Commentary Series

The Commentary Series is intended to promote better policy by fostering constructive debate among leading policymakers, academics, and observers.  Designed to be timely and relevant, these commentaries seek to illuminate the issues of the day by raising important questions and challenging underpinning assumptions.  Opinions expressed in Commentaries are those of the author(s) alone. Comments should be directed to cchs@gwu.edu.

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Fighting Piracy and Protecting National Interests (PDF)

September 23, 2009

Although the attack on the Maersk Alabama focused US attention on piracy in East Africa and specifically Somalia, we have yet to have in this country a serious, strategic discussion about what resources should be committed to fighting piracy, or which other priorities may suffer as a result. Considering next steps in larger context would bring to the fore significant questions and issues, such as possible opportunity costs to the US Navy, given the size of the fleet.

Next Generation National Security (PDF)

September 11, 2009

On the eighth anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, it is worth taking stock of just how far we have come. Over and above changes in policies, procedures, and so on, our mindset and conceptual parameters have evolved and adapted.

Reckless Neglect: A Disaster Waiting to Happen...Again? (PDF)

August 28, 2009

While Katrina serves as a forceful reminder of the inevitability of natural disasters, it underscores another important lesson: the risk we will become victims will rise dramatically if we neglect infrastructure. In the end, it was not an Act of God that doomed so many New Orleanians. It was the neglect of man.

The Metrorail Crash: An Effective Regional Response (PDF)

June 23, 2009

Yesterday’s Metro accident demonstrated that the post-9/11 increased focus on local and regional preparedness has not only better prepared the Washington area for acts terrorism, but also for the full range of incidents the area faces.

Radicalization: Made in the USA? (PDF)

June 02, 2009

When officials announced the successful prevention of a plot in New York to bomb synagogues and down airplanes with rocket-propelled grenades, many reacted with shock at the prospect of locally radicalized violent extremists plotting attacks here at home. While short of the acute radicalization and recruitment crisis facing many European countries, recent events from Minneapolis to Atlanta suggest the United States is not immune from similar phenomena on our side of the Atlantic.

Canada and the United States: Time for a Joint Threat Assessment? (PDF)

April 22, 2009

The present landscape, marked by new threats and uncertainties, presents a challenge—but also an opportunity—for Canada and the United States. A joint threat assessment, conducted and published by the two countries, could be a powerful protective tool on both sides of the 49th parallel. It need not—and should not—diminish sovereign capabilities and capacities on either side; to the contrary, it could enhance both.

Micro-Diplomacy in Afghanistan: Disaggregating and Engaging the Taliban (PDF)

February 17, 2009

Success in Afghanistan requires additional forces and a greater emphasis on reconstruction. But simply adding troops and equipment will not bring victory. To protect the Afghan people and achieve long term success requires two fundamental changes in strategy.

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