SPECIAL ISSUE: MAJOR SECURITY CHALLENGES
FOR THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION
The likelihood of a war involving North Korea
in the coming year
Homegrown far-right extremism as a threat
to the national security of the United States
The Islamic State as a factor in relations
between the United States and Russia
The effect of Turkey’s political instability on
the NATO alliance
EDITED BY JOSEPH FITSANAKIS AND MADISON NOWLIN
SPECIAL ISSUE: MAJOR SECURITY CHALLENGES
FOR THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION
The likelihood of a war involving North Korea
in the coming year
Homegrown far-right extremism as a threat
to the national security of the United States
The Islamic State as a factor in relations
between the United States and Russia
The effect of Turkey’s political instability on
the NATO alliance
PUBLISHED BY THE
EUROPEAN INTELLIGENCE ACADEMY
IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE
CHANTICLEER INTELLIGENCE BRIEF
JOSEPH FITSANAKIS AND MADISON NOWLIN
COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
European Intelligence Academy www.euintelligenceacademy.eu
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Table of Contents
Foreword page 07
Introduction: Major Security Challenges for the Trump Administration page 11
Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis
How Likely is a War Involving North Korea? page 17
Is Far-Right Extremism a Threat to the National Security of the United States? page 27
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as a Factor in US-Russian Relations page 37
The Effect of Turkey’s Political Instability on the NATO Alliance page 45
Biographical notes on contributors page 53
There is something to be said about the synergy one feels as they step into room
300 at Coastal Carolina University’s Science Center at 6 o’clock on a Wednesday
night. It crackles in the air, lights up the room, and gives everyone a sense of
purpose. At that time every week, students of Coastal’s Intelligence and National
Security Studies program gather and discuss world events. They dig deep into a
topic of their choice, literally bringing the most relevant news developments of
the week to the table and explaining their significance. These students do not
receive class credit for this, and yet they continue to come back each week.
Despite the deadlines, the pressure to perform well, and the additional stressors
of life, students of the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB) refuse to let schooling
interfere with their education.
The most dedicated of the CIB’s students decide to sacrifice their social lives for
an entire semester and register for the CIB class. You have in your hands the
product of that sacrifice. This journal comprises the analytical works of some of
those CIB students who took the plunge. They agreed to be subject to countless
late nights, weekly stage fright, and open criticism in front of their peers. Some
even do it a second and third time. By reading this issue of The Intelligence Review,
you will see firsthand that it is greater than the sum of its parts. The possibility of
a war involving North Korea, right-wing extremism in the United States,
American-Russian relations, and Turkey’s instability within the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization, represent some of the most significant crises of our time.
2017 turned out to be one of the most tumultuous years in America’s recent
history. The election of President Donald Trump has changed the game in many
ways when it comes to international politics. As part of their intelligence product,
the analysts featured in this issue were tasked with evaluating the effects that the
new Trump Administration has had on their topics. As you read this issue, you
may begin to perceive the world in a different light. Whether you begin to develop
a more or less pessimistic worldview, know that these analysts are only presenting
the facts as they know them. I encourage you to continue building your knowledge
of these evolving topics and acquire a better understanding of their complexities.
The Intelligence Review can be a useful ally in this process.
Chief Financial Officer and Head of Russia Desk, Chanticleer Intelligence Brief
Introduction: Major Security Challenges for
the Trump Administration
Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis
Associate Professor, Intelligence and National Security Studies, Coastal Carolina University
Deputy Director, European Intelligence Academy
Political scientists in Europe and the United States began employing the term
superpower in the final months of World War II. During that time, there was a
widespread feeling among experts that the global nature of the war against Nazism
had prompted the leading allied nations of the day —the United States, the Soviet
Union and the United Kingdom— to project worldwide dominance on an
unprecedented scale. The use of the term became commonplace during the Cold
War, as the United States and the Soviet Union exceeded the historical confines
of the term great power. For nearly half a century, Washington and Moscow
competed in efforts to spread their economic, military, political and cultural
influence to the remotest regions of the Earth, and even into space. The
conclusion of that tumultuous period left the United States as the planet’s sole
America’s victory in the Cold War was unquestionable and resounding. However,
Washington has seen its global dominance challenged on numerous levels in the
post-Cold War era —not least on September 11, 2001, when an attack on American
soil by al-Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people. That tragic event demonstrated the
unpredictable nature of the post-Cold War period and triggered what became
known as America’s “global war on terrorism”. Inevitably, the political rise of
Donald J. Trump, America’s 45 th president, was shaped by the domestic and
foreign-policy pressures that American society has been experiencing since the
events of 9/11. During his presidential election campaign, candidate Trump
struck a markedly assertive —belligerent, according to his critics— tone on
matters of national security. He also proposed to narrow considerably the scope
of America’s actions in defense of its national security, focusing solely on what
he saw as essential priorities. Overall, however, the lack of clarity on national
security policy that characterized Trump’s election campaign has persisted during
his presidential tenure. The recent appointment of John Bolton to the post of
National Security Advisor —the third during Trump’s 14 months in office— is
perhaps indicative of his administration’s ambiguity in this crucial area of policy.
Ambassador Bolton, a leading neo-conservative ideologue, is known for his
military-interventionist views and his belief in so-called “democracy promotion”.
That was a policy staple of the administration of US President George W. Bush,
to which President Trump is —in theory— bitterly opposed.
Thus, in the words of Marlon Brando in the 1963 film adaptation of The Ugly
American, “the only thing that’s clear so far is that there’s no clarity at all”. That is
concerning, given that clarity on national security is required by the pressing
nature of ongoing national and global developments on many fronts. The present
volume, a special edition of The Intelligence Review, with articles that are longer than
usual, is an attempt to asses some of the most important national-security
challenges facing the Trump administration. Given the immense breadth of
national-security concerns for any American administration, our choice of topics
in this compendium is inevitably selective. The selection of topics came from a
hierarchical evaluation of current challenges faced by the United States, combined
with the personal interests of the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief’s analysts during
the concluding months of 2017, when the reports in this volume were authored.
Our North Korea analyst, Matt Pologe, writes about one of the thorniest foreignpolicy
issues of the Trump administration, namely the United States’ stance on
North Korea’s nuclear program. The rhetoric on all sides has always been heated
in the decades-old conflict between North Korea and its rivals. But Pologe notes
that, despite its heightened rhetoric, the Trump administration “remains broadly
unwilling to engage in a war in the Korean Peninsula”. The same applies to China,
Pyongyang’s political ally and largest trading partner. More importantly, says
Pologe, the two Koreas are aware that they have nothing to gain and everything
to lose from a destructive regional war. That does not mean that a war will not
happen, he argues, but that it is highly unlikely. Ultimately, North Korea wants to
be viewed by the outside world as a sovereign state with the “right to exercise as
many freedoms as any other world power, including the United States”, says
Pologe. That is something on which Pyongyang will not compromise, and will
protect even at the expense of its nuclear program. Washington, therefore, must
use that to achieve, not the complete elimination of North Korea’s nuclear
program, which is highly unlikely, but rather “a cap in the production of nuclear
materials” by North Korea, advises Pologe. “There are no other realistic options”,
Because of the global nature of its strength, the United States has become
accustomed to viewing national-security challenges as coming from abroad. But
that is not so, argues CIB analyst Maeve Stewart, who studies the contemporary
rise of American far-right groups. Ideas that could today be classified as far-right
have been parts of the American political landscape since the late 1700s. Indeed,
students of American national security will recall that the largest domestic terrorist
attack on American soil before 9/11 was carried out in 1995 by Timothy McVeigh,
a white nationalist who blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, killing 168 people and injuring several hundred more.
Other far-right believers have been behind high-profile terrorist incidents, such
as Eric Rudolph, a Christian Identity believer and anti-gay propagandist who planted
a bomb at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia, during the 1996
Summer Olympic Games. These kinds of incidents could happen again, argues
Stewart, if the United States government does not take comprehensive action
against far-right groups. Counter-terrorist attention should focus on far-right
groups that are motivated by race, because they “have shown more discipline and
organization than the rest, indicating that they are moving faster towards
becoming a US national security threat”, according to Stewart. She notes that a
plethora of far-right groups are working in closer cooperation, having been
emboldened by the election of President Trump, whom they perceive as a tacit
supporter. The president, therefore, should go out of his way to explicitly and
repeatedly denounce his supporters from the far-right. That act alone would help
significantly to deflate the national-security threat from the extreme right, says Stewart.
