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Health Information Technology Security

Abstract       

Due to threats of cybercrime and malware infestations, healthcare organizations all across the world are now forced to upgrade and monitor their cybersecurity systems on a constant basis for the sake of protected patient health information, financial stability, and uninterrupted operations.  Money that would normally be spent on patient care is being diverted to IT professionals, who are hired to keep cybersecurity systems intact.

Health Information Technology Security       

Protecting patient health information, as mandated by law, has become a priority for healthcare facilities all around the world.  From doctors’ offices to medical devices to ransomware, the healthcare industry is under attack by cyber threats that compromise the health, safety, and privacy of patients everywhere.       

Nurses are at the forefront in efforts to secure patient and employee information, promote responsible use of computer technology, and report possible threats and violations in a timely manner.

Cybersecurity is Crucial       

Almost every day, a news story comes out that a corporation, nonprofit organization, or government agency has been hacked.  The healthcare industry is no different, and the attacks are becoming more frequent and more serious.  This is such an important issue at the hospital where I work, it seemed pertinent to write a paper on it.  Our IT department frequently makes us aware of e-mail threats, blocks blog sites, mandates automatic logoffs and timed reboots, requires frequent password changes, and regularly reminds us to turn off our computers, log off when finished, and to not share passwords.  Cybersecurity is crucial to protecting patient health information and network systems.

All Healthcare Organizations are at Risk       

Smaller healthcare clinics and doctors’ offices must follow the same mandates as larger organizations when it comes to protecting patient health information.  Healthcare personnel divulging protected information to unauthorized people and hackers using stolen information in identity theft scams are huge concerns that must be addressed (Taitsman, Grimm, & Agrawal, 2013).  Not only must these smaller organizations take appropriate measures to secure patient health information, but personnel must strictly follow policies and protocols.  Simple safeguards, such as screening phone calls, logging off computers, shredding documents, background checks for employees, automatic logouts, and activity audits, protect and safeguard patients and organizations alike (Taitsman, Grimm, & Agrawal, 2013).  Insurance companies, too, must safeguard patients against fraudulent claims.  Consumers must be educated in ways to protect their own healthcare information (Taitsman, Grimm, & Agrawal, 2013).       

Nurses all across the healthcare spectrum are increasingly required to use computer technology, and they must honor patient privacy, confidentiality, and consent while doing so.  Use of the Internet opens the doorway to viruses, worms, adware, spyware, and other forms of malware (Damrongsak & Brown, 2008).  Something as simple as using a shared address book can infect an entire system.  Logging off the computer when the nurse has finished and frequently backing up data can prevent unauthorized intrusions and corrupted data (Damrongsak & Brown, 2008).  Most medical facilities use an intranet, or closed system, in addition to the Internet, that restricts data to a smaller group of people.  Firewalls, encryption, and the use of virtual private networks provide additional security (Damrongsak & Brown, 2008).       

Large government agencies, such as the Veterans Administration, have increased efforts to stave off cyber-attacks, which compromise patient health information and medical devices.  IT specialists have removed medical devices from the VA hospital’s main network systems and connected them to virtual-local area networks (VLANs) (Rhea, 2010).  Without access to the Internet, these devices can be used without fear of attack.  In the past, the main focus has been on identity theft.  But with the rise of international terrorism, there is a growing fear that medical devices may be hacked and used to intentionally harm patients (Rhea, 2010).  Healthcare IT systems have already been crippled by hackers looking to profit from cybercrime.  In 2009, healthcare facilities around the world found medical devices infected with the Conficker virus (Rhea, 2010).  Downtime caused by malware is expensive and inconvenient.  Hospitals are forced to spend money on security that normally would have gone to patient care (Rhea, 2010).  FDA regulations are also a hindrance to quick development of security patches (Rhea, 2010).       

According to author W.S. Chee (2007), a member of the Department of Diagnostic Imaging at K.K. Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore, medical devices connected to a hospital’s network system can lead to critical threats and infestations of malware in these devices.  Hospitals need to act proactively to prevent intrusions and respond immediately if a system becomes infected (Chee, 2007).  Equipment vendors play a huge role because they supply the security measures which protect medical devices (Chee, 2007).  But they can be slow in providing updates and patches.  The FDA, furthermore, determines when and how changes can be made to biomedical equipment systems.  This places the burden on hospitals to protect themselves (Chee, 2007).       

