Forum Comments

Sub-regional European Entities
In Europe and Eurasia
Quindrick Holley
Spring 21
Spring 21
Mar 30, 2021
The Three seas Initiative is a step toward more connectivity across Europe and will likely strengthen the continent as a whole. Here’s why: While Western Europe continues to be closely connected through transportation and energy, nations of the three seas initiative have lacked that same interconnectivity. For decades, the three seas initiative countries were disconnected from other parts of Europe by the ‘Iron Curtain’ (a term coined by Winston Churchill) from which we can still see some of those effects today (particularly in politics). Priorities for the Initiative are energy, transportation, and digital projects. These priorities are in line with priorities of the rest of Europe. In particular, I want to draw attention to the digital priorities. I’ll list the digital priorities listed in the document here for reference: · The Three Seas Digital Highway, a series of projects to improve data transfer and enhance communications infrastructure, including 5G technology and fiber optics · 3SI Marketplace, seeking to boost trade and investment in the region by connecting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to investment capital · The SmartCity Forum, seeking to accelerate innovation and foster investment in innovation in regional cities Source: Three Seas Initiative Summit Bucharest, September 17-18, 2018, Three Seas Initiative Priority Interconnection Projects. Notes: The table includes proposed projects as well as in-progress projects. As the EU still strives to be the world’s leader in climate change policy across several sectors, they know that a lot of work still needs to be done. The energy transition will be on a scale unseen since the Victorian Era when a lot of new technologies began to emerge, and the world began to look like what we see today. In order to make this happen, investments in technology and innovation must be scaled exponentially, and Europe (particularly Western Europe) knows this. After outlining a slew of ambitious climate change policies and goals for the EU by 2050, the next step is going to be investing in the technology and innovation to reach these goals. Especially since a lot of renewable energy is going to be dependent on certain regions (just because it’s cost effective in one place doesn’t mean it will be in another place), and technology and innovation will have to catch up to account for this. If the Three Seas Initiative countries can make strides in digital innovation, energy, and transportation, this would not only connect the countries part of the initiative, but would also be likely to connect this part of Europe to Western European countries and be beneficial for all parties involved making the continent even stronger.
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Middle Eastern Overview
In The Middle East
Quindrick Holley
Spring 21
Spring 21
Mar 25, 2021
“The Line” does represent a prospective approach to cities of the future that many countries (ex. European countries) have already pondered. Many people think cities of the future will incorporate more green spaces into public sectors, hearts of cities, and be built around people and not necessarily cars. In fact, I’d implore anyone interested to watch the documentary titled, “2040.” It was filmed in Germany and explores this very idea of ‘cities of the future’ and how sustainability will look in the future, specifically in Europe where the EU is setting a lot of ambitious climate goals by 2050. In terms of “The Line” I am vaguely familiar with this. I think the positives have already been well mentioned. Therefore, I think it’s important to consider some of the downsides this kind of development in this region would have. As some of you have already noted, the idea of another “billionaire’s playground” is a common critique. I’ve seen costs ranging anywhere from 100-200 billion USD that this megacity would cost to construct and the cost of living that may come along with this. The critique being that a city like this may increase inequality in the region since it is already uncertain if 1 million people will truly move to a sparsely populated area of the dessert (especially if the cost of living will be high). Another critique is that since it will be a pretty long stretch (170km) the locations will naturally be very spread out which causes some people to think this would be inefficient (even with high-speed transportation) and not to mention the fact that I believe it will cut straight through mountains forcing it to be broken up. In terms of the “cognitive communities” section, I know that a lot of people will and have already expressed concern about the high level of AI technology integrated into the city. Facial recognition is a growing concern with AI technology since some people may feel this kind of technology impedes on their privacy. One last critique i'll mention is the number of natives that the construction of this city will displace (estimates are in the thousands). Eviction notices have already started to be sent out. Nevertheless, ideally the benefits would outweigh the costs of such a project which is what a lot of countries who are aiming to shift to a greener future are trying to balance, including European countries.
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African Overview
In Africa
Quindrick Holley
Spring 21
Spring 21
Mar 03, 2021
In terms of Agenda 2063, I think it’s beneficial for the AU to have a vision laid out for the next half century. However, what I think will be most beneficial in achieving the goals outlined in their vision will be an outline of how exactly this vision will be realized and what institutional/structural/social/economic things will need to be put in place to achieve some of their aims. As I alluded to in my Monday post about the constitutive act of the AU, the level of untapped environmental potential I believe might be a good place to start and will give the AU an advantage in adopting a lot of “green” policies. For instance, it is no secret that the EU is trying to be the leading voice and example on climate change policy, renewable energy, and a circular economy. However, the biggest challenge that the EU faces in doing this is the fact that a lot of the already existing infrastructure and technology will have to be adapted and mitigated to achieve the goals of their 2030 and 2050 climate goals (requiring technological adaptation unseen since the Victorian era when a lot of new technology was being adapted to the ‘modern world’). The AU doesn’t have a lot of the same infrastructure in place that would have to be transformed or adapted, at least on the same scale. Already outperforming nearly every region in the world in conservation and sustainable use of its mountain resources, the AU will be well positioned to adopt a lot of environmental policies as climate change moves higher on the agenda for a lot of countries. But, as I said, I think an outline of what things will have to be put in place to realize the AU’s vision will provide better context for uniting the AU and its people.
