Rhiannon Neilsen
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How states join coalitions affects the extent to which they are perceived as blameworthy – or praiseworthy – for the outcome of that coalition. By extension, states’ moral reputations can be a contributing factor that dissuades those states from volunteering to join humanitarian interventions, despite the ethical imperative to do so. To highlight this argument, this article considers the Australian and the United Kingdom (UK) governments’ initial reluctance to join yet another United States-led intervention in Iraq to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

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How states join coalitions affects the extent to which they are perceived as blameworthy – or praiseworthy – for the outcome of that coalition.


* Please note all CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone.


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About the Event: Despite the importance of understanding how refugee crises end, we know little about when and why refugees, who were forced to emigrate, return home. We study the drivers of refugees’ decision-making using original observational and experimental survey data from a representative sample of approximately 3,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon. We find that conditions in a refugee’s home country are much more important than the situation in the host country in shaping return intentions. Specifically, our findings suggest that refugees’ decisions are influenced primarily by safety and security in their place of origin, their economic prospects, the availability of public services, and their personal networks. Confidence in information is also important: we find that several drivers of return---safety, services, and networks---only impact intentions among people who have high confidence in their information. By contrast, the conditions in hosting countries–so-called “push'” factors–play a negligible role in the process of refugee return. Even in the face of outright hostility and poor living conditions, refugees are unlikely to return unless the situation at home improves significantly.


About the Speakers: 

Ala’ Alrababa’h is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Stanford University, a graduate fellow at the Immigration Policy Lab, and a junior scholar at the International Policy Scholars Consortium and Network. His research combines fieldwork, machine learning, and experimental methods to study issues related to authoritarian media, political violence, and migration and refugees. His research has been published in Comparative Political Studies, Political Science Research and Methods, and International Studies Quarterly. Prior to arriving at Stanford University, Ala’ was a Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.


Jeremy Weinstein is Professor of Political Science, Fisher Family Director of Stanford Global Studies, and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research at Stanford University. He also is faculty co-director of the Immigration Policy Lab and the Data for Development Initiative. In addition, he is a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C.

His research focuses on civil wars and political violence; ethnic politics; the political economy of development; democracy and accountability; and migration. He is the author of Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence (Cambridge University Press), which received the William Riker Prize for the best book on political economy. He is also the co-author of Coethnicity: Diversity and the Dilemmas of Collective Action (Russell Sage Foundation), which received the Gregory Luebbert Award for the best book in comparative politics.

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Department of Political Science
Stanford University
Encina Hall West, 415
Stanford, CA 94305-6044

(650) 736-1224
Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Professor of Political Science

Jeremy M. Weinstein is a Professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. He is also a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C.

His research focuses on civil wars and political violence; ethnic politics and the political economy of development; and democracy, accountability, and political change. He is the author of Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence (Cambridge University Press), which received the William Riker Prize for the best book on political economy. He is also the co-author of Coethnicity: Diversity and the Dilemmas of Collective Action (Russell Sage Foundation), which received the Gregory Luebbert Award for the best book in comparative politics, and System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot (HarperCollins, 2021). He has published articles in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Annual Review of Political Science, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Journal of Democracy, World Policy Journal, and the SAIS Review.

Weinstein received the International Studies Association’s Karl Deutsch Award in 2013. The award is given to a scholar younger than 40 or within 10 years of earning a Ph.D. who has made the most significant contribution to the study of international relations. He also received the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Stanford in 2007.

He has also worked at the highest levels of government on major foreign policy and national security challenges, engaging in both global diplomacy and national policy-making. Between 2013 and 2015, Weinstein served as the Deputy to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and, before that, as the Chief of Staff at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. As Deputy, Weinstein was a standing member of the National Security Council Deputies’ Committee – the sub-cabinet policy committee with primary responsibility for advising the National Security Council, the Cabinet, and the President on the full range of foreign policy issues, including global counterterrorism, nonproliferation, U.S. policy in the Middle East, the strategic rebalance to Asia, cyber threats, among a wide variety of other issues.

During President Obama’s first term, he served as Director for Development and Democracy on the National Security Council staff at the White House between 2009 and 2011. In this capacity, he played a key role in the National Security Council’s work on global development, democracy and human rights, and anti-corruption, with a global portfolio. Before joining the White House staff, Weinstein served as an advisor to the Obama campaign and, during the transition, as a member of the National Security Policy Working Group and the Foreign Assistance Agency Review Team.

