Security Challenges Over the Horizon and Close to Home: Africa and Cook County, IL

March 22, 2013

Winter 2013 Edition: Now Available Online 

This issue contains two themes: U.S. security interests and challenges in Africa; and Cook County, Illinois security issues.

Part I: U.S. Security Interests in Africa

Africa is undergoing a period of both economic and political transition, and the consequences of uprising, insurgency, and terrorism, partially relating to the aftershocks of the Arab Spring.  For example, in North Africa, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco have been on the front lines of rapid turnover and change emanating from the Arab Spring.  In other countries, such as Mali and Somalia, Islamic insurgency has sparked regional and international military responses to stem this security threat.

Africa is generally considered low priority for U.S. national security.  However, recent trends suggest its ascent on the list of strategic priorities.  The central theme of this section is the calculus and consequences of increased U.S. attention on African security issues.  Articles include:

  • AFRICOM: A New National Security Approach for the 21st Century?
  • How the Dragon of Prosperity Uses State Power and Resources in Africa to Displace Western Influence
  • The Arab Spring, Moroccan Exceptionalism, and U.S. Strategic Interests
  • Turmoil in the Middle East: How Has Morocco Fared?
  • Operation Serval in Mali: The Fight Against Terrorism and the Strengthening of States

Part II: Cook County Urban Security

In Spring of 2012, the NSF argued that national security began at the local level, using the City of Chicago’s security strategy as a point of departure for discussing local level security issues facing other large municipalities across the U.S.  This theme is amplified with a closer look at urban security issues facing Cook County, Illinois.  The policies and strategies put in place by Cook County officials are a single component of the national security patchwork.  Without security at the local level, as in Cook County, Illinois, the national security structure is weakened.  Articles include:

  • Chicago’s Gang Problem
  • Cybersecurity and the Private Sector
  • Chicago’s FInancial Cybersecurity
  • Tackling Student Gun Violence in Chicago
  • Cyber Threats to the Power Grid
  • Climate Change and Nuclear Power
  • Risk and the Chicago Infrastructure Trust
  • Solutions for Hurricane Sandy-like Flooding
  • Illinois’ Pension Problem
  • Viewpoints on Gun Laws
  • Addressing Violence in Chicago

The National Strategy Forum Review is available online at

Violence and Guns in Chicago: Understanding the Background

March 12, 2013

The recent Sandy Hook school massacre has ignited a national debate regarding gun regulation and gun possession. Violence and gun-related violence should be central to measured discussion leading to a national debate. Facts and statistics are essential as a point of departure for informed discussion.

The National Strategy Forum (NSF) takes no position on the forthcoming national gun regulation / gun possession debate because we are not experts in this field. The NSF’s competency is national security strategy, wherein there is a process that begins with setting a strategic objective: “The Whole of City Approach to Chicago’s Civic Health.” The focus is on violence and gun-related violence.

The essay “Violence and Guns in Chicago: Understanding the Background” was prepared for a public program held at the Union League Club of Chicago on February 14, 2013.  The intent of the essay is to present unbiased violence and gun statistics in order to inform public discussion about the underlying root causes of violence in Chicago neighborhoods.

Violence and Guns in Chicago: Understanding the Background

By Eric S. Morse and Richard E. Friedman

U.S. National Security Forecast: The Next Four Years

December 12, 2012

The election is over.  President Obama’s administration will be in charge of national security policy for the next four years.  The product of this tenure will have long lasting consequences for American security, for good or for ill.

The next issue of the National Strategy Forum Review presents a comprehensive and succinct overview of what lies ahead for the next four years—trends, options, and consequences.  It is our forecast of the major issues and challenges that will shape U.S. national security discussion in 2013 and beyond.  Articles in this issue include:

