Italy in the late 1960s was a dangerous place. At one point there were 657 different terrorist groups operating in the country, each trying to prove to the others that they were capable of more violence than the next. It was how they recruited new members and how they made their political points, and it had the country on edge for years.
How Italy finally conquered that domestic threat is the subject of Simon Clark’s thoughtful and exhaustively researched monograph, “Terror Vanquished: The Italian Approach to Defeating Terrorism,” the first of a new series of publications by the Schar School of Policy and Government’s Center for Security Policy Studies (CSPS) at George Mason University. Clark is a Visiting Research Fellow at the center and is chair of the Foreign Policy for America Board.
The idea behind the publication series, said Ellen Laipson, director of the center and the Schar School’s Master’s in International Security program, is to bring focus to enduring and policy-relevant international security topics. Schar School faculty and outside contributors are welcome to contribute their ideas for future studies. CSPS aims to produce up to four publications each academic year.
The monograph series launch was attended by nearly 40 students, staff, and faculty members, as well as friends of CSPS from several foreign policy organizations in the Washington, D.C., area, at Mason’s Arlington Campus’ Founders Hall.
“Why care about what Italy did 40 years later?” Clark asked rhetorically at the beginning of his talk. “There were actors using violent language that were perfectly legitimate, and anyone who objects is a traitor. Sound familiar?”
Clark’s examination of the Italian solution to the rampant terrorism—in the guise of Carabinieri General Carlo Alberto dalla Chiesa, who used big data, espionage, and any means necessary to quell the violence—was amplified by Paul R. Pillar, a 28-year veteran of the CIA and now a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who explained how the Italian solution to organized violence might prove ineffective when combating the diffused state of terrorist violence in contemporary America.
“It’s more of a challenge today than what the Italians faced,” Pillar said. “The Italians turned a corner. It’s hard to see such a corner in sight right now.”
The second monograph in the Center for Security Policy Studies series is “A Question of Time: Enhancing Taiwan’s Conventional Deterrence Posture,” by Schar School Assistant Professor Michael A. Hunzeker and Alexander Lanoszka, an assistant professor at the Balsillie School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. The launch takes place Friday, November 9, at 9:30 a.m. at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C. Register here to attend.