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  • Editors’ Note
  • Will Evans and Margaret Schaack

It is hard to find a more controversial topic than that of terrorism. Yet in the twenty-first century it is clear that terrorism has influenced U.S. foreign policy as much as any other factor. In this edition of the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, we take a closer look at this issue and hope to offer our readers several new perspectives.

A few trends stand out. First, terrorism is not a new phenomenon and has a long history—though the public’s attention tends to focus on the latest threat. Second, there has been an unfortunate conflation of Islam with terrorism, and there is a need to move beyond understanding terror in religious terms. Third, the threat of terrorism pales in comparison to other domestic dangers— the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that for every American death on U.S. soil and abroad due to terrorism, more than 1,000 died from firearms inside the United States from 2001 to 2013. The myths surrounding terrorism have real effects, not the least of which are xenophobic policies that put liberal values at risk.

In the Forum section, former ambassador to Yemen Thomas Krajeski explains his most recent role as senior adviser for partner engagement on foreign fighters at the State Department and offers insights into the progress of international cooperation. On the specter of the so-called Islamic State, Nelly Lahoud questions IS’s claims to ideological and territorial control vis-à-vis other jihadi organizations. Digging deeper into origins, former ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia David Shinn probes the root causes of terrorism with a look at the influence of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Finally, Laura Sjoberg and Caron E. Gentry analyze gendered assumptions about women’s motives in joining terrorist organizations and argue that these assumptions have led to inadequate policy responses.

In Conflict and Security, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Nathaniel Barr follow the evolution of violent non-state actors and the ways they are able to withstand the military might of the world’s most powerful countries. With a focus on Turkey, Kemal Kirişci examines the situation for Syrian refugees, including their prospects for integration and the contentious EU-Turkey deal. Cengiz Günay, on the other hand, analyzes Turkey’s ruling party and its use of foreign policy as a means of consolidating domestic political control.

Law and Ethics features Sumudu Atapattu’s analysis of the celebrated Paris Agreement and essential next steps toward averting climate displacement in the future. In Culture and Society, Rane Willerslev gives a fascinating interview on the history of indigenous peoples in the Siberian Arctic and their cultural practice of “voluntary death.” Finally, president of Freedom House Mark Lagon considers the importance of human dignity and religious pluralism in ensuring the stability and economic prosperity of states.

We would like to recognize our dedicated staff, who helped put this edition together. Additionally, we are thankful to all of the contributors, who sacrificed time during their busy schedules and added to the ongoing dialogue at the heart of the Journal’s mission. Finally, a special thanks to Dean Jennifer Long, our trusted adviser in the School of Foreign Service, and Dean Daniel Byman, an expert on terrorism, who graciously wrote the introduction.

Thank you,
Will Evans and Margaret Schaack [End Page 1]



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