Thomas Klein (2014), managing editor of Electronic Medical Device Technology, asserts that intentional sabotage of medical devices is only a matter of time.  According to researchers, vulnerabilities have been found in infusion pumps, x-ray machines, cardiac defibrillators, and other devices (Klein, 2014).  Since these devices are frequently connected to the Internet, they are vulnerable to malware.  If the network systems are not fully protected, the devices are subject to malicious attack.  The use of USB ports opens a doorway to security breaches and malware (Klein, 2014).  The risk is so great the FDA became involved and now requires that manufacturers consider cybersecurity risks when developing new products (Klein, 2014).       

The expansion of healthcare information technology improves profitability while exposing healthcare facilities to greater risks (Elliot, 2005).  Facilities must create and enforce policies that secure patient health information across all forms of networks and technology.  One solution for managing remote devices is the use of on-demand security services that cease to work once the remote device is no longer in use (Elliot, 2005).  The problem, then, is security on the other end, where patient health information can be leaked or accessed by the user.  This is called post-delivery security (Elliot, 2005).  Solutions include user malware protection, restrictions on use of data, and audits on computer use.  Developing and enforcing security policies that protect patient health information, especially information transmitted to remote devices, is tantamount to avoiding security breaches and corrupted data (Elliot, 2005).       

The latest, and most serious, threat comes in the form of professional IT criminals who use ransomware to extort money from hospitals (Conn, 2016).  One such threat, Locky, acts through ordinary-looking e-mail (Conn, 2016).  When opened, a virus activates software that encrypts the hospital’s IT system.  Then, a window pops up with a ransom demand.  Samas, another threat, uploads encryption ransomware through a hospital’s Web server (Conn, 2016).  A more sophisticated ransomware, CryptoLocker, demands bitcoin as payment because it is nearly impossible to trace (Conn, 2016).  Once paid, the criminals unlock the data in an infected system.  But, should hospitals pay in the first place?  Cybersecurity has become a booming business, with medical facilities now being forced to employ their services.  There is a major concern that medical devices will be the next systems to be hit by cybercriminals (Conn, 2016).

Topic Availability

This topic, as it relates to Nursing Informatics, is too important to ignore.  I used seven resources from scholarly and peer-reviewed publications for this paper.  I pulled my resources primarily from CINAHL and ProQuest.  I found enough materials to give me a broad overview of the topic, but I was disappointed that more current articles could not be found.  Technology changes so rapidly that even a few months can make a difference in security innovations.  I used both the basic and advanced search features and the key words “medical device malware security.”

Information Availability 

This information is available in scholarly and peer-reviewed journals and other publications.  Although the information was geared toward professionals, some publications include short articles that educate the general public about cybersecurity and protecting patient health information.  Nurses benefit from all of these resources because many do not understand the extent of the threat.

Personal Views 

The information I read shocked me (cyberterrorism), confirmed what I see our IT specialists changing at my hospital, and disturbed me (ransomware cybercrime.)  The general public does not seem to be aware of these threats.  As a nurse who uses computer technology every day, I was not aware of the seriousness of this problem.  It never occurred to me that a glucometer or infusion pump could be infected with a virus or that an unscrupulous person would deliberately sabotage somebody’s pacemaker.  When I mention this to other nurses, they are equally dismayed by the possibilities.  They always ask, “Why would somebody maliciously hack into a medical device?”  For people who devote their lives to saving people, the idea is unthinkable.       

The changing landscape in healthcare makes it crucial that ALL medical personnel understand the seriousness of the threats.  As technology becomes more sophisticated, so do the means by which cybercriminals hack into and infect network systems.  Information is compromised, and patient health and well-being are put at risk.

