PunctuatedEquilibriumReport 1An assessment of contemporary national, regional, and global security concerns may cause one to recall two ancient warnings . The first is attributed to Job: “for all the things which I greatly fear is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me .” The second describes the four horsemen of the apocalypse representing agents of conquest, famine, war, and death, and perhaps even ushering in the beginning of the end of the world .

Indeed, since the dawn of recorded history, predicting, preventing, mitigating and bringing these and related individual and collective challenges under manageable levels have been a permanent fixture of humanity’s saga . The current report on “Punctuated Equilibria Paradigm and Security in the Modern World” is one of the most recent efforts to provide broader academic analysis on the complex threats and responses involved .

The distinguished contributors to this report initially presented papers on this topic at a special seminar held on February 27, 2018 in Arlington, VA under the co-sponsorship of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies, the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Washington, D .C ., Charles University in Prague, and the Chief of Staff of the Czech Armed Forces . More details on this event will be discussed subsequently in this Introduction . At this stage, a brief academic context is in order .

More specifically, the theories of “Punctuated Equilibria” and “Multiplier Effect” have been gain- ing importance and significance, including to militaries around the world . Developed versions adapted to complex societies may be considered one of the most promising and strategic avenues of research in the social sciences . These two theoretical tools offer a way to anticipate major events and conflicts that may come into being and that better knowledge of the universal processes and laws governing any complex society is of critical importance for the 21st century .


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ANNUALReportPIPS 1This year the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies has continued to develop meaningful policy options and recommendations and ensured their implementation at the intersection of business and government. This Annual Report is intended to provide an update on the Institute’s funding profile, leadership team, and activities this past year. We are building a strong future for the Institute and are working to achieve our mission to support the nation on critical S&T Policy issues.

The Potomac Institute is a unique organization that merges elements of a think tank, consulting organization, federally funded research and development center , and university. We strongly value our position as an independent, non-partisan, trusted source of expertise on science, technology, and national security issues. Our funding is almost entirely from government contracts, which gives us a unique role as a trusted advisor to policymakers, and an up-close window into the real world of policy issues. Historically, the Institute has not relied on foundation or individual giving because we value our independence from ideological or special interests. As a not-for-profit, our public service mission is to contribute an independent and academically rigorous voice to the policy dialogue. We believe strongly that policy should, to the greatest extent possible, be based on science and evidence and that government should fund science and technology to help inform policy decisions when data is lacking.

This year, more than ever before, the Institute occupies a premier position at the intersection of business and government, particularly in the S&T innovation space. We are partnering with several agencies across the military and government that are trying to better understand how to adapt commercial technologies for military use or accelerate important scientific developments and translate them into applications the nation needs. In the coming year this will continue to be a key focus area for the Institute.

The Potomac Institute is known for big ideas: imagining the future of S&T and making bold predictions about its impacts. We have generated big ideas, delivered them to key decisionmakers, and made inputs to help execute them and turn them into a reality. We have been developing efforts on space policy, bio security and synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, and more.

We wish to take this opportunity to express our deep appreciation for the continuing support of the Board of Directors, Board of Regents, and Senior Fellows of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. Your input, consul, and guidance have been invaluable to our mission and our organization.


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dnasmThe demand for digital data storage is currently outpacing the world’s storage capabilities, and the gap is widening as the amount of digital data produced grows exponentially. Current technologies will be insufficient to address these challenges. DNA offers an abundant, sustainable, and stable data storage solution, with storage density orders of magnitude better than today’s best methods. As a reference, all of the world’s data today could theoretically be stored in 1 kg of DNA. Although the science behind DNA data storage has been proven, its commercial viability is currently limited. This is because DNA technology has been developed to support applications in the life sciences industry and not for data storage purposes.

In this study report we provide findings on the current state of the DNA Data Storage field and provide forecasts for key determinants that will advance this field. The Potomac Institute identified the key technologies required for storing data in DNA, analyzed the state-of-the-art and emerging technologies, and determined necessary steps for advancing the field forward.


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icts20thsmAn enduring fixture of international affairs is the fact that, throughout the history of the world, nothing is static . Empires, countries, communities, and nearly entire civilizations have risen and declined while others became engaged in an endless struggle for power within and among social and political identifiable structures.

It is not surprising, then, that two historical lessons spring to mind when considering these socio- political fluctuations. The first recalls the old Chinese proverb which reads, “One who studies the past, knows the future” and the second observation, attributed to Hegel, asserts that “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.”

Indeed, these truisms have echoed continuously throughout the ages of different cultures and peoples located in every geopolitical region. The experience of the Balkans from antiquity to modernity demonstrates both evolutionary and revolutionary developments of triumph and calamity with broader significant strategic implications.

From the dawn of history, humanity has continuously faced two critical security challenges. The first is “natural”, or “Mother Nature’s”, disasters. It includes a wide range of disruptions and destruction to human lives and property. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, monsoons, droughts, floods, heat waves, wildfires, and varieties of pandemics arising from biological pathogens, cause some of the most frequent catastrophic costs to individuals, communities, and civilizations.

The second permanent and equally significant security concern consists of “man-made” threats such as technological and economic calamities, ideological and political radicalization and extremism, terrorism, insurgencies, and wars.

Both challenges represent security concerns that include the safety, welfare, and rights of ordinary people; the stability of the state system; the success of national, regional and global economic development; the expansion of liberal democracies; and perhaps, even the survival of civilization itself.

Consider, for example, several landmark historical anniversaries related to the dual-danger from “natural” and “manmade” challenges. First, in 1918 an influenza pandemic, often regarded as the deadliest in modern times, killed an estimated 50-100 million people worldwide. Moreover, the Asian flu originated in 1957-1958 and caused the death of some one to four million individuals. Mention should be made of the deadly Ebola virus that represented a major health security challenge with unprecedented fear and anxiety over public safety around the world. Other current infection challenges include the Zika virus, which causes microcephaly and other birth defects, as well as the cholera epidemic, spread by bacteria from water or food contaminated with feces, which is alarmingly expanding in war-torn Yemen. In short, the expansion of pandemic outbreaks of deadly infectious disease is only a matter of time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that during the 2015-2017 period, it had already “monitored more than 300 outbreaks in 160 countries, tracking 37 dangerous pathogens in 2016 alone.”

Another century-old landmark event occurred on June 28, 1914, when the Archduke Frank Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated in Sarajevo. This tragic attack perpetrated by Gavrilo Princip, a young Bosnian terrorist, triggered a series of escalating diplomatic and military moves in Europe and beyond that contributed, at least partly, to the outbreak of World War I. The resulting horrific human and political costs eventually caused the Second World War, with all its unprecedented national and global consequences, and subsequently led to the Cold War and the escalation of terrorism throughout the world . And thus, in the past four decades, terrorism has evolved further. On November 4 1979, Iranian “radicals” seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held the American diplomats captive for 444 days. Also, in 1998 U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were attacked by al-Qaeda members and on September 11, 2001 bin Laden’s operatives perpetrated the most devastating terrorist attack in world history, to name a few key events.

Since this report focuses on “Two Decades of Combating Terrorism: Tactical and Strategic Lessons, a brief overview is provided on some related threats and responses to be followed by an academic context and the selected contributions by colleagues over the past twenty years.

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cartssmThe Potomac Institute for Policy Studies conducted a six-month study to identify and understand key lessons learned from public-private research and development (R&D) collaborations in the semiconductor industry. The goal of the study was to provide recommendations to the United States government (USG) on how these lessons learned can be applied to new R&D initiatives. These recommendations were focused on the semiconductor industry, which has ambitious goals to explore areas that could lead to leaps ahead in computing, in part based on the foundational scientific concepts originally outlined by Gordon Moore.


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Security Strategies 1On 18 October 2018, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies' Vital Infrastructure, Technology, and Logistics Center published its report entitled "Security Strategies for Global Supply Chains." It did so with the intention of providing a comprehensive summary of all events hosted by the VITAL Center since its inception in the Fall of 2017. This report summarizes findings and conclusions drawn from events over the course of the past year and makes high-level recommendations for how to the US government and US industry can work together to improve the security of our nation's supply chains and critical infrastructures. Speakers at these events contributed insights from a broad range of backgrounds in both government and industry, providing a diverse and comprehensive set of lessons learned.

The report adds to a growing conversation on the importance of prioritizing supply chain security in defense acquisitions specifically, in addition to the prioritization of securing critical infrastructures, designated across 16 sectors: Chemical, Commercial Facilities, Communications, Critical Manufacturing, Dams, Defense industrial base, Emergency Services, Energy, Financial, Food and Agriculture, Government, Healthcare and Public Health, Information Technology, Nuclear Reactors, Material , and Waste, Transportation, and Water. In a broader sense, these conversations seek to bring into focus the changing and widespread nature of threats to US supply chains and critical infrastructures, both inside and outside of the defense community

Events hosted by the VITAL Center seek to bring together a community of stakeholders in supply chain risk management across critical infrastructure sectors. Discussions in these forums try to get a sense of current and anticipated future challenges to the security of our nation's critical infrastructures and determine best and innovative practices for supply chain risk management from industry case studies. Please stay tuned for more VITAL events to be hosted in the coming year.

BrinReport21Sept 1

Executive Summary:

Washington, DC - David Brin, a world-renowned science fiction author and futurist, spoke at the Potomac Institute as part of the CReST Bold Ideas seminar series. Dr. Brin brings a novel perspective when looking towards the future, and spoke on several topics of current debate including data privacy, tribalism, regulation and fair play. His writings on these topics, both essays and fiction, have been pivotal in shaping public discussions on transparency and individual rights. His wide-ranging discussion is summarized below.

Dr. Brin discussed his concepts of transparency and sousveillance- “watching the watcher” - as the solution to current debates over digital privacy rights. He argued that the only way to destroy cheating and ensure individual rights is to break up power by democratizing technology. As the pace of technology development accelerates, he argues that we should not try to constrain technology because elites will always be able to find loopholes to get around these constraints. He criticized the European approach to data privacy as paternalistic in structure and therefore insufficient to fully protect individual rights. These concepts are described in his seminal nonfiction book, The Transparent Society, his recent book Chasing Shadows, and in his essays and speeches.

Brin discussed his concept of disputation arenas, in which there are five accountability arenas (markets, science, democracy, justice courts, and sports). Brin embraces conflict and competition within certain bounds, and notes that, “across all of human history the only time we’ve ever gotten the benefits of competition has been regulated competition.” To Brin, a fairly regulated arena is responsible for harnessing creative competition, and that competition is the greatest creative force in the universe.

Brin also touched on Hollywood themes, tribalism in politics, great power competition with China, and the need for every individual to be a critical thinker and contrarian.

David Brin is a scientist, tech-pundit, forecaster, NASA adviser, and best-selling author. He is best-known for shining light — plausibly and entertainingly — on technology, society, and countless challenges confronting our rambunctious civilization. His best-selling novels include The Postman (filmed in 1997) plus explorations of our near-future in Earth and Existence. His short stories explore vividly speculative ideas. Brin's nonfiction book The Transparent Society won the American Library Association's Freedom of Speech Award for exploring 21st Century concerns about security, secrecy, accountability and privacy. As a scientist, tech-consultant and world-known author, he speaks, advises, and writes widely on topics from national defense and homeland security to astronomy and space exploration, SETI and nanotechnology, future/prediction, creativity, and philanthropy. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was cited as one of the top 10 writers the AI elite follow. David Brin’s website:

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balkanssmAn enduring fixture of international affairs is the fact that, throughout the history of the world, nothing is static . Empires, countries, communities, and nearly entire civilizations have risen and declined while others became engaged in an endless struggle for power within and among social and political identifiable structures .