  • The Threat Array: Knowns and Unknowns: Given that there are many unknown emerging threats, it may be prudent to develop national resilience rather than to counter every known threat to U.S. national security.
  • Military Policy in a Time of Fiscal Retrenchment: The U.S. military is in a state of flux as a result of the Afghan and Iraq wars. U.S. military resources and doctrine must adapt to asymmetry, terrorism, insurgency, and a constrained defense budget.
  • Pivot to Asia: Calculus and Consequences: The American destiny may lie more with countries in the Asia-Pacific than with traditional Western European orientation.  What are the consequences and how can this shift be managed?
  • Flashpoint Mediterranean: Middle Eastern conflicts are continuing and are unresolved.  There is a Mediterranean connection that should be explored, resulting in potential amelioration of the conflict.  The realistic goal is political stability rather than peace.
  • The National Security Benefit of Good Neighbors – Canada And Mexico: America’s backyard is composed of Canada, Mexico, and Latin America.  These states are expanding their economic and political stability.  Although the U.S. has not been an exceptionally good neighbor, there is opportunity for the U.S. to initiate actions that could result in an enhanced relationship.
  • Proactive Asymmetry: To counter ongoing terrorist threats, the U.S. needs to “think small”—an asymmetric, proactive offensive doctrine.

The National Strategy Forum mission is to assist our members to become more informed about U.S. national security issues through our lecture series, conferences, and publications.  It is our hope that this new issue of the National Strategy Forum Review proves useful to you.

National Security Forecast: The Next Four Years can be read online at the link here.

2012 Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy

October 22, 2012

Tonight’s presidential debate provides the American public an opportunity to evaluate President Obama’s foreign policy over the past four years, and to learn about Candidate Mitt Romney’s approach to foreign policy for the next four years.

There are a multitude of international issues that could be examined during the debate.  Rather than attempting to tease out detailed answers regarding specific topics, Bob Schieffer, the debate moderator, may seek to establish the respective candidates’ foreign policy principles.  To do so, Mr. Schieffer will need to ask questions that probe beneath a candidate’s rote answers, assess their foreign policy credentials, and draw out more fundamental strategic approaches to these issues.

The “U.S. National Security Strategy” Congressionally mandated publication was issued by the Obama Administration in 2010.  It is bland and cautious, but it establishes principles that are markers of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy.  These include:

  • American national security strategy starts by recognizing that our strength and influence abroad begins with steps that we take at home.
  • America must also build and integrate the capabilities that can advance our interests, and the interests we share with other countries and peoples.
  • The burdens of a young century cannot fall on American shoulders alone – indeed, our adversaries would like to see America sap its strength by overextending its power.
  • America will be steadfast in strengthening those old alliances that have served us so well, while modernizing them to meet the challenges of a new century.
  • America will advocate for and advance the basic rights upon which it was built, and which peoples of every race and region have made their own.
  • As a nation made up of people from every race, region, faith, and culture, America will persist in promoting peace among different peoples and believes that democracy and individual empowerment need not come at the expense of cherished identities.

The document affords Mitt Romney an opportunity to associate with, criticize, and evaluate President Obama’s national security performance.  More importantly, the debate provides Mitt Romney an opportunity to express his national security principles and objectives that he would apply over the next four years.

U.S. foreign policy tends to confuse tactics with strategy.  The key question is: how should foreign policy be adapted to the array of threats facing America?  The National Strategy Forum Editorial Board proposes ten questions that moderator Bob Schieffer should ask the candidates on October 22nd.

To read these questions, see our new article on the Huffington Post titled “10 Questions Bob Schieffer Should Ask Obama and Romney.”

A round-up of other key articles offer additional insights for tonight’s debate.  Good sources to brush up on include:

Foreign Policy Questions for the Candidates” by the Council on Foreign Relations

Why a Foreign Policy Debate is an Anachronism” by Richard Haass at the Council on Foreign Relations

10 Law-Related Questions Bob Schieffer Should Ask the Candidates” by Andrew Cohen at The Atlantic

The Politics of National Security: Debate Edition” by Matt Bennett, Mieke Eoyang, and Michelle Diggles from Third Way

10 Questions Bob Schieffer Should Ask Obama and Romney

October 19, 2012

The NSF has a new piece on the Huffington Post titled, 10 Questions Bob Schieffer Should Ask Obama and Romney.  The article provides a primer for readers in anticipation of the final presidential debates on October 22nd.  Will the candidates move beyond rote answers and convey their foreign policy vision for managing U.S. foreign relations at one of the most challenging times in U.S. history?  The NSF has asked the right questions; let’s hope for clear answers.

