Homeland security issues have emerged as among the most critical facing our country. Massive hurricanes devastated large swaths of the United States in 2017, the recovery from which is not over. Hostile governments and criminal groups have targeted American cyber and critical infrastructure, including U.S. elections. Ebola and Zika originated abroad but emerged at America’s shores. Central American asylum seekers have overwhelmed U.S. border authorities, while Washington has been paralyzed over disputes about how to respond. Opioids, including fentanyl, smuggled across the border continue to poison American cities and claim a staggering number of Americans each year. Although having faded from public discussion, international terrorism is a persistent threat.
Despite the urgency and effects of these and other homeland security issues, homeland security is, relative to its importance and the public investments made in it, a largely undeveloped policy field. The academic and think tank enterprises that support areas like defense, foreign affairs, education and environmental protection are essentially lacking for homeland security. Given the infancy of the modern homeland security enterprise, the field of experienced homeland security policy professionals is thin. As a result, public policy discussions involving these topics tend towards extremes; lack expert input and critical thinking; and reflect political calculations rather than problem-solving substance. With the kickoff of the 2020 presidential contest underway, and the president’s continued focus on the area, these issues will remain at the forefront of public attention. As the campaigns intensify, the vacuum in the homeland security policy space will be felt more acutely.
The Homeland Security Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has initiated a new paper series to help fill the policy void. The series will publish papers from experts in the homeland security discipline addressing critical issues in the field, practitioners and academics. It is a nonpartisan effort that will target policy-makers, the media, and the general public. These are not peer-reviewed research papers, but, instead, short papers that focus on making concrete and actionable recommendations to solve real problems.
We welcome proposals for papers, which we will be reviewing on a rolling basis. For further information, please visit our call for proposals.