Sam Nunn is the Co-Chairman and CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and former US Senator from Georgia. Mr. Nunn is a member of PSA’s Board of Advisors. This speech was originally published on NTI’s website.
Remarks by Senator Sam Nunn to the American Nuclear Society
Thank you, Jim Rogers, for your introduction and for your outstanding leadership. I particularly want to thank Jim and all gathered here today for the work of this Society – helping the world benefit from the peaceful uses of nuclear science.
On this Veterans Day, I would also like to recognize one of our nation’s most outstanding public servants and veterans, former Senator Pete Domenici.
I am delighted to join George Shultz, who addresses every challenge with energy, optimism, keen intellect and wisdom. He is always looking to the future – with one exception. When George attended Henry Kissinger’s 90th birthday party, he reflected, “Ah, Henry — to be 90 again!” I also thank Sid Drell for proving many times that a brilliant theoretical physicist can make a profound empirical difference in the security of his country and the world.
All Americans should be grateful for the remarkable work that the people in this room have done to improve and ensure safety and efficiency in the nuclear field. Preventing accidents is absolutely essential. The future of nuclear energy depends equally on security: preventing the theft of weapons-usable materials—either highly enriched uranium or separated plutonium—that could lead to a terrorist nuclear attack. Nuclear energy also depends on avoiding a dangerous future where a state acquires technology for peaceful purposes, then uses it for nuclear weapons. Safety, security and nonproliferation are the three key links in the chain to assure the benefits of the atom for humanity.
The author, Alessandria Dey, is an undergraduate student of Hamilton College and a current participant of Hamilton’s DC Program. She is an intern at Partnership for a Secure America.
Are We Fighting a “War on Terror” in 2013?
In 2001, following the events of September 11th, former President Bush declared a “war on terror.” What followed was a military invasion into Afghanistan, marking the beginning of this long war. Now, after more than a decade of active U.S. military presence, many are questioning our nation’s future intentions in the Middle East. In addition to the continuation of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, U.S. involvement in counterinsurgencies and nation building has led to more skepticism of our foreign policy goals. The main question is: are we fighting a “war on terror” in 2013? The answer is yes.
A “war on terror” is defined beyond direct altercations with terrorist groups. In addition to combating terrorist groups and affiliates, the “war on terror” is a crusade against potential security threats against the U.S. In 2013, a “war on terror” includes the repression of terrorist groups, democratization of the Middle East, and continued nation-building – essential objectives for protecting the homeland in the long term.
There has been a notable decrease in the activities of major terrorist groups after the initial invasion of Afghanistan. Despite the decrease in the activities of groups like al-Qaeda, their presence and the determination of insurgents remain a threat to the government in place. U.S. involvement in counterinsurgency campaigns is vital to the stability of Afghanistan. Insurgents are responsible for a considerable amount of damage and their relationship with al-Qaeda remains intact. They hinder economic development and improvement in governance needed for the long term stability of Afghanistan. Four thousand Afghan civilians in the first half of 2013 were victims of insurgents’ high profile attacks. Suicide attacks remain steady with 150 per year since 2009. Insurgents are now infiltrating the Afghan police and turning their weapons on Afghan and NATO forces. (more…)
The author, Christina Vachon, is a graduate student at George Washington University where she is pursuing her Master’s degree in International Affairs with a concentration in International Security Studies. She is currently an intern at the Partnership for a Secure America and has a research interest in security policy in the Middle East.
When Iran Gets the Bomb
Even though a short term deal with Iran has been reached, the US should prepare for the chance that Iran will cheat. As talks continue toward a long term agreement, the US should assess what Iran, the Middle East, and the world will look like if Iran gets the bomb. There is a lack of consensus on what happens if and when Iran gets the bomb. Due to the uncertainty that exists about Iran and its program, continued diplomatic efforts are important in order to gain more information about the situation, to better relations, and to prepare for a nuclear Iran. It is important though that all options remain on the table in order to protect US interests.
Jayson Browder is a decorated Air Force and Iraq Veteran. A recent graduate of Fordham University, Jayson was named a National Finalist for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship in 2012 and was recently awarded the William J. Fulbright Scholarship for 2013 to Turkey. Currently Jayson holds a position as a Military Legislative Assistant for Congressman Beto O’Rourke in the United States House of Representatives. This article originally appeared on PolicyMic.
Congress’ Iran Policy: Short Sighted and Irrational
Clear thought, rational thinking, and innovative ideas are desperately needed in the 113th Congress. Unfortunately, a large number of members of the House of Representatives have let short-term priorities and easy political points cloud their judgment. This has made for some poor and unfortunate votes that, for some partial short-term gains, will have long-term repercussions for the United States and our allies abroad. Examples of this include the failure to pass a budget for four years, the failure to solve the sequester, the failure to solve the debt ceiling, and most recently, the votes to place more stringent sanctions than ever on Iran.