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African Overview
In Africa
Quindrick Holley
Spring 21
Spring 21
Mar 01, 2021
In reference to the Constitutive Act of the African Union, I want to draw attention to article 3 section (j) which states, “promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies.” Although the AU was founded nearly 20 years ago, a majority of the continents renewable energy potential remains virtually untapped. In 2018, the Africa Sustainable Development Report found that the proportion of Africans (excluding North Africa) with access to safe drinking water was approximately 23.7% (global average = 71%) with wide disparities between countries. Africa is also the fastest urbanizing region globally and outperforms most of the world in conservation and sustainable use of its mountain resources. Having said this, I think there is still tremendous potential to employ a lot of sustainable development practices in the AU (the bones are there and strong) in order to “promote sustainable development at the economic, social and cultural levels.” I also believe the promotion of sustainable development by the AU as a whole would help narrow a lot of disparities between countries on the continent and help achieve Article 3 sections (a) “to achieve greater unity and solidarity between the African countries and the peoples of Africa” and section (c) “to accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent” listed as 2 of the top 3 objectives for the AU.
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Counterterrorism in the European Union
In Europe and Eurasia
Quindrick Holley
Spring 21
Spring 21
Feb 18, 2021
The Europol Jihadist Terrorism article was very enlightening. A few things I thought the article did well: 1. Defined what Jihadist terrorism is and gave a little bit of background and context. 2. Discussed the link between terrorism and mental health. 3. Discussed the number of foiled terrorist plots by law enforcement in 2019. Areas for expansion: While I think the article did a good job introducing or discussing the link between mental health and terrorism (something we haven’t really read or considered until this point), I would like to see more studies/cases/research done on that don’t necessarily give a timeline, but a more defined analysis of how mental health can lead to terrorism or “violent acts” considered to be terrorism specifically. However, I think this article does open up a broader discussion of how mental illness is treated in certain societies or countries. For instance, are the perpetrators that carry out these violent attacks that are linked to mental illness getting treatment for it before they carry out these attacks? Do their disorders go unnoticed until they carry out an attack? Although this article does directly relate to terrorism, I think one major takeaway from it could also be how mental illness is diagnosed/treated. The article only gives a few examples of instances that untreated disorders (perhaps) can not only put the individual at risk, but in the case of the Hague stabbings in the Netherlands in 2018, put others at risk as well. We can’t allow an illness to get to that point especially when extremists may target people who are more susceptible to radicalization or simply target those that could be acting out as a symptom of their disorder.
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Counterterrorism in the European Union
In Europe and Eurasia
Quindrick Holley
Spring 21
Spring 21
Feb 17, 2021
In part ll of the EU’s Counterterrorism Agenda, while it looks like the EU is taking good steps towards counterterrorism, two particular points stood out to me. 1. The Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP)- on page 19 of the document, it discusses the financial aspects of terrorist organizations and investigations into terrorist financing. It noted that the TFTP has “already generated significant intelligence that has helped investigate and detect terrorist plots and trace those behind them.” At the base of terrorism, financing is probably one of the single most important ways to prevent terrorist organizations from carrying out attacks. If their financing is cut off and made very difficult to get, then things like recruiting, resources needed to carry out attacks, etc. will be nearly impossible to do. 2. Equally important- Digital Services Act (pg. 10), and Evidence Digital Exchange System (eEDES). Any sort of digital monitoring in terms of currency/exchange, social media, and encrypted information are only going to grow in importance as more of our daily lives, work, currency, etc. moves more and more to digital platforms. For terrorist groups, the internet and social media is going to be a big tool to help these groups spread their messages and make it easier to recruit members. If digital services were more closely monitored in terms of this kind of activity, I think it would be very useful. However, I think it would get tricky while monitoring certain messages/ideologies/etc. that would be flagged or classified as potential terrorist activity, not to mention privacy rights. This doesn’t make combating terrorism any easier but if executed right, I think it could be very effective in shrinking the size of terrorist threats (cutting off financing and halting the means to spread info and recruit members).
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Counterterrorism in the U.S.
