Forum Comments

International Counterterrorism Frameworks
In Counterterrorism
Justin Spusta
Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs
Feb 01, 2021
Counterterrorism is obviously an important issue for the United Nations, given the rise of rogue states/actors and the development of terrorism on a global scale rather than just being isolated to regions of conflict. One thing that I think is important to keep in mind is that terrorism is a broad term that can fit many different types of actions and actors. As such, it is hard to create a universal approach to counter-terrorism. For example, counter-terrorism in the United States- where terrorists' goals are to strike fear in the US government- might look very different from counter-terrorism in Turkey or the Phillipines- where the terrorists are mainly focused on separatism. That is not to say that there is no overlap between counter-terrorism in the many countries of the United Nations. One thing I found interesting about the document is the statement under Plan of Action, that the UN countries resolve "[t]o consistently, unequivocally and strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes, as it constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security" as well as "[t]o consider becoming parties without delay to the existing international conventions and protocols against terrorism, and implementing them, and to make every effort to reach an agreement on and conclude a comprehensive convention on international terrorism." While these are certainly noble goals, I think that given that vastly different ideological, religious and nationalistic identities within the United Nations, that this is not feasible. For example, nationalistic groups operating in the Balkans may be hailed as heroes in some Balkan countries while being scorned in others. Even regarding, politicians in the Balkans, some would view the Kosovar former President Hashim Thaci as a terrorist while others would consider him a patriot.
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Russia: Global Interest
In Center for Europe Policy
Justin Spusta
Foreign Affairs
Foreign Affairs
Oct 20, 2020
As Americans, we obviously know about Russian infiltration into American politics and our election in 2016. Spies like Maria Butina who infiltrated the NRA in 2016 as well as anonymous Russian bots who spread misinformation on social media site like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are concerning threats to the security and sovereignty of the United States of America. However, the US is not the only country where Russian influence on elections has been observed. The recent election in Montenegro, which replaced the Pro-NATO, Pro-European coalition with a nationalistic, Pro-Serbian coalition, was largely influenced by Russia, with the Russian Orthodox Church mobilizing to support the Pro-Serbian coalition. Serbia is often alleged to be a Russian satelitte state in the Balkans as it continues to support Russian endevours in the Balkans and follows Russian policy (something to note is that the Serbian Orthodox Church is heavily influenced by the Russian Orthodox Church, which not only has religious influence but also political influence in Eastern Europe). The Belarusian election on August 9, while so far has not shown Russian influence, has been largely supported by the Russian government as a legitimate election, despite strong evidence otherwise. The problem with Russian infiltration and influence is that it does not infiltrate government bodies themselves but infiltrates the minds of the public with Pro-Russian propaganda and misinformation. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow misinformation to spread fast. Conspiracy theories are rampant and many "bot" accounts will repost each other making it seem like it is coming from a legitimate source. Many "bot" accounts take on personas and identities that make them appeal to certain audiences and seem more trustworthy. Only recently have social media sites started taking this threat seriously with crackdowns removing hundreds of accounts made to promote misinformation or certain Pro-Russian agendas.
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Justin Spusta

Justin Spusta

Foreign Affairs
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