Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

Cybersecurity Risk, Political Polarization, and Return of al-Qaeda |Picks of the Week

Cybersecurity as a Leadership Issue

Exclusive: U.S. companies seek cyber experts for top jobs, board seats | Reuters

If You Think Cybersecurity Is ‘Just an IT Problem,’ Prepare to Get Owned NextGov

Cyber Security Risk: Perception vs. Reality in Corporate America | Wired

“High-profile data breaches such as the one at Target are injecting a new sense of urgency for U.S. companies to hire cybersecurity experts in newly elevated positions and bring technologists on to their boards. The modern C-suites, however, must first learn to think of cybersecurity as a business risk more than a compliance issue, and take ownership of their company’s cybersecurity instead of treating it as a merely IT problem. Unfortunately, when it comes to cyber risk, the mismatch between perception and reality is great. As research has shown, a natural optimism bias combined with a lack of understanding of cyber risk can lead business executives to believe that their company’s security posture is better than it actually is. While cyber risk may never go away, understanding the reality can help many companies take action to lower this risk. And as I argued in my study “One Leader at a Time” over a year ago, senior leaders across society must be equipped with a deep understanding of the cyber context in which they operate to harness the right tools, strategies, people, and training to respond to a dynamic and rapidly-developing array of cyber threats.”- Francesca Spidalieri, Fellow for Cyber Leadership

Healthy Democracy

Political Polarization in the American Public | Pew Research Center

The two key factors behind our polarized politics | Washington Post

Could America Become Mississippi? | Slate

“Can Americans still talk to each other across party lines and come up with plans for our common future, solutions to our shared challenges? A new report from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press finds, perhaps not surprisingly, that Americans who identify with the two major parties are increasingly distrustful and antagonistic towards each other, and even prefer to live in different kinds of places. A commentary from a political scientist, published earlier this year by the Washington Post, argues that our current polarization is based mainly on different beliefs about “how much government should help people.” And on a theme that is certainly related, a writer from Slate reports on a recent psychological study looking at the relationship between racial perceptions and political ideology: White voters become more ideologically conservative when made aware of demographic shifts that may put them in the minority. For anyone concerned about the future of our democracy, and our ability to work together for common purposes, these studies suggest an important challenge: How do we bring more Americans together when some powerful forces seem to be driving us apart?”- Joseph Grady, Senior Fellow for Public Policy

International Relations

Militants Sweeping Toward Baghdad | The New York Times

Counting the Dead in Benghazi | Foreign Policy

The Return of al-Qaeda | Washington Post

“The headlines are startling.  Extremists sweeping across Iraq.  The Iraqi army quitting in exhaustion.  In Libya, the cycle of extra-judicial violence only escalates—leaving some to wonder aloud who can contain the violence and return some semblance of order to the country.  The common theme in these stories is the demise of strong central authorities who ruled with a ruthlessness reserved to tyrants of the worst sort.  But they ruled, and their societies were relatively peaceful—in sharp contrast with the Iraq of the last decade and the Libya of the last few years.

The lessons for American foreign policy are too numerous to count, but let’s start with one insight from history: instability attracts extremists and welcomes strongmen.  After World War I and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the League of Nations granted a mandate to Britain in Mesopotamia.  British diplomats like Gertrude Bell—famous for traveling across the desert and living amongst the Bedouins—devised a state whose boundaries and structure demonstrate little regard for historic animosities.

In the 35 years from 1933 to the Ba’th seizure of power in 1968, Iraq suffered from 25 incidents of extra-constitutional disturbances: coups, attempted coups, uprisings, sectarian and political hostilities, and so forth.  25 incidents in 35 years—that’s an average of one every 17 months.  If we expand the calendar to Saddam’s rise to prominence in 1978, the incidents average one every 18 months.

The governments in Iraq and Libya are fractured and weak.  More violence is likely—as is the rise of ruthless leaders who will deal viciously with extremists.”- James Ludes, Executive Director of the Pell Center

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