In The US and North America
Quindrick Holley
Spring 21
Spring 21
Feb 11, 2021
I found this article to be very insightful and brought to my attention aspects of white supremacy I haven’t previously considered. Particularly, the infiltration of law enforcement by individuals on behalf of white supremist groups. Specifically, once these individuals infiltrate law enforcement, the information sharing is one I find to be the most concerning. Either by individuals who infiltrate law enforcement or already established law enforcement members who have ties to these organizations. Knowledge is power, and as we’ve seen, information sharing can be one of the most useful methods to counterterrorism or the most detrimental (information sharing amongst nations as one of the good practices in a previous article). I would definitely like to see an expansion on the intelligence gaps in the last section and to know the answers to some of the questions the FBI is trying to answer. Specifically, these two: “Are white supremacist groups engaging in systematic efforts to infiltrate law enforcement communities?” and “To what extent are law enforcement communities operating in environments sympathetic to white supremacist beliefs that could potentially hinder investigations into criminal white supremacist activities?” I don’t know much about the interviewing process to work in law enforcement but perhaps it would be useful to know any ties to political organizations etc. that might be viewed as a conflict of interest? I could see the hesitation with establishing and enforcing that, but with law enforcement being a government entity/extension of the government, would it not be relevant? Maybe, maybe not? I know the Hatch Act of 1939 prohibits political activity by certain federal employees at the workplace (except for the president and vice president), but I wonder if something similar could be applied on the local levels or in some variation?? I wonder what steps have been taken in the last 14/15 years to prevent or combat this?
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Counterterrorism in the U.S.
In The US and North America
Quindrick Holley
Spring 21
Spring 21
Feb 09, 2021
Pages 13-18 of the NSCT offer some crucial points in not only U.S. strategy for counterterrorism, but how it relates to our allies. For instance, pg 13 states U.S. strategic objectives for counterterrorism along with the lines of effort in which they’re carried out. I think this is one of the most helpful pieces of information to include with an article like this when a president is articulating a national strategy—specifically one for counterterrorism. In terms of how it relates to our allies, I don’t think a lot of people would be opposed to helping our allies either preemptively or in the case of a terrorist attack, especially if it was a matter of national security and was in our own interests to ‘nip it in the bud’ in order to protect American lives. More specifically, I want to note what was said on pg 16-17. “There is also a broad range of revolutionary, nationalist, and separatist movements overseas whose use of violence and intent to destabilize societies often puts American lives at risk. For example, the Nordic Resistance Movement is a prominent transnational, self-described nationalist-socialist organization with anti-Western views that has conducted violent attacks against Muslims, left-wing groups, and others. The group has demonstrated against United States Government actions it perceives are supportive of Israel and has the potential to extend its targeting to United States interests. Similarly, the neo-Nazi National Action Group, a terrorist organization that was banned by the United Kingdom in 2016 for its promotion of violence against politicians and minorities, operates mainly in the United Kingdom but has engaged with like-minded groups in the United States, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, and Poland—expanding the potential influence of its violent ideology. Such groups may avoid or deprioritize targeting United States interests for now to avoid detracting from their core goals but frequently conduct assassinations and bombings against major economic, political, and social targets, heightening the risk to United States personnel and interests overseas.” There is no question this is problematic, but I think this also only highlights the importance of taking action against domestic terrorism or terrorism abroad facing our allies. The Trump administration adopted a hard approach to terrorism and I think it will be interesting to see what approach the Biden administration adopts, specifically in terms of Iran-U.S. relations (given that Iran remains the most prominent state sponsor of terrorism).
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Counterterrorism in the U.S.
In The US and North America
Quindrick Holley
Spring 21
Spring 21
Feb 09, 2021
This was a very fascinating read. I have to say, much like Eric—I too had difficulty trying to relate terrorism to my specialty (European environmental/climate change policy). However, the nexus between climate change and terrorism might not necessarily be so far apart. As climate and weather patterns shift, the resulting environmental crisis could arguably be leveraged as a tool for terror and political violence. Globally, environmental stress due to unpredictable weather catalyzes political violence which further undermines already weak governments. In the United States specifically, environmental crisis could be considered a “threat multiplier” that could enable terrorism, overwhelm response capabilities, and threaten populations and critical infrastructure. The emerging threat is not about eco-terrorism (a term used to describe acts of violence in support of ecological or environmental causes). Rather, there is a growing potential for vulnerable ecosystems to be exploited or destroyed as a means to intimidate or provoke a state of terror in the general public for a political, ideological, or philosophical agenda. Severe drought as a result of climatic weather shifts raises vulnerability of water systems as reservoirs continue to dry up. As global fresh water supplies become increasingly scarce, extremist groups are stepping up attacks and manipulating supply as a strategic tactic of coercion. This could also be applied to the wildfires specifically here in the U.S. The exposure of U.S. communities to wildfire makes wildfire a potentially potent weapon for economic warfare and mass destruction. One military officer wrote in his 2005 thesis titled “PYRO-TERRORISM—THE THREAT OF ARSON INDUCED FOREST FIRES AS A FUTURE TERRORIST WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION”: “An opportunistic terrorist can unleash multiple fires creating a conflagration potentially equal to a multi-megaton nuclear weapon.” Wildfires can have a profoundly negative effect on a region’s economy: the damage from California’s 2018 conflagrations is estimated at $400 billion.
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Quindrick Holley
Spring 21
+4
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