America’s relations with the Soviet Union and Russia have been a central pillar of
Washington’s national-security policy for decades. The current juncture is no
exception. But bilateral relations between the two rival states have been furthercomplicated
by the ongoing military standoff in Syria, argues Maddison Nowlin,
a longtime CIB analyst and executive officer. A major aspect of the Syrian Civil
War is the rise of militant Sunni Islam, which has prompted the growth of numerous
armed groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Nowlin points
out that, while further complicating American-Russian relations, the rise of ISIS
—a group that has attacked both Russian and American targets— has helped
facilitate a limited dialogue about security between Washington and Moscow. The
United States became militarily involved in Syria as part of its longstanding
support for the so-called “Arab Spring”, a combination of peaceful and violent
protest movements that have pressed for political changes in the Arab World
since 2010. Russia, on the other hand, entered the Syrian Civil War in an effort to
prevent a repetition of the political chaos that engulfed Libya following the removal
from power of Colonel Muammar al-Gadhafi. The simultaneous presence of
Russian and American military and intelligence personnel in Syria is worrisome
for many observers. Nowlin agrees, but points out that the two countries have
repeatedly demonstrated that they are “capable of striking partial agreements over
Syria, to the benefit of both the region and the world”. Ultimately, she points out,
both Moscow and Washington are aware that, as ISIS loses power in the region,
“the need for a political resolution in Syria becomes more prevalent”. Russia has
repeatedly indicated that Syria’s embattled President, Bashar al-Assad, should play
a prominent role in a future political solution. It is also clear, says Nowlin, that
“while the United States has articulated its intent to remove Assad from power,
that is no longer [its] primary goal [...] in Syria”. This could form the basis of a
mutually agreed path toward stability in the country, argues Nowlin. Alternatively,
tensions between the United States and Russia could continue to rise toward Cold
War levels, something that could “turn Syria into one of history’s longest proxy
wars between the two powers”, she concludes.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been a central parameter
of America’s national security strategy in the postwar era. However, recent years
have witnessed a severe deterioration in relations between NATO’s two largest
military powers, the United States and Turkey. In September of 2017, following
a meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Trump
said that the relationship between the two nations was better than it had ever
been. However, as CIB analyst and executive officer Katelyn Montrief argues, the
American president’s statement appears to contradict the facts. There has never
been complete agreement on policy between Washington and Ankara, even
—especially, some would say— during the Cold War. However, Montrief notes
that recent years have seen an unprecedented deterioration in relations between
Turkey and the United States, which has inevitably spread confusion and ambiguity
within NATO circles. There are several factors that contribute to the worsening
of bilateral relations between Washington and Ankara, says Montrief. One is
America’s stance toward the Kurds, which constitute a sizeable minority within
Turkey, Iraq, and other nations in the Middle East. Turkey sees the Kurds’
secessionist aspirations as direct threats to its territorial integrity. But the United
States has worked closely with the Kurds for years, most recently in Syria against
ISIS. That close relationship continues to incense Ankara and contributes
significantly to its thorny relations with Washington. Relations between Turkey
and the United States took a rapid turn for the worse in July 2016, when a group
of Turkish military officers carried out a failed coup against President Erdogan.
He has since accused Washington of involvement in the coup, and has asked for
the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, an American-based former Islamic preacher and
politician, who leads the so-called Gülen movement. Washington rejects Ankara’s
assertions and continues to provide political protection for Gülen. In late 2017,
former national security advisor Michael Flynn was charged with making false
statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about a series of conversations
he had with Russia's ambassador. He was also accused of having been offered $15
million to help Turkish officials forcibly —and presumably illegally— remove
Gülen from the US. This latest claim shows that “extraditing Gülen to Turkey
remains one of Ankara’s major objectives, and that the Erdogan administration
has taken extreme measures —including attempts to bribe US officials— in
attempts to do so”, says Montrief. Because of all these reasons, the decline in
Turkish-American relations will continue, she adds. Much will depend on whether
Turkey’s domestic political instability will be prolonged. The latter “will continue
to have a negative effect on NATO, which is in turn likely to lead to future
diplomatic disagreements between Turkey and its NATO allies”, Montrief warns.
This compendium focuses on an admittedly small sample of potential nationalsecurity
challenges for the Trump administration. It also showcases an equally
small sample of the CIB’s extensive output. It is presented in the hope that readers
will benefit from the precision, astuteness and analytical clarity of these very timely
reports, which have been produced by a very talented team of young analysts.
How Likely is a War Involving North Korea?
The question of whether the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)
could become involved in a war could be partly answered by assessing the
DPRK’s national history. The very roots of this hermit kingdom were forged
through war, and the citizens of the DPRK have been acclimated to that
background (Armstrong 2017). Since the fighting concluded in 1953, the DPRK
and the United States (US) have been at a standstill with regards to the DPRK’s
status and armaments program. The current US position is that the DPRK must
not expand its ballistic missile program. Washington also wants to prevent the
DPRK from establishing a nuclear program, and to compel Pyongyang to join the
Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) of the International Atomic Energy Association
(IAEA) (Davenport 2018; Shepherd 2017). However, the DPRK insists that it is
within its right to exercise as many freedoms as any other world power, including
the US, and has withdrawn its membership to the NPT (Davenport 2018;
Manchester 2017). If the current pattern of military expansion continues to
increase, then the DPRK may become so powerful that it might nullify the
capability of United Nations (UN) to impose effective sanctions. If the threat of
war becomes too great, then the US and the UN may have to enter into
negotiations, or the situation could feasibly end in conflict. Notably, after decades
of growth and evasion from sanctions, the DPRK could have a level of military
strength that would allow it to force the US to alter its policy on the hermit
country’s nuclear program at the bargaining table (Davenport 2017; When 2003).
The Emergence of North Korea
Since 1950, the DPRK and the Republic of Korea, known commonly as RoK or
South Korea, have remained in a constant state of war. More powerful countries,
like the US and China, have encouraged regional conflict in the past (Armstrong
2017). Japan, a valuable US ally in the region, is another major component in this
topic, as it has been targeted by the DPRK through acts of provocation ever since
the conclusion of World War II (Armstrong 2017). The Japanese Empire reigned
over the Korean peninsula from 1910 until the end of World War II. The record
of the occupation was devastating for the Korean people (Armstrong 2017). What
had begun as an ostentatious display of imperialism, eventually wavered under the
weight of Korean armed defiance in 1931 (Blomquist and Wertz 2015).
The Korean resistance formed the Provisional Government of the Republic of
Korea, which declared war on Japan in 1941 (Armstrong 2017). Japan became
increasingly preoccupied with the World War II in the Pacific Ocean, and that
lack of focus allowed the Korean resistance movement to form an independent
identity. Meanwhile, many Koreans were still fighting in the Japanese military or
working as civilian laborers, which made them supporters of the colonial regime
in the eyes of some. That tension brought about a new era of conflict and war
after 1945 (Blomquist and Wertz 2015). After the Japanese Empire surrendered
to the allied forces in 1945, a power vacuum emerged in the Korean Peninsula.
The region became a proxy arena for an ideological battle between the US-led
UN against communist states like China and the Soviet Union.
At that time, members of the National Revolutionary Army (NRA) and the
People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began to split and form opposing factions, each
of them attempting to establish an organized government (Blomquist, Wertz
2015). Supported by the US, the majority of the NRA formed modern South
Korea, while factions of the NRA and the Soviet-backed PLA pledged loyalty to
Kim Il-sung, future founder of the DPRK (Blomquist and Wertz 2015). In 1950,
the DPRK, supported by the Soviet Union and China, invaded South Korea, and
the United States rushed to its defense. In 1951, the US and South Korea signed
a defense treaty and the American General Douglas MacArthur led a
multinational UN force in pushing Kim Il-sung’s troops almost to the Chinese
border. Much to MacArthur’s surprise, however, Chinese forces successfully
assisted the DPRK in countering the UN assault, in an effort to prevent US
domination of the region (Whalen 2003). For China, the presence of a USsupported
military power so close to its territory was —and has remained—
unacceptable. It was the reason that prompted China to intervene in the ensuing
Korean War and assist the DPRK militarily and economically.
The Korean War ended in armistice in 1953, after the DPRK accepted an offer
to control a number of islands off the coast of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
That led to a ceasefire, but did not technically end the war (Armstrong 2017). The
DPRK and China signed the so-called Sino-Korean Treaty in 1961, with the
Chinese vowing to defend the DPRK in the event of a war (Armstrong 2017).
Following the conclusion of the Korean War, Kim Il-sung managed to gain an
almost divine status among his people, by spearheading the creation of a quasireligion
called Juche, which hails him as a god. According to the DPRK’s state
ideology, Kim will be forever known as the Eternal President of North Korea,
and the country’s citizens are fervent supporters of that notion. The people of the
DPRK are asked to display their love to Kim with an annual celebration and
military display (Armstrong 2017).
North Korea’s Nuclear Era
Kim Il-sung managed to establish the state and significantly expand his nation’s
weapons program. But his son and successor, Kim Jong-il, had even more success
at expanding the DPRK’s military capability, despite the presence of economic
sanctions imposed by the UN and the US. After the collapse of the Soviet Union
in 1991, the DPRK faced a potentially catastrophic loss of support from what was
its strongest ally and defense-trading partner. That was Kim Jong-il’s first real test.
He had to find a way to maintain the country’s weapons program, but was no
longer able to do it as drastically as his father (Davenport 2017). In 1992, the
DPRK signed the NPT and submitted relevant information to the IAEA
(Davenport 2017). Kim Jong-il was then able to circumvent the rules of the treaty
by pretending to be cooperative, while at the same time growing the nuclear
program and avoiding major conflict. The UN imposed new sanctions against the
regime after North Korea’s 2006 nuclear test, but was not prepared to send troops
to the peninsula as it did in 1950 (Davenport 2017). However, over time US
military presence in the region has significantly increased. Yet Washington
remains broadly unwilling to engage in a new war in the Korean Peninsula, despite
proclamations to the contrary.
