Across Mexico, the lawlessness and carnage of the drug wars have given rise to scores of local self-defense forces aiming to defend their communities. The federal government may be tempted to disband and disarm these armed vigilantes, but until it can shape up its security sector, the local groups offer an imperfect but acceptable alternative.
Authors: Paul D. Miller, Micah Zenko, and Michael Cohen
Given the threats it faces, from nuclear-armed autocracies to terrorists, the United States cannot afford to scale back its military, argues Paul Miller. Micah Zenko and Michael Cohen reply that the danger of these challenges is vastly exaggerated and that an overly militarized foreign policy has not made the country safer.
The Obama administration has initiated sweeping reviews of homeland security policies set up after 9/11. But any plans for far-reaching changes to the apparatus that oversees domestic security could face congressional pushback.
Responsibility for safeguarding the homeland often falls to state and local governments in spite of the increased federal role after 9/11. Of these thousands of agencies, New York City has moved the most aggressively, creating a counterterrorism bureau complete with overseas agents and intelligence analysts.
Security experts believe many U.S. chemical facilities are vulnerable to catastrophic attacks. Improvements have been slow to come, and Congress recently declined to take tough steps called for by experts.
Security experts warn the next terrorist attack on the United States could well be the work of a U.S. citizen. Instrumental in preventing such an attack is the cooperation of an increasingly alienated American Muslim community.
Edward Alden writes that the Department of Homeland Security "has yet to become a whole that adds up to more than its parts," reviewing books by its first two secretaries, Tom Ridgeand Michael Chertoff.
In this excerpt from The Closing of the American Border, Edward Alden writes that George Bush came to office as the most pro-immigrant president in modern U.S. history. Yet he presided over a war on terrorism that has been waged through anti-immigrant measures.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.