Tag Archives: peter krause

Krause Will Launch New Book About National Movements on Tuesday

Uniting to fight against ISIS and the regime of Bashar al-Assad has led the Kurds to form a more cohesive movement to create a state, according to Peter Krause, an assistant professor of political science at Boston College.

Last week, Krause published his first book, Rebel Power: Why National Movements Compete, Fight, and Win, which addresses the many conflicts in the Middle East. It was the No. 1 book about nationalism on Amazon in November when it was available for preorder.

Krause will speak at a book launch event on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Devlin 101 to promote it.

Krause spent a decade researching nationalism and political violence and conducted over 150 interviews across the world to write the book, which seeks to address several questions, including why some groups have states and others don’t, why some groups cooperate with each other while others use violence, and what makes a successful national movement.

His interest in terrorism, nationalism, and political violence began when he was studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005 to attain his master’s degree. Krause also obtained his Ph.D. from MIT.

While he performed research for his dissertation, he was particularly interested in whether terrorism and political violence were effective strategies for forming a successful state. As he read literature on the topic, he felt it was too narrow because it often looked at an individual organization’s attacks and their effects rather than at the wider picture.

Krause believed that most of this violence was embedded in broader national and social movements. His research focused on how multiple groups that all sought independence used violence to achieve their goals. Over the course of the last 10 years, Krause has published several articles about the topic, but he wanted to put his ideas in a cohesive text, so he decided to write the book.

“I care much more about people reading it than buying it,” Krause said. “It’s something that I have put so much of my life into and I feel like it’s the best work that I’ve done [so I would] feel so honored if people read it.”

The book has seven chapters, which include the Zionists in Israel, Palestinians in Palestine, Algerians in Algeria, and Irish in Ireland. During his summers, Krause travelled to Algeria, Northern Ireland, and many other countries to conduct research and hold interviews with people embedded in national movements.

His most insightful interviews were with two famous female terrorists: Leila Khaled, the first woman to hijack an airplane, and Zohra Drif. In 1969, Khaled hijacked an Israeli airplane as a part of Black September to put pressure on both Israel and Jordan’s monarch.

Krause said female terrorists were unique in their time. The two women’s attacks challenged the stereotypes about political violence that were in place at the time, namely that terrorists are uneducated. Drif spoke French and went to law school.

Krause said it was fascinating to interview the two women about the attacks they carried out and whether they perceived them as effective.

In his book, Krause seeks to address what makes a national movement successful.

“It’s all about the balance of power behind the movement,” Krause said.

Krause believes movements with lots of organizations have more competition, so more time is spent on internal fights, making conflicts with other states more difficult to resolve.

In his book, Krause writes about what he calls the hegemonic movement, in which there is one dominant organization that spends its time and resources on external conflicts so it can gain power. This, Krause believes, is a recipe for success.

When looking at the current state of national movements in the Middle East, Krause believes that the Kurds are having more success forming a movement to create a state despite their fragmentation.

“They have shown more cohesion in the fight against ISIS and against the Assad Regime, so I think in many ways, that’s why they’re getting closer to having an independent Kurdistan,” he said.

Krause said the struggles between the different states in the Middle East relate closely to the United States’s fight against terrorism. He believes that the U.S. must understand the complex relationships between the different groups to predict where they will strike next.

He said that Americans believe terrorism is all about the U.S., when in reality, the fighting between these groups usually isn’t. Their concerns are much more local, Krause believes.

“I think that understanding the internal dynamics of these movements and how these groups think can really lead to better foreign policy,” he said.

Corrections: A previous version of this article stated that Krause’s book had only four chapters, but it actually has seven. The article also incorrectly stated that the Kurds have a state, which they do not.

Featured Image Courtesy of Peter Krause

‘The Nature of the Terrorist Threat Has Become Complex:’ Schwartz Says at Panel

A week before the United States presidential election, the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy held a panel on an issue that has been heavily addressed this campaign season: terrorism.