Weinstein obtained a BA with high honors from Swarthmore College, and an MA and PhD in political economy and government from Harvard University. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and serves on a number of nonprofit boards and advisory groups.

Affiliated faculty at the Center for International Security and Cooperation
Ala' Alrababa'h

Livestream: Please click here to join the livestream webinar via Zoom or log-in with webinar ID 944 5730 9104.


About this Event: Why do some governments give foreign militants missiles that can destroy aircraft while giving others only bullets and AK-47s? Why do some governments deploy special operations forces to carry out joint attacks with some insurgent groups, while only giving others basic training on weapons handling? Despite the fact that governments often provide costly - and controversial - forms of support to foreign militant groups, we know little about why some groups receive advanced weapons technology and boots on the ground while others do not. In this presentation, I unpack trends in third-party provision of support through an in-depth examination of the CIA's provision of anti-tank missiles and the Pentagon's deployment of Special Operations Forces to support specific militant groups in the recent Syrian conflict. Drawing from an original dataset of the over 150 Syrian militant brigades that received some form of US support and over 60 interviews with Syrian militants and US and Jordanian government officials, I find that, when militant groups have similar organizational characteristics as the armed forces of their government partners, they are more likely to receive and accept costly forms of support. 


About the Speaker: Melissa Carlson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at U.C. Berkeley, specializing in international relations, comparative politics, and methodology. She will join CISAC in 2019-2020 as a Middle East Initiative Pre-doctoral Fellow. Broadly, her research examines the dynamics of military partnerships between state governments and foreign militant groups. Melissa's dissertation develops an organizational theory of third-party provision of support: when foreign militant groups and state armed forces share similar organizational characteristics, they are more likely to form joint commands, carry out joint attacks, and provide each other with advanced weapons systems.  Melissa's other research interests focus on factors that influence informal cooperation between states, and on how refugee perceptions of host communities, host governments, and aid organizations influence refugee decision-making. Prior to beginning her PhD at U.C. Berkeley, Melissa worked as Public Information consultant for the International Organization for Migration, Iraq Mission in Jordan and Iraqi Kurdistan. Melissa has a M.A. in Political Science from U.C. Berkeley, and a B.A. in International Relations and Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from Claremont McKenna College.

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Dr. Melissa Carlson is currently working with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency's Assessment, Monitoring, and Evaluation unit, where she promotes rigorous standards of measuring the effectiveness of the U.S.'s security cooperation and assistance programming. During her tenure at CISAC, she was a postdoctoral research and teaching fellow. She received her PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, specializing in international relations, comparative politics, and methodology. Dr. Carlson's primary research examines the factors that influence the variation and intensity of partnerships between governments and foreign militant groups with a focus on the recent conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Her book-style dissertation project finds that, when foreign militant groups and state armed forces share similar organizational characteristics, they are more likely to deploy forces to conduct joint combat operations and provide each other with advanced weapons systems. In other research, Dr. Carlson examines the factors that influence informal and secret security cooperation between states and how misinformation and rumors influence refugees' relationships with host governments, service providers, and smugglers. Her research has been published in the American Political Science Review, the Review of International Organizations, and International Studies Quarterly, among other outlets. Outside of academia, Dr. Carlson has worked as a consultant for the International Organization for Migration's Iraq and Jordan Missions.

Melissa Carlson Predoctoral Fellow at CISAC

This event is co-sponsored by the European Security Initiative

* Please note all CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone


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About this Event: Russia has employed the semi-state Wagner Group security company in Ukraine, Syria, the Central African Republic, Libya, Mozambique, and Mali (so far). Wagner is tightly connected to Russia's military intelligence organization (the GRU), and partially funded by one of Vladimir Putin's cronies, Evgeny Prigozhin, who also uses it for private duties. So why is Wagner technically illegal (and even unconstitutional) in Russia? Its use is less costly in budgetary and political terms than using the uniformed military, and it provides (limited) plausible deniability for Russian actions. But it is also unclear what Russia wants from impoverished sub-Saharan Africa. Using the best available evidence, this presentation explores these mysteries.


