In the News | 2017

Calestous Juma -- Photo Credit: Harvard Kennedy School

In the News

December 15, 2017

CIS mourns death of Harvard professor

Calestous Juma was a DUSP MLK Visiting Professor (2014-15). “Calestous was that rarest of intellectuals—one who put his ideas into practice, and did so with a big, generous heart, filled with warmth and laughter. We enjoyed working with him immensely. His work and ideals will be a strong legacy for Africa and the developing world,” said CIS executive director and principal research scientist John Tirman.

People watch a television showing pictures of President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a railway station in Seoul in November. (AFP/Getty Images)

In the News

December 14, 2017

Tell me how Trump’s North Korea gambit ends

Daniel W. DreznerThe Washingon Post

Even if an American first strike knocked out North Korea’s nuclear capacity, millions of South Korean civilians, and American and South Korean soldiers, would be vulnerable to retaliation with conventional or chemical weapons” says Barry Posen.

In the News

December 13, 2017

Tillerson says US won't set preconditions for North Korea talks

Nicole Gaouette and Joshua BerlingerCNN

You need both sides to be credible in the good cop-bad cop routine for it to work. There are too many doubts about the weight and credibility of Tillerson. said Vipin Narang. McMaster has the ear of the President and is much more credible.

Kim Jong Un

In the News

November 29, 2017

North Korea's recent, and possibly most powerful missile test

Vipin Narang, associate professor of political science and nuclear strategy expert, spoke with the BBCForeign Policy, and the New York Times, to discuss implications of Pyongyang's missile test last night.

In the News

November 29, 2017

Trump promises new sanctions after North Korea's latest missile test

WBUR Here and Now

President Trump tweeted that major new sanctions will be imposed after North Korea's latest missile test. Jim Walsh puts the launch into context.

Building 7

In the News

November 17, 2017

New initiative supported by $3.7 million in grants

Resource DevelopmentMIT News OfficeThe MIT Security Studies Program launched today a collaborative program with the Harvard Belfer Center to mentor the next generation of foreign policy scholars with support from the Charles Koch Foundation.
 Charles Koch is investing in foreign policy programs at elite American universities. (Patrick T. Fallon/For The Washington Post)

In the News

November 11, 2017

Libertarian billionaire Charles Koch is making a big bet on foreign policy

Greg JaffeWashington Post

Stephen Walt, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Barry Posen, the director of MIT’s Security Studies program, will oversee the Koch-funded program at the two schools.

Richard Nielsen and his book, Deadly Cleris

In the News

November 9, 2017

Why some Muslim clerics become jihadists

Peter DizikesMIT News Office

What turns people into radical jihadist clerics? A new book by MIT political scientist Richard Nielsen offers a new answer: thwarted career ambitions.


President Trump addresses the National Assembly in Seoul on Nov. 8, 2017. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

In the News

November 8, 2017

In speech to South Korean assembly, Trump tells the North 'Do not try us'

Robin YoungHere & Now

Here & Now's Robin Young discusses Trump's South Korea trip with Here & Now security analyst Jim Walsh (@DrJimWalshMIT).

Richard Clarke and Joel Brenner

In the News

November 3, 2017

Why we should welcome warnings

Peter DizikesMIT News Office

Richard Clarke, the former chief counter-terrorism advisor on the National Security Council, expanded on ideas in his new book, “Warnings,” asserting that specialists…can “see the thing buried in the data that other people don’t see.”

Japanese abductees

In the News

November 3, 2017

For families of Japanese abducted by North Korea, Trump visit brings spotlight

Motoko RichNew York TImes

“The abductee issue pulls at the heartstrings of the general public in a way that no other issue can,” said Richard Samuels, a Japan specialist and the director of the MIT Center for International Studies.

Iran nuclear deal

In the News

October 13, 2017

Trump will decertify the Iran nuclear deal. What does that mean?

WBUR Here and Now

Jim Walsh, senior research associate at the MIT Security Studies Program, tells Here & Now's Robin Young that President Trump's move is largely symbolic.

MIT Starr Forum: North Korea

In the News

October 5, 2017

Nuclear and present danger

Peter DizikesMIT News

“The bad news is that denuclearization is a fantasy,” said Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT, who has written extensively about North Korea’s nuclear program. ... “The good news is, deterrence can work.”

WhatsApp Image

In the News

October 2, 2017

Mark Zuckerberg’s China dilemma: To kowtow or not?

Audrey Jiajia LiThe Boston Globe

Can we really blame Zuckerberg for trying a bit too hard to prove that in facing the wealth of the world’s second largest economy, even a billionaire can be silenced?

Garry Kasparov

In the News

September 19, 2017

Trump is a wake-up call for the free world

Audrey Jiajia LiBoston Globe

On September 14, at the invitation of the Center for International Studies, Kasparov gave a talk on the “Trump-Putin Phenomenon” at a MIT Starr Forum and took questions from the Globe.

Vipin Narang

In the News

September 11, 2017

Making sense of nuclear threats

“Today it’s very clear North Korea has an asymmetric escalation strategy,” says Vipin Narang, a political scientist at MIT. “We’re in a very unstable phase right now.” 

