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In 10 years’ time, the “9/11 syndrome” will be over, according to Dr. Matthew Crosston. In this exclusive vlog, American Military University’s Dr. Crosston discusses terrorism in its current state and what the future of counterterrorism efforts will look like in the next decade.

Interview with Dr. Matthew Crosston
Faculty Member, Doctoral Programs, School of Security and Global Studies, American Military University

Video Transcript:

Al-Qaeda did not intend for the Twin Towers to fall. The terror group just wanted to hit them; that would have been success. The fact that they actually achieved a much greater success than they ever anticipated created peer pressure on themselves. Anything they did next had to be of equal value or of equal impact as the Twin Towers collapse.

That made it difficult for al-Qaeda to do anything smaller. The unfortunate thing about the inter-terrorist rivalry that exists between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State is that the Islamic State has made a very important divergence from al-Qaeda strategy. The Islamic State does not suffer from al-Qaeda’s 9/11 syndrome. “We didn’t do 9/11,” they say. “So anything we do if it works to our cause and has a benefit to us is okay.”

As a result, counterterrorism efforts will be dealing with the inter-terrorist rivalry that exists between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. In Europe and, unfortunately, in parts of the United States, vehicles are now being used to kill people. Individual shooters go into nightclubs or get on buses with bombs in their backpacks. These are things that al-Qaeda did not do throughout the 2000s. But the Islamic State’s biggest successes have come from “old school terrorism,” which is at the top of its agenda.

Countering Lone Wolf Terrorism in the 2020s Is Going to Get More Difficult

Countering lone wolf terrorism in the 2020s is going to get more difficult. We are going to have to deal with stopping these small-scale events, which may be less bloody and kill fewer people, but that are much harder to detect and therefore much harder to deter.

Space is going to become a new battleground for the U.S. and its Western allies. There’s a presumption that the next “space race” will involve drones. In that respect, the West has a clear technological advantage that will exist far into the future. Our main competition will come from China, Russia and even India, which we often think of as an ally.

Countries Are Going to Compete for the Many Beneficial Military Applications

Countries are going to compete for the many military applications that will benefit science, diplomacy, and political and economic development. As an emerging threat, the space race matters greatly because the United States and its Western allies are not going to be able to keep their advantage the way they will do with drones.

We’re going to see four or five competitors that are actually coequal when it comes to their technological abilities and capabilities. We won’t be able to just offset them or neutralize them automatically. That leaves a lot of interesting new work for us to do in the future. In North Korea’s case, it has the capability to acquire build, develop and ultimately launch nuclear weapons.

We don’t know if the Islamic State is ever going to be destroyed in the sense that it will be dead to us geopolitically, that it will weaken enough to make it irrelevant as a global entity. The Islamic State will probably continue to exist at the regional level.

The Islamic State is going to stay at least impactful across the greater Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq. These kinds of terrorist groups don’t just disappear overnight. It may seem to us in America as if they’ve been around for a long time, but compared to other groups, they haven’t been here that long. The Islamic State will probably exist for another generation at least and we will be continuously working to defeat it.

In terms of what the future is going to bring, especially in global security and strategic intelligence, we’re going to see the United States move away from formal engagement in wars around the world. We’re going to see increased informal engagements at a localized or regional level and sometimes probably out of the public eye. We’ll find out about diplomats or military units being killed in skirmishes that we were not aware of our involvement in or what our aims were.

We have spent 15 years openly, explicitly involved in wars. We’ve had an entire industry of academics grow up complaining about that involvement. As the United States moves into the future, we need consider what would be even worse — to formally engage in wars that we think are ambiguous and not succeed in what we’re trying to accomplish?

Instead of a war that leads to peace, will we engage in more intelligence-oriented operations on a smaller scale to influence skirmishes in five, six, or seven spots on the globe with a lot of critical geopolitical and transnational implications for them?

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Swiss authorities restrict and mistreat international and local media at Biden-Putin summit

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The Biden-Putin meeting is over and one of the highlights that got a good run on Twitter was the Russian delegation’s mistreatment of the media. What the mainstream media will not show you is the Swiss authorities’ mistreatment of the media, while following orders by the US government to restrict the media covering the summit at another venue, away from sight. 