Tom Kean, former governor of New Jersey, and Lee Hamilton, a former congressman from Indiana, are co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Homeland Security Project. Both are members of PSA’s Advisory Board. Kean was chairman and Hamilton was vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission. This article originally appeared in The Plain Dealer.
U.S. must adapt, prepare for future terrorist attacks
It’s hard to believe that more than 11 years have passed since the devastating terrorist strike to our homeland on 9/11. Overnight, homeland security became a top priority. Yet, until last month’s Boston Marathon bombings, the issue of terrorism had faded from the front pages. The terrorist threat barely surfaced in the debates leading up to last November’s presidential election. While we have long been warning of it, the tragic events in Boston have jolted others, including those running in today’s Cleveland Marathon, to realize that the threats to our homeland have not disappeared — rather, they have evolved. Our public debate needs to evolve along with them.
The killing of Osama bin Laden and many other terrorist leaders seriously damaged al-Qaida, but did not destroy it. Today, smaller al-Qaida offshoots flourish in South Asia, Yemen and North Africa, and are dreaming up diabolical new ways to hurt us. The Christmas 2009 “underwear bomber,” who nearly killed 290 people on a Northwest Airlines flight into Detroit, and the 2010 plot to use explosive printer cartridges to blow up cargo planes over American cities are just two examples. Serious concerns remain about terrorists acquiring nuclear or biological materials and directing them against one of our cities. While the likelihood of such an attack might be remote, it would inflict catastrophic damage. Continued chaos in countries like Syria and Pakistan increases the risk that these weapons could fall into the wrong hands. (more…)
Congressman Hamilton (D-IN) and Governor Kean (R-PA) are members of PSA’s bipartisan Advisory Board. They co-chaired the 9/11 Commission and are now co-chairs for the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Homeland Security Project. This op-ed originally appeared in The Hill newspaper.
We can’t forget national security
During the presidential campaign, there was a striking lack of debate on homeland security. Given the country’s economic problems, the public understandably wasn’t focused on terrorism, and President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney may have been satisfied that the government’s reforms since the 9/11 attacks enhanced our safety and left little to debate.
The silence is eerily reminiscent of the 2000 presidential campaign, when, despite a horrific attack on a U.S. warship during the height of the campaign and the bombings of two U.S. embassies only two years before, neither candidate had much to say about terrorism. As then, we cannot afford to forego an ongoing debate on our security.
This article was written by Caitlin Poling, a Participant in PSA’s Congressional Partnership Program.
The U.S. Needs a More Broad-based Strategy to Combat Al Qaeda in Yemen
For most of the past decade, Yemen has remained on the periphery of American national security policy. During this time, officials in the administration, Department of Defense, State Department, and Intelligence Community have been unable to devote as much attention as needed to Yemen due to American engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2011 along with the September 2012 protests and embassy attacks in response to an American-made anti-Muslim video have demonstrated the importance of security in states like Yemen.
This article was written by two Spring 2012 Participants in PSA’s Congressional Partnership Program. All CPP articles are produced by bipartisan groups of Democrat and Republican Hill Staff who were challenged to develop opinion pieces that reach consensus on critical national security and foreign affairs issues.
Complications in US – Pakistan Relations
Since September 11, 2001 no relationship has been more contentious, or more vexing, than the one shared between the United States and Pakistan. It is a relationship that despite obvious mutual benefits is often viewed through a lens of distrust by both countries. This consociation began during the regime of Muhammad Zia Al Huq as both nations stood side by side stemming off the Soviet invasion of the1980’s. Low points during the A.Q. Kahn and Raymond Davis affairs tested the limits of both nations; and of course, in the wake of the final reckoning of Osama Bin Laden relations took on a life of its own. Rather than being seen as testaments to the strong foundation of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship ideally working well together, each incident, in its time, has been construed by many pundits, in both nations, as the beginning of the end. The lowest watermark viewed by Pakistan as an infringement on sovereign territory, the bin Laden mission, sent tenuous diplomacy on a collision course with conflict and distrust. This dysfunctional juxtaposition between the U.S. and Pakistan has become more glaringly apparent this summer during the talks associated with the re-opening of NATO Supply Routes running through Pakistan.
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Anthony Scavone is a recent graduate of Boston University where he studied International Relations focusing specifically on International Development and Sub-Saharan Africa. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali from October until they were evacuated in mid-April. You can read more about his personal experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in his personal blog, Anthony in Africa. This is the second post in a two-post series about the motivations and impact of the recent military coup in Mali.
Reflections on the Coup, Part 2
Although the situation at hand is most tragic for the citizens of Mali, the current situation could have significant repercussions for those of us both fortunate to escape, and even those of us who have never been.
All blog posts are independently produced by their authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of PSA. Across the Aisle serves as a bipartisan forum for productive discussion of national security and foreign affairs topics.