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono

In the News

August 29, 2017

US leadership as a Pacific power: Trump and beyond

Mercy A. KuoThe Diplomat

Over the past few years most countries in the region—including and especially US allies and partners—have become increasingly skeptical about the future of US leadership in the western Pacific...

MITX Course on Africa

In the News

August 25, 2017

Political science debuts on MITx

Leda ZimmermanMIT News

Evan Lieberman, the Total Chair on Contemporary Africa, creates the first MIT Political Science class for edX, the multi-university online education platform. The course, Democracy and Development: Perspectives from Africa, launches Setember 26.

Debate: Tensions on Korean Peninsula

In the News

August 22, 2017

Tensions on Korean peninsula

PressTV-The Debate

Jim Walsh discussed North Korea's warning of deepening tensions on the Korean Peninsula following the recent joint military exercises by US and South Korea.

Robert E Lee statue

In the News

August 18, 2017

What Robert E Lee wrote to The Times about slavery in 1858

Jacey FortinNew York Times

One day in January, a few years before the Civil War, Robert E Lee wrote to The New York Times, seeking a correction, writes former CIS Neuffer fellow Jacey Fortin. Fortin now reports full-time for the The New York Times

Joel Brenner

In the News

July 10, 2017

Former head of US counterintelligence on “US-Russian cybersecurity unit”

Mary Louise KellyWBUR Morning Edition

Joel Brenner, now at MIT, says President Trump's statement that he might partner with Putin on cyber issues is a reversal of decades of well-founded American suspicion of Russia.

David Edelman

In the News

July 9, 2017

Trump's cyber tweets cause dismay, confusion

Corey BennettPolitico

The attempt at cooperation itself could result in the US exposing even more secrets to a country that has already stolen so many, cautioned former Obama administration official David Edelman, director of the new MIT Project on Technology, the Economy, and National Security.

Justin Steil

In the News

July 7, 2017

Justin Steil on the Trump administration travel ban

Michelle NhuchMIT News

Regardless of the Supreme Court’s ultimate conclusion about the legality of the current executive order, its mean-spiritedness, short-sightedness, and damage it has done, and will continue to do, are already evident. 

North Korea soldiers

In the News

July 5, 2017

What's changed since the missile test?

NPR Here and Now

The latest test demonstrates an underlying disconnect in US strategy: North Korea can make missiles faster than we can punish them. Listen to Jim Walsh on NPR's Here and Now.

In the News

June 7, 2017

Brenner on Russian hacking effort

Caitlin O'Keefe, Meghna ChakrabartiWBUR Radio Boston

Joel Brenner, former NSA Inspector General, discusses the leaked NSA document analyzing a Russian military intelligence cyberattack on a US voting software company; and the alleged leaker, an NSA contractor, who has been arrested.


Jim Walsh

In the News

May 25, 2017

Halting intelligence


Jim Walsh, from MIT's Security Studies Program, discusses the effects that intelligence changes could have on the US—and politicians who take the term “beat the press” literally.

In the News

May 24, 2017

Vipin Narang: On the brinkmanship beat

Leda ZimmermanMIT News

Narang, who specializes in nuclear security, proliferation, and deterrence, is closely monitoring the ongoing rivalry between India and Pakistan, and the alarming, increasingly bellicose sparring between North Korea and the United States...

John Tirman on immigration and costs of war

In the News

May 22, 2017

How political science contributes to national policies on immigration and military conflict

MIT SHASS CommunicationsMIT News

"It is remarkable that we do not measure the costs of war in any meaningful way," says John Tirman. "I suggest that Congress establish a conflict impact assessment during or after each war to bring home the true costs of armed conflict."

Joel Brenner Cybersecurity

In the News

May 18, 2017

Patching the electric grid

Rachel LayneMIT Technology Review

“For the sake of efficiencies…we have created tremendous risk for ourselves,” warns Joel Brenner, the principal author of the MIT report on cybersecurity. Now, he says, people are waking up to the danger.

North Korea Nuclear Diplomacy

In the News

May 17, 2017

Walsh on North Korea nuclear issues

Mark GoldbergGlobal Dispatches

James Walsh discusses nuclear diplomacy with North Korea in respect to the recently elected Moon Jae-In as president of South Korea. Listen to the Global Dispatches podcast. 

US Mexico Starr Forum

In the News

May 16, 2017

US and Mexico: What’s the way forward?

Peter DizikesMIT News

Over the past two years, US-Mexico relations have taken a distinctive turn, largely stemming from the agenda President Donald Trump has brought to US politics...The MIT Starr Forum offers a look at how the neighboring countries could revive relations.

Syrians burying their loved ones after the chemical attack.

In the News

April 20, 2017

Guillemin on the sarin attack in Syria

Michelle NhuchMIT News

Jeanne Guillemin, a medical anthropologist and a senior fellow in the MIT Security Studies Program, discusses the April 4 attack on Syrian civilians that killed at least 80.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter launched a missile strike against Syria on Friday.