In part 3 of Behind the Scenes I showed you the Biden and Putin convoys, as they arrived. What you didn’t see is the Swiss authorities’ actual treatment of the media there, upon request by the US government to restrict the non-American media at the Geneva Summit. Elite international commentators, photographers with expensive equipment and journalists from leading Swiss newspapers were ushered like cattle from side to side, and yelled at for no reason at an absolutely empty square. Journalists from the biggest local paper in Geneva, Tribune de Geneve, received the same treatment as the international media. There was no mainstream American media at the location — they were all up at the villa at Parc la Grange. This is why the Americans allowed themselves to ask the Swiss counterparts to pressure the international and local Swiss representatives of the media and it was painful to watch.

On an almost empty square which was closed off, the local Geneva authorities and the federal police from the Swiss-German part could not agree on what to do with the 30 people who had gathered. 

We were pressured to put on masks (even though we were outside) exactly before the arrivals of the convoys, which was completely unnecessary and invonvinienced the camera men. Everyone wondered why the comentators and photograpgers had to put a mask in the open but the Swiss authorities made clear that this order would not be questioned. It would have been comical if you didn’t have to work and if you hadn’t waited for 2 hours in the sun at 30 degrees just to get a good shot. 

At the end, the Swiss authorities decided to deal with half of the media representatives by literally taping them and gluing them to each other taking away their good views and spots — it was almost as if the Swiss and American authorities didn’t want media other than US mainstream media covering the event and they did everything they could to block our work. They made up a lot of rules which were strange at every level. When the Biden convoy appeared, the Swiss policemen started yelling nervously: “No! You have to leave! Step aside!” It was just cars. Imagine the Swiss treatment in an actual situation.

Two black Latino women were asked to leave the square by the Swiss-German police but others were allowed on the same spot without a problem. That was very uncool by Geneva standards. It was not clear what the Swiss-German authorities were doing there and why a gathering of 30 people on a big square, mostly media going about their business, was such a problem. 

The Swiss-German police was mostly yelling at people to get out off the road when the whole street was closed anyways. In contrast, a tall policeman from the Geneva local police asked me with a big grin if he should go get me a coffee and help me. I was surprised by the friendliness of one group and upset by the chaos, disorganization and rude manners of the other group. What the federal authorities probably didn’t realize is that Geneva was not chosen for the Summit because globally people are impressed with the institutions in Bern but because Geneva is Geneva. The international values and principles of Geneva are very different from the thinking inculcated in the Bern institutions. Geneva is not Switzerland, as locals like to say.

At some point, the media was instructed to step aside — their spots were filled with snotty bankers who kept telling people with cameras to make space for them. Street signs with no purpose were placed in between camera men and photographers — obviously to disturb us.

The people of Geneva were the opposite. The whole city was helping, as soon as they learned that I was on a media mission. I had a bar charge my phone for free at midnight so that I could keep working. They even apologized that their charger was too slow. (Thanks, Bottle Brothers!) A group of teenagers having fun at the lakeside even shared their internet with me at 2am when I had to send something urgently. They discussed with me their views on Biden’s policies on gender equality in sports — and asked me not to be quoted. A shop keeper went out of his way at 1am to put together the right charger and cable as soon as he learnt about my mission. The whole city was helping. The actual Swiss authorities were a different story. I heard from a colleague that in the German Swiss part no one actually cared about the meeting. But they were here to make sure that the media can’t do its job, trying to please the American authorities at any cost. 

Perhaps the Swiss authorities did not want the international media to show the world the other side of Geneva. Behind the 1%er facade, there is a very different story of poverty, inequality and chaos. As for the Americans, they are known for travelling with their own press corps. “International media not needed, please go away” was the message sent today by both the American and Swiss authorities.

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The next wave – How to beat future pandemics

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A new report by UNEP and The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) considers the root causes of the emergence and spread of COVID-19 and other zoonoses. Zoonoses are diseases that originate in animals and are transferred to humans.

The report offers a set of practical recommendations that can help policymakers prevent and respond to future disease outbreaks. Read related report here

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Regional Development in Sri Lanka : Hambantota Your next investment location

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Hambantota port

HAMBANTOTA district located 240 km south east of Colombo consists of 2,622 sq. km land area representing six per cent of the country’s land mass. The district with economic growth of five per cent sustained by vibrant private sector activity has been strategic trading location between the Middle East and Far East. It was ideal strategic location for development In 2005 the new visionary plan of H.E Mahinda Rajapaksa improved infrastructure facilities of the southern district. This required development of infrastructure facilities such as ports, expressways, water supply . The Hambantota port had the potential to become a important transshipment hub in the region . The southern expressway was extended upto Hambantota. In addition a rail link was extended up to Beliatta. The new port district received a new sports and convention centre. Under the Uma Oya Project water was diverted to the district . Today Hambantota offers one of the most business friendly environments in Sri Lanka

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