It is not surprising, then, that two historical lessons spring to mind when considering these socio- political fluctuations . The first recalls the old Chinese proverb which reads, “One who studies the past, knows the future” and the second observation, attributed to Hegel, asserts that “We learn from history that we do not learn from history .”

Indeed, these truisms have echoed continuously throughout the ages of different cultures and peoples located in every geopolitical region . The experience of the Balkans from antiquity to mo- dernity demonstrates both evolutionary and revolutionary developments of triumph and calamity with broader significant strategic implications .

See the Full Report Here

More specifically, among the numerous memorable historical regional phases, mention should be made of the Byzantine Empire (330 – 1453), the Serbian Kingdom (929 – 1389), the Ottoman Sultanate (1354 – 1922), and the Balkan Wars (1912 – 1913) . Subsequently, over a century ago, on June 28, 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated in Sarajevo . This tragic attack perpetrated by Gavrilo Princip, a young Bosnian terrorist, triggered a series of escalated diplomatic and military moves in Europe and beyond that contributed, at least partly, to the outbreak of World War I .

One of the resulting outcomes of the “War to end all Wars” was the formation of the “Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes,” who regained control of Kosovo . And on December 1, 1918, Yugoslavia was established over the territories formerly inhabited by the Austrian and Ottoman empires .

It should be noted that the Albanians in Kosovo claimed that their minority rights were not implemented by the Serbs in the inter-war period . The Serbs, on the other hand, charged the Albanians of fermenting discontent in Kosovo . During the Second World War, Albania was annexed by Italy and later was occupied by Germany . Moreover, Berlin established a puppet government in Serbia, Croatia joined the Axis powers, and Slovenia became under German influenceIn.

1945, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was established and the Communist party of Yugoslavia was elected into power . That year, the United States recognized the new republic under Josip Broz Tito . Interestingly, in 1948, Yugoslavia was removed from the Cominform (a coordinated body headed by the Soviet Union for communist parties in Europe) as the result of disputes with Moscow . By 1953, Marshall Tito was named President of Yugoslavia and ten years later became president for life . He died on May 4, 1980 .

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union and Communism in Eastern Europe, Croatia and Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and Bosnia-Herzegovina also broke away from the federal republic in 1992 . In response to these de- velopments, the Serbian military invaded portions of Croatia and Bosnia resulting in the ethnic cleansing and bitter hostilities between the antagonists . The costly Balkan wars led to the signing of the Dayton Accord in 1995, which outlined a future peace process involving Croatian, Bosnian, and Serbian leaders . By March 1998, hostilities began in Kosovo between the ethnic Albanians and Serbs and a year later, NATO launched a 78-day air attack on Serbian targets . On February 17, 2008, Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia but tensions between the parties remained high .

Sadly, some ten years later, the deep-seated mistrust in the region has risen again . A recent example of this challenge occurred on January 16, 2018, with the assassination of Oliver Ivanovic, a Kosovan Serb leader of the civic initiative, Freedom, Democracy, Justice (SDP) by an unknown gunman . This attack took place on the day that talks to normalize relations between Kosovans and Serbs, mediated by the European Union (EU), were to be held . This scheduled meeting was predictably aborted . NATO, which has maintained a peacekeeping force in the region since 1999, following the Kosovan War, has urged all the parties to show constraint and return to the negotiating table .

To be sure, NATO’s overall impact in the Balkans has been positive with regards to establishing early warning systems, and intelligence gathering to prevent political crises, upholding the rights of the people to return to their homes, and providing emerging regional democracies with incentives for reforms . Moreover, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, and Slovenia are currently members of NATO and other states of the former Yugoslavian country are, to varying degrees, closer in association with NATO as well as the EU . Other countries with historical relationships and current interests in the Balkans such as Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Turkey, are already members of the alliance and are continuing to support NATO mission in Europe and around the globe .

Another significant aspect of security concerns in the region is the challenge of terrorism and the efforts to combat non-state actors such as al-Qa’ida and the Islamic State, to mention a few . For instance, Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia are continu- ing their participation in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and are engaged in multiplecounter-terrorism activities, including introducing legislation, law enforcement border security, countering the financing of terrorism, combating violent extremism, and participating in inter- national and regional cooperation .




5gCoversmOn June 6th, 2018, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and Venable LLP co-sponsored a seminar to discuss the rapidly approaching 5G Revolution. The event was moderated by Dr. Michael Fritze, Director of the Potomac Institute’s Vital Infrastructure, Technology and Logistics (VITAL) Center, which focuses on supply chain security and critical infrastructure resilience. The program began with a keynote address from Mr. Terry Halvorsen, Executive Vice President of Samsung, Inc., and featured panelists Mike Stone, Kiersten Todt, Brian Hendricks, RADM Jamie Barnett USN (Ret), and Barbara Hoffman, all of whom have extensive and mixed backgrounds working in telecommunications and cybersecurity in both government and industry roles. The panelists gave predictions and analysis of the far-reaching implications that will result from the impending widespread use of this technology. They also outlined the challenges the US is currently facing in the roll-out of this revolutionary technology.


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roleof Diplo3 18From the dawn of history “diplomacy” has been utilized as a permanent mode of statecraft in the struggle for power within and among nations during peace and war. 

The purpose of this March 2018 report on “The Role of Diplomacy in Combating Terrorism: Selected International Perspectives” is to highlight insights from foreign diplomats on threats and challenges to officials and their missions, analysis of statecraft, and “best practices” responses to radicalization and violence.

Download the report here.

BiologicalTerrorismCoverRecent epidemics, such as Ebola and Zika, and the potential dangers of biological terrorism from both state and non-state actors highlight the urgent need to address these challenges through international partnerships and comprehensive biosecurity strategies to reduce the gravest health risks at home and abroad.

This January 2018 report on “Combating Biological Terrorism: Roadmaps for Global Strategies” follows several earlier related publications, such as “Biological Terrorism: Past Lessons and Future Outlook” (June 2017) and “Preventing WMD Terrorism: Ten Perspectives” (August 2017).

Download the report here.



American Space Enterprise and Security

Report Released by Potomac Institute

AmericanSpace1 14 1The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is pleased to present a new report, American Space Enterprise and Security. The report recommends bold new policy to ensure US leadership in space in the realms of commercial enterprise, defense, and intelligence.

Driving American Enterprise and National Security in Space

American Space Enterprise and Security examines the essential role of the U.S. Government in laying the foundations for enterprise and economic development, by investing in infrastructure and R&D. It outlines the history of the space industry of today and advocates for continued investment in infrastructure and research needed to support commercial development of space.

Every major nation on Earth, and many corporations and consortia, are making major investments in space infrastructure and R&D. The space economy is projected to be worth $1-4 trillion by 2040. It will take leadership to ensure that America is at the forefront of the growing space economy.

American Space Enterprise and Security proposes a reorganization of the US national space program to ensure American leadership in this next space race. It includes a radical new vision for NASA as an enabler and driver of this economic boom. American Space Enterprise and Security declares that space will be a warfighting domain, and that the Department of Defense must begin preparing now. It also draws parallels between the military’s historic role in supporting commercial enterprise by providing security, and the coming need for security in the growing space economy. The report describes the need for intelligence capabilities to maintain awareness of activities in space to understand the intent of our adversaries, just as we do on Earth.


The contributors to the American Space Enterprise and Security report include Michael Swetnam, Dr. Jerry Krassner, Kathryn Schiller Wurster, Luke Koslosky, Chloe Hite, Erica Turner, Dr. Sara Usher, and Dr. Derek Denning, with contributions and ideas from a wide range of experts. This report is the inaugural product of the Potomac Institute’s Center for Enterprise, Exploration, and Defense in Space (CEEDS), formed to develop strategy and policy for space.  This report was originally published as "Make America Great Again in Space.

About the Potomac Institute

The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is an independent, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit public policy research institute. The Institute identifies and aggressively shepherds discussion on key science, technology, and national security issues facing our society, providing in particular, an academic forum for the study of related policy issues. From these discussions and forums, we develop meaningful policy options and ensure their implementation at the intersection of business and government. For further information see Media inquires please contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 703-525-0770. Follow us on Twitter: @PotomacInst


Role of Diplomacy Nov 2017 Cover lgIn view of the multiple security challenges to international peace and order posed by the intensification of terrorist attacks for over the past half-century, governmental, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental bodies have developed tactical and strategic responses on national, regional, and global levels. The role of diplomacy is, indeed, a critical element in the evolving process.

The purpose of this report on “The Role of Diplomacy in Combating Terrorism: Selected U.S. Perspectives” to focus specifically on the role of diplomacy in combating terrorism relevant to experiences of the United States and their implications internationally. The key question is whether the U.S. and the international community is capable of crafting adequate responses to terrorism, diffusing expanding conflicts regionally and inter-regionally, engaging in constructive peace processes, and striking a delicate balance between security measures and democratic value systems.

Download the report here.

RuleofLaw1Ensuring the safety and interests of citizens at home and abroad continues to be every government’s paramount responsibility. The purpose of this report is to focus on the interface between terrorism and the rule of law. The key question is whether nations can strike a balance between security concerns and protecting civil liberties and constitutional order.

“Terrorism and the Rule of Law: Selected Perspectives” features presentations by experts with extensive academic and government experience. Some of the topics covered include the “War on Terror,” the role of intelligence, law enforcement, detention, civil and military trials, punishment of terrorists, hostage-taking, and other relevant issues.

Download the report here.

WMD8 17a

Preventing the proliferation of biological, chemical, radiological, and nuclear weapons has been a major priority for many nation states in the post-World War II era. Additionally, in the aftermath of 9/11, there has been a growing awareness globally of the potential dangers posed by terrorist groups who may resort to WMD capabilities.

The purpose of this report on “Preventing WMD Terrorism: Ten Perspectives” is to provide some recent insights from experts on lessons learned, assessments of future challenges, and offer recommendations on response strategies to reduce the risk on national and international levels.

Download the report here.

Biological Terrorism cover june

Biological security concerns are permanent fixtures of history, ranging from Mother Nature’s infectious diseases to man-made threats by state and non-state actors. Thus, as the international community is currently approaching the 100 year anniversary of the 1918 influenza pandemic that killed an estimated 50-100 million people, it is assessing the implications of the recent epidemics of Ebola and Zika, considering potential dangers of biological terrorism, and beginning to offer recommendations on response strategies to reduce the risk on national, regional, and global levels.

This June 2017 report on “Biological Terrorism: Past Lessons and Future Outlook” serves as an academic effort to provide insights from former U.S. officials, members of Congress, and other experts on these looming security challenges.

Download the report here.


Executive Summary Excerpt:

American innovation has led to some of the world’s most inventive and successful medical devices and treatments. However, the medical industry has yet to maximize the potential of the massive amounts of health data offered by new technologies. Medicine is moving into a data-centric era where our ability to anticipate, understand, diagnose, treat, and heal illness and disease will be completely revolutionized. Currently, the field of neuroscience is trying to transform medicine by leveraging the novel opportunity of Big Health Data. To capitalize on this revolutionary opportunity, America must look towards the future – taking advantage of Big Health Data by embracing technological advancements, sharing personal data responsibly, and discovering new health knowledge. Doing so will enable breakthroughs in health innovation, decrease healthcare costs, and help realize the dream of personalized medicine.

This most recent effort by the Potomac Institute’s Center for Neurotechnology Studies (CNS) continues its long-standing mission to follow and understand the latest neuroscientific advancements and neurotechologies. In 2013, the Institute’s CNS report “Neurotechnology Futures Study” presented a technology investment Roadmap and outlined the key research areas and technologies required to move neurotechnology forward. The Institute’s 2015 report “Trends in Neurotechnology” discussed the vast implications of neurotechnology – not only for particular fields such as medicine and defense, but also for society as a whole.

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LatinAmerica1aLatin America continues to face multiple security challenges including natural disasters, infectious diseases, organized crime, terrorism, migration, economic development, and threats to democratic governance.