About the Speaker: Kimberly Marten is a professor of political science (and the department chair) at Barnard College, Columbia University, and a faculty member of Columbia’s Harriman Institute and Saltzman Institute. She has written four books, including Warlords: Strong-Arm Brokers in Weak States (Cornell, 2012), and Engaging the Enemy: Organization Theory and Soviet Military Innovation (Princeton, 1993) which received the Marshall Shulman Prize. The Council on Foreign Relations (where she is a member) published her special report, Reducing Tensions between Russia and NATO (2017). She is a frequent media commentator, and appeared on “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. She earned her A.B. at Harvard and Ph.D. at Stanford, and was a CISAC post-doc.

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Kimberly Marten Professor of Political Science (and the department chair) at Barnard College, Columbia University Barnard College, Columbia University
Jasmine Kerber
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Brett McGurk served as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL from Oct. 23, 2015 to Dec. 31, 2018. He was appointed to the post by former President Barack Obama, but the Donald Trump administration kept McGurk in the position until his resignation in the wake of Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria. McGurk has worked in diplomacy for the past 15 years, including a stint from October 2014 to January 2016 as deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran. He is currently a lecturer at the Freeman Spogli Institute. 

The Daily sat down to talk to McGurk about his career and his thoughts on the Middle East in the wake of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria and ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death.

The Stanford Daily (TSD): Could you talk a little bit about your transition from working in the government to lecturing at Stanford?

Brett McGurk (BM): I had the unique experience of serving at fairly senior levels with President Bush, Obama and then two years of President Trump — three very different presidents. I resigned from the Trump administration at the end of last year following his decision to abruptly abandon Syria, which was very contrary to what our established policy was. 

Read the Rest at The Stanford Daily

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Images of children on the battlefield or posing for a ‘last will and testament’ poster before a suicide operation suggest the extent to which ISIS has weaponized children. The use of children in terrorist propaganda has become a regular feature of their strategic messaging and has accelerated over time. While tasking children with a variety of support functions – scouts, drummers, or couriers is not new, the ways in which terrorist organizations have deployed children has evolved. The exploitation of children represents a relatively new development, both tactically and strategically. Attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria show that the median age of suicide bombers is decreasing. This presentation will provide evidence that terrorist groups have increased their use of children on the front lines despite assertions to the contrary and that important variation exists across groups based on location, country of origin, and the gender of the children with a particular emphasis on ISIS in Syria and Iraq.


Speaker's Biography:

Mia Bloom is Professor of Communication at Georgia State University. She conducts ethnographic field research in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia and speaks eight languages. She has authored books and articles on terrorism and violent extremism including Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror (2005), Living Together After Ethnic Killing (2007) and Bombshell: Women and Terror (2011). Bloom is a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has held appointments at Princeton, Cornell, Harvard and McGill Universities. Bloom’s newest book is Small Arms: Children and Terror (2019). Bloom has a PhD in political science from Columbia University, a Masters in Arab Studies from Georgetown University and a Bachelor’s degree from McGill in Russian, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies.

Mia Bloom Professor of Communication Georgia State University

Abstract: Sound strategy requires alignment of ends, ways, and means. A significant gap in ends (the objectives to be achieved) and means (the resources to be applied towards that objective) result in risk and likely policy failure. Few policies over the last decade have had a wider gap between ends and means than Syria. Declared U.S. objectives – “Assad must go” – were not matched by the resources for achieving that objective nor considered thought as to how it might realistically be achieved. This situation has worsened in the Trump administration as the declared objectives have increased but the available resources and political commitment have decreased. McGurk will discuss Syria policy across both administrations based on his own experience leading the U.S. response to ISIS. He has traveled to Syria extensively and calls for an urgent realignment of ends and means to drawn down risk to the United States. The lessons to be drawn are then applied to other foreign policy challenges and offer a ready formula for assessing the declared objectives of U.S. policy.  The talk will be based on McGurk’s recent article in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs magazine.


Speaker's Biography: Brett McGurk is the Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecturer at the Freeman Spogli Institute and Center for Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.


McGurk’s research interests center on national security strategy, diplomacy, and decision-making in wartime.  He is particularly interested in the lessons learned over the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump regarding the importance of process in informing presidential decisions and the alignment of ends and means in national security doctrine and strategy.  At Stanford, he will be working on a book project incorporating these themes and teaching a graduate level seminar on presidential decision-making beginning in the fall of 2019.  He is also a frequent commentator on national security events in leading publications and as an NBC News Senior Foreign Affairs Analyst. 


