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Security

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Security

FSI's scholars tackle a range of issues, from longstanding concerns like nuclear nonproliferation and military defense to new challenges such as cybersecurity, biosecurity and emerging regional conflicts.

Research Spotlight

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Particulate Plutonium Released from the Fukushima Daiichi Meltdowns

A new study reveals particles that were released from nuclear plants damaged in the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami contained small amounts of radioactive plutonium.
Potemkin Papers

Potemkin Pages & Personas: Assessing GRU Online Operations, 2014-2019

Upon request by the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), researchers reviewed a data set of social media posts that Facebook provided to SSCI.
A woman in Mexico grieves

Living in Fear: The Dynamics of Extortion in Mexico’s Drug War

Using new survey data from Mexico, including list experiments to elicit responses about potentially illegal behavior, this article measures the prevalence of extortion and assistance among drug trafficking organizations.

Featured Scholars

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Megan Palmer

CISAC Affiliated Researcher
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Megan Palmer

CISAC Affiliated Researcher
Executive Director, Bio Policy & Leadership Initiatives, Department of Bioengineering
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Scott Sagan

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
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Scott Sagan

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Caroline S.G. Munro Professor of Political Science
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Alex Stamos

Director, Stanford Internet Observatory
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Alex Stamos

Director, Stanford Internet Observatory
Visiting Scholar at the Hoover Institution
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Amy Zegart

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
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Amy Zegart

Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Davies Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution

Upcoming Events

See all upcoming events related to our research on international security.

Publications

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Journal Articles

Al Qaeda’s Franchise Reboot

Asfandyar Mir, Asfandyar Mir, Colin P. Clarke
Foreign Affairs , 2020

Nineteen years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, does al Qaeda still pose a significant threat to U.S. national security? Among researchers, military and intelligence officials, and policymakers who study the group, there is little consensus. But very few experts on Salafi-jihadi movements would dismiss the group outright. So when U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confidently declared in a March interview on Fox & Friends that “al Qaeda is a shadow of its former self,” we were startled and concerned.

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Books

The Deer and the Dragon: Southeast Asia and China in the 21st Century

Donald K. Emmerson
2020

Southeast Asia is arguably the most diverse region in the world. Accordingly, rather than addressing the exact same question, the contributors to this volume have — as experts on Southeast Asia-China relations — explored the matters they see as most important and most deserving of exploration and exposure. After the editor’s introduction, the chapters proceed in pairs. Each pair and a closing chapter cover a distinctive theme in Southeast Asia’s interactions with China.

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Journal Articles

The Legal Authority for States’ Stay-at-Home Orders

Mark A. Hall, Michelle Mello, David Studdert
New England Journal of Medicine , 2020

In March 2020, when many U.S. states and localities issued their first emergency orders to address Covid-19, there was widespread acceptance of the government’s legal authority to respond quickly and aggressively to this unprecedented crisis. Today, that acceptance is fraying. As initial orders expire and states move to extend or modify them, legal challenges have sprouted. The next phase of the pandemic response will see restrictions dialed up and down as threat levels change.  As public and political resistance grows, further legal challenges are inevitable.

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Commentary

Can China’s Military Win the Tech War?

Anja Manuel, Anja Manuel, Kathleen Hicks
2020

As the Chinese government has set out to harness the growing strength of the Chinese technology sector to bolster its military, policymakers in the United States have reacted with mounting alarm. U.S.

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Books

The Challenges and Opportunities for Social Media Research

Nathaniel Persily, Nathaniel Persily, Joshua Tucker
2020

Concluding Chapter of Social Media and Democracy: The State of the Field and Prospects for Reform (Cambridge Press, forthcoming September 2020)

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Journal Articles

Particulate Plutonium Released from the Fukushima Daiichi Meltdowns

Rodney C. Ewing, Rodney C. Ewing
Science of The Total Environment , 2020

A new study reveals particles that were released from nuclear plants damaged in the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami contained small amounts of radioactive plutonium.

View full article

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Case Studies

Evidence-Based Practice for Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response

Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, Douglas K. Owens, et al.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine , 2020

Yet there has been no national-level, comprehensive review of the evidence for public health emergency preparedness and response (PHEPR) practices. Recognizing this deficiency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) went to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine three years ago and asked them to convene a national panel of public health experts to review the evidence for emergency preparedness and response. The committee members included Stanford Health Policy Director Douglas K.

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Journal Articles

Disease Control, Civil Liberties, and Mass Testing — Calibrating Restrictions during the Covid-19 Pandemic

David Studdert, Mark A. Hall
New England Journal of Medicine , 2020

Urgent responses to the Covid-19 pandemic have halted movement and work and dramatically changed daily routines for much of the world’s population. In the United States, many states and localities have ordered or urged residents to stay home when able and to practice physical distancing when not. Meanwhile, unemployment is surging, schools are closed, and businesses have been shuttered. Resistance to drastic disease-control measures is already evident. Rising infection rates and mortality, coupled with scientific uncertainty about Covid-19, should keep resentment at bay — for a while.

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Commentary

How the West could win a technological ‘shadow war’ with China

Anja Manuel, Anja Manuel
2020

A new shadow war is underway within the International Telecommunication Union, one of the obscure organizations that sets global technical standards.

International standard-setting is a morass of positive intentions and poor execution. When the process works well, it selects the best technologies based on merit and, for example, allows people to use their personal cellphone numbers anywhere on Earth. When the system fails, we end up with different electrical outlets in each country and scramble for adapters.

