New from the Biodefense Faculty

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, in their Agree to Disagree roundtable, is hosting a Winter-Safe Deterrence Debate. The premise of the debate follows:

In a recent opinion column for the Bulletin, “Deterrence, without nuclear winter,” Seth Baum argued that the biggest danger posed by world nuclear arsenals is a nuclear winter that could be sparked by even a limited exchange of nuclear weapons. Baum’s piece went on to suggest that “the world’s biggest nuclear powers [might] meet their deterrence needs without keeping the large nuclear arsenals they maintain today. They could practice a winter-safe deterrence, which would rely on weapons that pose no significant risk of nuclear winter.”

Baum’s column and the study from which it draws, “Winter-safe Deterrence: The Risk of Nuclear Winter and Its Challenge to Deterrence,” published in the journal Contemporary Security Policy, have been vigorously disputed in social media. In this roundtable, security experts Gregory Koblentz, Martin Furmanski, Brett Edwards, Gigi Kwik Gronvall, and Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley and Baum debate his column and winter-safe deterrence ideas in more depth.

GMU Biodefense Faculty members Gregory Koblentz and Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley have each offered two replies in the debate which are available here and here for Koblentz and here and here for Ouagrham-Gormley.

All replies in the debate are available here.

Restricted Science

Biodefense Associate Professor Dr. Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley, of the George Mason School of Policy, Government and International Affairs, has published an article which appears in a special edition of Frontiers in Public Health. An excerpt of the article is available below with a link to the full article.

In 2004, the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) was created as an independent federal advisory body. Its role was to advise the U.S. government on strategies to prevent the misuse of dual-use research. Since its inception, the NSABB has ruled on two cases: the 1918 flu-virus synthesis conducted by government scientists in 2005 and the H5N1 experiment conducted in 2011 by two separate university teams in the Netherlands and the United States. While in the first case, without much public debate, the NSABB quickly decided to support publication of the experiment’s findings, in the second case, it initially requested a halt on publication and the removal of methodological details from the proposed articles for fear that they could be used by malevolent actors to create a pandemic among humans. The decision was reversed 6 months later, but it sparked a worldwide firestorm, engaging the scientific and security communities in a heated debate about whether the dissemination of scientific data should be regulated, and what types of research should be conducted. Yet, the key question that triggered the overall controversy remains largely ignored: under what conditions could the H5N1 experiment be reproduced, if at all, by malevolent actors using only published data?

Read the entire article here.

Meet Your 2014 Summer Program Faculty: Sonia ben Ouagrham-Gormley

In preparation for the GMU Summer Program in International Security, this week we will highlight the course directors. EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO JUNE 15! Register by June 15 to save $300 on a three-day course and $200 on a two-day course.. Use the links below for more details including registration.  Questions? Comment to this post or email spis@gmu.edu.


 

GormleyDr. Sonia ben Ouagrham-Gormley, Associate Professor of Government and International Affairs and member of the Biodefense faculty at George Mason University, is the director for this summer’s WMD Export Controls course in the Summer Program in International Security. This course will run July 10-11 and aims to increase participants’ awareness and understanding of WMD proliferation, export controls and trafficking of related materials.

Dr. Ouagrham-Gormley’s research and teaching focuses on WMD and proliferation issues. Her recent publications include “The social context shaping bioweapons (non) proliferation,” “An Unrealized Nexus? WMD-Related Trafficking, Terrorism and Organized Crime in the Former Soviet Union,” and “Banking on Nonproliferation: Improving the Implementation of Financial Sanctions.”  Her forthcoming book from Cornell University Press, Barriers to Bioweapons, extends on her article by the same name and provides the most detailed examination to date of how and why biological weapons programs succeed or fail.

Prior to joining George Mason, Dr. Ouagrham-Gormley served 10 years as a Senior Research Associate at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), and Editor-in-Chief of the International Export Control Observer, a monthly newsletter devoted to the analysis of WMD export control issues in the world. Dr. Ouagrham-Gormley was also an adjunct professor at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, where she taught a course on WMD in the former Soviet Union (FSU). She received her Ph.D. in Economics of Development at the Advanced School of Social Sciences in Paris, France.

Click here to register for WMD Export Controls.

Meet Your 2014 Summer Program Faculty: Sonia ben Ouagrham-Gormley

In preparation for the GMU Summer Program in International Security, this week we will highlight the course directors. Remember, EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION ENDS MAY 15! Register by May 15 to save $300 on a three-day course and $200 on a two-day course. Use the links below for more details including registration.  Questions? Comment to this post or email spis@gmu.edu.


 

GormleyDr. Sonia ben Ouagrham-Gormley, Associate Professor of Government and International Affairs and member of the Biodefense faculty at George Mason University, is the director for this summer’s WMD Export Controls course in the Summer Program in International Security. This course will run July 10-11 and aims to increase participants’ awareness and understanding of WMD proliferation, export controls and trafficking of related materials.

Dr. Ouagrham-Gormley’s research and teaching focuses on WMD and proliferation issues. Her recent publications include “The social context shaping bioweapons (non) proliferation,” “An Unrealized Nexus? WMD-Related Trafficking, Terrorism and Organized Crime in the Former Soviet Union,” and “Banking on Nonproliferation: Improving the Implementation of Financial Sanctions.”  Her forthcoming book from Cornell University Press, Barriers to Bioweapons, extends on her article by the same name and provides the most detailed examination to date of how and why biological weapons programs succeed or fail.

Prior to joining George Mason, Dr. Ouagrham-Gormley served 10 years as a Senior Research Associate at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), and Editor-in-Chief of the International Export Control Observer, a monthly newsletter devoted to the analysis of WMD export control issues in the world. Dr. Ouagrham-Gormley was also an adjunct professor at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, where she taught a course on WMD in the former Soviet Union (FSU). She received her Ph.D. in Economics of Development at the Advanced School of Social Sciences in Paris, France.

Click here to register for WMD Export Controls.