Before coming to Stanford, McGurk served as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS at the U.S. Department of State, helping to build and then lead the coalition of seventy-five countries and four international organizations in the global campaign against the ISIS terrorist network.  McGurk was also responsible for coordinating all aspects of U.S. policy in the campaign against ISIS in Iraq, Syria, and globally.


McGurk previously served in senior positions in the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, including as Special Assistant to President Bush and Senior Director for Iraq and Afghanistan, and then as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran and Special Presidential Envoy for the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State under Obama.


McGurk has led some of the most sensitive diplomatic missions in the Middle East over the last decade. His most recent assignment established one of the largest coalitions in history to prosecute the counter-ISIS campaign. He was a frequent visitor to the battlefields in both Iraq and Syria to help integrate military and civilian components of the war plan. He also led talks with Russia over the Syria conflict under both the Trump and Obama administrations, initiated back-channel diplomacy to reopen ties between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and facilitated the formation of the last two Iraqi governments following contested elections in 2014 and 2018.


In 2015 and 2016, McGurk led fourteen months of secret negotiations with Iran to secure the release of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezain, U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, and Pastor Saad Abadini, as well as three other American citizens.


During his time at the State Department, McGurk received multiple awards, including the Distinguished Honor Award and the Distinguished Service Award, the highest department awards for exceptional service in Washington and overseas assignments.


McGurk is also a nonresident senior fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.


McGurk received his JD from Columbia University and his BA from the University of Connecticut Honors Program.  He served as a law clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Denis Jacobs on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2d Circuit, and Judge Gerard E. Lynch on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Brett McGurk Payne Distinguished Lecturer Center for International Security and Cooperation

Abstract: In efforts to halt the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons (CW) in that country’s civil war the United States and other outside powers applied coercive strategies, in both a deterrent and compellent mode. Outcomes varied: compellence achieved a partial success in getting Syria to give up much of its chemical stockpile, but there were multiple deterrence failures. This paper examines this record to draw lessons about factors associated with the effectiveness of coercion. Its analysis points to the interplay of three factors: credibility, motivation, and assurance. Regarding credibility, the case demonstrates that threats fulfilling many of the traditional criteria for establishing credibility can still fail. In Syria, this is partly because there were ambiguities in the scope of what was covered by deterrent warnings and partly because other factors also affect coercive outcomes. In the Syria case two additional factors were especially important. First, the domestic political motivations of the target affect whether external threats provide coercive leverage. In this case Syrian President Assad’s concern with regime survival led him to perceive the value of CW use as outweighing the likely costs even if outside powers followed through on retaliatory threats. Second, where regime survival is a concern, it is vital to pair coercive threats with appropriate assurances. Here, the case suggests that it is possible not only to provide too little assurance, but also too much. Whereas the Obama administration found it hard to offer credible assurances to Assad, the Trump administration initially conveyed assurances that were too robust, creating a sense that Syria could use CW with impunity. This analysis suggests there may have been a potentially viable path to effective coercion of the Assad regime, but the path would have involved intense tradeoffs that largely prevented decision makers from embracing it. Decision makers and outside commentators alike turned instead to a familiar schema that implies credibility is established by demonstrating a willingness to impose costs using airpower – a script that can be labeled the “resolve plus bombs” formula. Despite the frequent tendency to equate coercion with the threat or limited use of air strikes, this approach was not sufficient to change Syria’s calculations regarding chemical arms.


Speaker's Biography: Jeff Knopf is a professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in Monterey, California, where he serves as chair of the M.A. program in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies and a senior research associate with the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). He is on sabbatical for the 2018-19 academic year and is spending the year as a visiting scholar at CISAC. This is his second stint at CISAC. Dr. Knopf received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford and was previously a pre-doctoral fellow at CISAC in the days when it was still located in the old Galvez House. His most recently completed project is a forthcoming book volume he co-edited on Behavioral Economics and Nuclear Weapons. While at CISAC, Dr. Knopf will primarily be working on a project titled “Coercing Syria on Chemical Weapons.” This project examines efforts by the United States and other countries to apply deterrent and compellent strategies in attempts to stop the Syrian government from using chemical weapons and to dismantle its chemical arsenal. Dr. Knopf will also be working on a paper that explores cognitive aspects of the nuclear taboo.

