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.
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The authors argue that the United States has responded inadequately to the rise of Chinese power and recommend placing less strategic emphasis on the goal of integrating China into the international system and more on balancing China's rise.
Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
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