What Were We Thinking? Selected Schar School Op-Eds (January 2023)


From USA Today:

Biden’s Midterm Report: President Has Failed to Deliver on His Promise to Unite Americans

Perhaps it also was naive to think that one person could undo the decades of polarization that political opportunists, talk show segments and unregulated algorithms have wrought on U.S. politics.

—Justin Gest


From Politico Magazine:

What the Jan. 6 Committee Report Left Out

On the day of the Capitol riot, I oversaw the Fusion Intelligence Center for the District of Columbia, which is tasked with the collection, analysis, and dissemination of threat intelligence for the local government. I testified for the committee on three separate occasions. And it’s clear the report does not fully contextualize or analyze the vital security issues and failures that took place.

—Donell Harvin


From Psychology Today:

Are Mental Factors Contributing to an Erosion of Democracy?

This connection is valuable if we want to understand personal factors that may contribute to hatred and polarization, and in some instances, violent behaviors between individuals. Moreover, because the individual is the cornerstone of democracy, rising rates of mental and psychological health conditions, including addiction, depression, and anxiety may pose real harm to the democratic institutions within the United States.

—Nadine Kabbani


From the Hill:

Explanations for Mass Shootings Are Obscured By History

But even the most egregious killings have failed to counterbalance gun advocates’ lack of trust in government. They assume that steps toward gun control will ultimately disarm responsible citizens. The ideological association of liberal groups with gun control increases opposition by conservatives.

—Frank T. Manheim


From Homeland Security Today:

ISIS and Its Regional Affiliates Remain Persistent and Pervasive Threat Worldwide

To conclude, ISIS does not get the western focus as it did when the organization controlled territory and perpetrated violent attacks in the mid-2010s. Terrorism databases have reported a decreasing number of ISIS attacks worldwide; however, the organization has exerted influence in conflict zones, Asia, and Africa. ISIS is the organization with the most regional branches.

—Mahmut Cengiz


From International Affairs Forum:

Far Right Extremism, and Possibilities to Combat Its Growth Around the World

Misinformation is breaking the bonds of international cooperation as we know it, and it is beginning to delegitimize established democratic power. The world collectively must make the dismantling of far-right extremism a top concern if we ever want to eliminate it.

—Chance Thayer


From the Hill:

Déjà Vu All Over Again: Tea Party Tactics and Realpolitik

After the French Revolution, when the Bourbon regime was restored to power, the French statesman Charles Talleyrand remarked, “They learned nothing and they forgot nothing.” That may also be true of the Republican Party after Donald Trump.

—Bill Schneider


From Taiwan Insight:

Taiwan’s Prospects for the New Year 2023: Another Turbulent Year Ahead

For Taiwan, it will be important to continue what it has been doing: 1) building its substantive ties with other free and democratic countries through its parliamentary diplomacy; 2) strengthening its own capacity to defend itself through a variety of means, including asymmetric defense systems, stronger reserves and civil defense, and military cooperation – in particular with the US and Japan; and 3) making itself more indispensable in the world through its role as a reliable partner in supply chains and of course in the manufacture of high-end chips. 

—Gerrit van der Wees


From Modern War Institute:

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s…Time to Plan for Drones in Other Domains

The United States needs to think more deeply about how to counter drones operating across every domain. Although certain systems like jammers may still be effective, the details may vary. Different domains may also have unique defensive options, while also having different opportunity costs with existing defensive systems. An antiship missile may work fine against a USV, for example, but is it worth it?

—Zachary Kallenborn


From the Washington Post:

Will Party Unity Tear Congress to Pieces?

Certainly some blame falls to political pros and the political media, who now blindly accept that party unity and message discipline are key indicators of political success, and members of Congress from both parties who lack the courage to rock the boat.

—Steven Pearlstein


From American City and County:

A Billion Dollars for Local Government Cybersecurity—Will They Ever See It?

At the same time the rules’ complexity and built-in roadblocks lead one to conclude that it is highly unlikely small and medium-sized local government will ever see a penny, despite their well-documented needs. In other words, the rules’ brilliance in substance is offset by its seemingly complete lack of understanding of the overall targeted audience. To make matters worse, CISA has tasked FEMA, an agency with little to no on-going relationships with local government tech folks, to be the administrative body everyone is supposed to interact with.