Jeffrey Knopf Professor Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS)
Martha Crenshaw
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Q&A with Martha Crenshaw, a senior fellow at FSI’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. Written with Katy Gabel Chui.

On Wednesday, President Trump announced he wants to pull troops out of Syria because the United States military had achieved its goal of defeating the Islamic State militant group there. In this Q&A, terrorism expert Martha Crenshaw addresses the president’s decision.

Has the U.S. defeated the Islamic State in Syria? What does “defeat” mean in this context?

U.S. leaders have talked optimistically about “defeating” first Al Qaeda and then the Islamic State since the declaration of a global war on terror in 2001. If it were possible to vanquish such an adversary on the battlefield through the application of superior military force, we would already have accomplished the mission. The Islamic State combines insurgency with transnational terrorism, and its operations flow easily across national borders. Since its beginnings in 2003, it has demonstrated a capacity for resilience and reconstitution — and for surprising us. The loss of the Caliphate has not changed this equation.

What regional impacts might this decision have?

The Iraqi government has not shown itself capable of providing the security or legitimacy that might undermine the appeal of the Islamic State. Despite [Syrian President] Assad’s ruthless consolidation of power with the aid of Iran and Russia, opposition to his regime will continue. If the American-supported Kurdish resistance is abandoned by the U.S. and then destroyed or weakened by Turkey, there will be even more scope and rationale for jihadists such as the Islamic State. Also, we shouldn’t forget that the Al Qaeda branch in Syria is still active.

What about in terms of the U.S. relationship with Russia and Iran versus with allies in the region?

It seems that the assumption behind the withdrawal is that the U.S. is willing to leave Syrian affairs to Russia and Iran and to allow Turkey to pursue an offensive against our Kurdish allies. We should probably call them “former allies” now. Turkey is likely to draw closer to Iran and Russia.

Some American military leaders have spoken up against this decision, calling it wrongheaded. Does that matter?

Probably not to the President’s decisions, but vocal military opposition would matter to Congress and other opinion leaders.

Views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies or Stanford University, both of which are nonpartisan institutions.


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The coordinated suicide bombings that killed more than 30 people and wounded 250 more at an international airport and downtown subway station in Brussels on Tuesday were “shocking but not surprising” and shared many of the hallmarks of previous European terror attacks, according to Stanford terrorism experts.

“My research shows that in general, terrorist plots in Europe involve larger numbers of conspirators than do plots in the United States,” said Martha Crenshaw, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC).

Belgian authorities said that as many as five people may have been directly involved in the bombings, including two Belgian-born brothers with violent criminal records, and that several suspects were linked to the same terrorist network that carried out the deadly Paris attacks last November.

“It is common for terrorist conspiracies anywhere to be formed from prior social groupings – friends and relatives,” said Crenshaw.

“The bonds that link individuals are not entirely ideological by any means. Criminal backgrounds are also not surprising. Indeed prison radicalization is a well-known phenomenon.”

A Notorious Neighborhood

Many of the suspects in the Brussels bombings had ties to the inner-city neighborhood of Molenbeek, a majority Muslim enclave of mostly Moroccan descent with a long history as a logistical base for jihadists.

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“Brussels and particularly Molenbeek is one of those places that comes up a lot when you’re talking about counter terrorism,” said Terrence Peterson, a postdoctoral fellow at CISAC.

“You do have terrorism networks that use these areas, in the same way that organized crime does, to thrive…It seems to be the place where all the networks are locating in part because Belgian security hasn’t been very effective in fighting terrorism.”

Foreign Fighters Bring the War Home

Belgium is a small nation, with a population of around 11 million people, but it has the highest per capita percentage of any Western country of foreign fighters who have joined the battle in Iraq and Syria, according to a recent report, which estimated the total number at 440.

“People were even saying it was not a matter of if, but when Belgium was attacked,” said Joe Felter, a CISAC senior research scholar and former Colonel in the U.S. Army Special Forces.

“You’ve got a high concentration of radicalized individuals in that neighborhood of Brussels, so logistically it was easier for them to recruit, plan and coordinate the execution of these attacks. Local residents loading up explosive packed suitcases in a cab and driving across town to the airport exposes them to much less risk of compromise than would a plot requiring cross border preparation and movement by foreign citizens.”