This April 2017 report on “Latin America’s Strategic Outlook: Populist Politics, Health Concerns, and Other Security Challenges” deals with recent security-related developments such as the Rio Olympics, the Zika epidemic, and post-Castro-era assessments.

Download the report here.

Cover IUCTS 2017On April 13,2017,the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies (IUCTS) published its eighth annual report, "Terrorism in North Africa and the Sahel in 2016," authored by Prof. Yonah Alexander, Director--IUCTS. The report finds the region & global community facing the most serious security challenges since 9/11, from natural and man-made threats. The rise of the Islamic State and the resilience of al-Qa’ida and their affiliates in Africa in 2016 have resulted in continued instability on the continent with a costly strategic impact inter-regionally. The study recommends the U.S. & allies engage more effectively to slow a security crisis that is erupting across Africa’s “arc of instability.”

Download the report here.

loneWbThe latest terrorist incidents in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and elsewhere, are once again a grim reminder of the expanding operational roles of "lone wolves." Whether they are self-radicalized or linked to home-grown or foreign groups, their involvement reflects a worrisome weakness in the security chain of modern society.

This February 2017 report on “The Lone Wolf Terrorist: Past Lessons, Future Outlook, and Response Strategies” focuses on some of the “lone wolf” challenges. These include security threats to the safety, welfare, and rights of ordinary people; the stability of the state system; the impact on national, regional, and global economic development; the expansion of democratic societies; and the prevention of the destruction of civilization by biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons.

Download the report here.

NatoNATO, as it marked its 68th anniversary, is still facing a broad range of old and new challenges, including piracy, terrorism, regional and global conflicts, humanitarian crises, proliferation of WMD, and cyber threats.

In light of these and other strategic concerns, the latest NATO Warsaw Summit in 2016 focused inter alia on strengthening and modernizing the Alliance’s deterrence and defense posture and projecting stability beyond its Eastern borders. The question arises whether the 28 nations’ partnership will continue to play its essential political and military role in the coming years.

This January 2017 report on “NATO’s Strategy: Continuity or Change?” provides a recent academic effort to analyze whether NATO, at this stage of its evolution, is capable of completing its transformation from an earlier static defense alliance into a more effective regional and global security provider.

Download the PDF here.


As the new administration of President Donald J. Trump is beginning to develop its Middle East foreign policy strategy, the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict still persists. In addition to the multiple outstanding issues to be resolved by the parties, such as the need for mutual recognition and the settling of boundary disputes, questions remain regarding the future of Jerusalem, the Holy City, which is considered by Israel as its eternal capital—and which the Palestinians also see as their own capital in a future state.

This current report on "The Holy Jerusalem: A Key to Middle East War or Peace?" provides a recent academic effort focusing on two questions. First, can religion in general serve as an effective bridge to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East and elsewhere? And second, will the antagonists and their partisan Jewish, Muslim, and Christian co-religionists be capable of a peaceful resolution on the final status of the Holy City?

Download the PDF here.


In the wake of the failed coup in July 2016, many questions have arisen both domestically and internationally regarding Turkey’s future political, social, economic, and strategic direction. Among them are how will Turkey to continue to maintain a balance between security concerns and civil liberties domestically, as well as contribute to international efforts, including NATO’s mission, to advance stability regionally and globally.

This current report on “Post-Attempted Coup in Turkey: Quo Vadis?” provides a recent academic effort focusing on these issues as well as other related strategic concerns include the refugee crisis, the impact on the fight against the Islamic State, and Turkey’s relations with regional and global powers.


Download the PDF here.

BigIdeasDigitalVersion300THINK BIG argues that innovation in science and technology are the keys to American economic strength and national security. Rather than a return to the infrastructure, economy, and healthcare systems of the past, the report calls for a vision for the future.

The report urges the new Administration to 1) develop policy based on the best available science and 2) use policy to foster the development of science and technology. The science and technology investment priorities identified in the THINK BIG report for the next Administration include:

· America’s Future Infrastructure
· Fostering American Industry Leadership
· Revolutionizing Medicine
· Climate Engineering


Download the full PDF here.



roleofMilitaryThe role of force in the struggle for power within and among nations is a permanent fixture of international life. As James Madison observed during a debate on the adoption of the Constitution in 1787, “There never was a government without force.” Likewise, Sir Winston Churchill in a note to the First Sea Lord on October 15, 1942 remarked: “Superior force is a powerful persuader.”

Clearly, the primary actors capable of resorting to power domestically during periods of peace are the police and other law enforcement agencies. They are mandated to implement the preservation of public order, and thus represent the first layer of protection for civilians, including citizens, permanent residents, and visiting foreigners. These designated governmental bodies seek to encourage “good behavior,” prevent illegal activities, warnof potential internal threats, and develop strategies to assure an effective national security environment in accordance with the requirements of the administration of justice.

And yet, from time immemorial, military forces in particular have projected power at home and abroad during periods of both war and peace. It is not surprising therefore that there exists a comprehensive literature in this field, from antiquity to the contemporary era. Suffice to mention the infinite theological and secular sources covering the nature, role, and impact of armies on the direction of the statecraft of nations. For example, early religious texts focused on God’s directing military operations (e.g., assurance of victory),organizational structures (e.g., standing armies and mercenaries), arms supplies (e.g., slings, chariots, provisions), strategies and tactics (e.g., intelligence and spoils of war), and the virtues and vices of battles (e.g., magnanimity in victory and treatment of prisoners)...

Download the full PDF here.


The failure of contemporary societies during the past sixty years in the post-World War II period to effectively combat terrorism at home and abroad is, indeed, puzzling. After all, all nations are fully aware that the most critical element in combating the challenge of terrorism is intelligence. That is, the knowledge acquired, whether overtly or covertly, for the purpose of both internal and external statecraft.

And yet, despite this awareness, the grim reality is that terrorism is still attractive and works. For instance, according to recent press reports, during the past year and a half alone some 2,063 attacks were recorded in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, with a death toll of 28,031. Likewise, 46 attacks occurred in Europe and the Americas, and as a result of which some 658 were killed.

The purpose of this introduction is to provide an academic context for the apparent lingering confusion regarding the nature and implications of intelligence in democracies. It presents a brief overview of the challenge of modern terrorism, outlines key aspects of the role of intelligence in confronting the threats at home and abroad, and reports on the two latest academic efforts in this security area that are incorporated in this study.

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DIKWcoverCIntelligence Complexity details a theory of intelligence complexity based on discrete levels of intelligence: Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom (DIKW). The report provides detailed descriptions of each of these defined levels of intelligence and puts forward a framework that can be used to measure the intelligence complexity of any intelligent system. Intelligence Complexity’s DIKW framework provides an alternative to the Turing Test as a measure of a system’s ability to reach defined levels of intelligence.

Intelligence Complexity also introduces a new concept (I = E x C) developed by author Michael Swetnam to explain what drives intelligent systems to learn. This theory posits that intelligence is inextricably linked to emotion, which is a key force that drives the development of human intelligence forward. The authors present a thermodynamic argument of emotion that attempts to explain the human intelligence system in terms of complexity, efficiency and entropy.

RefugeeCrisiscoverFrom time immemorial humanity has been challenged by a wide range of manmade calamities, usually resulting from criminality, corruption, political violence, and economic and technological disasters. These events have been labeled by historians and contemporary observers as dangers bringing fear, suffering, destruction, and death. Such misfortunes were also characterized as multiple forms of “humanitarian and security crises” facing all societies.

One of the most lingering and devastating manifestations of this reality is the “refugee crisis.” According to a popular definition “refugees are people who vote with their feet,” as described by Berliner Illustrirte on crowds fleeing from Communist East Germany in its 1961 Special Issue. A more “formal” articulation of the term is provided by Merriam-Webster dictionary, stating that a refugee is “one that flees; especially: a person who flees to a foreign country or power to escape danger or persecution.”

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coverPIPSITARThe International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), the set of regulations that limit U.S. exports in the name of national security, need to be rescinded with new enabling legislation because they continue to be a threat to the United States (U.S.) national security and economic interests despite a well-intended Executive reform initiative that has taken place over the last seven years.

The Potomac Institute has followed and actively engaged in the decades of debate surrounding U.S. export control rules and laws. The Institute noted in 2009 that the Executive Branch began its Export Control Reform (ECR) Initiative to address the many concerns of various stakeholders, such as those highlighted in a 2009 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report that examined the impacts of these rules and laws.12In 2015, the Institute opened a center focused on using science to improve regulations and regulatory policies –the Regulatory Science & Engineering Center (RSEC). One of its first studies was following up on the current reform initiatives taking place regarding the ITAR and determining what kinds of impacts the ITAR were still having on national security and economic interest related to science & technology (S&T).


In carrying out this study the Institute conducted an extensive literature review regarding government, industry and academic accounts of the impacts the ITAR were having on the U.S. Additionally, the study team held workshops and seminars with experts in actually implementing the ITAR reform efforts and leaders from the sciences, defense industry, information technology sector, academia, military and legal communities.

Our analysis found that the ITAR restricts companies’ abilities to develop and export certain technologies with potential military application. The regulations simultaneously inhibit international collaboration in relevant research and development, banning industry and academic scientists from sharing technical information with foreign entities and individuals. In today’s interconnected, globalized world that struggles with a diverse array of threats, ITAR impedes domestic scientific growth and weakens the national security of the U.S. and its foreign partners. In many ways our findings and conclusions reflect the same kinds of issues the NAS identified in 2009. Although, the recommendations of that study indicated the best solution was Executive rather than Legislative because it was believed Executive action could act more swiftly to address the many problems that needed rapid solutions.

After seven years, our analysis indicates that many of the same problems still exist that prompted the reform effort indicating that a new strategy needs to be considered. Efforts to reform ITAR have not been successful because the underlying assumptions of the ITAR framework are flawed. Therefore, we conclude that the best course of action is to sunset ITAR.

This report is a detailed account of our study methods and a thorough description of the findings, conclusions and recommendations from our analysis regarding the impacts of the ITAR on U.S. national security and economic interests related to S&T. The following is an abbreviated description of these findings, conclusions and recommendations.

1. National Research Council. 2009. Beyond “Fortress America”: National Security Controls on Science and Technology in a Globalized World. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/12567.

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roleofLaw3The International Center for Terrorism Studies produced a report in May reflecting on past and current assessments as well as anticipated future outlooks for the role of law enforcement in combating terrorism. The purpose of this report is to deal only with some selected terrorism-related dangers, focusing on law enforcement and police responses.

Additionally, a wide range of academic and practitioners’ phraseology must be noted in connection with the meaning of “terrorism.” Generic terms such as radicalization, extremism, violence, conflicts, armed struggle, war, and even peace spring to mind. Thus, “terrorism” challenges include organized crime, piracy, low intensity or low-level conflicts, guerrilla campaigns, insurgencies, asymmetric warfare, civil wars, cyber dangers, and weapons of mass destruction (e.g., biological, chemical, radiological, and nuclear).

In the face of such and other security concerns, the missions of law enforcement and police agencies are therefore linked directly or indirectly to broad frameworks of national, regional, and inter-regional response strategies and tactics. Among the numerous prevalent concepts, mention should be made of those such as anti-terrorism, combating terrorism, counter-insurgency efforts, clandestine operations, overseas contingency activities, targeted killings, and the global war on terrorism.

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The “cloud” over Russia’s intentions, capabilities, and actions still lingers on. For nearly a century its conduct in the Eurasian region, the Caucasus, the Balkans, the Baltics, the Middle East, and elsewhere has consistently been characterized as an “enigma.” This current report on “Russia’s Strategic Puzzle: Past Lessons, Current Assessment, and Future Outlook” provides a modest academic effort to focus on the historical and contemporary context as well as on several case studies such as the Ukraine crisis and the Kremlin’s involvement in Syria. Contributions to this publication are by former government officials, a serving diplomat, and academics. The co-sponsors of the report are the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies, the International Center for Terrorism Studies at Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, and the Inter-University Center for Legal Studies at the International Law Institute.