The Vice Presidential Debate: Differences on Iran

October 16, 2012

The Vice Presidential Debate: Consequential Statements on Iran (Download in PDF)

Iran’s progress towards a nuclear weapon requires three stages of development.  First, Iran must enrich uranium from 20% up to greater than 90% purity.  Second, Iran must develop a trigger mechanism to detonate a bomb.  Third, Iran must have a delivery system for transporting the bomb, typically a long range missile system.  To date, Iran has made significant progress towards enriching uranium, but progress on the missile system and trigger mechanism are believed to be not as advanced.  The “red line” in this process is the point at which Iran’s nuclear program is on the verge of completing a nuclear bomb.  Traditional views ascribe the “red line” as Iran’s ability to enrich uranium to weapons-grade level, because once this step occurs, the transition to a nuclear bomb is possible in a very short time period.  For example, Israel’s Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu, made a similar argument before the UN a few weeks ago—literally drawing a red line for Israeli military intervention at the 90% enrichment.

The Vice Presidential debate on October 11th between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan illuminated their perspectives on the Iranian nuclear proliferation issue.  Their comments anticipate how each Presidential candidate would handle foreign policy issues.  When asked about the American “red line” for military intervention in the crisis, each candidate made contrasting statements.  Viewers should consider the consequences of these statements, and look for clarification from President Obama and Candidate Romney during the upcoming October 22nd foreign policy debate.   Read the rest of this entry »

Iran in the Crosshairs

September 28, 2012


Iran in the Crosshairs: International Elements of Non-Proliferation Policy

President Obama’s speech at the UN on September 25 amplified the urgent need to confront Iran’s nuclear program.  In an effort to project American strength on the issue, President Obama made the following statement:

“A nuclear-armed Iran … would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy.  It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty.  That’s why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable.  And that’s why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

Iran’s rapid development of fissile nuclear material is a complex issue.  The transition from conventional contemporary weapons to nuclear weapons has grave implications for the existence of the State of Israel; the potential for nuclear proliferation, including possession of a nuclear weapon by terrorist organizations; a severe oil shortage; and the degradation of the global ecosystem.

Iran’s ability to acquire a nuclear weapon is a manifestation of nuclear proliferation.  It tells us that the concept of an effective international non-proliferation regime is a marvelous idea that, based on the statements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has not prevented Iran from moving rapidly toward a nuclear capability.  What is complicating the process?  How can the international community change course? Read the rest of this entry »

All Options are on the Table: U.S. Foreign Policy and Iran

August 20, 2012

Satellite Image

“All options are on the table.”  These six words often spoken by President Obama, presidential aspirant Mitt Romney, DoD Chiefs, and a litany Congressmen define the contemporary U.S. strategic postures towards an Iran seemingly intent on acquiring a nuclear weapon and upsetting global stability.  However, few details are given as to what these words imply.  The magnitude of the threat, qualified by the assurance that this is the U.S.’s most pressing national security threat since 9/11, gives rise to the following question: if all options are on the table, then what are they?  This article outlines the various options that are most likely to be on the table and discusses the implications of each option.

To read the rest of the article, click on the link below.

All Options Are On The Table

By Eric S. Morse

Pritzker Military Library | Ties that Bind

August 17, 2012

In commemoration of the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the National Strategy Forum hosted a panel discussion of the Ambassadors of the U.S. and Canada, and Rear Admirals from the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Royal Canadian Navy.  The broadcast, produced by the Pritzker Military Library in Chicago, and sponsored by the Canadian Consulate in Chicago, addresses the historical evolution of the US-Canada relationship following the War of 1812, and the contemporary security cooperation between the U.S. and Canada on the Great Lakes and internationally.

The link to the video is below:

Pritzker Military Library | Ties that Bind

The Role of Cyprus

July 6, 2012

“On July 1, one of the EU’s smallest states and most recent members — the Republic of Cyprus — assumed the six month presidency of the E.U.  With a U.S. Presidential election upon us, it is hard to fathom how a country with a population of under one million can be relevant for the rest of 2012.  Make no mistake about it: Cyprus’ turn at the helm of the E.U. will be as consequential as any presidency worldwide for the rest of 2012…” (Huffington Post)

Read Endy Zeminides’ latest piece, “Cyprus: Small Country, Big Presidency,” on the Huffington Post.

Endy Zemenides is a member of the National Strategy Forum Review Editorial Board.