After North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006, China had to publicly support
sanctions against the DPRK to maintain positive relations with the UN. But
Beijing has not been completely upfront about honoring all of the stipulations of
these sanctions (Davenport 2017; Armstrong 2017; Shim 2017). China is North
Korea’s largest trading partner, neighbor and military ally. It is therefore difficult
for either side to behave aggressively against the other (Armstrong 2017). Today,
the DPRK’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un continues the trend of public defiance
and verbal hostility. The Kim dynasty has always ruled through a mixture of fear
and respect that North Koreans often compare to the sun: if you get too close to
it, you burn; if you get too far away, you freeze. That is how the ruling family has
successfully maintained communal loyalty to the regime. The people do not only
feel reliant on their leader, but also revere him. So they heavily support having an
advanced military program, and applaud public rhetoric against the US. For the
most part, the citizens of the DPRK view having a national nuclear arms program
as crucial for their defense against Western power.
In terms of national security, the DPRK has everything to gain by finding ways
around sanctions and expanding its nuclear and missile programs. But it truly has
everything to lose by engaging in full-scale conflict. Any conflict that would bring
the UN against the DPRK would almost certainly involve the US, South Korea,
Japan, Russia, and China, which could have long-term global implications. These
parties understand the notion that any war involving the DPRK could have
potentially devastating consequences, as nuclear or chemical weapons could be
utilized. In order to properly handle the DPRK threat, the US must find a way to
agree on a cap in the production of nuclear materials, because there are no other
realistic options. Rhetoric and propaganda from both the US and North Korean
sides have always been heated, but the key to solving the differences between the two
countries will be through patience and diplomacy, which comes with communication.
The DPRK and the Trump Presidency
The most realistic hope for a resolution resides in the will of US President Donald
Trump and his foreign policy advisors. But the Trump team must remain
conscious of what the DPRK desires. When President Trump was campaigning
for the 2016 election, Kim Jong-un displayed hints of admiration for the realestate
mogul. But that feeling soon faded after the DPRK conducted a nuclear
test in early September 2016 (Thiessien 2016; UNSC 2016). As President Trump
began melding his foreign policy, he made clear that he intended to deal with the
DPRK diplomatically. By early January, 2017, Kim Jong-un and President-Elect
Trump had exchanged public insults, leading many to believe that a DPRK
provocation would be imminent (Manchester 2017). The day before Trump’s
inauguration, the US Intelligence Community acknowledged activity in a missile
factory outside of Pyongyang, which renewed concerns that Kim Jong-un
intended to launch a missile during the inauguration. While such an event never
materialized, the DPRK did launch a missile on February 11, as President Trump
was meeting with Japanese President Shinzo Abe at his golf club in Mar-a-Lago,
Florida (McKirdy 2017).
Three days after that meeting in Florida, Kim Jong-un’s exiled half-brother, Kim
Jong-nam, was assassinated with the use of VX nerve agent, a chemical banned
by the UN, while waiting to board a flight at the Kuala Lumpur International
Airport, Malaysia (Manchester 2017). Immediately after his murder, South
Korean and Malaysian authorities accused the DPRK of orchestrating the
assassination and began searching for the North Koreans responsible. Kim Jongnam
had been outspoken against the regime, and was exiled by his father in 2001.
Two women, carrying Vietnamese and Indonesian passports, were arrested based
on CCTV footage of the attack on Kim Jong-nam. Both have insisted that they
are not North Korean agents (Anonymous 2017). Following Kim’s dramatic
assassination, China announced that it would suspend all oil imports from the
DPRK, effectively halting purchases of one of the DPRK’s largest export. After an
extensive investigation, the US concluded that the DPRK did order the assassination
of Kim Jong-nam and has stated its intent to impose even more sanctions
On March 6, 2017, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan,
with a fifth missile failing to launch. These launchings occurred just before the
military drill held jointly by the United States and South Korea, in which Japan had
also been invited to join. Eight days later, North Korea tested an improved rocket
engine, which demonstrated its intent to improve its ballistic missile program and
showed that it was succeeding in that effort (McKirdy 2017). On April 6, the
DPRK launched another ballistic missile before another high-level meeting, this
time between President Trump and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping
(McKirdy 2017). During the meeting, President Trump ordered a missile strike
on Syria in a possible show of force towards the DPRK. Shortly after, President
Trump ordered the Mother of All Bombs (MOAB) to be dropped on ISIS in
Afghanistan. In late April, the US carrier Carl Vinson arrived in the Sea of Japan,
which raised alarms about a possible military engagement in Korea. However,
President Trump maintained that he would meet with Kim Jong-un under the
right circumstances (Manchester 2017).
Rockets and Olympic Diplomacy
In early May, South Korea elected liberal Moon Jae-in as its new president. Moon
won on a promise that he would try to reunify the two Koreas. But the DPRK
seemed intent on testing his patience. Just a few days after his inauguration, North
Korea launched another missile and the UN responded with more sanctions
(McKirdy 2017). On July 4, the DPRK claimed to have tested its first successful
ICBM followed by another successful test on July 28. The UN responded with
more sanctions, but did not address the DPRK’s increased rocket propulsion
capabilities, as demonstrated in the missile tests. It appeared that the new missiles,
with increased rocket size and operation, were capable of striking the US
mainland. The DPRK could successfully affix a miniaturized nuclear warhead on
a missile and thus carry out a nuclear strike on the United States. Towards the end
of November, the DPRK launched an even more advanced ICBM, this time
stating that it had the capability of reaching US lawmakers in Washington, DC.
Following the conclusion of the 2018 winter Olympics in South Korea, the DPRK
delegation invited South Korea’s President Moon to Pyongyang for a summit.
Now President Moon and Supreme Leader Kim are set to meet in April, along
with President Trump. The status of the meeting could change at any moment. If
it does take place, then it will be the first meeting between a South Korean
President and leader from the DPRK in over a decade. Astonishingly, this would
also be the first official meeting with Kim Jong-un for both President Moon Jaein
and President Trump. The two Koreas have even agreed to establish a
communication hotline. This should be seen as a critical step in diplomacy
between the two sides. Interestingly enough, the invitation came just days before
President Trump declared new tough sanctions against the DPRK, in what
appeared to be yet another attempt to limit the importation of oil and exportation
of coal by the regime (Landler 2018). It is important to note that these sanctions
have previously been ineffective at thwarting acts of provocation by the DPRK,
as numerous nations, including China, have refused to comply with established
regulations, and the DPRK has managed to evade them. It is also important to
keep in mind that these sanctions negatively impact the Chinese economy as it
receives most of its coal supply from the DPRK, and it does so for the most
advantageous price on the market. It is therefore difficult for some UN member
states to honor all sanctions resolutions, which is something that the DPRK has
managed to exploit, despite growing penalties.
The US and the DPRK have remained at gridlock because the US is solemnly
opposed to the DPRK having a nuclear capability. But the DPRK desires as many
freedoms as any other state. Marshal Kim Jong-un finds it imperative to construct
a capable defense against the potential threat that the US military poses by its
significant presence in South Korea. So the fact remains that the North Koreans
have the most to gain from gridlock, as it can continue to advance its defense
program, while the UN continues to sanction and watch. The US, South Korea,
China and Japan all do not want the DPRK to possess nuclear capabilities.
However, anything less than that is a non-starter with the DPRK when it comes
to diplomatic negotiations. Nevertheless, the DPRK has expressed its willingness
to suspend its nuclear program for the duration of the talks. Yet, as President
Moon has stated, optimism at this early stage would be premature. It is worth
remembering that Kim Jong-il established similar hopes with the UN during the
1990s and his father did so at earlier times. Historically, however, such openings
did not lead to lasting change. If anything, the DPRK may use this as an
opportunity to quietly hone its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, while
avoiding mounting UN sanctions. Moreover, the feeling of optimism is very
unlikely to be tenuous, as these talks will be held during the looming joint military
drills that are jointly held every year between the US and South Korea. There is
an absence of signs that would suggest that Washington or Seoul are willing to
postpone these drills.
For decades, the two sides have dismissed each other’s demands and no major
issue of disagreement has been resolved. So, a major cause for concern moving
forward is that the overall strategy of the UN has remained unchanged despite
the ineffectiveness its past efforts. That is especially critical to remember in the
wake of a potentially historic meeting between the various sides. Undoubtedly, all
countries involved face the very real risk of losing a plethora of resources by going
to war. This applies primarily to South Korea and the DPRK, as both nations risk
virtual annihilation. To prevent this, the White House should envision reality from
Pyongyang’s perspective, and the world must hope that the DPRK would return
the gesture by abiding by international law. Every participating country in this
dispute essentially faces economic stress, heavy military casualties, political suicide
and possible collapse in a nuclear conflict. The audacious public rhetoric by the
DPRK seems to be purely propaganda, as it is way more advantageous for the
pariah state to maintain the current status of gridlock. Additionally, none of the
nations involved, including the DPRK, appear to be truly seeking war. I can
therefore state with high confidence that it is highly unlikely that there will be a
war involving North Korea in the foreseeable future.
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CNN, 31 July accessed on 29 November 2017.
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Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2321” United Nations Security Council, New York,
NY, United States, 27 November
accessed on 29 November 2017.
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Reuters, 06 August accessed on 03
Whalen, K. (2017) “A Short History United States-North Korea Timeline”, PBS Frontline,
accessed on 3 December 2017.
Is Homegrown Far-Right Extremism in the
United States a National Security Threat?