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On March 30, 2016, the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies (IUCTS) published its seventh annual report, “Terrorism in North Africa and the Sahel in 2015,” authored by Prof. Yonah Alexander, Director-IUCTS. The report finds the region & global community facing the most serious security challenges since 9/11, from natural and man-made threats ranging from Ebola to extremism. The rise of the co-called “Islamic State” (Daesh) and the resilience of al-Qa’ida and their affiliates in Africa in 2015 have resulted in much greater instability on the continent with a costly strategic impact inter-regionally. The study recommends the U.S. & allies engage more effectively to slow a security crisis that is erupting across Africa’s “arc of instability.” Other recommendations include:

  • “Strengthen U.S. and NATO intelligence assets by broadening cooperation through AFRICOM, NATO’s Partnership for Peace, and other modalities that supply and support training, equipment, and monitoring of resources throughout the region”;
  • “Continue to expand U.S. counterterrorism technical assistance and training to internal security personnel”;
  • “Work to settle intra-regional conflicts that provide openings for extremists to exploit and impede security and economic cooperation — including the Western Sahara dispute and the problem of refugees in the Polisario-run camps in Algeria;
  • “Recognize the importance of and provide quiet encouragement to Muslim leaders in promoting the practice of a moderate Islam, as well as counter-radicalization programs that limit the appeal of extremist recruiters”;
  • And “Promote regional trade and investment by expanding the US-Morocco Free Trade Agreement to include goods and products from North, West, and Central Africa."

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 As NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, celebrates its 67th anniversary, it still represents the most significant defensive and offensive alliance in the past two centuries. And yet, in early 2016 its twenty-eight nation-state members are still facing a broad range of old and new horizontal and vertical challenges. These include piracy, terrorism, regional conflicts, humanitarian crises, high-seas piracy, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), and cyber threats. Indeed, the status quo and combined deterrence and containment of the forty-years’ Cold War have been replaced by the realities of the changed world from Europe to the Middle East and beyond. Suffice it to mention the ongoing Russian military operations in Ukraine and now in Syria, the escalation of radicalization and violence perpetuated by an array of state and sub-state actors such as al-Qa’ida affiliates, and the ominous emergence of the newly declared caliphate by the “Islamic State” (also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh).

The current report on “NATO: Confronting Regional and Global Challenges” is a modest academic effort to provide a context for the Alliance’s political and military missions in the coming months and years.

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Introduction excerpt:
Professor Yonah Alexander
Director, Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies

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Since time immemorial war has been a permanent fixture in the struggle of power within and among nations. It is not surprising therefore that Sun Tzu, China’s foremost strategist, observed over 2500 years ago that “war is a matter of vital importance to the state, the province of life or death, the road to survival or ruin” (400-320 BC, The Art of War, II). Similarly, in modern times, Winston Churchill, Britain’s great former Prime Minister, famously noted that “in mortal war, anger must be subordinated in defeating the main immediate enemy” (The Gathering Storm, 1948).

Despite this stark reality, a related political concept, “terrorism” (constituting fear and psychological and physical violence as an instrument of tactical and
strategic power employed by individuals, groups, and sovereign entities seeking to achieve single-issue or broader policy objectives at home or abroad) has
consistently evaded universal agreement on the meaning of the term. Specifically, there is no consensus as to who are the “terrorists,” what are the
root causes of the phenomenon, and how societies should combat national, regional, and international threats.

Suffice it to mention that in the Twentieth Century even the League of Nations Convention of 1937 was never enacted by member states because of contradictory political and ideological perceptions of the security dangers posed by “terrorism.” Likewise, the United Nations, thus far at least, has failed to craft and adopt a comprehensive global legal instrument intended to provide theoretical and practical clarity to various manifestations of violence short of allout war.

In light of the post-9/11 era, characterized by the dramatic expansion of terrorists’ modus operandi by “propaganda by deed” and the “deed by propaganda,” the question arises whether contemporary states will continue to reserve to themselves the legal and moral authority to define “terrorism” or perhaps usher in a more inclusive universal framework in the coming years.


To be sure, this question has continuously been on the academic agenda for the past fifteen years. For example, within the context of the mission of the Inter- University Center for Terrorism Studies (administered by both the International Center for Terrorism Studies at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and the Inter-University Center for Legal Studies at the International Law Institute), we have undertaken a number of interdisciplinary research projects covering different security challenges from shutting down international terror networks to combating weapons of mass destruction threats.


Several studies are noteworthy. Al-Qa’ida Ten Years After 9/11 and Beyond (2012), as well as Al-Qa’ida’s Mystique Exposed: Usama bin Laden’s Private
Communications (2016), were co-authored by Yonah Alexander and Michael S. Swetnam and published by Potomac Institute Press. The purpose of the later volume is to provide a rare window into the covert life of the founding leader of one of the most dangerous terrorist movements in modern times. Fortunately for the U.S. government and subsequently for the international community at large, untangling a substantial part of al-Qa’ida’s enigmatic nature became easily possible following the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan on May 2, 2011. Selected declassified correspondence of the infamous leader that is contained in this book is provided courtesy of the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence.


Another recent work is The Islamic State: Combating the Caliphate Without Borders (2015), co-authored by Yonah Alexander and Dean Alexander and
published by Lexington Books. This study offers insights into the nature of the Islamic State (also known as IS or ISIS) and what the international community can do to combat it. In order to achieve this objective, the origins, intentions, leadership, capabilities, and operations of the IS are explored. The Islamic State’s multifaceted efforts and effects in the region and beyond are described. Also, national, regional, and global strategies that are being pursued to address the new threat are examined. To this end, a range of recommendations are offered on specific steps that governmental, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental bodies can take to counter the IS menace. Lastly, additional insights are presented relevant to combating the IS and undermining its potential future capabilities.



QuoVadisProfessor Yonah Alexander

Director, Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies

Contemporary Syria (formally the Syrian Arab Republic) is a United Nations member state under the regime of President Bashar Assad. Tragically, it ranks as one of the most brutal dictatorships in the history of mankind. As the country’s raging war grinds through its fifth year, a total of an estimated 300,000 citizens, including women, children, and elderly, have been killed and thousands more wounded. The gravity of the humanitarian crisis is demonstrated by the four million Syrian refugees who fled the unbearable costs of the unending battles, into Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq and, with hundreds of thousands even journeying from the Middle East towards safety in Europe and elsewhere.

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A Collaboration Between the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and SharpBrains

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

On Tuesday, September 29th, 2015, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies hosted a seminar in collaboration with SharpBrains titled, “The Neurotechnology Revolution: Market Trends & Impacts”. The seminar sought to initiate a discussion of the growing trends in funding and market development based on two recently released reports on emerging neurotechnology by Potomac Institute and Sharpbrains.

Dr. Jennifer Buss, Director of the Potomac Institute’s Center for Neurotechnology Studies provided opening remarks for the seminar and introduced the Potomac Institute’s Trends in Neurotechnology Report. Unnati Mehta, the author of the report, presented some of the key components of this report to the audience. The report focused on the recent acceleration in neuroscience research publications and technology development. Neu­rotech­nol­ogy can be used to fur­ther under­stand the nat­ural processes of the brain, study and treat neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders and injuries, and enhance neural capa­bil­i­ties, result­ing in increased human intel­li­gence and effi­ciency. Out­side of the realm of health, it will be used in social con­texts to improve over­all qual­ity of life. Brain Computer Interfaces (BCIs), imaging capabilities, cognitive load and wearable technologies have all improved rapidly and are being applied in multiple fields.

Alvaro Fernandez, CEO & Co-founder of Sharpbrains, provided remarks to summarize and highlight some of the most important findings from Sharpbrains’ Pervasive Neurotechnology report. The report is a comprehensive analysis of more than 10,000 patent filings that are transforming medicine, health, entertainment, and business. He delved into the key trends and insights that define pervasive neurotechnology developments, from exponential intellectual property growth and technology acquisition from large companies to the use of neuro-monitoring technologies and sensors in many social applications.

John Cammack, Managing Partner of Cammack Associates, spoke about his observations of significant growth in our understanding of the brain’s functionality in complex areas like consciousness, awareness, attention, and memory. Because of these exciting, groundbreaking findings in the field of neuroscience, entrepreneurs and innovators are looking to translate this research into a market for enhancing human capabilities and brain fitness. These technologies will help us to improve outcomes for sufferers of mental illness and neurodegenerative diseases and disorders, but they will also provide normative datasets for use in large-scale research applications.

A panel discussion following the speakers’ remarks involved the topics of neurotechnology personalization, the indicators that neurotechnology investment is here to stay, the impacts of neurotechnology on society, and policy recommendations on advancing neurotechnology. The neurotechnologies and their future iterations discussed during the panel will provide improved communication and make society more productive. Along these lines, there are many opportunities to apply the available science to government policy decisions in many areas. Additionally, these growing technology trends should be incorporated into policy ideas for the successful development and implementation of neurotechnology, such as the President’s BRAIN Initiative, so that we can make the most of the tremendous potential that neurotechnology offers.


Mr. Alan Shaffer’s seminar provided key insights into personal experiences throughout his career, both in the Air Force and in public service. Furthermore, Mr. Shaffer spoke and reflected on lessons and highlights acquired from more than a decade of serving in senior roles in the Pentagon. Attendees were provided a glimpse into his Pentagon career as a leader in research and engineering, including assignments as the Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. In this position, Mr. Shaffer was responsible for formulating, planning and reviewing the DoD Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) programs, plans, strategy, priorities and execution of the DoD RDT&E budget totaling roughly $25 billion per year.

Mr. Shaffer discussed the acquisition and technology strategies employed at the DoD. He addressed the need for project managers to own the technological baseline, with an emphasis on technical expertise and experience. While the DoD operates on very complex statutory processes, Mr. Shaffer spoke to the Department’s ability to continue to be an innovating force. The DoD works in tandem with commercial technologies and Congress as partners in the technology innovation process. Mr. Shaffer posed his ideas for fueling agile innovation in the DoD through the development of open systems that work with industry, creating new markets for upgrades, and providing opportunities for creativity across all systems. Mr. Shaffer engaged the younger generation of attendees and reflected on the most important lessons from his career.

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Download Full PDFForeword 
Professor Don Wallace, Jr. 
Chairman, International Law Institute 

I am happy to have been asked by Professor Alexander to prepare this foreword to “Europe: Quo Vadis? (Political, Legal, and Security Perspectives).” Yonah Alexander’s “Europe: Quo Vadis? (Political, Legal, and Security Perspectives).” Yonah Alexander’s Introduction to this volume recites the many dimensions of our subject. Dimensions in which he, Introduction to this volume recites the many dimensions of our subject. Dimensions in which he, organizations in which he has been involved or with which he has cooperated, and programs that organizations in which he has been involved or with which he has cooperated, and programs that they have conducted, have touched upon and opened up.

To be sure, Professor Alexander’s central concern, the permanent need to be cognizant of, knowledgeable about and determined to resist the insidious threats of terrorism, is always of, knowledgeable about and determined to resist the insidious threats of terrorism, is always front and center in his work. But “Europe: Quo Vadis?” encompasses much more, as does the front and center in his work. But “Europe: Quo Vadis?” encompasses much more, as does the world in which Europe finds itself today. The Eurozone, and the EU itself, is challenged by the world in which Europe finds itself today. The Eurozone, and the EU itself, is challenged by the financial and economic straits of some of it members. Its expenditures on defense and especially financial and economic straits of some of it members. Its expenditures on defense and especially as these relate to NATO, and issues such as some of Turkey’s vagaries, are causes for concern.