In the News

April 7, 2017

Strike on Syria is defensible but problematic

Michael A. CohenBoston Globe

Barry Posen comments in the Boston Globe, “…one of the great ironies of Trump’s decision to use force is that is actually in direct support of President Obama’s 2013 negotiated agreement with the Syrian government…”

USA map – cybersecurity © Getty Images

In the News

April 5, 2017

MIT report to combat cyber threats

Colin GrantBBC

Joel Brenner, former NSA inspector general and CIS senior research fellow, speaks to BBC reporter Gareth Mitchell about the recent MIT report on cyber security that examines threats to the nation’s infrastructure. 

Crisis in Syria

In the News

April 5, 2017

Crisis in Syria


Carol Saivetz, a senior advisor at MIT’s Security Studies Program, is featured on WBGH's "Greater Boston" to discuss the crisis in Syria.

MIT Asian security studies faculty (left to right) M. Taylor Fravel, Richard Samuels, and Vipin Narang train the next generation of scholars and security policy analysts; counsel national security officials in the U.S. and abroad; and inform policy through publications and frequent contributions to public debates.

In the News

April 3, 2017

MIT's experts in Asian security

Leda Zimmerman, Emily HiestandMIT News

Taylor Fravel, Richard Samuels, and Vipin Narang train the next generation of scholars and security policy analysts; counsel national security officials in the US and abroad; and inform policy through publications and frequent contributions to public debates.

A nuclear-capable missile was displayed in the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi in 2009.

In the News

March 31, 2017

India, long at odds with Pakistan, may be rethinking nuclear first strikes

Max FisherThe New York Times

This would be more than an arms race, said Vipin Narang, “It’s very scary because all the ‘first-strike instability’ stuff is real…” Shivshankar Menon, India’s national security adviser (2011-2014) and recently at CIS as a Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow, is also quoted.

Lourdes Melgar

In the News

March 22, 2017

Mexico’s energy reform

Mary PottsMIT News

Lourdes Melgar, the Center’s Robert Wilhelm Fellow, MIT alumna, and former Mexican government official discusses opportunities and challenges of recent energy reforms in Mexico.

During the 2017 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference, Narang said, "There is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first".

In the News

March 21, 2017

India may abandon its 'no first use' nuclear policy

The Economic Times

"Serious voices, who cannot be ignored, seem to suggest that this is where India may be heading, and certainly wants to head,” said Vipin Narang, an expert on South Asian nuclear strategy.

A funeral service last week for victims of a garbage landslide in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At least 113 people were killed in the March 11 collapse, according to the government.

In the News

March 20, 2017

As trash avalanche toll rises in Ethiopia, survivors ask why

Hadra Ahmed and Jacey FortinThe New York Times

The disaster is at odds with the image Ethiopia wants to project as a rapidly developing country, reports Hadra Ahmed and Jacey Fortin for the New York Times. Fortin is the 2016-17 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow at CIS.

Rex Tillerson meeting with Japan

In the News

March 16, 2017

Rex Tillerson, in Japan, says US needs ‘different approach’ to North Korea

Motoko RichThe New York Times

“It’s pretty clear that there’s a perfect storm brewing for mischief in East Asia right now,” said Richard Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science and director of the Center for International Studies at MIT.

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptor was successfully tested at an undisclosed location in the United States in 2013.

In the News

March 11, 2017

Why US antimissile system in South Korea worries China

Chris BuckleyThe New York Times

“China is probably confident in its ability to be able to retaliate, but given the size and sophistication of US nuclear forces and the steady development of ballistic missile defenses, coupled with China’s small nuclear arsenal, the margin for error is thin,” said Taylor Fravel and Fiona Cunningham.

President Trump visited the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Va., in January. Officials have not ruled out the possibility that the leaker was an agency employee.

In the News

March 8, 2017

CIA scrambles to contain damage from WikiLeaks documents

Matthew Rosenberg, Scott Shane, and Adam GoldmanThe New York Times

Investigators say that the leak was the work of a disaffected insider. Joel Brenner, senior research fellow at CIS and formerly the country’s top counterintelligence official, suggests that the intelligence agencies need to assess the advisability of sharing secrets widely inside their walls.

WikiLeaks said it obtained an alleged arsenal of hacking tools the CIA has used to spy on espionage targets.

In the News

March 7, 2017

FBI prepares for new hunt for WikiLeaks’ source

Devlin BarrettThe Washington Post

“Anybody who thinks that the Manning and Snowden problems were one-offs is just dead wrong,’’ said Joel Brenner, former head of U.S. counterintelligence at the office of the Director of National Intelligence. Brenner is a senior research fellow at CIS. 

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listens while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017

In the News

January 9, 2017

Trump's intel bashing

Joseph MarksNextgov

“When the president of the United States disparages your work, demeans your work, insults the integrity of your work, you wonder why you’re doing it, especially for a government salary,” says Joel Brenner, a senior research fellow at CIS and a former National Security Agency senior counsel.