New from the Biodefense Faculty

On this #FacultyFriday, we’ve got a recent publication from Dr. Trevor Thrall and Pandora Report staff writer Erik Goepner on the fall of Ramadi. They say,

Though a city of moderate strategic value considering its proximity to Fallujah and Baghdad, Ramadi does not spell victory for ISIS anymore than Iraq’s retaking of Tikrit from the insurgents spelled defeat for ISIS (despite suggestions to the contrary from the Obama administration). The battle for Iraq will depend on the ability of the Iraqi government to mobilize enough effective fighting power to stop the ISIS expansion. Unfortunately for Iraq, despite over a decade of U.S. investment in training and equipment, Iraq’s military appears incapable of mustering consistent fighting effectiveness to deal a decisive blow to ISIS on the battlefield.

Their entire piece is available on The National Review, here.

New From The Biodefense Faculty

On this #FacultyFriday, we’ve got recent publications from two George Mason Biodefense faculty members.

Dr. Gregory Koblentz looks at America’s next big nuclear challenge from Iran.

The April 2 framework agreement between the P5+1 and Iran fails to address an important risk posed by Iran’s nuclear program. Through a combination of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities and facilities and more intrusive verification mechanisms, the framework adequately addresses two major risks posed by Iran’s nuclear program—breakout and sneakout. The framework, however, completely ignores the risk of leakout: the proliferation of nuclear technology and expertise from Iran to other countries. Iran, once the recipient of foreign nuclear assistance, is now poised to provide that assistance, either deliberately or through unauthorized acts by scientists or companies, to other countries.

His entire piece in The National Interest can be found here.

Dr. Trevor Thrall (and Pandora Report staff writer Erik Goepner) make the case against ground engagement with the Islamic State.

The most common argument made by hawks for U.S. engagement is to prevent future Islamic State-sponsored terrorism against the U.S. homeland. Our track record on homeland security since 9/11, however, reveals that a ground war is unnecessary. In the 13 years before 9/11, Islamist-inspired groups launched five attacks on U.S. soil. In the same period since 9/11, just four attacks have been carried out in the U.S. despite the rapid rise in Islamist mobilization and growth in global terrorism. From 2000 to 2013, the number of Islamic-inspired terrorist groups on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations spiked 185 percent, while the estimated number of Islamist fighters rose 243 percent. Clearly, the United States’ success at limiting attacks on its homeland has come not from destroying terrorist groups abroad, but through improved intelligence and other homeland security-focused efforts.

Their piece in The Detroit News can be found here.

New from the Biodefense Faculty

While the GMU Biodefense students have been finishing their semester work, the GMU Biodefense faculty have been busy too! Below is an update of the latest published work from members of the faculty.

Dr. Trevor Thrall, Director of the Graduate Program in Biodefense, wrote a piece on ISIS’ strategies for U.S. News and World Report.

President Barack Obama declared the latest beheading by the Islamic State group – this one of American aid worker and former Army Ranger Peter Kassig – an act of “pure evil.” But as ugly as the act was, it was also an action taken with a strategic end in mind. The question we should be asking is: To what end? Why has the Islamic State group pursued a strategy of beheading Westerners, and specifically Americans?

The entire article is available here.

Dr. Gregory Koblentz, Deputy Director of the Biodefense Graduate Program, has been writing on nuclear issues including Op-Eds for the LA Times–“How to Keep Future Cold Wars Cold: Mind the Missiles“–and The National Interest–“The Silver Lining of an Extension of the P5+1 Nuclear Talks with Iran

Since the end of the Cold War, three challenges to strategic stability have emerged. The first is the increasing complexity of deterrence relations among the nuclear weapon states. Whereas the first nuclear age was shaped by the bipolar global ideological and military competition between the United States and Soviet Union, the second nuclear age has been marked by the emergence of a multipolar nuclear order composed of states linked by varying levels of cooperation and conflict. Rising nuclear powers such as China, India and Pakistan are not party to the web of treaties, regimes and relationships that girded strategic stability between the United States and Soviet Union (and now Russia).

Dr. Koblent’z full articles are linked above.

GMU Biodfense faculty in the Washington Post

This week, GMU Biodefense Deputy Director Gregory Koblentz contributed to and Director Trevor Thrall was quoted this week in the Washington Post article titled “If news media had covered Ebola sooner, could latest outbreak have been contained?” Read the whole article here.

“Some of the American media’s indifference to the story may have reflected entrenched attitudes toward Africa, said A. Trevor Thrall, the director of George Mason’s biodefense graduate program. “Thanks to low public interest in Africa and the fact that very few U.S. news organizations have any footprint in Africa, Africa is more or less invisible in the U.S. media most of the time,” he said. “With a few exceptions, Africa shows up only when something happens that directly affects Americans or when the U.S. government takes some kind of action.”’

Why Obama’s War on ISIL Won’t Hold Its Popularity

Biodefense Program Director and Associate Professor Dr. Trevor Thrall, of the George Mason School of Policy, Government and International Affairs, has published an article which appears in The National Interest. An excerpt of the article is available below with a link to the full article.

With the prime-time announcement of his campaign to destroy ISIL, President Obama is staking his presidency in a place he certainly never intended. Obama launches his campaign with what appears to be a reasonable level of public support. A September CNN/ORC poll found that roughly 75 percent of the public supports airstrikes against ISIL, a figure that may climb a bit higher in the wake of Obama’s address to the nation on September 10. This support compares relatively favorably with most U.S. military interventions of the past (see Gallup’s list of public support by major intervention here), closer to initial levels of support for Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, than to the invasion of Panama or the Kosovo air war.

Read the entire article here.