Evidence of the presence of ideologies in the United States that could today be
classified as far-right dates as far back as the late 1700s. However, this report
focuses on far-right threats to US national security in the period after the attacks
of September 11, 2001. There are several definitions of national security, but for
the purposes of this report, national security refers to wholescale efforts to
preserve and sustain the nation-state from foreign and domestic threats through
political negotiation, force or threat of force. In this case, the threat is homegrown
and the groups that represent that threat consist of US citizens who carry out
attacks on US soil. The term far-right can be defined as a broad collection of
political views held by conservatives who maintain extreme nationalist or nativist
ideologies, as well as authoritarian tendencies. Today there are several types of
groups that can be classified as far-right, such as anti-government militias, anti-
Muslim groups, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant groups, and groups that are motivated
by race and nationality, including the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and various neo-Nazi
factions. Overall, the far-right in America is becoming an increasingly prominent
political force. However, the groups that are motivated by race have shown more
discipline and organization than the rest, indicating that they are moving faster
towards becoming a US national security threat.
Ideology and Main Actors
Throughout history, the various ideologies of far-right groups have shifted; old
groups have disappeared and have been replaced by new formations led by
younger members. It can be easy to overlook ideological differences between
these factions, but these are important in order to form an accurate picture of the
far-right ecosystem. White supremacists believe that white people are superior,
therefore white people should be dominant over all other races. White nationalists
seek to develop and maintain a separate white national identity, but are not
necessarily racial supremacists. Neo-Nazis are the post-World War II groups that
aim to construct contemporary interpretations of German national socialism,
modeled after the German far-right that emerged in the 1920s and persisted until
the 1940s. Neo-confederates promote a revisionist history of the southern
Confederate States of America and view the south’s stance in the American Civil
War in a positive light. Christian identity groups believe that only the European
peoples and people of kindred blood are the descendants of the Biblical figures,
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, hence the descendants of the ancient Israelites, and
only they can reach paradise. Finally, racist skinheads are the youth-oriented,
violent element of the white supremacist movement.
The contemporary far-right movement is influenced by several important actors,
including individuals, organizations and groups. David Duke “is [today] the most
recognizable figure of the American radical right, a neo-Nazi, longtime Klan
leader and now international spokesman for Holocaust denial” (SPLC n.d.). An
emerging far-right figure is Richard Spencer, a white supremacist and president
of the National Policy Institute, which operates as a lobbying group for white
supremacists. He is an avid organizer with many followers, who has called for a
“peaceful ethnic cleansing” and sees himself as a spokesman for the “dispossessed
white race” (SPLC n.d.). In 2008, Spencer coined the term “alt-right”, meaning
those whose ideologies are centered on “white identity” and feel they are under
attack by “political correctness” and “social justice” (SPLC n.d.). The term altright
loosely defines groups with far-right ideologies that reject mainstream
conservatism and favor a white-nationalist ideology.
The main organization that has shaped this movement is Stormfront, a website
for white supremacists with over 300,000 registered users. It is used for all types
of communication and it has users that are said to be linked to over 100 violent
criminal acts, committed with far-right motives, all over the world (SPLC n.d.).
The Southern Poverty Law Center refers to Stormfront as the “murder capital of
the internet”. Another individual that has just recently stepped into the spotlight
is Jared Taylor, a white nationalist who is the founder and editor of the white
supremacist magazine American Renaissance. Taylor recently authored an article
containing several, templates of racially motivated posters. These posters have
been popping up on college campuses all over the US. Groups and leaders such
as the National Socialist Movement (NSM), led by Jeff Schoep, Identity Evropa,
led by Patrick Casey, the KKK, neo-Nazis, and Michael Hill, founder of the League
of the South, can be considered the most active within the racially motivated farright
Recent Historical Development
During the 1980s, 75 far-right extremists were prosecuted in the US for acts of
terrorism (Smith 1994:33). In 1983, Gordon Kahl, a member of the Posse
Comitatus, an anti-government and anti-Semitic group, killed two federal
marshals. Later that year, a white nationalist group known as The Order robbed
banks, stores and armored cars, bombed a theater and a synagogue and murdered
Alan Berg, a liberal radio talk-show host. The most notable far-right attacks
before 9/11, in terms of their scale and the attention they received, were the
bombings of the Oklahoma federal building in 1995 and the Centennial Olympic
Park in 1996. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) disseminated detailed
reports regarding these attacks. In April of 1995, Timothy McVeigh, a former
soldier, blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City,
Oklahoma, killing 168 people and injuring several hundred more. McVeigh
claimed that his action was a retaliation for the Ruby Ridge and Waco sieges (FBI
n.d.), which are prominent in far-right activist circles and have come to symbolize
the perceived intent of the state to disarm citizens. In July of 1996, during the
summer Olympic Games, Eric Rudolph, a Christian Identity believer and anti-gay
propagandist, bombed the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia, killing
two and injuring over 100 others. Rudolph then went on to bomb two more
locations in Georgia and Alabama (FBI n.d.). After 9/11, there have been over
30 attacks committed on American soi by people motivated by far-right
ideologies. One of the most infamous is the shooting at the Emanuel African
Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, perpetrated by a
white supremacist, Dylann Roof, on June 17, 2015. Roof killed nine people in hopes
of starting a race war (FBI n.d.).
Present Status of the American Far Right
Despite its long history, domestic non-Islamic extremism is often overlooked as
a threat to US national security. Recent developments indicate that the American
far-right is becoming a national security threat, possibly even greater than Islamist
Since the November 2016 election of President Donald Trump, American farright
groups have, seemingly, become emboldened through public protests and
rallies, and through aggressive recruitment tactics. It is too early in Trump’s
presidency to determine with certainty where he stands, regarding his level of
support, on the issues involving the far-right. Earlier this year, a report on CNN
disclosed President Trump’s alleged racial comments to lawmakers. The president
reportedly said, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come
here?”, referring to developing countries such as Haiti and countries in Africa.
President Trump then reportedly went on to say, “Why do we need more Haitians?
Take them out” (Phillip and Watkins 2018). It is comments such as these that
arguably give the American far-right the perception that the President of the
United States supports elements of their ideologies.
In the past year, there have been three attacks in the US, perpetrated by supporters
of the far-right, resulting in casualties. The first was the death of Timothy Coughman,
who was stabbed with a sword by James Jackson in March 2017. Police later
confirmed that Jackson traveled from Maryland to New York with the intent of
killing black men in order to stop interracial relationships between white women
and black men (Southall 2017). The second attack occurred in May 2017. Jeremy
Christian stabbed and killed two people and injured two more, when he was
confronted for uttering racial slurs aimed at two teenage girls (Becker and Parker
2017). The third violent incident occurred in August 2017. James Fields allegedly
drove his car into a group of counter-protestors at the Unite the Right rally in
Charlottesville, Virginia, which was organized by far-right groups, killing one and
injuring nineteen others (Heim 2017).
In addition to these violent events, there have been several non-violent events. In
early October 2017, Spencer led another march in Charlottesville that only lasted
about 20 minutes due to a large counter-protest that was held in the same area
(Chaitin 2017). The White Lives Matter rally occurred later that month in
Tennessee, but was also cut short. One violent incident was reported after the
event, at a pub, where several White Lives Matter protestors harassed a white
woman for sitting with a black man that ended in a physical altercation between
a protestor and the woman (Liebelson 2017). According to Ian Allen, editor at
IntelNews, far-right activist Taylor Wilson attempted to derail a passenger train in
Nebraska on October 22, 2017. The FBI reported that Wilson entered the engine
room and activated the emergency brakes, bringing the train to a complete halt.
No one was reported injured or killed. Allen also refers to an FBI indictment that
states: “Wilson traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, in August of last year to attend
the ‘Unite the Right’ rally, which was organized by various white supremacist,
white nationalist, neo-Nazi and militia groups.” There have also been reports of
Wilson being a member of the NSM (Allen 2018).
Information was recently uncovered by the investigative website ProPublica
regarding today’s far-right groups and their organizational capabilities. According
to the website, far-right groups are sharing information and documents via online
chatrooms about manufacturing and using bombs, grenades, mines and other
explosive devices. These documents contain information ranging from instructions
on how to detonate dynamite, to US military-issue manuals for making
improvised explosives and booby traps (Thompson and Winston 2017).
More recently, far-right posters have appeared on college campuses in what
appears to be a new recruitment technique. More specifically, Clemson University,
in Clemson, South Carolina, has seen alt-right-themed posters attempting to
appeal to white people who feel they are being oppressed (Silvarole 2017).
Emerson College, in Boston, Massachusetts, has seen fliers sponsored by
Vanguard America, proclaiming: “Take Your Country Back!” (Anon. 2016). The
Patriot Front website is displayed on the flyers at the University of Utah in Salt
Lake City, Utah, bearing the words: “Stop the rapes. Stop the crime. Stop the
murder. Stop the blacks”, along with crime statistics (Anderson 2017). Coastal
Carolina University, in Conway, South Carolina, has also seen white supremacy
flyers on its campus. Early flyers displayed the message “It’s okay to be white”
(Boschult and Broyles 2017). However, later versions, created by Jared Taylor,
state: “Men of the West, don’t give in to hate. Love your people. Love your culture.
Love your heritage. Embrace white identity today!”. One recent flyer found on
Coastal’s Campus, which has reportedly been seen on several other campuses, states,
“Make America White Again”; this is clearly an alteration of one of President
Trump’s campaign slogans, “Make America Great Again”.
These are only a few examples of flyers that are popping up on college campuses
across the country. Since March of 2016, the SPLC has tracked over 300 racist
fliers on over 200 different college campuses in the US (Hatewatch). There are
also reports of college campus computer systems getting hacked —specifically
libraries— in order for far-right activists to print their fliers remotely without
getting caught (Markovich 2016). Hackers are finding a way into university
computer systems and connecting to their printing software in order to print their
racist propaganda from the comfort of their own homes. The goal behind these
actions appears to be to instill the perception of a large presence of the far-right
on campuses. Fear comes into play when students and faculty try to silently figure
out who the anonymous supporters of these groups may be.