The antics and behavior of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, towards Ukraine and neighboring countries may be the greatest threat to Europe, and thus to us. How Europe relates itself to the rise of Asia, may be the greatest threat to Europe, and thus to us. How Europe relates itself to the rise of Asia, especially its economic rise, will be of paramount concern. But Europe’s economy and society especially its economic rise, will be of paramount concern. But Europe’s economy and society remain powerfully attractive: to Africans risking their lives to find livelihood, and to terrorists remain powerfully attractive: to Africans risking their lives to find livelihood, and to terrorists seeking to upend its values, as in the cowardly assaults in Paris on Charlie Hebdo, and a Jewish seeking to upend its values, as in the cowardly assaults in Paris on Charlie Hebdo, and a Jewish supermarket on that day. Extremists of various ilks challenge mainstream political parties. And one of Europe’s most lethal bacilli, anti-semitism, as Yonah points out in his Introduction, has one of Europe’s most lethal bacilli, anti-semitism, as Yonah points out in his Introduction, has returned, in several strains, traditional as in Greece and Hungary, and possibly in an equally virulent form in France and elsewhere.

The reference to Pope Francis, by Yonah, implicates the ultimate questions for Europe: quo vadis its values, its spirit, its will? Its true security depends on the answers to those questions.

I trust you find our report of value.

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Professor Yonah Alexander
Director, Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies

Since the division of the subcontinent in 1947, South Asia has continuously been facing multiple threats to peace, stability, and economic development. Regional countries -- India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan -- have experienced various forms of intolerance, extremism, and violence. Suffice it to mention organized crime, terrorism, insurgency, periodic flare-ups, armed skirmishes, and outbreaks of civil and external wars. An ongoing critical security concern is the unresolved conflict between India and Pakistan over the control of Kashmir. Indeed, this challenge contains the seed of a potential nuclear escalation that might drag the entire region to the brink of an unprecedented disaster.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the academic community worldwide has closely followed strategic developments in South Asia for decades. For example, the Institute for Studies in International Terrorism at the State University of New York (SUNY) cooperated in 1968 with educational partners in India to hold an international conference in New Delhi dealing, inter alia, with communal violence as an obstacle to peace. Similar academic undertakings were co- sponsored with numerous institutions in the region and elsewhere in Asia, including China, Japan, Indonesia, and South Korea.

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The panel was formed to recommend changes to U.S. policy and law to strengthen national biodefense while optimizing resource investments. Former Senator Joe Lieberman and former Governor Tom Ridge co-chair the panel, joined by panel members Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, former Senator Tom Daschle, former Representative Jim Greenwood, and the Honorable Kenneth Wainstein.

The Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies (administered by the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies) is an institutional co-sponsor of the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense's report.

For more information on the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, please visit their website.





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Download Full PDFEbola & Extremism: Rising Security Threats from Natural & Man-made Challenges in Africa
Professor Yonah Alexander
Director, Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies

Two major security challenges are facing contemporary societies in Africa and elsewhere. The first stems from natural disasters, and the second is from calamities caused by man-made actions. More specifically, “mother nature’s” profound impact on Africa’s security ranges from earthquakes to famine to infectious disease epidemics.


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Download PDFIntroduction excerpt:
Professor Yonah Alexander
Director, Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies

     As this report goes to press, the world once again has been facing an alarming upsurge of threats to peace in the form of terrorism, insurgencies, and outbreaks of full-scale wars. Some of the expanding manifestations of violence have been aggravated by ideological extremism, nationalistic fanaticism, ethnic hatred, racial prejudices, religious animosities and justified in the name of “rights,” “justice” and even “peace.”

The current security challenges include the renewed Palestinian-Israeli hostilities in Gaza, the apparent “Balkanization” of Syria and Iraq, and Iran’s continued nuclear ambitions. These concerns threaten not only the future destabilization of the region itself but also contain the seeds for grave strategic implications globally.

The stopping of the unfolding violence and building a lasting peace in the region overshadows any other immediate security considerations. For example, as members of the academic community we have an obligation to provide an intellectual context to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict as well as to participate in the international effort to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East and elsewhere. In this connection it is noteworthy to mention several studies that were undertaken over the years. First is a book titled Crescent and Star: Arab and Israeli Perspectives on the Middle East Conflict edited by Yonah Alexander and Nicholas N. Kittrie and published by AMS Press in New York and Toronto in 1973. This volume focused on various questions that underlie the regional and global challenges. Some of the issues addressed were the following: a conflict between two antagonistic nationalisms; religious and ethnical tensions; violations of minority and human rights; expansionism and boundary disputes; conflict over the control of Jerusalem and the Holy Places; hostilities concerning the use of the Jordan River and freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Aqaba and Suez Canal; a competition among world powers.

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Download Full PDFintroduction excerpt:"Professor Yonah Alexander
Director, Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies

     The resort to force as a tactical and strategic tool in the struggle for power within and among nations is as old as history itself. As Homer observed more than three thousand years ago: “The blade itself incites to violence.”1 Thus, the modus operandi of both strong and weak actors has been to deploy a wide range of arms, from primitive to high tech to mass destruction (biological, chemical, radiological, and nuclear).

     Suffice to mention several historical examples of this evolutionary process. During the first century, Jewish extremists known as Zealot Sicarii used daggers in surprise attacks against Roman leaders in occupied Judea. Similarly, primitive martyrdom missions were undertaken by the Hashashin (Assassins) against the Crusaders in the Middle East in a campaign lasting some 200 years between the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries. The strategic implications of this record have amply demonstrated that even “low-level” tactics are durable and effective.

     Indeed, over the subsequent centuries, violent conflicts featured the evolution of weaponry from swords and catapults to guns and explosives and increasingly to more sophisticated land, sea, and air arms. Antoine-Henri Jomini (a military philosopher and general under Napoleon and Tsar Nicolas I who was best known for his influential book, “Summary of the Art of War,” published in 1838) keenly predicted that “the means of destruction are approaching perfection with frightful rapidity.”


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Tehran's Bomb ChallengeIntroduction
Professor Yonah Alexander
Director, Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies

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     The rise of power in Iran of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the November 1979 seizure of the United States Embassy in Tehran and of some 60 American hostages by “revolutionary students” triggered a flurry of introspection in Washington concerning the policies which successive Administrations had followed with a country of enormous strategic and economic importance in the Middle East.

     Among the questions that have been raised during that historical period were the following: What had gone wrong? Why had the United States failed to assess correctly the strength of the elements that brought down the Shah [Shahanshah, King of Kings, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in January 1979, after a 37-year rule]? Why had the United States linked its fortunes so closely to those of the Shah in the first place? What did the national interests of the United States consist of as applied to Iran? What were the full implications of the transformation of Iran from a friendly ally to a hostile adversary of the United States?


     These and related issues were analyzed in a study on The United States and Iran: A Documentary History, co-edited by Yonah Alexander and Allan Nanes and published by the University Publications of America in 1980. This work was prepared in association with the World Power Studies Program of the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Georgetown University.

     During the next 34 years, other research efforts have been undertaken, focusing on Iran’s strategic and tactical intentions, capabilities, and actions. For instance, Tehran’s expanding terrorism role was discussed within the framework of the study, Terrorism: As State-Sponsored of Covert Warfare, co-authored by Ray S. Cline and Yonah Alexander and published by Hero Books in 1986. This work was undertaken in cooperation with the Center of Strategic and International Studies of Georgetown University and prepared at the request of the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate. This publication underscored the fact that the goal of psychological terror and physical violence employed by totalitarian dictatorships, like the Iranian regime, is to maintain control of their own people and to expand this kind of control over other regions and nations. In the face of Iran’s terrorism challenge, the United States, its friends and allies, particularly Israel, have developed a wide range of countermeasures. They consisted inter alia of intelligence, economic and security assistance, political and diplomatic pressures, economic sanctions, clandestine counter-terrorism infiltrations, and overt military operations.


 Despite these activities, Tehran continued to resort to terrorism at home and abroad. Additionally, Iran’s apparent vision of a country becoming the dominant power in the Middle East had led its leadership to develop a nuclear program in open defiance of United Nations resolutions. In this connection, the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies (IUCTS, a consortium of universities and think tanks operating in over 40 countries) had conducted a major research project resulting in the release of a study on The New Iranian Leadership: Ahmadinejad, Nuclear Ambition, and the Middle East. This book, co-authored by Yonah Alexander and Milton Hoenig, was published by Praeger Security International in 2007. It documents Ahmadinejad’s background and rise to power and explains the structure of the Iranian Revolutionary government—the competing centers of power and the major players. The study then details the terrorist groups funded and armed by Iran, primarily Hizballah and Hamas. It also provides a comprehensive picture of Iran’s apparent aspirations to acquire nuclear weapons, as well as the related implications for regional and global security concerns.

     Moreover, numerous seminars and conferences related to the multiple Iranian security challenges to the international community were held in the United States and abroad. For example, on December 6, 2011, a seminar was co-sponsored by the IUCTS, International Center for Terrorism Studies (ICTS) at Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, and the Inter-University Center for Legal Studies (IUCLS) at the International Law Institute. The topic was “Iran’s Nuclear Program: A Final Warning?” and held at Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Arlington, VA. The event highlighted Tehran’s nuclear weapon program amidst the backdrop of an uncertain political reality in the Middle East. Moderated by Professor Yonah Alexander, a panel of experts included Dr. Leonard S. Spector (Executive Director, Washington, DC, Office, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterrey Institute of International Studies); Dr. Christopher A. Ford (Senior Fellow and Director, Center for Technology and Global Security, Hudson Institute); Michael Eisenstadt (Director, Military and Security Studies Program, Washington Institute for Near East Policy); Guy Roberts (Former Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Policy and Director, Nuclear Policy, Emerging Security Challenges Division, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); and Professor Don Wallace, Jr. (Chairman, International Law Institute). Because of the relevance of this topic, a summary of this event follows.

     Dr. Spector offered four main points: First, he warned that the West had only one to three years to counter Iran before it gained the ability to rapidly produce a small arsenal of nuclear warheads. Second, he stressed that although current measures to stop Iran from achieving this goal are often innovative and are being pressed aggressively by the United States and like- minded governments, they have not yet proven effective, and Iran continues to make progress toward acquiring a nuclear-weapon capability.

     Third, he said, this apparent reality makes it necessary to escalate U.S. and international efforts both to pressure Iran to halt its sensitive nuclear activities and to prevent its further progress. Such escalation is likely to entail tougher sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran and, in all probability, an intensification of covert operations against Iran’s nuclear program. Citing comments by the then Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Dr. Spector noted that overt military action, while “on the table” in theory, appears to be “off the table,” as a practical matter, at least for now. But Panetta left the door open for covert actions. Some, such as “accidental” explosions at sensitive sites, Dr. Spector argued, might be as destructive as an air strike. He also noted that sanctions originally directed at the Iranian nuclear program had become so broad that they appear to be aimed increasingly at weakening the Iranian regime.

     That brought Dr. Spector to his fourth point, which he referred to as “Operation Arab Spring.” Noting that the regime of Bashar Assad appears to be crumbling in Syria, he stressed that when it falls, possibly within the next six months, Iran will lose its only national ally in the region. This would not only reduce the risk of Iran fomenting a wider war in the Middle East in response to interventions to curb its nuclear program, but would also force the Iranian Revolutionary Government to focus its energies on what will certainly be growing domestic challenges to its survival – challenges that will take strength from the Syrian precedent. Indeed, Dr. Spector concluded, if one looks at the combination of what is happening in Syria and the broader sanctions being imposed to undermine the legitimacy of the current Iranian regime, overall U.S. “grand strategy” may well be to promote the overthrow of the mullahs once the Syrian domino has fallen.

