The International Security Program aims to provide evidence-based analysis of some of the thorniest questions facing American policymakers and the public. We are largely focused on South Asia and the Middle East, al-Qaeda and allied groups, the rise of political Islam, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), homeland security, and the activities of U.S. Special Forces and the CIA.

A GRIPPING GLIMPSE INTO BIN LADEN'S DECLINE AND FALL

International Security

Bin Laden was killed four months before the 10th anniversary of 9/11. As the new al Qaeda documents make clear he died knowing that his dream of another terrorism spectacular in the West was just that: a dream. And the organization that he had founded was in deep trouble because of the CIA drone program.

Upcoming Events

Sudden Justice

EVENT May 01, 2015 12:15 PM– 01:45 PM

Friday May 01, 2015

12:15 PM – 01:45 PM


[u'1899 L Street NW, Suite 400', u'Washington, DC, 20035']

New America is pleased to welcome author Chris Woods for a discussion on the secret history of armed drone use in the United States and the use of drones in today’s covert targeted killing project.

More about the event

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in the news | April 18, 2015 | International Security

Maybe We Should Negotiate With Terrorists

If he were making recommendations to the President about how to change government policy, Noesner said, he would suggest tamping down the rhetoric of “no negotiation with terrorists” and supporting (with information and resources) the efforts of families and companies to negotiate. Debra Tice, the mother of Austin Tice, an American journalist who has been missing in Syria since 2012, agreed with Noesner’s assessment. “We should not let our desire to punish terrorist kidnappers cloud our judgment and restrict our options,” Tice declared.

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in the news | April 16, 2015 | International Security

BLUE SHIFT: WHY THE US MILITARY MUST APPEAL TO SILICON VALLEY – OPED

Tom Ricks

I recently attended a panel discussion with Tom Ricks, a journalist who has covered the U.S. military for over 20 years, and he made an observation that gets at the heart of the matter. He said that the military we have today – that massive entity which receives so much funding – is essentially a project of the red states; its tenets of loyalty, obedience, patriotism, conservatism, in Ricks’s assessment, are traditional red state values. But fiscally speaking, that is exactly the problem. When it comes to GDP (or even their ratio of federal contributions v. benefits), Ricks said, red states have “basically gotten a free ride.” Their wealth generation is nothing compared to Silicon Valley, and their professional gravitation – the U.S. military – is an artifact of an industrial age that is economically antiquated.

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in the news | April 15, 2015 | International Security

Flying a drone can be an act of civil disobedience

The new technology, the police robot, was there to minimize risk to the operator, while the gyrocopter, the anachronistic flying contraption, had just been used to deliberately put its operator at risk in order to make a political statement. The pilot apparently wished to trade his freedom temporarily, in a non-violent way, in order that his voice might be heard; landing on the Capitol grounds was how he chose to make that trade. The landing will be the news story of the day, but the story shouldn’t be one about the safety or inviolability of airspace near the Capitol. Yes, the Capitol building is vulnerable. So is the White House, as was seen after a small drone accidentally crashed on the White House grounds in January. Such vulnerability ought to be a hallmark of America. The pilot may be punished (though one hopes he will be charged as the peaceful protester he appears to be and not as an ostensible terrorist.) But it is essential to democracy that such acts of civil disobedience be possible.

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in the news | April 15, 2015 | International Security

Is Hillary a robot?: Rosa Brooks ponders

This is just fun writing: Okay, Hillary. I was going to write this week about autonomous killer robots, but then you (finally!) announced that you’re running for president, so I decided instead to write about you. Some might say that this is not, in fact, a switch in topics. Somehow I don’t think Rosa is gonna wind up working in the H. Clinton White House.

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in the news | April 14, 2015 | International Security

Her Majesty’s Jihadists

“The numbers of this generation are astonishing,” says Richard Barrett, a former head of counterterrorism for MI6 and now a senior vice president of the Soufan Group in New York — which, among other things, provides strategic security and intelligence services to multinational organizations and government. “We’re talking about some 20,000 fighters from about 90 countries around the world — which could be three times more nationalities from which today’s fighters are being drawn. And although the number of fighters is fairly comparable, those who went to Afghanistan arrived over a period of 10 years; in Iraq and Syria, it’s been only three, four years.” He went on: “There’s also more of a common purpose today and thus more camaraderie. A great majority of today’s fighters are fighting for the Ummah — the community of Muslims — which they see as being under threat. With Afghanistan, the battle was against the Soviets, which was much more opaque. Also, and this is very important, in the case of Afghanistan, many of the jihadists were being sent by their governments; it was state sponsorship. Today we are seeing 20,000 young men from around the world — aided by social media, to a great extent — simply packing their bags and taking the initiative.”