Members of the American far-right consistently interpret the views of the Trump
administration as tacit support for their beliefs, which in turn fuels their actions.
The leaders of these groups can no longer be dismissed as “racist rednecks”. They
are well educated and understand how to encourage —and sometimes
manipulate— their followers into carrying out violent acts in the name of their
ideologies. Additionally, it was not until the first Unite the Right rally in
Charlottesville that the US saw large-scale collaboration between far-right groups
post 9/11. After seeing the second Tennessee rally canceled due to the small
turnout and overwhelming amount of counter-protesters, far-right leaders made
recruitment adjustments by targeting college students via racist propaganda. Now
that there are open lines of communication and cooperation between the various
groups, the far-right aims to build upon that by recruiting new members in hopes
that there will be more joint events in the future.
The far-right have come to the realization that the future of the US is in the hands
of the younger generations. By spreading their ideologies, they are hoping to
recruit more young members. Targeting college campuses is, therefore, seen as an
ideal recruitment tactic, whether it is activists posting the flyers themselves,
getting a student or faculty member to do it, or by hacking into school computer
systems to print them out. This development is extremely important because
students now have a platform to launch their own rallies from. The use of the
Internet makes spreading propaganda that much easier; it can be seen and shared
by people not only all over the United States, but all over the world as well. This,
plus the decentralization of the movement, should be considered dangerous. In
the past, government security agencies were able to pinpoint a certain area where
these groups operated. For instance, the KKK was known to mainly operate in
rural areas of the South and Midwest. However, these small group-like cells are
appearing all over the country, and sometimes all it takes is the click of a button
to make their presence known. The majority of these groups will not be publicly
visible until they organize a high-profile event such as the Charlottesville rally.
It is entirely possible that these newly established far-right college groups will
collaborate with groups on other campuses across the US to organize an event
with some form of meaningful structure. This event could show up as a series of
rallies taking place in succession, one on a new campus every day, or several
distinct rallies held on different campuses on the same day. It is also possible that
a large rally could be organized in the US, such as the recent one in Poland, which,
according to a Washington Post article, was attended by an estimated 60,000 farright
supporters from dozens of countries, including Italy and Britain (Selk 2017).
Ideally, for the American far-right, supporters will come to attend such an event
from all over the world, which will, by definition, elevate the threat to US national
security. Concerns over the collaboration between homegrown far-right groups
in the United States and similar groups abroad are not alarmist. One can argue
that it is currently happening, as there were reports from the Charlottesville rally
that far-right supporters from Canada were in attendance (Marquis 2017).
Ultimately, the more public support the far-right gains, even if it is perceived
support via hacked computers to create visual propaganda, the more violence will
occur. It can be stated with high confidence that the American far-right is a
national security threat. This is primarily due to two things: first, the fact that farright
groups have recently acquired the information necessary to build and
detonate large-scale IEDs; second, the fact that they are sharing that information
with other far-right actors online. Broadly speaking, there is substantial and
deepening collaboration and support among these groups. Additionally, the farright
feel more emboldened. It can be stated with moderate confidence that there
will be a large-scale attack on US soil, perpetrated by the far-right, within 2018.
Implications for the Trump Administration
President Trump, along with senior members of his administration, have a
perceived controversy surrounding them when it comes to the far-right. The
president has been accused by the Southern Poverty Law Center and The New
York Times of being a sympathizer and supporter of the far-right, and even of
being a white supremacist himself (SPLC n.d. and Blow 2017). During his
presidency, there have been several attacks on US soil by far-right actors.
According to his critics, his comments regarding those attacks have not clarified
his position on the matter. Since his 2016 campaign launch, President Trump has
used the slogan “Make America Great Again”. However, some far-right
supporters have interpreted that slogan to mean “Make America White Again”,
and have been chanting this at far-right rallies throughout the past year. Far-right
groups are becoming more emboldened through their actions, because they feel
that they have the support of the president; they believe that he is a tacit
sympathizer and supporter of their ideologies because he has not given them clear
reasons to think otherwise. Given the current state of affairs regarding the
homegrown far-right in America, the Trump administration should take the steps
necessary to make clear its position on the far-right and denounce President
Trump’s right-wing supporters. It is logical to assume that if President Trump
denounces his far-right supporters, the national security threat from the far-right
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Anon. (2014) “White Homicide Worldwide”, Southern Poverty Law Center, 3 December
Anon. (2016) “Posters For White Supremacist Group Found On Emerson College
Campus”, CBS Boston, 07 December .
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Backlash Among Black Nationalist Groups”, Southern Poverty Law Center, 21 February
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Died’”, CNN, 3 December .
Blow, C. (2017) “Is Trump a White Supremacist?”, The New York Times, 18 September
Boschult, C., and Broyles, M. (2017) “‘IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE’ Flyers at CCU
Spark Investigation”, Myrtle Beach Online, 09 November .
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Rally”, The Washington Examiner, 07 October .
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in 2014 and 2015”, United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC,
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Southern Poverty Law Center, 17 October .
Heim, J. (2017) “Recruiting a Day of Rage, Hate, Violence and Death”, The Washington
Post, 14 August .
Liebelson, D. (2017) “A Black Man and a White Woman Sat Down at a Pub. Then the
White Supremacists Showed Up.”, HuffPost, 31 October .
Markovich, A. (2016) “Hacker Says He Printed Anti-Semitic and Racist Fliers at Colleges
Across US”, The New York Times, 29 March .
Marquis, M. “At Least Two Quebecers Who Attended White Supremacist Rally in
Charlottesville Identified”, The Globe and Mail, 17 August .
Phillip, A., and Watkins, E. (2018) “Trump Decries Immigrants from ‘Shithole
Countries’ Coming to the US”, CNN, 11 January .
Selk, A. (2017) “Poland Defends Massive Far-Right Protest that Called for a ‘White
Europe’”, The Washington Post, 12 November .
Silvarole, G. (2017) “Clemson Officials Respond to Alt-Right Flyers in Internal Email”,
The Independent Mail, 03 November .
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Southall, A. (2017) “White Suspect in Black Man’s Killing is Indicted on Terror
Charges”, The New York Times, 27 March .
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Materials in Online Chats”, ProPublica, 02 November .
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as a
Factor in US-Russian Relations
Relations between the United States and Russia have been tense for decades.
However, the rise of Sunni armed extremist groups in the Middle East in our
century, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has further complicated
the relationship between the two countries. The ongoing instability in Syria has
attracted the attention and intervention of both Moscow and Washington. They
share common goals in Syria, such as defeating ISIS and increasing regional
stability, but they often disagree on the methods to do so. Notably, Russia
militarily and financially supports the government of Syrian President Bashar al-
Assad, while the US supports Syrian rebel groups opposed to Assad’s rule, like
the Free Syrian Army. Russia considers Assad to be a source of stability for Syria
and sees the US as a source of instability. This stark difference in policy has caused
a rise in tensions between the US and Russia. At the same time, the US and Russia
have been forced to cooperate in areas where a combined effort has been
necessary to achieve commonly desired goals. An example of this was seen in the
joint US-Russian condemnation of Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Achieving the US and Russia’s goals in Syria could lead to increased regional
stability and a decrease in the ISIS’s global presence. Therefore, based on recent
evidence, it can be stated with high confidence that ISIS has further complicated
US Russian relations while simultaneously forcing dialogue and cooperation.
Several state and non-state actors have the capability to influence events in Syria.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin complied with President Assad’s request
for assistance in 2015, he helped protect the Assad regime from the many factions
attempting to remove it. In turn, Russia was placed in a prime position to
influence the rebuilding of Syria after the Civil War. As extensions of Russia and
the US, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and —until his removal in March 2018—
Secretary of Defense Rex Tillerson also have had substantial power in influencing
how the two countries have interacted in Syria. For example, after the Asia-Pacific
Cooperation Summit in 2017, Tillerson and Lavrov produced a joint statement
on Syria on behalf of Presidents Trump and Putin. Neither president had a hand
in drafting the statement (Erickson and Vitkovskaya 2017). This displays the
considerable power both ministers have in engaging in public rhetoric. In
addition, the estimated 1,000 Syrian rebel groups fighting against the Syrian
government —many of them US or Saudi-backed— can sway efforts to maintain
the Assad regime (Anon. 2013). Groups such as the Free Syrian Army, the Islamic
Front, and the Syrian Democratic Forces —a coalition of mostly Kurdish, along
with some Christian and Sunni Arab fighters— all fight to remove President
Assad from power (Finnegan 2017). Lastly, Sunni armed extremist groups, such
as ISIS and, to some degree, Tahrir al-Sham (an offshoot of al-Qaeda), can —and
have— drastically reshaped the political landscape of the Middle East. Each actor
mentioned above has a degree of influence over US-Russian relations in Syria.