Felter said he was concerned that the Brussels bombings, for which the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility, would inspire copycat attacks in other countries.

“The real risk now is these home-grown, self-directed terrorist attacks,” he said.

“A successful attack like this, with all its media attention and publicity, is only going to inspire and motivate more attempts going forward.”

Former U.S. Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivers a foreign policy address at Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies on March 23, 2016.
Former U.S. Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivers a foreign policy address at Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies on March 23, 2016.
Former U.S. Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said European nations needed to do a better job of sharing intelligence to track foreign fighters as they returned home, during a foreign policy speech at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies on Wednesday.

“The most urgent task is stopping the flow of foreign fighters to and from the Middle East,” Clinton said.

“Thousands of young recruits have flocked to Syria from France, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom. Their European passports make it easier for them to cross borders and eventually return home, radicalized and battle-hardened. We need to know the identities of every fighter who makes that trip and start revoking their passports and visas.”

Turkey’s president announced at a press conference on Wednesday that his country had deported one of the suspected Brussels bombers back to the Netherlands last year with a clear warning that he was a jihadi.

Identifying Hot Spots

Clinton said authorities also needed to work to improve social conditions in problem areas such as Molenbeek.

“There…has to be a special emphasis on identifying and investing in the hot spots, the specific neighborhoods, prisons and schools where recruitment happens in clusters as we’ve seen in Brussels,” Clinton said.

Other European countries such as Denmark, which has also been struggling to deal with a high percentage of foreign fighters, are trying to proactively to discourage citizens from travelling to Syria to fight, said Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen, former executive director of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service and a CISAC affiliate.

“Politicians are likely to talk about tougher legislation, but there are also measured voices, calling for a strong, long term preventive effort against radicalization to prevent problems from growing out of hand,” said Dalgaard-Nielsen.

Cover of the book "Why Muslim Integration Fails in Christian-Heritage Societies" co-authored by Stanford Political Science professor David Laitin.
Cover of the book "Why Muslim Integration Fails in Christian-Heritage Societies" co-authored by Stanford Political Science professor David Laitin.
“Police need to prioritize community outreach and long term trust building to try to ensure the collaboration of minority groups and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities in the effort against terrorism.”

Stanford political science professor David Laitin, who recently published the book “Why Muslim Integration Fails in Christian-Heritage Societies,” in collaboration with Claire Adida and Marie-Anne Valfort, said his research found that Muslims faced higher discrimination in the economy, in society and in the political process compared to Christians from similar immigrant backgrounds.

“But there is no evidence that higher degrees of discrimination lead Muslims into the unspeakable acts that members of an inhuman cult are performing in the name of Islam,” said Laitin, who is the James T. Watkins IV and Elise V. Watkins professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences.

“From what we have tragically seen, the attractiveness of the present murderous cult does not derive from everyday discrimination," he said. "Research has shown that it is not the poor and downtrodden who are radicalized in this way; but rather reasonably educated second-generation immigrants from largely secular backgrounds.”

Europe Divided

Laitin said he expected to see many European countries tighten their border controls in response to the Brussels attacks, as well as greater support in the United Kingdom for the movement to leave the European Union in the upcoming referendum.

“The biggest short-term effect, in my judgment, will be the erosion of one of the great achievements of European integration, namely Schengen, which promised open borders throughout the continent,” Laitin said.

“I foresee greater security walls that will come to divide European countries.”

Fighting a Hostile Ideology

Felter said that while it was undoubtedly important to improve intelligence sharing and invest in greater security measures as part of concerted efforts to target ISIS and interdict future terrorist plots, the key to undermining support for and defeating ISIS was combating its perverted version of Islam.

And, he said, that effort would have to come largely from within the Islamic community itself.

“The symptoms may be suicide bombers in airports, but the root cause is this hostile ideology that’s being pushed on these at-risk individuals through aggressive radicalization and recruitment efforts carried out largely via the internet that then inspires them to carry out these self-directed, ISIS-inspired attacks,” Felter said.

“There’s got to be a longer-term effort to address the root causes of this, to discredit and delegitimize the appeal of this ideology that they’re promulgating online and through social media that’s inspiring these young men and women to go off and commit these horrible acts in the misguided belief that it is their religious obligation to do so.”


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