On Nov. 4, the Center hosted a discussion titled “Terrorism: Threats and Responses.” Peter Krause, a political science professor, moderated the panel, which was composed of Mia Bloom, a professor at Georgia State, former Boston police commissioner Edward F. Davis, and Kurt Schwartz, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Krause began the panel by asking Bloom what the effects would be if ISIS lost territories like Mosul and Raqqa. Bloom referenced her research into the social media chatrooms of ISIS supporters.

“When ISIS is winning, their chat rooms are talking about ‘we’re making orange soda, pizzas,’ etc. showing shelves stocked with food,” Bloom said. “When losing, they will say they’re winning. In real time, we’re seeing a shrinking of ISIS.”

Bloom said that ISIS itself consists of approximately 35,000 people.


“It leaves us with a high degree of threat perception and we are constantly on edge.”

-Mia Bloom, a professor at Georgia State


Krause then asked Davis how he sees the threats of ISIS changing over the next couple of years. Davis spoke about U.S. strides in crime control after Sept. 11. After the terrorist attack, the U.S. responded again by passing bills, including the Patriot Act.

Davis also commented on the Boston Marathon bombing and said that he does not believe anyone could have built the bombs with just instructions from the internet, as the media reported.

“The terrorist brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev] had to have had real, hands-on training,” Davis said. “There are a small number of people who are radicalizing things and getting people to do things just by a remote control.”

Schwartz noted the importance of first understanding the nature of terrorist organizations’ threats.

“The nature of the terrorist threat has become complex,” Schwartz said. “When you’re reading the news, what exactly are we reading? We’re not necessarily aware of an immediate threat.”

Bloom agreed with Davis that the U.S. is not always aware of an immediate threat. She also talked about how the media portrays the constant danger of terrorist attacks when, in reality, a person is more likely to die in a bathtub.

“It leaves us with a high degree of threat perception and we are constantly on edge,” Bloom said.

One of the final questions Krause asked the panelists concerned the governmental efforts in the area and the need for improvement.

Bloom explained that community engagements have been at the heart of prevention.

“The more knowledge kids have about the Islamic faith, the less susceptible they are to the radicalization of Islam,” Bloom said. “We should not talk less or learn less about Islam. The more we know as Americans, the more we can fight radicalization and the more capable communities are of fighting it.”

She talked about the need for diversity within the police force to have it accurately represent the public, which will make it a more trusted presence.

Bloom closed out the panel by warning the audience that not every person who claims to be with ISIS is actually affiliated with the organization.

“Just because someone says they are with ISIS does not make it true,” she said. “ISIS is more than happy to take credit for any bad things that happen. Attacks in Belgium, France, Syria, etc., versus a guy taking a gun into a nightclub and saying ‘I am with ISIS’ is not the same authenticity. We cannot keep assuming every single attack and someone randomly saying ‘I’m with ISIS’ is true.”

Featured Image by Kristin Saleski / Heights Staff

Peter Krause Dissects Policies of Presidential Candidates

Before the third and final 2016 presidential debate, Peter Krause, a professor in the Boston College political science department, dissected the candidates’ policies, particularly on foreign involvement and terrorism.

The event on Wednesday night was a part of the Dean Series of BC, a series hosted by the BC Alumni Association that has run for the past five years.

Krause spoke about how to look at each candidate’s foreign policies, particularly when looking at the presidential debates. Krause talked about how the candidates’ ambiguity is intentional.

Ambiguity is key to gaining voters because it leaves issues up to interpretation. Voters who are already convinced feel assured, and voters who are unsure on policies can interpret the candidate’s ambiguity with optimism.

“Whichever candidate becomes president, he or she will become commander-in-chief of the United States, and that’s pretty important,” Krause said.

He began the talk by elaborating on each candidate’s grand strategy—a theory for how a nation causes security and prosperity for itself—and comparing the current candidates’ grand strategy to the last election.