     The next speaker, Dr. Christopher A. Ford, discussed three distinct arguments against clandestine warfare and how he expected that U.S. officials might respond to those arguments in pondering the prospect of such a campaign. The first argument he addressed discussed the notion that clandestine warfare is illegal. Dr. Ford set the grounds for his argument acknowledging that both the United States and Israel have left overt military action on the table for addressing Iran’s nuclear program, which implies that a military offensive would be deemed legal by both actors. (Indeed, both nations have set a precedent of preemptive military strikes on rogue states’ nuclear weapon facilities as demonstrated in Iraq and Syria.) Dr. Ford argued that if preemptive action against an offensive weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program is an act of self defense and is a “legally available” option, then so also must be the “lesser-included” policy of covert war.

     He also discussed the implications of a covert war, as compared to an overt military strike, through the prism of international humanitarian law. Traditional military strikes might be more effective than most covert means in damaging a nuclear program, but they might also produce more collateral damage and come at a higher geopolitical cost than covert strikes. Covert methods might thus be depicted as morally superior to “legal” military action, and certainly not inconsistent with law-of-war principles stressing the minimization of suffering.

     Dr. Ford then discussed the “Caroline Case” of 1837, which provides a frequently-cited articulation of the legal precedent for preemptive warfare. The British viewpoint expressed in that episode – coupled with the parties’ difficulty in arriving at a common understanding of how to operationalize the agreed legal standard, which suggests the flexibility of the concept – arguably supports the idea that it is justifiable to engage in anticipatory self-defense against an assailant in the more modern context of emerging WMD threats. Dr. Ford then suggested that U.S. officials might find a further ground for a campaign against Iran because Tehran is passively and directly supporting terrorism, going so far as aiding and abetting al-Qa’ida and the Taliban in their war against the United States. The United States has demonstrated that it believes itself to have legal authority for using force against al-Qa’ida and all its supporters, grounded in self-defense and the Authorization for Use of Military Force enacted on September 18, 2001, and this might be felt now to apply against Iran.

     The next argument against covert action Dr. Ford addressed is the idea that covert warfare would provoke a bloodbath and that Iran is on a much more level playing field in this type of warfare. He agreed that Iran is adept at covert war, but noted that Iran already considers itself to be in such a conflict, and has been actively engaged in a covert war against the United States for the past three decades. Iran has supported and directed terror operations against the United States ranging from the Beirut bombing to the plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. From Iran’s perspective, no covert war taboo remains to be broken; the main question is what the United States will do on its side of the campaign.

     The last idea that Dr. Ford discusses is that counter-proliferation is unlikely to stop Iran’s program. He acknowledges that this notion does indeed have some legitimacy, suggesting that disruptive tactics will not end the program but merely delay it. Though these tactics by themselves may prove to be unsuccessful, however, if coupled with other strategies to address the Iranian problem, they might provide enough time to stop the program by other means (e.g., regime change). Finally, Dr. Ford stresses the importance of making Iran policy with an eye not merely to counter-proliferation in Iran but also to the international nuclear nonproliferation regime as a whole. Even if Iran ultimately succeeds in developing nuclear weapons, U.S. officials might find it very important to make the cost of such a program to be as high as possible in order to serve as an example to other would-be nuclear proliferator states. This systemic rationale might provide a reason to justify a covert campaign against Iran for years to come.

     Michael Eisenstadt then discussed the larger consequences of Iranian nuclear proliferation, comparing it to Pakistan, China, Russia, and North Korea and their practice of sharing weapon technology. In response to the threat posed by Iran, regional powers have significantly increased their conventional military forces as well as expressed interest in pursuing their own “civilian” nuclear programs. This regional militarization is inherently dangerous for stability and could have massive international implications. Iran wants to create the perception that its development of nuclear power is inevitable with the creation of covert facilities, the use of mixed messages and double entendres, and symbolic demonstrations, such as showing their missiles instead of nuclear weapons. Thus, the Iranians are already using their program as a deterrent against the United States and other regional opponents. Eisenstadt suggests that Iran’s other option is to create all of the necessary infrastructure for an atomic weapon without making the bomb itself. He suggests that at the moment Iran might not have the capability to create a weapon, but if they stockpile enriched uranium and delivery systems, then years down the road they can make one rapidly if need be. Ultimately, Iran would not have invested this much energy and capital as well as such faced harsh sanctions if they were not bent on creating nuclear weapons at some point. Eisenstadt believes that U.S. policy towards Iran needs to be reset in order for the United States to rebuild its credibility and force Iran to believe our threats. The recent attempt to engage in terrorism on American soil is an indication that Iran no longer fears U.S. military retribution.

     Guy Roberts, the next speaker, explained that the United States is already at war with Iran, from Iran’s involvement with Hizballah to the Quds Force activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result, covert war should continue, but overt war is also a perfectly viable option. Iran is moving deeper into South America, specifically Venezuela and Bolivia. Thus, the United States needs to be more assertive to stop Iran’s global spread. The United States needs to address every facet of any potential Iranian offense and show Iran the true cost of its nuclear program. If the United States and NATO become more assertive and aggressive, then Iran would be forced to see the west’s threats as credible and possibly end their program. The European Union and NATO also need to present Iran with incentives to stop their nuclear weapons program. The carrot and stick approach must be fully utilized to ensure the security of NATO members, especially Turkey which is vulnerable to Iranian hostility. Roberts suggests that the United States and NATO may have to demonstrate the “teeth to our bite” if Iran continues to develop its weapons program. He believes the region needs a strong military commitment to ensure stability and act as a deterrent to other nations who may attempt to proliferate. Ultimately, this commitment could lead to a potential WMD free zone in the Middle East, which Roberts believes to be the best scenario for future stability and security.

     Professor Don Wallace, Jr., closed the individual presentation portion of the seminar. He agreed with many of the speakers that, apart from the specific challenge of Iran, the viability of the Nonproliferation Treaty must be ensured. He believes the Iranians to be an extremely proud and ambitious people, so even if there were regime change, a new regime may not stop their attempts to build a nuclear weapon. In his view, co-existing with a nuclear-armed Iran is a scenario that is completely unacceptable.

     Indeed, the foregoing insights discussed three years ago do provide a useful context to the latest seminar on “Tehran’s Bomb Challenge: Crossroads, Roadblocks, and Roadmaps to Rapproachment?” held on December 5, 2013, at Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. This event, moderated by Professor Yonah Alexander, consisted of a panel with Bijan R. Kian (highest ranking Iranian-American to serve two U.S. presidents, held other careers in both business and a former Senior Fellow, Naval Postgraduate School); Ambassador Noam Katz (former
Dr. Anthony Fainberg (former Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Director of Office of Policy and Planning for Aviation Security and
currently consultant for the Institute for Defense Analyses), and Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi (Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the author of The Pasdaran: Inside Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.).
As this report goes to press, several developments related to Iran during January-March 2014 are noteworthy:

     First, Saudi Arabia provided the Lebanese army a 3 billion dollar grant to counter Hizballah, Iran’s proxy.

     Second, the al-Qa’ida-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings targeting the Iranian Cultural Center in Beirut in retaliation to Hizballah and Tehran’s role in the Syrian war.

     Third, Iran reported that it perfected multiple-warhead, medium-range ballistic missiles designed specifically to attack American targets. It also declared that the West “cannot entertain illusions” of Tehran completely ending its enrichment program.

     Fourth, the Israeli Navy seized the Klos-C, sailing under a Panamanian flag, in the Red Sea, off the coast of Sudan. The ship was carrying dozens of M-302 rockets intended for the Islamic Jihad in Gaza. This “arms export” operation was coordinated by Iran.
Ambassador of Israel to Nigeria and Ghana and currently Minister of Public Diplomacy at the
Israeli Embassy in Washington);

     And fifth, the U.S. Congress in bipartisan letters to President Obama asserted that in whatever a final agreement with Iran, the Islamic Republic must not retain any capability to pursue a nuclear weapon.

     Finally, an appreciation is due to Michael S. Swetnam (Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies) and Professor Don Wallace, Jr. (Chairman, International Law Institute) who participated actively at the December 5, 2013, seminar. Additionally, the research background for this report was provided by the Winter 2013 and Spring 2014 team of graduate and undergraduate interns coordinated by Sharon Layani (University of Michigan). The team included James Nusse (The George Washington University), Michael Klement (University of Denver), Sheila Davis (Duquense University), William Docimo (London School of Economics), Stephanie Rieger (University of Wisconsin), David Wiese (University of Exeter), Kai Huntamer (University of California, Los Angeles), Courtney Van Wagner (University of Georgia), Garth Keffer (University of California, Davis), Roxanne Oroxom (University of Maryland), John Jermyn (University at Albany, the State University of New York), and G. Genghis Hallsby (University of Iowa). Mary Ann Culver prepared the manuscript for publication. All these individuals deserve special gratitude for their efficient support.


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On February 17, 2015 the Inter-­‐University Center for Terrorism Studies (IUCTS) published its sixth annual report, “Terrorism in North Africa and the Sahel in 2014,” authored by Prof. Yonah Alexander, Director-­‐IUCTS. The report finds the region & global community facing the most serious security challenges since 9/11, from natural and man-­‐made threats ranging from Ebola to extremism. The rise of the so-­‐called 'Islamic State' and resilience of al-­‐Qaida & affiliates contributed to a 25% jump in terrorist attacks in N. Africa & the Sahel in 2014, the highest level since 9/11. The study recommends the US & allies engage more effectively to slow a security crisis that is erupting across Africa’s “arc of instability."

SeeingisntBelievingOn July 23rd, 2015, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies hosted a seminar to address the various ways in which neuroimaging technology has advanced, and how these new developments can be used to achieve the goals of the President’s BRAIN Initiative. The BRAIN Initiative has spearheaded an effort to map and understand the human brain, and novel neuroimaging technologies need to be developed in order to accomplish this goal. Neuroimaging encompasses the set of techniques that researchers use to create a structural and/or functional map of the nervous system. There have been many laudable achievements in developing neurotechnologies over the years, especially in the area of imaging and observing the brain, but technology development has stalled over recent years. Because of the growth of capabilities in other fields, from microelectronics and supercomputing to artificial intelligence, there is a renewed opportunity for collaboration that can result in even more significant improvements to the neurotechnology imaging tools available to researchers.
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Revolutions in neurotechnology will soon influence every aspect of human life. Neurotechnology can be used to further understand the natural processes of the brain, study and treat neurological disorders and injuries, and enhance neural capabilities, resulting in increased human intelligence and efficiency. Outside of the realm of health, it can be used in social contexts to improve overall quality of life.
This report reviews recent technology trends in neuroscience. The information herein has been compiled through extensive literature review, seminars, and discussions with professionals at the forefront of the field. The report also analyzes the various impacts neurotechnology does, can, and will have on society, and identifies major funders of neurotechnology initiatives. Trends in increasing quality and quantity of neuroscience research allows us to create recommendations for the expansion of neurotechnology application. The information, assembled here, demonstrates the vast implications of neurotechnology, not only for particular fields such as medicine and defense, but also for society as a whole.
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coverOn September 24th, 2014 the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies held a seminar on Capitol Hill titled “America’s Next Frontier: Conquering the Mind”. This seminar featured remarks from Dr. Amy Kruse, Dr. Peter Littlewood, and representatives from the Potomac Institute. The panelists discussed the need for a National Neurotechnology Initiative, a comprehensive effort to understand the human brain. To succeed, this initiative requires well-defined project objectives, strong leadership, and unprecedented levels of interdisciplinary collaboration. The discussion focused on the key technologies and collaborations between fields that will enable our scientists to map the multitude of connections between neurons in the brain, interpret how the brain encodes information within these connections, in order to ultimately uncover the biological bases of behavior. We must build on the successes of previous science initiatives and capitalize on the revolutionary technologies that they created to enable neuroscience to become a powerful driver for all aspects of society.
Enhancing the Human BrainThe Potomac Institute for Policy Studies held a seminar on “Neurotechnology: Enhancing the Human Brain and Reshaping Society” on June 30th, 2014. The speakers and panelists shared their insights into novel neurotechnologies that can improve our cognitive abilities through biological, chemical, and sensorimotor enhancements. Just as computing technologies brought us into the Digital Age, neuroenhancements will become widespread and transform our society. A collaborative effort between policy-makers, scientists, and the private sector will ensure that neuroenhancement of the individual will result in enrichment of our society as a whole. The human brain is the most powerful tool we know. Therefore, we should do everything we can to understand its capacity, to utilize its worth, and to enhance its value to our species and ourselves.


