The main lesson that I have learnt at the NDU CISA center is political correctness and principled positions on policy are counterproductive to gain security and keep world peace. Moreover, the security of the United States and its people sometimes rely on reaching quick agreements with its adversaries. It is an uneasy decision to renounce policies that have been enforced for decades, but those are tough measures that though are not ideal will succeed in providing stability. A perfect example of this decisions is to suggest to the civilian leadership that the U.S. Government should provide weapons and heavy equipment produce to “X” adversary in order to make “Y” ally stronger. It is not by far the perfect solution, but is the best advice that can be given to policymakers and military commanders. That is what the NDU does, find solutions, fast and efficiently. The faculty of the NDU CISA center is unique because influential and high quality scholars are in close proximity of each other. Next to the office of an expert in Middle East or Central Asia studies, there is a professor with a strong professional background from their service in the U.S. Army and was stationed in that region. This makes NDU’s research more credible on how U.S. forces and its allies can win in today’s complex battlefields. It requires courage to tell an American lawmaker that he or she has to support a bill that provides funds to buy Russian made weapons to equip the Afghan National Army. However, knowing that NDU is known for their fast and efficiency, supporting bills of this magnitude is possibly the best solution for the security of the United States.
There are many misconceptions about the military, the defense bureaucracy, and the intelligence community. Many people have the erroneous idea that many men and women in uniform are warmongers. The false belief that the people in the armed forces do not reconsider the consequences of going to war or to launch an attack over other nation is an enormous misunderstanding. Fortunately, the defense and intelligence community is made up with the most measured and thoughtful people that I have come to meet. They are very aware that sadly there are threats to the U.S. and its allies that cannot be solved by peaceful means, but they have in mind one golden rule: wars are costly, in lives and economic resources. In the NDU and the CISA center, there is a high skilled group of professionals that are devoted to developing the tools needed by the American Government to avoid wars and keep the nation safe. Through the halls of the NDU complex, you will see military personnel from all around the world. Soldiers from all continents, in uniform, representing armies from across the globe. Having this array of cultures, representing different religions requires a great deal from CISA faculty and brings out their diplomatic qualities. The goal is to solidify friendships with partnering countries, so tomorrow the friend will become an even better ally.
During this two weeks, my co-workers and I were given the great opportunity to assist classes given by CISA to a group of officials from countries around the globe from Europe to East Asia. It has been a great lesson not only by the content of the classes, but it has also been a great chance to listen to how men and women, coming from different countries, have the same worries. Mankind has been able to build an International Space Station, but also has created Chemical, Bacteriological, Radiological and Nuclear weapons–– CBRN ––capable of completely destroying our civilization in hours. It is vital to develop the cooperative norms, and the legal international framework, to force nations to take care of its arsenals. International agreements and treaties are the pillar of any strategy to deny terrorist groups the ability to acquire WMDs. America has to convince adversaries and friends to keep their doors open to inspections, because transparency is the golden rule to global stability. We need “to know” who has what, the amount of it and where.
The variety of weapons of mass destruction––WMD––that has been produced in the last century is frightening. Dirty bombs, anthrax, modified viruses give the name to some of the terrifying menaces that the U.S. and its allies have to be ready to face. Also new discoveries like 3D printers and laboratory equipment designed to manipulate in a “domestic” environment cells at genetic level, increase the burden carried over the shoulder of the peacekeepers.
However, thanks to centers like the CISA, we will keep the advantage over the enemies of peace. There are thousands of people working to develop detection devices able to warn ahead of time any threat that maybe tried to be shipped to the U.S. Moreover, the U.S. makes great efforts to convince friendly nations and adversaries that is in the benefit of all to keep hazardous materials, and substances that maybe used as weapons, under strict surveillance. I have learned how the U.S. with the help of its allies worked with the former Soviet Republics to improve the control over the radioactive materials left behind of the sad legacy of the communist empire. It seems that for many experts, diplomats, intelligence, and security agencies the Cold War has not ended; it even could be said that with the emergence of radical and extremist terrorist groups––Al-Qaeda and ISIL and rogue states like Iran, the Cold War is still going on and worsening. The NDU is a center that studies how to prevent Pandora’s box from opening. Therefore, having guest military personnel from all around the world, listen to their worries, exchanging knowledge and ideas with the U.S is the best strategy to avoid future conflicts.
We, the interns at the CISA had the honor to meet with the Chancellor of the NDU, Ambassador Michael A. Hammer. It was a very rewarding experience; his biography is very impressive. He spent his whole life dedicated to serve his country. He gave us advice on how to build a career in the foreign service, international relations and security establishment. Also he answered our questions with great attention and interest. I would like to mention his clarity in explaining how sometimes we have to sit with our adversaries and reach a peaceful agreement. Before resorting to violence it is worth to engage in dialogue and face our enemies in diplomatic negotiations. Ambassador Hammer also said something that I think is very important: words matter. We are in the age of instant-news, any important event that happens no matter how far away our borders in minutes becomes “breaking news.” Therefore, the public will demand an immediate response to those events, making the role of government officials and the duties of policymakers much more challenging. This environment requires thoughtful preparedness. Officials must always be ready to deal with any unexpected event. That is why words matter, because they must be measured carefully so their impact does not cause a backlash.
Mankind is living in a contradictory age, we are enjoying the largest period of peace in human history, despite all we may watch, listen, and read in the news, there has not been a major war since 1945. It is a contradiction because in one hand we have to renounce to some ideas and theories that were “the right thing to do”, but at the same time we have be politically correct in order to solidify friendships with allies. Measuring our words is an essential endeavor, because the U.S. needs more than ever to be “politically correct” to convince others to fight on our side. Through peaceful and sensitive dialogue, I am optimistic that we can maintain this period of peace.