“In a basic sense, there’s this major disagreement over ‘should we be deeply engaged in the world?’ or ‘should we be kind of more restrained from the world?,’ and there’s pluses and minuses in both senses,” he said.

Krause furthered the argument by dissecting some of the candidates’ sound bites and different debates and backed it up with research and precedence, establishing Clinton as believing in deep engagement, by reassuring allies and securing oil, and Trump as a believer in a sort of marriage between restraint and deep engagement.

“The key disagreement [between Trump and Clinton] is on whether to reveal the specifics of your plan,” said Krause.


“To defeat it as an ideology, it has to be scholars and experts in the Middle East who reject it. ISIS has made a mistake. By latching their ideology to the state, they made it easier to defeat.”


By dissecting certain discussions from previous debates, Krause determined that Trump is much more reticent to reveal plan specifics in order to avoid opponents using and defeating those plans. Clinton, as a Democrat, believes in more transparency and promotes public involvement.

When talking about the U.S. involvement in foreign affairs, the two candidates differ greatly in approach and how far to take that involvement. While Clinton leans toward a plan known as the Obama+ Strategy, Trump prefers a more aggressive method, promoting more torture and heavier restrictions on Islamic radicalism.

Krause played sound bites from previous debates and interviews.

“Torture works, okay, folks? Waterboarding is fine, but it’s not nearly tough enough,” Trump said in answering a question on his stance toward torture and waterboarding.

Clinton rebutted Trump in a debate.

“We are not at war with Islam, and it’s a mistake to say that we are,” she said.

In terms of strategies, and how to defeat ISIS, Krause explained the complexity of the matter. He said that not all allies agree on how to defeat it.

“They have to think about the day after, as much as about the fighting on the ground,” Krause said about Sunni fighting and liberation in the Middle East.

After comparing the two candidates’ positions, Krause delved further into ISIS—why it’s still around, how to distinguish it from Islam, and how to approach it.

“ISIS thrives on polarization,” Krause said. “The reason they want this to happen is it comes down to how you fight an effective insurgency.”

By polarizing the different Muslim groups, ISIS can take over these pure areas more easily.

Krause welcomed questions from the audience. One audience member asked how to fight jihad because it is not an army, but an idea.

Krause said that jihad has reached the point at which it’s more than an idea, it’s a revolutionary movement.

“To defeat it as an ideology, it has to be scholars and experts in the Middle East who reject it,” he said. “ISIS has made a mistake. By latching their ideology to the state, they made it easier to defeat.”

Featured Image by Kristin Saleski / Heights Staff

That Could Have Been Me: Lessons from Welles Crowther

I first heard the story of Welles Crowther soon after I arrived at Boston College as an assistant professor in the fall of 2012. I was awed by Crowther’s character and bravery, and I felt blessed to be joining an institution that helped to produce someone so devoted to the well-being of others that he selflessly sacrificed his life for theirs. Hearing Crowther’s story also brought back some searing memories of my own, centered around a nagging feeling that resurfaced every time I learned about a young man or woman killed in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center—that could have been me.

Research shows that terrorist attacks have a larger impact on individuals the more they can identify with the victims due to their nationality, age, occupation, or, perhaps most importantly, the likelihood that they could have been in that location at the time of the attack.

In the summer of 2001, I worked in the World Trade Center and World Financial Center as an investment banking intern after completing my junior year of college. I was all but set on wanting to be a college professor, but I decided to dip my toe in the financial world to find out if an occupation certain to be far better financially compensated could not also be as intellectually and emotionally fulfilling.

I left New York at the end of August 2001, confident in my decision to continue my pursuit of political science and history in academia, and having no idea that the most deadly terrorist attacks in history were about to demolish my former workplace and kill thousands of people within it.