In his opening remarks, Mike Swetnam called for greater investment in neurotechnology, an endeavor that should match our past investments in nanotechnology and information technology.

In the future, neuro-enhancement will be as widespread as today’s computing technologies. Our society and economy is heavily based on the computerization of information through powerful computer chips. A continued progression into the Digital Age requires further strengthening of the field of neurotechnology.

Dr. Amy Kruse highlighted the role of the private sector in developing new neurotechnology and bringing neuro-enhancements to the everyday consumer. Dr. Kruse believes that the current market is ready for neurotechnology: the commercial world has poured a lot of money into neuroscience. However, we need a rigorous, tested set of technologies and a set of trusted providers. The government should encourage and provide the necessary research and funding to develop the applied neurotechnologies that fit into this framework.

Next, Dr. Jonathan Moreno pointed to the immense growth of excitement surrounding neuroscience over the past few years and its potential to affect society. Dr. Moreno detailed the rich history of enhancement in neuroscience, including the CIA interest in the “Mind Race,” investigations into oxytocin, and the development of transcranial magnetic stimulation. Dr. Moreno’s numerous examples helped to illustrate the many ways in which neuroscience has already and will continue to enhance our lives. In addition, as Dr. Moreno is a bioethics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, he explained several of the ethical dilemmas that may arise from these new technologies including the issue of cognitive liberty and reversibility.

The final speaker, Dr. Gerold Yonas, addressed the ability of neuro-enhancements to revolutionize treatment and improve lives. Dr. Yonas focused on how electromagnetic stimulation can enhance and restore brain function. He described how increasing slow wave sleep time or using stimulation to induce specific brain activity would improve cerebral blood flow and the ability of the brain to respond to stress. He also discussed the applications of transcranial stimulation (in both direct current and alternating current forms) and how research and proper investment can improve the safety and function of these neurological tools. Lastly, Dr. Yonas discussed the potential for neuro-systems engineering to transform our interactions and roles in society.

The panelists convened to discuss neurotechnology together and to take questions from the audience. The discussion covered health topics including the value of sleep and how to improve it, treatments for migraines, and curing Alzheimer’s disease. The discussion hinged on the role of business and government regulations and how to ensure that neuro-enhancements are rigorously tested and validated (how do we ensure that these technologies are sold at CVS and not GNC?). The conversation also included discussion of how scientific progress can be hindered by government regulation and control. Neuroscience has the potential to advance faster than the government regulations that limit it, a trend that is seen with the internet today.

Dr. Jennifer Buss highlighted how policy solutions for neuro-enhancement can address the field of neuroscience as a whole. She called for expanding the BRAIN Initiative into a National Neurotechnology Initiative. The coordinating and oversight power of the initiative would be placed within the National Science Foundation. There is great potential for neurotechnology, and increased government funding, inclusion of industry, and developed research focuses will make this potential a reality. Neuro-enhancements will provide new means of communication, learning, machine control, and medical treatment, all while spurring new industries and job creation.


NeuroScienceThe Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and the American Association for the Advancement of Science held a symposium on the topic of education neuroscience on May 14, 2014. This symposium tackled the issues of how to apply neuroscience research to the classroom and how to reshape the future of education through neuroscience. Incorporating neuroscience and neurotechnology into our education system has the potential to revolutionize the way every student learns as an individual – a unique and personalized education, tailored to their interests and highly interactive, allowing each student to excel in their own capacity. Education of our children is our future. We do not have to accept education as a static, unchanging field. We should expect a constant improvement in our education system and now, neuroscience provides us with the best tool to effect such changes.


Neuroscience and Education Symposium Report (PDF)

On Friday, March 21, members of the science and policy communities met to discuss the current challenges and opportunities in neuroscience data sharing as well as possible ways to advance data sharing going forward.  Panelists included representatives from the neuroscience, industry, statistics, database, funding, and scientific journal communities.  The biggest obstacle facing neuroscience data sharing appears to be the need for cultural change (i.e. creating an environment in which data sharing is part of the work flow for scientists instead of an afterthought and a burden). One solution that was discussed is the inclusion of data sharing practices in the evaluation of promotion and tenure decisions. Another is the development and widespread use of technologies that make data sharing an easy part of the scientific process.   A second obstacle is the high cost for not only sharing data, but also maintaining and curating that data.  It is currently unclear whose responsibility this should be.   Before sharing can become widespread, the community must determine exactly what data should be shared.  There are differing opinions on this; should investigators share all raw data, only processed data, or only data pertaining to the experimental questions of the study?  Improvements in hard drives continually make it easier to store and share large quantities of data, but as more and more data is collected with new tools and techniques, this will become a bigger issue and one that must be addressed.


Neuroscience and Data Sharing Symposium Report (PDF)

As science becomes an even more international venture, the melding of international data sharing policies will also become increasingly important to allow for data from around the world to be accessible to all.  Discussion at this one day symposium revealed various issues facing sharing of neuroscience data which, once addressed further, will contribute to the creation of new policies in the neuroscience community in order to lower the costs and obstacles to  data sharing and foster an environment where data sharing is encouraged and valued. 



Neurotechnology, like many developing sciences, is a multi-disciplinary field that has the potential to revolutionize medicine, law, warfare, and education.

The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and The American Association for the Advancement of Science will be hosting a series of symposia intended to provide a forum for the public and policymakers focused on the societal impacts of neuroscience and technology.   One of the goals of the series is to develop future U.S. policy recommendations.

Neuroscience and technology will affect our society in more ways that we currently imagine. The speed of technology development significantly outpaces that of policy development.

The 2014 Neuroscience Symposia Series will feature the leading experts in science, policy, law, information technology, security, and education. The attendees will include US government officials, high-level industry members, and academics.

Topics of the Symposia series include:

  • Data Sharing in Neuroscience.  Despite increased ease of collaboration and convenience of data availability, various obstacles to open data sharing remain, including lack of incentives to researchers and the absence of data reporting standards. Researchers, policy makers, and information technology (IT) specialists will examine current neuroscience data sharing platforms and the potential for a common database and criteria for reporting neuroscience results.
  • Cognitive Security. As neurotechnology advances and becomes more accessible, the scope of its use escalates to include weapons that might be used to attack the individual and collective conscience of our society. The potential for neurotechnology weapons raises a number of questions regarding the regulation and national security implications of such capabilities. Experts in neuroscience, policy, and military tactics will consider the current state of neuroweapons and the potential for future use of this technology.
  • Educational Neuroscience: From Lab to Classroom. Recent developments in understanding how the brain learns have led to an important crossroad of neuroscience and education. Educators, policy makers, and scientists will review educational policies and anticipate how future neuroscience studies could affect the US education system.
  • Neuroscience and Genetics. Recent advances established that the human brain has regenerative potential through a number of studies demonstrating plasticity of both cells and circuits in the brain, and the ability to genetically reprogram cells. Experts from the pharmaceutical industry, medicine, and academia will discuss the future of enhancing and rebuilding the brain through genetic and cellular methods.
  • The Role of Neuroscience in Law and Policy.  Progress in brain imaging technology has raised major political and societal questions, while advances in deception detection are partly responsible for the recent increase in the number of judicial opinions in the US involving neuroscience-based evidence. Experts in law, neuroscience, and policy will debate the place of neuroscience data and imaging techniques in law and policy.
  • Neuroscience, Privacy, and Cybersecurity. Innovative research in the field of neurotechnology has lead to breakthroughs in brain-computer interface capabilities that will revolutionize the way society interacts with computers in the future. Scientists, IT specialists, and policy makers will examine the privacy and security questions that arise from advances in brain-computer interface technology and the accessibility to an individuals neural data.

More information is available at  Contact Jen Buss at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for other questions.

Studying infectious diseases and their causes, sources and spread can help build models to predict their spread, especially when factoring in ongoing climate change challenges.

Potomac Institute Board of Regents member Dr. Rita Colwell spoke about “Climate Change and Human Health: Prospects for the Future.” Using cholera as an exemplar infectious disease, she considers the impact on human health in a world undergoing climate change. Cholera, which is caused by the bacteria Vibrio cholera, is found in many environments throughout the world, which leads to epidemics in areas with poverty, poor sanitation, and unsafe drinking water.

In an effort to understand these epidemics, Dr. Colwell’s research group has made use of satellite imagery and modeling to predict the spread of infectious disease, finding correlations between outbreaks of cholera and chlorophyll on the sea surface, air temperature, and rainfall. In analyzing the evolution of Vibrio cholera, Dr. Collwell notes that the bacteria and other Vibrio human pathogens are extremely similar to bacteria isolated from thermal vents 2500 meters below sea level.

With these novel findings, Dr. Colwell evaluated the recent cholera epidemic in Haiti in January 2010. Even before the earthquake, the record high rainfall and the hot summer were perfect preliminary conditions for the spread of cholera. The earthquake, however, led to a change in river pH, which, in combination with the other conditions, resulted in explosive growth of the bacteria. The case study of cholera in Haiti is an example of the link between climate change and infectious disease. The rise of heavily populated areas coupled with increased flooding and hotter temperatures will result in refugee migration, which can escalate the spread of disease worldwide.

The modeling can also be used to project the spread of other infectious diseases, as seen with Dr. Colwell’s research into Yersinia pestis in Tbilsi, Georgia. Moreover, satellite imagery and modeling can enhance the surveillance and response mechanisms of global health organizations. These advancements, along with further investment in safe drinking water and sanitation, could greatly reduce the spread of disease worldwide.

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In 2013 terrorism has continued to challenge global stability and security.  It represented the highest annual total of attacks since 9/11. The role of international cooperation in combating terrorism has therefore become more critical than ever before.

A new report titled "International Cooperation in Combating Terrorism: The Next Phase?" provides the context and discussion on this important topic, based on a seminar that highlighted security concerns of the League of the Arab States, African countries, and the European Union during the sixty-eighth session of the U.N. General Assembly.

To assess the various strategic efforts both regionally and inter-regionally, a group of diplomats discussed past lessons and future outlook during a seminar held on September 27, 2013 at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

The event was co-sponsored by the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies, the Inter-University Center for Legal Studies, at the International Law Institute and the Center for National Security Law, University of Virginia School of Law.

Prof. Alexander provided the introduction, both in the seminar and in the report.  The remainder of the report contains the presentations by:
Ambassador Dr. Mohammed R. Al Hussaini Al Sharif, Chief Representative Of the League of Arab States in Washington D.C.
Ambassador Al Maamoun Baba Lamine Keita, Ambassador of the Republic of Mali to the United States
Simonas Satunas, Deputy Chief of Mission Embassy of Lithuania
Abderrahim Rahhaly, Deputy Chief of Mission Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco


Two major security and stability challenges are facing contemporary societies in Africa and elsewhere. The first stems from natural disasters such as earthquakes, famine, drought, and wildfires. The second is man-made threats, including crime, piracy, terrorism, ethnic and religious strife, and war.

