Still the City on a Hill? Discussing America’s Global Future

One of the (very few) risks in academic life is that we develop a kind of tunnel vision: spend too long in the silos of our own research, and we can lose track of the bigger picture, neglecting to think about the major issues and debates that drew us into research in the first place. It’s a risk that exists even in a collegiate, policy-focused centre like ICSA. Our answer? The ICSA Grand Strategy Seminar Series. Since January, we’ve been getting together on a regular basis with colleagues from across the Policy Institute to discuss the most pressing issues in international affairs. This week’s topic was America’s future in the world.  A few hundred words of blog can’t very well hope to cover everything we discussed in ninety-odd minutes of debate, but I’ve distilled a few key thoughts below. (For a more comprehensive view of our discussions through the year, check out the ICSA website).

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Analysing the Network of an ISIS Twitter Account

It is well documented that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has an active and well-developed media presence, especially on social networks. Recently, Robert Hannigan, director of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), wrote in the Financial Times that social networks have become the “command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals”.

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E-Commerce and Nuclear Weapons

On Thursday, police in Japan announced they were prosecuting a man who was caught selling Americium. He bought the material on the internet. But how did he get hold of it so easily?

Americium-241m, the form that was involved, could be used in a nuclear weapon. Americium is not normally the material you think of when talking about nuclear weapons, usually it’s uranium and plutonium. In fact, it has never been used in any nuclear weapons test or is in any current device. However, an Americium weapon is possible.

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