Whenever I need a break from my office, I take a stroll around campus, and I inevitably find myself walking to the Sept. 11 Memorial Labyrinth behind the Bapst Library. I stare at the names of the 22 BC alumni who lost their lives in the attacks, and, inevitably, I find myself drawn to Crowther’s name in the stone. It never fails to inspire me, but recently it has also gotten me thinking about the lessons of Crowther’s sacrifice and what he can teach us about the struggle against terrorism.

Most strategies of counterterrorism focus on government action, from drone strikes to “enhanced interrogation,” from military invasions to airport security lines. Unfortunately, researchers have found little evidence that these tactics significantly lessen terrorist attacks or defeat terrorist groups over the long term.

Having studied terrorism for over a decade and taught about it for half of another, I’m increasingly convinced that this is because the fight against terrorism is equally a societal struggle conducted by private citizens, as it is a political struggle waged by states. Unfortunately, as little as we know about what works for state counterterrorism, we know even less about what works for counterterrorism by individuals. Thankfully, Crowther’s actions leading up to and during the Sept. 11 attacks illustrate many of the best lessons that individuals and societies should follow to deter future attacks, survive those that occur, and emerge ever more resilient and resolved.

By definition, terrorism is designed to inspire fear. This fear is intended to coerce the target audience into granting concessions, striking back with indiscriminate force, or changing its behavior in counterproductive ways. When terrorism is successful, it is because governments yield territory and break alliances, alienating foreign populations with indiscriminate violence that swells the ranks of the attacking group, and people stop traveling and stop living “normal” lives.

Crowther reacted to an unbelievable scene of destruction not with fearful stumbles, but with calm, effective action. His clear-eyed thinking amid extreme trauma stemmed in part from the knowledge he had gained as a volunteer firefighter. In one of my ongoing research projects, I find that greater knowledge of the causes, strategies, and effectiveness of terrorism—or a lack thereof—makes people less likely to overhype the threat and succumb to counterproductive fear.

Crowther bravely overcame his fear, and he helped save the lives of up to 18 individuals without regard for their ethnicity, religion, or previous relationship to him. Many individuals who turn to terrorism, especially “lone wolves” like the Boston Marathon bombers, feel a lack of social connection to their local community. They join extremists who make them feel a sense of self-worth and lash out at those they feel have rejected them. Crowther’s selfless care for those around him provides the ultimate example of how building stronger communities can not only make for happier, more prosperous lives for all, but also can make extreme violence less likely to happen in the first place.

This example lives on in Crowther’s parents, Alison and Jeff, who embody the very essence of resilience. By spreading Crowther’s message and organizing numerous events to build community at BC and beyond despite their unimaginable loss, the Crowthers have ensured that our society has stronger bonds than ever to face down any future challenge. All this combines to leave us with an enormous sense of pride in Crowther, in our BC community, and in our own humanity. We have hope to overcome grief, resolve to overcome fear.

With the Red Bandanna Run and football game upon us and Crowther’s presence ubiquitous around campus, I realize that the phrase that haunted me for so long has begun to shift from one of potential victimhood to one of hopeful resolve. I don’t know if I would ever have the courage or the ability to do what Crowther did, but I know that his example inspires me to try. He inspires me to be prepared in the unlikely case that I am put in a similar situation, and—most importantly—he inspires me to work hard to teach and strengthen my community in order to make such an event ever more improbable.

When will the tide against terrorism truly begin to turn? Researchers always look for metrics, ways to systematically measure that change has occurred. I think the answer may be closer than we think. We will win when more and more of us can hear the story of Crowther, look deep inside ourselves for what we have done and are prepared to do for those around us and honestly say—that could have been me.

Featured Image courtesy Alchetron

Professor Peter Krause Discusses Terrorism on ‘The Take,’ ‘Live With Tamron’

Last week, Ahmad Khan Rahami set off bombs in Chelsea, N.Y., and Elizabeth, N.J.. News stations from across the country rushed to cover the tragedies that left 29 people injured, and to study Rahami’s possible connection to the Islamic State of Syria. MSNBC, NECN, and WGBH called in Boston College political science professor Peter Krause to give his take on the bombings.