Starting in the late 1960’s and subsequent three decades, the Institute for Studies in International Terrorism (ISIT), initially administered by the State University of New York system, in collaboration with educational bodies in the US and abroad, conducted academic work dealing with Africa’s security concerns and their global implications. For instance, in the early 1980’s ISIT, in cooperation with the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Georgetown University, the Institute for Social and Behavioral Pathology at the University of Chicago, and the University of Abadan in Nigeria, was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation grant to scholars from around the world to conduct a cooperative study on exploring solutions to conflicts in Africa and elsewhere. This project resulted in a publication of the book International Violence co-edited by Tunde Adeniran and Yonah Alexander (Praeger 1983).

Since that early academic effort, numerous seminars, conferences, and publications have been undertaken by the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies (IUCTS), a consortium of universities and think tanks in more than 40 countries. This entity was subsequently administered by the Terrorism Studies program at George Washington University, and for the past 15 years by the International Center for Terrorism Studies (ICTS) at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in Arlington, Va. and the Inter-University Center for Legal Studies (IUCLS) at the International Law Institute (ILI) in Washington, D.C.

The current study, “Terrorism in North Africa and the Sahel in 2013,” published in January 2014 by IUCTS, represents the Fifth Annual Report focusing on terrorist threats in the Maghreb—Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia—as well as adjacent areas of the Sahel—Chad, Mali, Niger—and their strategic security implications regionally and globally. The first Special Report in this series “Why the Maghreb Matters: Threats Opportunities & Options for Effective U.S. Engagement in North Africa” was published by the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and Conflict Management Program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies on March 31, 2009. This initial study was guided by a bipartisan panel of experts, including former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, General (ret.) Wesley Clark, Ambassador (ret.) Stuart Eizenstat, Professor William Zartman, and other distinguished former officials and academics. The panel recommended more effective engagement in the region to prevent the brewing security crisis from erupting in the region and beyond.

This fundamental recommendation was also underscored in subsequent annual reports published in 2010, 2011, and 2012, which contained alarming statistics on the growing “arc of stability” in the region. The 2013 study hopefully provides data and analysis required for policymakers to unilaterally and collectively develop coherent and realistic strategies to combat the global expansion of terrorism.

In light of the growing debate over the Geneva deal with Iran, the tactical and strategic role of Hizballah, Tehran’s major terrorist proxy in the Middle East and beyond, is becoming more critical for any future diplomatic negotiations.

The new timely publication on “Combating Hizballah’s Global Network” provides an updated reality-check on the nature and potential challenges of Iran’s most effective terrorist tool in the coming months and years. It was co-authored by Professor Yonah Alexander (Director, Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies), Dr. Matthew Levitt (Director, Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, Senior Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy), Professor Amit Kumar (Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown), and Dan Mariaschin (Executive Vice President at B'nai B'rith International).

The just released report focuses on Hizballah’s ideology, objectives, organizational structures, major terrorist activities around the world, the Iranian connection, and what the international community, particularly the United States and Europe can do to confront the growing threat to all societies.

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The “Convergence of Crime and Terrorism?” seminar was held at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies on November 21, 2013. The seminar centered on the concept that criminal activity and international security are related. Drawing from personal experiences in law enforcement, federal government, and academia, the three panelists evidenced the ways in which crime and terrorism are linked and how law enforcement can stem this issue.

In sum, it is not accurate to describe transnational organized crime and terrorism as monolithic; yet it is known that they are inextricably linked. All three panelists provided various methods for dealing with this pressing issue. Mr. Placido argued that there is not a one size fits all approach, but that targeting the infrastructure of transnational organized crime can be effective. Dr. Felbab-Brown believes that the goal is to import the image of a “good” criminal, a criminal that does not collaborate with terrorists, is not very violent, is removed from society, and is without the capacity to corrupt institutions. Concluding the seminar, Mark Stainbrook stated that the goal of law enforcement is long-term prevention rather than detection, and that there exists a need to implement community-based police strategies.

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The CReST Bold Ideas Seminar series kicked off April 8, 2013, with David Brin - Scientist, Futurist, Author - speaking on "The Future Golden Age."

David Brin, a world–renowned science fiction author and the first speaker for Bold Ideas speaker series at the Potomac Institute, brings a different prospective when looking at the future, or as he refers to “the golden age”. Brin firmly believes that technology and science will help solve a majority of life’s hard problems, but humans are holding back because of a “crisis of confidence”.

Brin reminded the audience that today humans have powers that many believed centuries ago only gods possessed, such as light with a flick of a finger and flying in the sky. Humans have changed the structure of society from a pyramid arrangement, where a few ruled, to a more leveled field, from clans and tribes to multi-organization networks. Technology is the “game changer” for the future. Achievements, such as led lights and medical advancements, show how technology has enhanced the way of living. According to Brin, this is the “age of amateurs”. Humans educate themselves using technology, making it where they do not need professionals or experts for every problem that is faced.

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Potomac Institute CEO and Chairman Michael S. Swetnam provided the keynote speech to the neuroscience community at a one-day symposium on "Ethical Issues in Neuroscience."

Attendees included those who are working in or interested in learning about the intersection of neuroscience with policy, law, ethics, media, and society. Speakers included personnel from government, industry, think tanks, and academia. The symposium addressed the topics of neuroethics in defense, promoting and teaching neuroethics, and transitioning the focus from ethics to policy and law.

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Accurate and consistent data collection on climate change is critical to helping develop effective disaster preparedness plans, and it impacts national security, food and water security, as well as immigration, according to Dr. Victoria Keener, Research Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu.

The report and transcript of the discussion about the wide-ranging impacts of climate change in the Pacific are highlighted in the report, now available

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Download PDFCanada's experience with homegrown "foreign affinity" terrorism, namely threats with international connections, are expanding. In 2013, for example, Canadian citizens inspired by Al-Qa’ida's ideology, plotted to bomb the British Columbia legislature in Victoria as well as derail a New York City-Montreal train full with innocent passengers. And it has been reported that Canadian nationals have joined the al-Shabaab terrorist group that attacked a mall in Nairobi (Kenya) and others have participated in operations elsewhere, including Algeria, Yemen, Syria, and Pakistan.

The report on “Canada and Terrorism: Selected Perpetrators” (published in September 2013) provides a context for understanding the challenge of radicalization, extremism and violence in Canada that is rooted in regional, ethnic and political conflicts at home and abroad. Selected profiles of Canadian citizens as well as foreigners residing in Canada personify the ugly face of the terrorist challenges.

The research for this study initially began in 2006 and completed in Spring 2013. A larger study on "Canada and Terrorism: Threats and Responses" is expected to be completed in 2014. This work is undertaken by the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies (administered by both the International Center for Terrorism Studies at Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and the Inter-University Center for Legal Studies at the International Law Institute). Professor Edgar H. Brenner, the late co-director of the Inter-University Center for Legal Studies and Professor Yonah Alexander, director of the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies are the principal investigators of the study. Academic support is provided by Professor Don Wallace Jr., Chairman, International Law Institute; Bill Mays, International Law Institute; and Marie-Aude Ferrière, Université Paris II Pantheon Assas- France.

For further information, please contact the Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, 901 North Stuart Street Suite 200 Arlington, VA 22203 Tel.: 703-525-0770
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NTFS ReportThe Potomac Institute for Policy Studies undertook the Neurotechnology Futures Study to anticipate the path of future development of neurotechnology,1 and to develop a strategic plan to advance the progres- sion of this technology. The Potomac Institute also examined the potential ethical, legal and social issues that may arise as the technology develops, and considered approaches to be prepared for and mitigate these concerns.

The study group found that neurotechnology is a rapidly advancing eld, with potential impacts that could far surpass those of the information revolution, the pending biotechnology revolution, or the anticipated nanotechnology revolution. The study concluded that targeted Federal government investment in a few key areas could play a signi cant role in developing and furthering the neurotechnology revolution.

The study group developed a technology investment Roadmap, which outlines the key research areas and technologies that will be needed to move neurotechnology forward. The Roadmap is divided into two main tracks (Figure 1). The rst is fundamental science, or scienti c discovery and understanding of the brain and cognition. The second is the development of technology and applications, which will feed back into scienti c discovery and into the development of products and applications for medicine, the military, and the public. 


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Download PDFThis report details the local, national and regional security challenges which the nations of Central Asia currently face. Given the growing international demand for energy and raw materials, this region importance to the international community increases daily. The vast geographical and demographic differences have already been, and will continue to be, a source of contention between state and non-state actors alike for years to come.

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On September 11, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies' Center for Neurotechnology Studies was a co-supporter, along with the Nour Foundation, of a conference at the United Nations entitled "Toward a Common Morality."  The Center's Director, James Giordano, PhD, was among the featured speakers.

Participants discussed the phenomenological and spiritual characteristics of human subjective experience, the neurophysiological and psychological foundations of these domains, and their role in practical reasoning and moral decision making. Emphasis was on elucidating how and why an understanding of the integrative neuroscience of the brain-mind both compels and sustains an appreciation for reverence and virtue, and provides a natural foundation for the emergence of a system of common morality.


James Giordano - Neuroscience, Reverence and... by NourFoundation

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This is the final report of a study conducted by the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies (the Institute) under the sponsorship of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (ODDRE).
The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development and support of non-partisan analysis of technology and technology policy. The Institute has conducted studies that provide insight into the impact of new technologies and processes on our society, the proper relationship between government and industry in meeting future needs, and the state of the U.S. industrial base.
We would like to thank the sponsors of this review project, particularly Dr. Lee Buchanan, then Deputy Director of DARPA, and Mr. John Jennings and Dr. Steven Wax, past Managers of the Technology Reinvestment Project (TRP) Office, for their support and insight. We would also like to thank Mr. Dan Petonito, of the ODDRE for allowing us to continue the study under the Dual Use Science and Technology Program (DUS&T). We are especially grateful for the time contributed by industry participants, DARPA program managers (PMs), and Service agents. Their generosity in sharing their valuable experience is responsible for whatever wisdom is to be found in the ensuing pages of this report. Finally, our thanks to Ms. Mary Roko, who helped immensely with our database. Views expressed are our own, however, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any of the contributors mentioned.

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The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies (the Institute) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development and support of non-partisan analysis of technology and technology policy. The Institute has conducted studies that provide insight into the impact of new technologies on our society, the proper relationship between government and industry, and the future of the U.S. industrial base.
The International Space Station Commercialization (ISSC) Study was performed by the Institute, principally under a grant from NASA. Financial support was also provided by the Institute and other companies. We greatly appreciate these contributions, which made possible an interesting and meaningful study. Views expressed are those of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and are not necessarily endorsed by NASA or the other contributors.
We would also like to express gratitude to the more than two hundred people from industry, universities and government, who contributed their time and insights. Their views enriched the study immensely. Our Space Commercialization Experts Panel (SCEP) earned special thanks for guiding the study to fruition, and for helping to develop its findings and recommendations.

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Since its inception, The Technology Reinvestment Project (TRP) has, at different times, embraced projects in one or more of the following areas: Technology Development, Technology Deployment, and Manufacturing Education and Training (MET). The Military and Industry Panel of the Dual-Use Research Project focused on the Technology Development Projects in TRP. Thus, although general information about the overall TRP will be discussed in this report, the data presented here concentrates principally on Technology Development Projects. While the statistics presented in this report convey a sense of the magnitude of the TRP program, as far as the number of proposers and personnel involved, they do not support any real measures of success or failure.
TRP was in a state of change from its inception. Three competitions were held and each competition brought about new procedures and revised instructions to participants. Some of this was due to lessons learned by TRP in the early competitions and subsequent attempts to correct problems or to enhance the program. Other changes such as funding were the result of Congressional direction.

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The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is an independent, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit public policy research institute. The Institute identifies and aggressively shepherds discussion on key science and technology issues facing our society. From these discussions and forums, we develop meaningful science and technology policy options and ensure their implementation at the intersection of business and government.


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