"...[A]ssessing the bioterrorism threat coming from the life sciences requires a broad range of expertise and information. A better analysis of such threats would involve relevant analysts within the intelligence community engaging with a range of social science experts. Such experts could provide information about terrorist intentions, motivations, and capabilities, as well as a more nuanced understanding of the difficulties involved in replicating scientific experiments and utilizing them for terrorist purposes."
By William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
In the dead of night on July 28, 2012, three senior citizens, including an 82-year-old Catholic nun, Sister Megan Rice, broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, site of the US Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUMF). This self-proclaimed “Fort Knox of uranium” is America’s central repository for weapons-grade uranium.
....The security failings revealed by the nun and her fellow protesters are legion. The protesters were on the site for over an hour and 20 minutes, trekking about seven-tenths of a mile as the crow flies, but far longer as they traversed a steep ridge. They pierced fences equipped with sophisticated sensors. Yet the Y-12 Protective Force failed to spot them until they enjoyed unimpeded access to the exterior of the HEUMF forabout 20 minutes. Had these individuals been well-armed, well-equipped terrorists, instead of Bible-toting peace protesters, the incident would have been far more dire.
By Erik Gartzke
"The internet is said to be revolutionary because it is a leveler—reducing Western military advantages—and because dependence on the internet makes developed countries more vulnerable to attack. The conviction that the internet is an Achilles' heel for the existing world order is based on narrow conceptions of the potential for harm. The internet cannot perform functions traditionally assigned to military force. To the contrary, cyberwar creates another advantage for powerful status quo nations and interests."
By Henrik Larsen, Research Fellow, International Security Program
NATO after Afghanistan is an organization that suffers from a certain fatigue pertaining to future stabilization challenges. NATO will not automatically cease to conduct operations after 2014, but the level of ambition will be lower. The Afghanistan experience and the failures of the light footprint approach calls for a thinking that is less liberalist "in the abstract" and more focused on provision of basic services (security, development, and governance).
By Joseph E. Aldy, Faculty Affiliate, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
Joseph Aldy's Viewpoint makes a case for how transparency through policy surveillance can facilitate more effective international climate change policy architecture.
"Identifying Options for a New International Climate Regime Arising from the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action"
By Ottmar Edenhofer, Christian Flachsland, Robert N. Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government; Member of the Board; Director, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements and Robert C. Stowe, Executive Director, Harvard Environmental Economics Program; Manager, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
The Harvard Project co-sponsored a research workshop in May 2013 examining options for the UNFCCC's Durban-Platform process. This Issue Brief draws from and extends the discussion at the workshop.
The influence of oil on conflict is often poorly understood. In U.S. public debates about the 1991 and 2003 Iraq wars, both sides focused excessively on the question of whether the United States was fighting for possession of oil reserves; neither sought a broader understanding of how oil shaped the preconditions for war.
"Smashing Atoms for Peace: Using Linear Accelerators to Produce Medical Isotopes without Highly Enriched Uranium"
By David Nusbaum, Associate, Project on Managing the Atom
Accelerators can eventually be substituted for nuclear research reactors for the production of medical isotopes and for neutron-based research and other applications. The use of accelerators would reduce dependence on HEU and decrease the resulting risks. The United States and other countries should work together to provide the funding and exchange of information and ideas needed to speed up the development, demonstration, and deployment of technically and economically viable accelerator technologies to substitute for research reactors.
Assessing the risk of nuclear attack-by-proxy turns on the question of whether a state could sponsor nuclear terrorism and remain anonymous. A leader could rationalize such an attack—and entrust terrorists with a vitally important mission—only if doing so allowed the sponsor to avoid retaliation. After all, if a leader did not care about retaliation, he or she would likely conduct a nuclear strike directly. Giving nuclear weapons to terrorists makes sense only if there is a high likelihood of remaining anonymous after the attack.
By Alan Kuperman, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2000–2001
"The biggest misconception about NATO's intervention is that it saved lives and benefited Libya and its neighbors. In reality, when NATO intervened in mid-March 2011, Qaddafi already had regained control of most of Libya, while the rebels were retreating rapidly toward Egypt. Thus, the conflict was about to end, barely six weeks after it started, at a toll of about 1,000 dead, including soldiers, rebels, and civilians caught in the crossfire. By intervening, NATO enabled the rebels to resume their attack, which prolonged the war for another seven months and caused at least 7,000 more deaths."