Discussion of Recent Developments
The dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991,
brought not only the end of the Cold War, but the beginning of a new relationship
between the US and the Russian Federation. Progress in this relationship was
made rapidly, with the first joint space shuttle mission in 1994 and the ratification
of the START II treaty in 1996 (US Department of State 2017). Since the mid-
1990s, however, periods of optimism and progress have been followed by mutual
criticism, tension, and pessimism. A total of four relationship ‘resets’ have been
attempted by different US presidents (not mentioning attempts by Russian
leaders), each failing to stop the overall trend toward deterioration. For example,
Bill Clinton began his presidency as “the US government’s principal Russia hand”
(US Department of State 2017), a statement implying he had an advantage in
negotiating with Russia. By the end of 1995, the US disapproval of the conflict in
Chechnya and the Russian disapproval of US involvement in Bosnia had reversed
any forward progress. In addition, in early 2002 the US announced that it would
be withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in order to help protect
NATO allies from Iranian missile attack (Rohde and Mohammed 2014). President
Putin denounced the move as undermining nonproliferation efforts. Again, in
Libya, Russia disapproved of the US removing Muammar al-Gaddafi from power.
Furthermore, when Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in March of
2014, the US placed the first of many harsh sanctions on Russia in an attempt for a
peaceful resolution. By the end of that year, US-Russian relations had deteriorated
to levels last seen during the presidency of Mikhail Gorbachev (Stent 2014).
In October of 1980, Syria and the USSR signed the 20-year Treaty of Friendship and
Cooperation. The treaty automatically renews every five years, unless terminated
by either party, and stipulates coordinating responses in the event of a crisis
(Vicente-Caro 2017). The treaty also guarantees Russia’s use of the Port of Tartus
—the only Russian military outpost left in the Mediterranean. When Syrian
president Hafez al-Assad died in 2000, his son Bashar al-Assad took power and
maintained his country’s close relationship with the Russian Federation. Between
2009 and 2013, Russia invested close to $20 million in Syria through weapons,
military training, and other supplies that eventually aided the government in the
Syrian Civil War (Dugulin 2015). On September 16, 2015, President Assad issued
a formal request for military assistance in fighting ISIS, and Russian President
Vladimir Putin complied. On September 30, 2015, Russia began airstrikes on
targets throughout Syria and officially became involved in the Syrian conflict
In August 2011, US president Barack Obama froze Syrian assets in the US
government and called for President Assad to resign. He also warned Assad that
the use of chemical weapons would force the US to intervene on behalf of the
Syrian people. In August 2013, a sarin gas attack befell civilians in the rebel-held
areas of Syria’s capital while they were sleeping. Two months later, Syria signed
the Chemical Weapons Convention amid international pressure from the UN
Security Council. That year, ISIS was believed to be responsible for multiple mustard
gas attacks. Yet, it was not until September 2014 that the US began airstrikes in
Syria on ISIS targets. According to the UN, the Syrian government was responsible
for three known chemical attacks on civilians between 2013 and 2016. After taking
office, US president Donald Trump, blamed the Obama administration for Assad’s
“heinous” acts, citing former President Obama’s “weakness and irresolution”
Recent confrontations between the Trump administration and Russia began early
in 2017. On April 7, 2017, the US launched 58 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the
Shayrat Airbase in Syria. The base had been identified as the source of a chemical
weapons attack that had occurred earlier in the week and killed over 80 people.
Both Russian and Syrian forces were stationed at the base; however Russian
authorities were notified of the strike in advance. Despite the Pentagon stating
that the targets were strictly logistical, six Syrians were killed and several others
were injured. In addition, six Syrian airplanes that were being repaired at the
targeted airbase were destroyed, in contrast with the runways, which were left
undamaged. After the strike, Russia vowed to boost Syrian air defenses in order
to deter any future attacks (Graham-Harrison 2017). The strike had many analysts
concerned about the future of US-Russian relations in Syria, hoping that the
attack would not set a dangerous precedent for the region.
The first face-to-face meeting between President Trump and President Putin took
place on July 7, 2017, during the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. The topics
discussed included Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election, as well as
Ukraine, and Syria. It was reported that President Trump accepted Russia’s strong
denials of accusations that it meddled in the US elections, and President Putin
called for an end to sanctions imposed in response to the Ukraine Crisis. On the
topic of Syria, the two leaders agreed on a ceasefire in the southwest regions of
Deraa, Quneitra, and Suweida (Anon. 2017a). Ramzy Ramzy, the United Nations
deputy special envoy to Syria, called that move a “positive development”, and said
he hoped it would extend to other parts of Syria (Anon. 2017c). The meeting
between the two presidents showed that the US and Russia were capable of striking
partial agreements over Syria, to the benefit of both the region and the world.
The two men did not meet again the Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation Summit,
which was held in Vietnam on November 10 and 11. During that summit, a
formal meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin was attempted, but failed
due to “scheduling conflicts on both sides” (Merica 2017). Despite this, the two
leaders were able to speak briefly during a photo-op on Friday and before a
plenary session on Saturday. After the summit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepared a joint statement calling
for a political solution in Syria and insuring further cooperation on fighting ISIS.
The two leaders also acknowledged that the only solution to the conflict in Syria
was through the Geneva process, and affirmed their commitment to Syria’s
sovereignty (US Department of State 2017). The joint statement was very specific
about how to move forward in Syria: “The two Presidents affirmed that these
steps must include [...] constitutional reform and free and fair elections under UN
supervision, held to the highest international standards of transparency, with all
Syrians, including members of the diaspora, eligible to participate” (US Department
of State 2017). This statement seems to contradict Russia’s wholehearted support
for President Assad’s regime in Syria. Furthermore, it should be noted that, while
the US has articulated its intent to remove Assad from power, that is no longer
the primary goal of the US in Syria (Nichols 2017).
Taking a step back from the Middle East, it must be acknowledged that some of
the most recent developments pertaining to US-Russian relations have revolved
around Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US Presidential Election. Not long
after the interference was uncovered, former US President Barack Obama closed
two diplomatic facilities in the US, in addition to ordering new sanctions on
Russian intelligence agencies. In response, President Putin expelled 755 employees
—most of them Russian citizens— working at American diplomatic facilities in
Russia. On August 21, 2017, the US embassy in Moscow stopped issuing travel visas
to Russians (Erickson and Vitkovskaya 2017). The two countries also engaged in
tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions in March of 2018, following the alleged poisoning
of Sergei Skripal, a Russian former spy living in Britain, allegedly on orders of the
Kremlin. Although the Skripal incident and the controversy surrounding the 2016
election are important to US-Russian relations, they are unlikely to have a major
impact on how the two countries interact in Syria.
Currently, the public facade of the relationship between Presidents Trump and
Putin is one of friendliness and agreeance; however this relationship has yet to be
reflected in policy. Sanctions tied to the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014
have not been lifted, and despite the promise of free elections in Syria, Russia has
repeatedly demonstrated its support for the Assad regime to remain in place.
Russia announced on November 30, 2017, that it had begun preparations to
downsize its military presence in Syria due to significant progress in defeating ISIS
There are multiple possible scenarios that could conclude the conflict in Syria
after the defeat of ISIS; however, two of these are the most likely. The first
scenario is that a free election is held “with all Syrians eligible to participate”, as
outlined in the joint US-Russian statement discussed earlier (US Department of
State 2017). This scenario would follow the Geneva process pursuant to UNSCR
2254, which calls for constitutional reform in addition to elections under UN
supervision. If free elections are indeed held, rebel opposition groups currently
fighting in Syria would be eligible to run for office. It can be assumed that President
Assad, Syria’s current leader, would also run in the election. Based on the current
political landscape in Syria —and assuming the absence of US or Russian
influence— it can be stated with a moderate degree of confidence that the result
of the election would keep Assad in power. Syrian rebel groups are numerous and
hold considerable territory, but refuse to consolidate due to differences in ideology.
Instead of stockpiling their votes behind one opposition candidate, they would
spread their votes among multiple candidates, thus preventing any of them from
gaining a majority victory.
This analysis was based on the assumption that the US and Russia would not
interfere with the election at all. This assumption is naive in the sense that both
powers have made it perfectly clear who they want to have a strong say in Syria.
It is likely that if free elections are held, the US and Russia would attempt to sway
the vote, with the US supporting the opposition and Russia supporting the Assad
regime. The results of such an election could affect US-Russian relations for
decades, depending on which faction “wins”.
The second scenario is that free elections are not held and the Assad regime
remains in power with the help of Russia. In this scenario, it is likely that the US
would continue to “secretly” support opposition groups, providing financial and
possibly even military aid. Essentially, this scenario cannot be classified as a
“resolution”, because it would constitute a continuation of the Civil War minus
ISIS. This scenario would increase tensions between the US and Russia to Cold
War levels and turn Syria into one of history’s longest proxy wars between the
two powers. Based on the level of UN involvement in Syria, there is a low level
of confidence that this scenario will occur.
The Trump Administration, or more accurately, former US Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson, has publicly articulated his intent to remove Assad from power.
Evidence of this could be seen when WikiLeaks documents revealed that the US
State Department had financially supported Syrian opposition groups (Whitlock
2011). Tillerson’s successor, Mike Pompeo, is in agreement with that line of
policy. Based on the recent history of US foreign policy, a continuation of this
stance makes sense for the Trump administration. Additionally, an opposition
leader in the Syrian government would be sympathetic towards the US, thus
gaining Washington another ally in the region. With ISIS becoming less powerful
every week, the need for a political resolution in Syria becomes more prevalent.
The US should begin to adamantly talk about free elections in Syria, in an effort
to create the atmosphere needed for them to occur. Ideally, multilateral resolution
talks between the UN, the US, Russia, and Syria should have already begun to
increase the chances of a peaceful and favorable solution to the Syrian Civil War.