Krause, who focuses his research on Middle Eastern politics, terrorism and political violence, national movements, and international relations, was featured on NECN’s The Take, MSNBC’s Live with Tamron and WGBH’s Greater Boston on Monday afternoon.

Krause believes that there was a mass amount of press coverage surrounding the bombings because they were set in New York, the most populous city in the United States, and the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

On The Take, host Sue O’Connell asked Krause about why officials were reluctant to attribute the explosions to bombs and to connect Rahami to international ties. Krause responded by saying that officials must be careful to not instill unnecessary fear in the public and to not be accusatory of a certain group until they have all the details and evidence.

O’Connell also brought up the question of when ISIS gets to claim responsibility for attacks on U.S. soil. Krause differentiated between the bombings and a mall stabbing in St. Clair, Minn., that injured nine people last weekend, for which ISIS did claim responsibility. In the Minnesota stabbing, the suspect was pronounced dead and the operation was complete, so ISIS was able to claim him as an ISIS soldier, whereas in the New York and New Jersey bombings, the suspect is still alive, so ISIS must be more careful in taking responsibility for his actions.

O’Connell and Krause also discussed the decreasing prevalence of the ISIS. Krause said that in terms of territory, ISIS will eventually lose out against powerful western nations. As a terrorist organization, however, Krause thinks that it will continue to carry out attacks throughout Europe, the U.S., and Africa.

In his interview with Tamron Hall, Krause spoke about the difference between Rahami and the Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He said that the Boston bomber operated more intelligently than Rahami. The bombs this weekend were placed in a dumpster, which limited the explosion; Rahami left fingerprints on the devices, which allowed the authorities to quickly identify the culprit; and cell phones were left with the bombs, which were not completely destroyed and gave the police access to additional records.

Hall and Krause also discussed whether the bombings this past weekend were a test run for future attacks. Krause believes that it is still too soon to tell whether these bombings will stand alone.

For his final appearance of the day, Krause joined Greater Boston host Jim Braude and executive director of  Community Resources for Justice Christine Cole to talk about Boston’s reaction to the bombings in New York and New Jersey. Braude brought up a cellular alert that was sent out to New York residents in the area to warn them about the bombing and to keep an eye out for the perpetrator. Braude and Cole debated the merits of alerting the community when a tragedy occurs, and whether the cellular alert encouraged racial profiling.

Krause also discussed how web browsers like Google have started to filter the results of people’s web searches to discourage the public from allying itself with ISIS. For example, if a person were to search ISIS on Google, links to negative press on the terror group would come up, rather than beheadings or killings of civilians.

Krause and Braude discussed whether incidents like this affect voting patterns, especially within weeks of the presidential election. Krause explained that people will often vote conservative after an instance of terrorism, as the right often has more critical stances on issues of national security. In this election cycle, however, Krause explained that polls show that the population puts more trust in Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, when it comes to terrorism issues.

When Krause was earning his doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he served as a predoctoral fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He was listed online as studying terrorism and insurgency in the Middle East, and news stations began to reach out to him to conduct interviews.

“With a lot of these media things, if you speak articulately and they like you, then they’ll invite you back,” Krause said.

By the time he became a professor at BC, Krause had published several articles and NECN’s booking agents reached out to him to talk about terrorism and political violence. BC’s Office of News and Public Affairs has also helped Krause set up interviews with local news stations in the past.

Before doing interviews with news stations, Krause said he does extensive research on the topic he is speaking about. When he has a positive relationship with the stations, Krause can also pitch topics and points that he thinks are relevant to cover within the interview.

Krause said that media interviews can be difficult to fit into his schedule, as he is constantly working on research as an assistant professor at BC.

“At the end of the day, if I feel I can still give some good insight, it’s worth it,” Krause said.

Featured Image Courtesy of Gary Gilbert

Correction: The article previously stated that Krause served as a predoctoral fellow at the Belfort Center. He worked at the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.