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2002 > February
Fletcher on the intellectual front-line of terrorism
In the wake of tensions in the Philippines involving the Al Qaeda-linked insurgent group known as Abu Sayyaf, Stephen Bosworth, dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, recently appeared on CNN International, which broadcasts throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Drawing on his experience as the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines from 1984-87, Bosworth was able to provide thoughtful analysis on a delicate political and military situation.
Indeed, in the aftermath of September 11, as American political leaders and the U.S. media have rediscovered international affairs, Fletcher faculty and students have become highly visible players as experts in their fields. They have informed government officials, policy-makers and journalists on a broad array of global terrorism issues—political, diplomatic, legal, military, religion and culture.
On September 11, when information was at a premium, Richard Shultz, who directs Fletcher's International Security Studies Program, was one of the experts on the line for several hours with National Public Radio during its live coverage. Arguing that this country had crossed "a tremendous threshold today," Shultz was quick to call for "a good look" at America's counter-terrorism policy, which he criticized as too reactive.
On October 11, Hurst Hannum, professor of international law, participated in a national town meeting on terrorism hosted by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and moderated by Walter Cronkite. Ten major cities, including Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles, were linked by satellite and had a national dialogue about terrorism. The town meeting was seen, heard or read about by as many as 17 million Americans.
Some Fletcher faculty members have worked with government officials. Shultz has been consulting with the U.S. Department of Defense on security matters, while Andrew Hess, who directs the country's only graduate program concerning Southwest Asia and Islamic civilization, was asked to brief the Massachusetts Attorney General's office on dealing with the local Arab community. One Boston Globe story cited Hess as "one of the nation's top specialists on a suddenly crucial part of the world."
Michele Malvesti, a Ph.D. student and former terrorism analyst at the Pentagon, has been cited in Foreign Affairs and quoted in numerous outlets, ranging from The National Journal in Washington, D.C., to The New Zealand Herald. Hassan Abbas, a Fletcher student who is on leave as a police officer in Pakistan, has published opinion pieces in The Boston Herald and several Pakistani outlets. He recently returned from Pakistan, where he and a group of journalists met with President Pervez Musharraf.
Fletcher's educational outreach comes in a variety of forms, particularly during a time when racial and ethnic tensions have surfaced. This is why two Fletcher students studying Islamic civilization—Absen Khan, a Canadian-born Muslim, and Peter Neisuler—decided to visit area schools to talk with students. Neisuler told The Christian Science Monitor in November, "Indirectly, we felt that by making such visits, we were striking a blow against everything the terrorists stood for—the hatred, the division, the fear, the ignorance."
Most observers agree that September 11 has forever changed the world as technological advancements have enabled small, stateless groups like the Al Qaeda terrorist network to acquire the kind of destructive force that once was the sole province of national governments.
This development, in turn, has raised a host of new questions. Are failed states a humanitarian problem or a national security problem? Is a new kind of imperialism needed to ensure international stability, as some experts have asserted, or is expanding U.S. power the real problem, as others suggest? Are traditional groups, such as the UN, the World Bank and health and environmental NGOs, equipped to handle the new world disorder? Where do established entities such as NATO, the World Trade Organization and the European Commission fit in?
These are profoundly important questions that many in the world community, including those at the Fletcher School, will be grappling with for some time to come.