Despite the façade of cooperation and agreeance, the relationship between the
US and Russia has not improved in recent weeks. With the US supporting the
opposition and Russia supporting the Assad regime in Syria, the common enemy
found in ISIS is not enough to maintain good relations. As the Cruise missile
strike on the Syrian airbase proved, this disagreement can be highly detrimental
to US-Russian interactions in Syria. However, the G-20 summit in Germany and
the Vietnam Summit have shown that ISIS has also forced dialogue and
cooperation between Washington and Moscow. A political resolution to the
Syrian Conflict is necessary, and the Trump Administration should begin pushing
for free elections. Therefore, based on evidence in this analysis, it can be stated
with high confidence that Sunni armed extremism has complicated US-Russian
relations, while simultaneously forcing dialogue.
Anonymous (2013) “Guide to the Syrian Rebels” BBC, 13 December.
Anonymous (2017a) “G-20: Trump and Putin Hold First Face-to-Face Talks”, BBC, 7
Anonymous (2017b) “Russia Preparing to Withdraw Military Contingent from Syriasecurity
chief”, Russia Today, 30 November.
Anonymous (2017c) “US and Russia Agree New Ceasefire Deal”, Al Jazeera, 8 July.
Anonymous (2018) “Syria: Timeline of the Civil War and US Response” ABC Australia,
Dugulin, R. (2016) “The Emerging Islamic State Threat in the North Caucasus”.
International Policy Digest, 04 April.
Erickson, A. and Vitkovskaya, J. (2017) “How the Diplomatic Fight Between Russia
and US Unfolded”, The Washington Post, 5 September.
Finnegan, C. (2017) “A Look at the Factions Battling in Syria’s Civil War”, ABC News,
Graham-Harrison, E. (2017) “A Visual Guide to the US Missile Strikes on a Syrian
Airbase”, The Guardian, 7 April.
Merica, D. (2017) “Trump, Putin Shake Hands, Chat Multiple Times at Asia-Pacific
Summit”, CNN, 11 November.
Nichols, M. (2017) “US Priority on Syria no Longer Focused on ‘Getting Assad Out’:
Haley”, Reuters, 30 March.
Stent, A. (2014) The Limits of Partnership: US-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century,
Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
Rohde, D. and Mohammed, A. (2014) “Special Report: How the US made its Putin
problem worse”, Reuters, 18 April.
US Department of State (2017) “Joint Statement by the President of the United States
and the President of the Russian Federation”, Washington, DC, United States.
Vincent-Caro, C. J. (2017) “Moscow’s Historical Relationship with Damascus: Why it
Matters Now”, The Huffington Post (no date provided).
Whitlock, C. (2011) “US Secretly Backed Syrian Opposition Groups, Cables Released
by WikiLeaks Show”, The Washington Post, 17 April.
The Effect of Turkey’s Political Instability
on the NATO Alliance
The United States and Turkey are the two largest military powers in the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a US-led military alliance formed in 1949
by 12 Western countries to provide security in Europe against the Soviet Union
and to prevent the spread of communism. Turkey joined NATO in 1952, a
development that strengthened relations between the predominantly Muslim
country and other NATO members. Turkey is often seen as bridging the gap
between the Western-oriented NATO and the Muslim World as a whole. This is
crucial for NATO, which wants to project an image of itself as more than just an
alliance of predominately Christian nations. Turkey’s entry into NATO also
shaped drastically the relationship between the US and Turkey. The two countries
remained allies through the decades, even though they did not always agree on a
host of regional and even global issues. For example, Washington and Ankara
differed on their approach to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Today, the US and
Turkey share an overall goal of defeating terrorism and promoting stability and
security. However, Turkey’s deepening political uncertainty is leading to potential
conflicts between it and its NATO allies. The current tensions between Turkey
and the US, as well as between Turkey and other countries in NATO, can be
traced back to the time of the Cold War. They continue to exist today for a variety
Key Figures and Groups
Several individuals and groups play key roles in the current state of tension
between Turkey and its NATO allies. Primary among them is Recep Tayyip
Erdogan, who served as Turkey’s prime minister from 2003 to 2014, when he was
elected president, a post that he continues to occupy to this day. Under Erdogan’s
leadership, Turkey has witnessed substantial economic growth. However, his
heavy-handed approach to political dissent shaped his reputation as a leader
known for harshly punishing those who oppose him. In answering his critics,
Erdogan recently stated that “an all-powerful presidency is a guarantee that the
political instability used to plague Turkey will not return” (BBC 2017). President
Erdogan is also the leader of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP),
which is based on the ideology of religious conservatism. The former leader of
the AKP is Binali Yildirim, who is now the current Prime Minister of Turkey.
Another individual who plays an important role in Turkey-NATO relations is Jens
Stoltenberg, who has been the Security General of NATO since 2014. Stoltenberg,
a career politician, served as Norway’s prime minister for 13 years before leading
NATO. Another key individual that directly affects this topic is Fethullah Gülen,
a former Islamic preacher and politician who leads the so-called Gülen movement.
His movement promotes his beliefs in secular education, religious tolerance, and
advancement in social networking (Gülen 2017). Gülen has been residing in the US
since 1999 and currently lives in Pennsylvania. Alongside the Gülen movement, a
group that has a major impact on this topic is the Kurds. The Kurds make up the
fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East, but do not have a permanent state.
Organized groups of Kurdish fighters have been in a state of war with Turkish
authorities for generations and oppose the authority of the Turkish government.
The clashes —both rhetorical and armed— between these two sides continue to
increase tensions in Turkey’s far-eastern Anatolia region, where Islamist groups
are also active. According to Al Jazeera, more than 500 have been killed since
2015 in attacks carried out by Islamist and Kurdish forces against Turkish
Finally, in January of 2017, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45 th president
of the US. This event affected Turkey politically because its government has had
to negotiate over a variety of issues with a new administration that holds radically
different views on foreign policy and from the administration of former President
Barrack Obama. However, whether the Trump administration’s different views
will translate into radically different actions remains to be seen.
The 2016 Military Coup
An important recent event that has affected the relations between the US and
Turkey was the failed coup attempt that took place in Turkey on July 15, 2016.
The attempted coup was carried out by Turkish military officers in an effort to
emove President Erdogan from power. At least 249 people died during the coup
and over 2,000 more were injured (BBC 2017). Turkish authorities later described
the coup as a complete intelligence failure for the government (BBC 2017), which
indicates the lack of information that Turkish security agencies had about the
impending action of the military officers. President Erdogan released a statement
after the failed coup attempt, stating that he had only found out about the coup
attempt a couple hours prior from his brother-in-law (BBC 2017), not from
Soon afterwards, however, Turkish government officials identified Gülen as the
individual they believe was behind the attempted coup. The Turkish government
issued an arrest warrant for Gülen on July 19, 2016, just days after the failed coup
attempt. The Turkish government was not able to take Gülen into custody
because he lives in Pennsylvania, reportedly under US protection. The Turkish
government’s efforts to extradite Gülen to Turkey have so far been unsuccessful.
The Turks want to take him into custody in order to have him stand trial for the
failed coup attempt. However, the US claims that there is no strong enough
evidence to extradite Gülen to Turkey. Over 50,000 individuals who, according
to the Turkish government, were involved in the coup, have been arrested and
are awaiting trial. Additionally, another 150,000 have been fired or suspended
from their government or private-sector positions in Turkey (Al Jazeera 2017).
Before the failed coup attempt, relations between the US and Turkey were already
tense due to disagreements regarding the Syrian Civil War. The two countries have
never seen eye to eye on how to proceed in the Syrian Civil War. Turkey’s
government argues that the Syrian Kurdish Forces (YPG) and the Democratic
Unity Party (PYD), which are the dominant armed forces the in Syrian Kurdish
region, are affiliates of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). The PKK is a paramilitary
group based in Iraq and Turkey that seeks to create a separate homeland for the
Kurds through political agitation and armed struggle. It is designated as a terrorist
group by Turkey, the US and others. The Turkish government sees the YPG and
the PYD as essentially branches of the PKK (BBC News 2017). The US does not
support the PYD or the PKK, which it sees as terrorist organizations. However,
it has consistently offered support to the YPG in the Syrian Civil War, prompting
Turkey to accuse Washington that it is backing terrorists in the Syrian Civil War.
In addition to causing friction in Turkey-US relations, this disagreement has also
caused rising tensions between Turkey and other NATO nations.
In April of 2017, a Turkish referendum gave President Erdogan a 51.4% victory
that allowed him to run for two more election cycles, and to possibly remain the
head of state until 2029 (Shaheen 2017). President Erdogan can also return to the
leadership of the AKP, which holds the majority of members in the Turkish
parliament (BBC 2017). The referendum also passed 18 new amendments that
were added to the Turkish constitution. These amendments primarily deal with
the powers of the executive and legislative branches in the Turkish government.
For example, one amendment that was added through the referendum was the
abolition of the post of prime minister. Now President Erdogan can appoint the
cabinet himself and oversees a number of vice presidents that are under his
command. Additionally, the Turkish parliament no longer oversees the ministers,
as its power to initiate a motion of no confidence against them has been be removed
On October 9, 2017, the US embassy in Ankara, Turkey, suspended all nonimmigrant
visa services, reportedly in order to reassess Turkey’s commitment to
the security of the embassy’s staff (BBC 2017). The US government decided to
minimize the number of visitors to its embassy and consulates in Turkey, until
the personnel working there stopped facing what the embassy said were security
threats. Only individuals who were permanently moving to the US were able to
apply for visas. In response, Turkey suspended all visa services for US citizens at
their diplomatic and consular missions (BBC 2017). President Erdogan and
President Trump had met in September, shortly before the visa suspension
occurred. During that meeting, President Trump stated that the relationship
between the two nations was better than it had ever been (The White House
2017). However, as will be shown here, this statement appears to contradict the
facts, as the latter do not support it.