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in the news | April 14, 2015 | International Security

Al Qaeda's bench of leaders dwindles

To be sure, al Qaeda's Yemen-based affiliate, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, continues to pose a threat to American aviation. The group has built hard-to-detect bombs, which it has placed on U.S.-bound flights. Luckily, those bombs were faulty or were detected. The group also trained one of the gunmen who attacked the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January, killing 12, but it's not clear if AQAP had any direct role in planning this attack.

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in the news | April 14, 2015 | International Security

Al Qaeda's bench of leaders dwindles

Indeed, al Qaeda has virtually no capacity to carry out attacks in the West. The last successful al Qaeda attack in the West was the London transportation system bombings a decade ago. Al Qaeda is now reduced only to holding American hostages such as 73-year-old aid worker Warren Weinstein, who was kidnapped from his home in the Pakistani city of Lahore on August 13, 2011. To be sure, al Qaeda's Yemen-based affiliate, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, continues to pose a threat to American aviation. The group has built hard-to-detect bombs, which it has placed on U.S.-bound flights. Luckily, those bombs were faulty or were detected. The group also trained one of the gunmen who attacked the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris in January, killing 12, but it's not clear if AQAP had any direct role in planning this attack.

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in the news | April 13, 2015 | International Security

How to Destroy the Robot and Unleash the Real Hillary Clinton

I can see why a presidential candidate might prefer not to remind voters of a Predator drone. I want you to win, Hillary. But first you need to overcome your robot problem. How? I asked a number of prominent female foreign-policy experts and a smattering of other thoughtful people what advice they would give you as you embark on your second presidential campaign.

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in the news | April 13, 2015 | International Security

An Unabashedly Liberal Hillary Clinton

It’s striking that, absent serious primary competition that might have forced her left in the primaries, Hillary has gone left anyway: with culturally progressive imagery, a class-oriented economic message, and a purely domestic focus. If the aim was to produce something fresh, the Clinton campaign succeeded. One reason the announcement felt fresh was because since they entered national politics more than two decades ago, the Clintons have expended enormous energy protecting themselves from right-wing attack. The message of yesterday’s announcement video was that Hillary thinks that in the America of 2016, she no longer has to play that game.

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article | April 13, 2015 | International Security

New America’s International Security Program Launches

New America

Database of Global Drone Imports Slug: new-americas-international-security-program-launches-database-of-global-drone-imports Template: press-release Authors: Summary: Washington, DC — New America’s International Security Program (ISP) recently launched a dynamic new database, “World of Drones,” that tracks the development and exchange of military-grade drones between countries. Date: 2015-04-13

Washington, DC — New America’s International Security Program ...

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in the news | April 10, 2015 | International Security

Podcast: Yahoo's Alex Stamos on e-mail encryption and keeping 1 billion customers secure

Alex Stamos, Yahoo's chief information security officer, talks about this on a new monthly podcast cohosted by think tank New America and Passcode, The Christian Science Monitor's new site on security and privacy. When big companies are hacked, those who hold his position across the industry are in the spotlight – and many of them are pretty stressed out. The podcast hosted by Peter W. Singer, strategist at the New America think tank and author of "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know," and Sara Sorcher, deputy editor of Passcode.

Recent Content

in the news | April 09, 2015 | International Security

Obama to Putin: Stop Hacking Me

Similar doubts about attributing hacks to foreign governments emerged when U.S. officials blamed North Korea for an attack on Sony last year. Ultimately, President Obama and FBI Director James Comey publicly asserted that they were confident that North Korea was to blame. At the time, current and former officials told The Daily Beast that their confidence was based in large part on intelligence operations against North Korea that showed hackers in the Hermit Kingdom were hitting U.S. targets.With regards to attributing hacks to Russia, one of the former U.S. intelligence officials said that analysts have catalogued the specific tools Russian hackers use and have developed signatures that, he said, give analysts across the intelligence community confidence that Russia is a major source of cyber espionage.

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in the news | April 05, 2015 | International Security

Saudi-led Yemen coalition asks Pakistan to fight Houthis

The Houthis have been backed by security forces loyal to Yemen’s ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose loyalists control elite forces and large combat units in the country’s military.Yemen-based Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, considered among the most active and dangerous branch of global militant organization, has benefited from the crisis. The chaos also has disrupted a U.S.-led drone strike program targeting suspected militants there.

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in the news | April 04, 2015 | International Security

The hidden hand behind the Islamic State militants? Saddam Hussein’s.

Some of them had fought against al-Qaeda after changing sides and aligning with the American-backed Awakening movement during the surge of troops in 2007. When U.S. troops withdrew and the Iraqi government abandoned the Awakening fighters, the Islamic State was the only surviving option for those who felt betrayed and wanted to change sides again, said Brian Fishman, who researched the group in Iraq for West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center and is now a fellow with the New America Foundation.