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Commentary

Coronavirus Could Make America’s Gun Problem Even Deadlier

David Studdert, Matthew Miller, Garen Wintemute
The New York Times , 2020

Millions of Americans have experienced the coronavirus pandemic directly, as they or their loved ones suffered through infection. But for most of us, the experience is defined by weeks and months on end stuck at home. The shut-ins are testing the safety of our home environments.

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Journal Articles

Handgun Ownership and Suicide in California

David Studdert, Yifan Zhang , Sonja A. Swanson, Lea Prince, Jonathan A. Rodden, Erin E. Holsinger, Matthew J. Spittal, Garen G. Wintemute , Matthew Miller
New England Journal of Medicine , 2020

BACKGROUND

Research has consistently identified firearm availability as a risk factor for suicide. However, existing studies are relatively small in scale, estimates vary widely, and no study appears to have tracked risks from commencement of firearm ownership.

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Working Papers

A Research Agenda for Cyber Risk and Cyber Insurance

Gregory Falco, Martin Eling, Virginia Miller, Lawrence A. Gordon, Shaun Shuxun Wang, Joan Schmit, Russell Thomas, Mauro Elvedi, Thomas Maillart, Emy Donavan, Simon Dejung, Matthias Weber, Eric Durand, Franklin Nutter, Uzi Scheffer, Gil Arazi, Gilbert Ohana, Herbert Lin
The 2019 Workshop on the Economics of Information Security (WEIS) , 2020

A Research Agenda for Cyber Risk and Cyber Insurance

By: Gregory Falco, Stanford University

Martin Eling, University of St. Gallen

Danielle Jablanski, Stanford University

Virginia Miller, Stanford University

Lawrence A. Gordon, University of Maryland

Shaun Shuxun Wang, Nanyang Technological University

Joan Schmit, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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White Papers

How to Report Responsibly on Hacks and Disinformation

Andrew Grotto, Janine Zacharia
2020

The run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election illustrated how vulnerable our most venerated journalistic outlets are to a new kind of information warfare. Reporters are a targeted adversary of foreign and domestic actors who want to harm our democracy. And to cope with this threat, especially in an election year, news organizations need to prepare for another wave of false, misleading, and hacked information. Often, the information will be newsworthy.

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Journal Articles

China’s Challenges: Now It Gets Much Harder

Thomas Fingar, Jean C. Oi
The Washington Quarterly , 2020

The easy phases of China’s quest for wealth and power are over. After forty years, every one of a set of favorable conditions has diminished or vanished, and China’s future, neither inevitable nor immutable, will be shaped by the policy choices of party leaders facing at least eleven difficult challenges, including the novel coronavirus. 

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Journal Articles

On the role of anthropogenic climate change in the emerging food crisis in southern Africa in the 2019–2020 growing season

David Lobell
Global Change Biology , 2020

Researchers including David Lobell analyze how human-caused climate change has impacted a water deficit in Southern Africa and might contribute to a rising food security crisis in the region.

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Commentary

CNN Perspective with Andy Grotto: Why unlocking Apple iPhones for law enforcement isn't the answer

Andrew Grotto, Andrew Grotto
2020

Despite pressure from President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr, Apple continues to stand its ground and refuses to re-engineer iPhones so law enforcement can unlock the devices. Apple has maintained that it has done everything required by law and that creating a "backdoor" would undermine cybersecurity and privacy for iPhone users everywhere.

Apple is right to stand firm in its position that building a "backdoor" could put user data at risk.

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Journal Articles

The Internet’s Challenge to Democracy: Framing the Problem and Assessing Reforms

Nathaniel Persily, Nathaniel Persily
2019

The Program on Democracy and the Internet runs the work of the Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age which will produce guidelines to support democracies, particularly those of the global south. 

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Conference Memos

The Future of Food from the Sea

Rosamond L. Naylor
High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy , 2019

As the global population and people’s incomes rise, the demand for ocean-derived food will continue to grow. At the same time, hunger and malnutrition continues to be a challenge in many countries, particularly in rural or developing areas. Looking to the ocean as a source of protein produced using low-carbon methodologies will be critical for food security, nutrition and economic stability, especially in coastal countries where hunger and malnutrition are a challenge.

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White Papers

Evidence of Russia-Linked Influence Operations in Africa

Shelby Grossman, Daniel Bush, Renee DiResta
2019

Russia’s global strategy for reasserting itself as a geopolitical superpower has led to an increased presence in Africa, where it has broadened efforts to shape the continent’s politics and pursue new economic opportunities to allay the effects of sanctions.

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Journal Articles

Eyes in the Sky, Boots on the Ground: Assessing Satellite- and Ground-Based Approaches to Crop Yield Measurement and Analysis

David Lobell, Marshall Burke, George Azzari, Sydney Gourlay, Zhenong Jin, Talip Kilic, Siobhan Murray
American Journal of Agricultural Economics , 2019

Understanding the determinants of agricultural productivity requires accurate measurement of crop output and yield. In smallholder production systems across low- and middle-income countries, crop yields have traditionally been assessed based on farmer-reported production and land areas in household/farm surveys, occasionally by objective crop cuts for a sub-section of a farmer’s plot, and rarely using full-plot harvests. In parallel, satellite data continue to improve in terms of spatial, temporal, and spectral resolution needed to discern performance on smallholder plots.

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