On November 7 2017, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim met at the White
House with US Vice President Mike Pence, to discuss the ongoing diplomatic
dispute between Washington and Ankara. Following the closed-door meeting,
“Prime Minister Yildirim stated that [it] was a positive step for both nations” (The
White House 2017). The Turkish official also took a large legal team with him on
his visit, in what appeared to be an unofficial attempt to strengthen the case to
extradite Gülen to Turkey —something that did not ultimately materialize.
Interestingly, President Trump was on a tour of Asia when Prime Minister
Yildirim came to the US to meet with Vice President Pence to discuss diplomatic
disagreements between Washington and Ankara.
Another recent event that negatively affected Turkey’s relations with NATO was
a dispute over a NATO military exercise in Norway in November of 2017. During
this routine exercise, President Erdogan was reportedly depicted as NATO’s
enemy during a simulation (Fraser 2017). NATO Secretary-General Jens
Stoltenberg immediately issued an apology for the offense, stating that the
incident was the result of an external contractor that was hired for the exercise,
and that it did not reflect the views of NATO. Stoltenberg added that “Turkey is
a valued NATO ally, which makes important contributions to allied security” (The
Guardian 2017). A report by Politico said that the contractor involved was a
Norwegian of Turkish origin, who was predictably accused by Turkey of being a
supporter of Gülen.
On December 1 2017, Turkey’s chief prosecutor issued an arrest warrant for former
Central Intelligence Agency officer Graham Fuller, former vice-chairman of the
US National Intelligence Council. The warrant alleges that Mr. Fuller has links to
Gülen and the failed 2016 coup attempt. But Fuller and the United States government
have dismissed these allegations (Stockholm Center for Freedom 2017).
On December 1, 2017, former national security advisor Michael Flynn turned
himself in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which charged him with lying
about having had unauthorized discussions with Russian officials in December of
2016. In addition to his links with Russian officials, Flynn was also accused of
having been offered $15 million to help Turkish officials forcibly remove Gülen
from the US and extradite him to Turkey (BBC 2017). The Turkish government
did not discuss these allegations. If the accusations about Flynn are accurate, they
show that extraditing Gülen to Turkey remains one of Ankara’s major objectives,
and that the Erdogan administration has taken extreme measures —including
attempts to bribe US officials— in attempts to do so.
Rising tensions between the US and Turkey are extremely significant within the
context of NATO. In the past few months, major events have occurred between
the two countries, which have affected American and Turkish embassies and
consulates, NATO training exercises, as well as regular travel between Turkey and
the US. They have prompted numerous statements issued by senior US, Turkish
and NATO officials, as well as lengthy reports from multiple news sources. Visa
services between the US and Turkey have yet to be normalized, though they have
been modified on several occasions. It is likely, therefore, that visa services will
resume in the near future. It is less probably, but not impossible, that the visa
services issue will become an ongoing dispute and will not be completely restored
until the US and Turkey come to an agreement on how to resolve the case of Gülen.
President Trump’s administration has been engaged in negotiations with Turkish
government officials on multiple issues that affect diplomatic relations between
the two nations, including the failed 2016 coup attempt and the more recent visa
service suspension. The Trump administration’s current position is that the US
government has been making multiple attempts to normalize relations between
the two nations. President Trump and Vice President Pence, along with other US
officials, have personally met with Turkish officials for that reason. If the current
trend continues, bilateral relations are likely to grow stronger in the future.
However, the major diplomatic issue between the US and Turkey continues to be
the extradition of Gülen. The US has stated on multiple occasions that it has not
een shown enough incriminating evidence to extradite Gülen. Turkey has also
made it clear that it does not plan on giving up its goal of arresting Gülen. There
is no evidence that the US will change its position on this matter either.
Given the current state of US-Turkish relations, it can be stated with high confidence
that Turkey’s political instability will continue to have a negative effect on NATO,
which is in turn likely to lead to future diplomatic disagreements between Turkey
and its NATO allies.
Al Jazeera (2017) “Turkey’s Failed Coup Attempt: All You Need to Know”, Al Jazeera,
15 July accessed on December 1, 2017.
BBC (2015) “Syria Crisis: Where Key Countries Stand”, BBC, 30 October, accessed on October 21, 2017.
BBC (2017) “Ex-Trump Aide Mike Flynn ‘Offered $15m by Turkey for Gülen’”, BBC,
11 November Accessed on November
BBC (2017) “Recep Tayyip Erdogan: Turkey’s Pugnacious President”, BBC, 17 April
accessed on October 17, 2017.
BBC (2017) “Turkey and US Scale Back Visa Services Amid Diplomatic Row”, BBC, 09
October accessed on October 19,
BBC (2017) “Turkey Seeks Arrest of ex-CIA Officer Fuller Over Coup Plot”, BBC, 01
December accessed on December
Fraser, S. (2017) “NATO Apologizes After Turkey’s President Shown as Enemy During
Drill”, Defense News, 17 November accessed on
February 27 2018.
Guardian (2017) “NATO Apologizes to Turkey after Erdogan and Ataturk Appear on
‘Enemy Chart’”, The Guardian, 18 November accessed on March 17,
Gulen, F. (n.d.) “Love and Obedience”, Fethullah Gülen’s Official Web Site accessed March 17, 2018.
Politico (2017) “Turkish Tensions Undermine its Role in NATO”, Politico, 30 June,
October 19, 2017.
Shaheen, K. (2017) “Turkish Referendum: All You Need to Know”, The Guardian, April 10
accessed on March 17, 2018.
Stockholm Center for Freedom (2017) “Graham Fuller Rejects Turkey’s Claims of
Involvement in Coup Plot”, Stockholm Center for Freedom, 04 December
Biographical Notes on Contributors
KATELYN MONTRIEF, from Fredericksburg, Virginia, is a junior majoring in Intelligence
and National Security Studies with a minor in Political Science and a certificate in
Sustainability at Coastal Carolina University. In May 2017, Katelyn was elected to
serve as the Recruitment Officer for the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief, where she has
also headed the Middle East and Americas Desks. She was later elected to serve as
the organization’s Chief Operations Officer. Katelyn’s research interests are focused
primarily on Turkish politics and Turkey’s relations with the United States. She is also
an intern for the United Nations Youth Corps in Georgetown, South Carolina.
MADISON NOWLIN, from Concord, North Carolina, is a senior Intelligence and National
Security Studies major and Global Studies minor at Coastal Carolina University. In 2018
she will be attending Magdalene College’s International Security and Intelligence
summer program at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, in addition to
studying Russian language at Narxoz University in Almaty, Kazakhstan. As president
of the National Security Club, Madison helped organize and host the 1 st Annual
Intelligence and National Security Conference at Coastal Carolina University in 2017.
She is also a founding member of Women in Intelligence and National Security. Madison
has previously won the Best Intelligence Essay Award and the Intelligence Analysis
Award for the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief, and was named Undergraduate Student
of the Year for Coastal Carolina University’s Edwards College of Humanities and Fine
Arts for the 2017-2018 academic year. In April 2018, Madison received the Intelligence
Student of the Year award from the Intelligence and National Security Studies program
at Coastal Carolina University.
MATT POLOGE, from Glen Rock, New Jersey, is a senior majoring in Intelligence and
National Security Studies with a minor in Sociology at Coastal Carolina University.
Matt began studying North Korea during his freshman year of high school, after
interviewing his grandfather for a school research project. During his time at Coastal,
he joined the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief to hone his analytical capabilities, and was
awarded the CIB’s Intelligence Advancement Award for the spring 2017 semester.
After continuing to pursue his work on the Korean Peninsula and Asian relations
more broadly, Matt became the recipient of the CIB’s Best Intelligence Essay Award
for the fall of 2017.
MAEVE STEWART, from Stockton, New Jersey, is a senior at Coastal Carolina University
majoring in Intelligence and National Security Studies. In the summer of 2016, she
completed an internship at the Regional Operations Intelligence Center of the New
Jersey State Police, where she worked under a senior analyst in one of their criminal
divisions. Since the fall of 2017, Maeve has focused her analytical research on
domestic far-right extremist threats to US national security. In the spring of 2018, she
presented her findings at the 2 nd Annual Intelligence and National Security Conference
at Coastal Carolina University, which she also helped host as a member of the student
led initiative, Women in Intelligence and National Security. Maeve has also been a
member and analyst of the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief for two years.
JOSEPH FITSANAKIS, PhD, is Associate Professor of Politics in the Intelligence and
National Security Studies program at Coastal Carolina University, where he teaches
courses on intelligence operations, intelligence communications, national security,
intelligence analysis, and intelligence in the Cold War, among other subjects. Before
joining Coastal, Dr. Fitsanakis founded the Security and Intelligence Studies program
at King University, where he also directed the King Institute for Security and Intelligence
Studies. He has written extensively on subjects such as international espionage, intelligence
tradecraft, counterintelligence, wiretapping, cyber-espionage, transnational crime and
intelligence reform. He is a frequent media commentator, syndicated columnist, and
senior editor at intelNews.org, an ACI-indexed scholarly blog that is cataloged through
the United States Library of Congress.