Ohio State Navbar

The Ohio State University

Mershon Center for International Security Studies

#Mershon memos

Sign up for our mailing list

meet our faculty page.

Apply for a research grant

Mershon News

Mark StewartJohn Mueller

Since 9/11, airline passengers have learned to put liquids in 3-ounce containers, take off their shoes, and go through full-body scanners, all in the name of protecting themselves from terrorism. But are these extra measures making us any safer?

About $10 billion is spent each year to deal with terrorist attacks to aviation, yet these expenditures are rarely subjected to cost-benefit or risk analysis. Are We Safe Enough? Measuring and Assessing Aviation Security, by Mershon affiliates Mark Stewart and John Mueller, seeks to fill that void.

The book, published by Elsevier, explains how standard risk and cost-benefit analysis can be applied to aviation security in a systematic, straightforward, and fully transparent manner. It constructs a full model of the security system, describing the effectiveness, risk reduction, and cost of each layer, from policing and intelligence, to checkpoint passenger screening, to armed pilots on the flight deck.

Stewart and Mueller conclude that it is entirely possible to attain the same degree of safety at far lower cost by shifting expenditures from measures that provide little security at high cost to ones that provide more security at lower cost.

For example, the air marshal program in the United States costs more than $1 billion per year, but reduces risk of a terrorist attack by only 0.2 percent. Installing secondary barriers to cockpits would see a greater reduction of risk while saving hundreds of millions of dollars to both taxpayers and airlines.

Read more ...

Dakota Rudesill

Ohio State interdisciplinary exercise offers real-world experience

It’s 9:53 on Saturday morning and Dakota Rudesill is about to cause an earthquake in San Francisco. That’s bad. The North Korean nuclear missile test coming next might be worse.

Welcome to the Ohio State National Security Crisis Simulation. The simulation is a two-day exercise at The Ohio State University that immerses students from law, policy, intelligence and media in real-world roles as they confront a seemingly never-ending series of crises.

Rudesill, a law professor at the Moritz College of Law, is the simulation’s architect, instructor and puppet master. He and a control team operated behind closed doors, injecting chaos at every turn to challenge the students to work through problems.

And the problems are legion. Over the course of the simulation last week, the crises included terror attacks, natural disasters and cyber warfare. The examples are often drawn from real life.

“If while we’re working through the issues we are coming up with today, we come up with a brilliant policy response or legal response to something, that’s wonderful,” Rudesill said. “But what this is really about is professional skills development.”

A roster of real-world experts advise the students throughout the simulation. Senate President Larry Obhof, former Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy and journalist Philip Bump were some of the professionals guiding the students from crisis to crisis.

Read more ...

Peter Mansoor

Poke around on the website for Ohio History Connection, and you are likely to run across their digital collections including Ohio Memory, a collaborative statewide digital library with content from over 360 cultural heritage institutions representing all 88 Ohio counties.

Within this online library is the Ohio Veterans Oral History Project, an initiative to collect and preserve the stories of Ohio’s veterans. So far the project features videos with about 30 Ohio veterans including an interview with Mershon’s Peter Mansoor, Gen. Raymond E. Mason Jr. Chair in Military History.

Mansoor’s interview is a prime example of oral history, which features a person describing his or her own experiences. It is considered a primary historical source, preserving the past and connecting history with the present by documenting life as it unfolds.

In a video lasting almost six hours, Mansoor describes his life growing up in California; attending college at West Point; marriage and family; station stops at Fort Bliss, Fort Hood, and Fort Irwin; deployments to Germany; command experiences in Iraq; serving at the Council of Foreign Relations, Counterinsurgency Center at Fort Leavenworth, and Council of Colonels at the Pentagon; and as executive officer for Gen. David Petraeus during the surge in Iraq.

Throughout, Mansoor reflects on lessons during military training exercises, live combat, and at the front seat of history in Iraq after the United States had deposed Saddam Hussein, facing a growing insurgency, and taking the first tenuous steps toward democracy.

Read more ...

Kevin McClatchy

When the Ohio State Department of Theatre embarked on a new program last spring to use active workshops based on Shakespeare’s plays to interact with military personnel, veterans and their families, the goal was to help them find new ways to give expression to their experiences as they transitioned from soldiers to civilians.

Yes, that happened. But surprisingly, the graduate-student actors from Ohio State gained as much from the experience as the veterans. They didn’t just lead the workshops. They learned and grew from them, too.

"Working with the veterans was a bit surprising, because I think at the start, neither group knew what to expect,” said Linnea Bond, an MFA acting student. “We wondered who was teaching whom. We wanted to learn about their lives as veterans and about their unique perspectives, and they saw us as acting teachers. In a way we each saw the other as the experts in the room. We both brought in a lot of experience from our own worlds, and it was really exciting to learn from each other.”

The workshops were overseen by Mershon affiliate Kevin McClatchy, assistant professor in the Department of Theatre. The 10-week series of workshops created opportunities for the individuals to connect with one another and explore their challenges and triumphs in a safe and playful atmosphere.

Nine MFA acting students led the active workshops, attended by 10 military veterans and one active duty soldier, along with family members and caregivers. Theatre-based activities centered on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V and Othello gave the groups a chance to interact.

“It was great to watch people go from wondering why they were exploring Shakespeare to having a profound and memorable communal experience,” McClatchy said. “They were doing something fun and engaging with one another … and maybe even something more.”

Read more ...

Herb Weisberg

Thomas Wood

The 2016 U.S. presidential election was marked by sharp contrasts between the major party candidates on domestic policies, as well as both presidential nominees seeking to create clear distinctions from President Obama’s foreign policies. The election also featured a marked departure from the normal way that questions of race and nationality were addressed, at the same time that populist movements in several European liberal democracies were stoking suspicion of foreign trade and immigration.

The topics raised by the 2016 election are crucial for the academic understanding of elections. Did the marked foreign policy differences between the candidates affect vote choice? What role did racial and religious identity play in forging U.S. political coalitions? How important was a generalized resentment of governing elites that was amplified by social media? What about gender and domestic issues such as Obamacare?

"The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election: Tumult at Home, Retreat Abroad,” organized by Thomas Wood (left) and Herbert Weisberg, will examine voting in the 2016 election, with attention to the effects of foreign and military policy as well as domestic issues. The conference will take place Friday, November 3, through Saturday, November 4, at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, 1501 Neil Ave. See the program and register at go.osu.edu/2016election

Read more ...

Featured News

  • Jesse Driscoll

    Driscoll wins Furniss Award for 'Warlords and Coalition Politics'

    The breakup of the Soviet Union was unexpected and unexpectedly peaceful. Although a third of the new states fell into violent conflict, anarchy was soon brought under control. What e ...

    Read more ...

     
  • Keren Yarhi-Milo

    Yarhi-Milo’s ‘Knowing the Adversary’ wins Furniss Book Award

    States are more likely to engage in military buildups and pre-emptive strikes if they think their adversaries pose a tangible threat. But how do they make that determination?

    Keren ...

    Read more ...