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Emerson T. Brooking

Research Fellow

Expertise

Information warfare; internet policy; social media; media and foreign policy; terrorism and technology

Bio

Emerson T. Brooking is a research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, studying the intersection of social media and conflict. His research interests include information warfare; social media and virality; the history of propaganda; and the relationship between the internet and politics. He served previously as research associate for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Brooking has held earlier affiliations with the New America Foundation and Brookings Institution. His work has been published in The Atlantic Monthly, Foreign Policy, and Popular Science, among others.  He holds a BA in political science and classical studies from the University of Pennsylvania, where his thesis—a study of Roman counter-revolt practices—won the departmental prize. Brooking lives in Washington, DC. 

Featured Publications

Article

War Goes Viral

Authors: Emerson T. Brooking and P.W. Singer
The Atlantic

Social media has altered the nature of war, argue Emerson T. Brooking and P.W. Singer. The viral propaganda of the self-declared Islamic State, Russian disinformation campaigns, and Chinese cyber-nationalism are all indications of a more fundamental shift in conflict—a revolution that threatens to catch U.S. policymakers and social media companies off guard. 

See more in Global; Technology and Foreign Policy; Social Media

All Publications

Article

War Goes Viral

Authors: Emerson T. Brooking and P.W. Singer
The Atlantic

Social media has altered the nature of war, argue Emerson T. Brooking and P.W. Singer. The viral propaganda of the self-declared Islamic State, Russian disinformation campaigns, and Chinese cyber-nationalism are all indications of a more fundamental shift in conflict—a revolution that threatens to catch U.S. policymakers and social media companies off guard. 

See more in Global; Technology and Foreign Policy; Social Media

Article

Anonymous vs. the Islamic State

Author: Emerson T. Brooking
Foreign Policy

In a feature investigation for Foreign Policy, Emerson Brooking examines the Internet “war” now brewing between members of the hacking collective Anonymous and militants of the self-declared Islamic State. He explores the ways, means, and ends of—as he writes—“one of the strangest conflicts of the twenty-first century.”

 

See more in Global; Terrorist Organizations and Networks

Op-Ed

The U.S. Government Should Pay Anonymous in Bitcoin to Fight ISIS

Author: Emerson T. Brooking
Foreign Policy

Writing in Foreign Policy, Emerson Brooking argues that, given ISIS’ strategically significant use of social media for recruiting and messaging, any comprehensive plan to defeat the terror network must also neutralize its online presence. He proposes the creation of a bounty system that would pay hacktivists in anonymized Bitcoin to flag ISIS social media accounts and disrupt its websites. 

See more in United States; Cybersecurity; Counterterrorism

Op-Ed

In Foreign Policy Debates Ahead, Look to Echoes of 2006

Authors: Janine A. Davidson and Emerson T. Brooking
Defense One

Writing in Defense One, Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking reflect on the recent U.S. 2014 Midterm Elections, which saw a strong Republican resurgence. Looking ahead, they argue that President Obama may focus more on foreign policy initiatives in his last two years in office – just as President Bush after 2006.

See more in United States; Presidents and Chiefs of State

Op-Ed

The Campaign Against ISIL Could Cost $1.5B a Month

Authors: Janine A. Davidson and Emerson T. Brooking
Defense One

Writing in Defense One, Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking assess the ramifications of the anti-ISIS air campaign's expansion into Syria. They argue that the campaign will be stymied without robust regional partnerships. They conclude that, should the campaign escalate further, both domestic funding and political authorization will become significant issues of debate.

See more in United States; Syria; Military Operations; Defense Budget

Op-Ed

At the NATO Summit, Afghanistan Takes a Back Seat

Authors: Janine A. Davidson and Emerson T. Brooking
Defense One

Janine Davidson and Emerson Brooking argue that, on the eve of the 2014 NATO Wales Summit, the ongoing war in Afghanistan should not be relegated to a "side issue" in light of the crisis in Ukraine and growing threat of ISIS. The next few months will be critical in determining that Afghanistan does not follow the path of Iraq.

See more in Global; Afghanistan; NATO