—Alan R. Shark


From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

With State Midterms Looming, an Extraordinary Legislative Session

A net loss of just one seat would create a 20-20 partisan deadlock in the Senate with Republican Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears holding the tiebreaker. Lose two seats and the GOP takes an outright majority. In the House, Democrats could retake a majority by flipping three GOP seats.

—Mark J. Rozell


From Homeland Security Today:

Are al-Qaeda’s 2022 Activities a Harbinger of the Terror Group’s Resurgence?

Correspondingly, Al Qaeda-affiliated groups also have been active in regions and perpetrated hundreds of terrorist attacks in conflict zones such as in Syria and Yemen, the Sahel region such as in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger and its nearby countries in Togo and Benin, and the Horn of Africa such as in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia. 

—Mahmut Cengiz


From the Hill:

Messy New Congress and Coming Gridlock: Founders Intended Governing to Be Difficult

The framers of the Constitution had just waged a revolution against a king. To them, strong government meant despotism. The Constitution replaced an earlier document, the Articles of Confederation, which had created a government that was so weak it was unworkable.

—Bill Schneider


From Modern Diplomacy:

Turkey’s Upcoming Critical Elections and Its Possible Impacts on Tense Relations with the E.U. and U.S.

Some comments underline that Erdogan cannot let the elections be held if he knows he cannot win. Turkey has become an authoritarian regime after Erdogan’s AKP was elected twice in two consecutive elections in 2006 and 2010. The following period has recorded how the regime lacks transparency and accountability and has been involved in crime, corruption, and terrorism. 

—Mahmut Cengiz


From the Hill:

The Debt Limit Catch-22: Will Congress Hand Biden Its Power of the Purse?

A prolonged debt ceiling crisis will create a “catch-22,” where no matter what Biden does he would be committing an unconstitutional act (and by doing so, take Congress’s spending authority for himself) because Congress gave him no other choices.

—Jeremy Mayer and Patrick M. Condray


From the Hill:

Needed: The Espionage Reform Act of 2023

In my opinion, the new Congress needs to step up and take a careful look at how the people’s money is being spent – see how American intelligence can best defend us against the national security realities of the third decade of the 21century.

—Richard Marks


From Small Wars Journal:

Shifting Sands: Why the United States Needs to Change Its Policy Toward Saudi Arabia

The United States’ war on terror has failed because it neglects to address the source of extremism. On the one hand, the United States is fighting terrorists, but it is not addressing the main root of terrorism, the exportation of Wahabi ideology from Saudi Arabia. The policy decision of supporting a state that has entities that support Wahabi terrorist organizations has directly led to the killing of Americans and hampering American interests abroad. 

—Mahmut Cengiz and Mason Grad Rami Alkhafaji


From the Hill:

Messy New Congress and Coming Gridlock: Founders Intended Governing to Be Difficult

American government works wonderfully well in a crisis. Without a crisis to generate a sense of public urgency, it doesn’t work well at all. It wasn’t designed to.

—Bill Schneider


From the Defense Post:

China Aims for Nuclear Parity: Should the U.S. Be Worried?

The Chinese Communist Party has made little effort to hide its global ambitions through the public revealing of ambitious nuclear expansion, but its development of stealth bombers and survivable intercontinental ballistic missiles proves that it intends to fight a nuclear war if push comes to shove.

—Master’s in International Security Student Christopher Gettel


From War on the Rocks:

Learning to Train: What Washington and Taipei Can Learn from Security Cooperation in Ukraine and the Baltic States

We think the U.S. military’s efforts training military forces in Ukraine and the Baltic states can serve as a blueprint for helping Taiwan. The two most important takeaways from these experiences? First, that rapid transformation demands a holistic approach — one combining a bottom-up, battle-focused training methodology emphasizing tactics, techniques, and procedures with a top-down emphasis on institutional, legal, and political reform. And second, that “rapid” is a relative term when it comes to military reform. Even the Ukrainian military’s dramatic transformation took seven years to get to this point — and remains a work in progress.

—Michael A. Hunzeker, et al.


From Business of Government:

Teaching Technology and Public Management—the Need Has Never Been Greater

Emerging tech such as AI, blockchain, coupled with advances in data management and governance are critical knowledge areas that are necessary towards being a productive manager. But there is more, students need to better understand and appreciate the current trends in citizen/resident facing services as the trend towards digital transformation never ends. As importantly students need to be better attuned to the latest trends, opportunities, and pitfalls to avoid – including digital ethics.

—Alan R. Shark