Conclusion

In conclusion, whether it’s a small private practice or a large healthcare system, the increased use of technology poses significant threats to protected patient health information, medical devices, and cybersecurity systems.  Users all across the healthcare spectrum have a duty to behave responsibly when accessing patient records, divulging information, searching the Internet, managing e-mail and faxes, and interacting with colleagues.  Nurses should provide feedback and input about vulnerabilities in security policies and protocols for the protection of themselves and their patients.  They must educate themselves about current threats so they can adapt their practice to avoid unintentional security breaches.  Nurses can also educate their patients in the use of computer technology, accessing patient portals, and protecting patient health information.        

Technology will continue to be a driving force in healthcare.  Along with the downside comes the possibility of lower costs to facilities and patients, improved outcomes, more accurate measurements, increased research, and greater opportunities for nurses to expand their involvement and role in improving healthcare and healthcare informatics.  Requiring nursing students to study nursing informatics increases their awareness of the problems and benefits of  technology.  Hopefully, our physicians and administrators are being trained in this area, as well.  Health information technology specialists are enjoying a surge in employment opportunities as healthcare systems realize the importance of their specialty.  Technology is expensive, but the threats of cybercrime and cyber-attacks are more damaging.  

References

Chee, W.S. A. (2007). IT security in biomedical imaging informatics: The hidden vulnerability. Journal of Mechanics in Medicine and Biology, 7(1), 101-106.

Conn, J. (2016, April). Ransomware scare: Will hospitals pay for protection. Modern Healthcare, 46(15), 8-8.

Damrongsak, M., & Brown, K.C. (2008). Data security in occupational health. AAOHN

 Journal, 56(10), 417-421. Retrieved from 

http://search.proquest.com.resources.njstatelib.org/docview/219399232?accountid=63787.

Elliot, M. (2005, September). Securing the healthcare border. Health Management Technology,

 26(9), 32-35.

Klein, T. (2014, September). How to protect medical devices against malware. Operating Theatre Journal, 14-14.

Rhea, S. (2010, December). Cyberbattle: Providers work to protect devices, patients. Modern

 Healthcare, 40(50), 33-34.

Taitsman, J. K., Grimm, C. M., Agrawal, S. (2013, March). Protecting Patient privacy and data security. The New England Journal of Medicine, 368, 977-979. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1215258. Retrieved from http://www.NEJM.org.

~

PowerPoint presentation shared at Flagstaff Medical Center in 2016. See it here on Dropbox:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/4o62z11sbzmg5tz/NUR-340%20Power%20Point%20Presentation%20Pisturino%20%281%29.pptx?dl=0

~

Dawn Pisturino
Thomas Edison State University

August 31, 2016; June 10, 2022
Copyright 2016-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

(The references would not format properly.)

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Vietnam and Grotius’s Standards for Just War

The Vietnam War and Grotius’s Standards for Just War

The Vietnam War resulted in the deaths of more than three million Vietnamese combatants and non-combatants in North and South Vietnam. America lost 58,000 combatants. Both countries were split by opposing camps. Both countries suffered great losses in economic resources and political credibility (Shermer, 2017, pg.1). But was America’s involvement in the war a just cause?

Grotius’s Standards for Just War

According to David Armitage (2018), “Grotius was the first theorist of the law of nations . . . to grapple with the meaning of civil war” (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8). Grotius generally defined war as “armed execution against an armed adversary” (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8) and made distinctions between public and private wars. Public wars resulted from “the public will, or the legitimate authority in a state” (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8). Private wars resulted from private entities or individuals and did not depend on the public’s endorsement (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8). Grotius further defined civil war as a “public war waged ‘against a part of the same state’” (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8). Later, he elaborated on “mixed war . . .  a war fought on one side by the legitimate authority, on the other by ‘mere private persons’” (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8). Grotius denounced private war against the State at any cost and even condoned “submitting to an unlawful government” (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8) in order to avoid civil war.

Although Grotius is widely touted as one of the founders of international law, he is best remembered for his defense of the use of force by the Dutch East India Company against the Portuguese (Lang, 2018, pg. 133). He insisted “that no state could control [the seas]” (Lang, 2018, pg. 133-134), therefore, the use of force was justified, even though the Dutch East India Company was a private company. It followed that the State found it necessary to control such private companies in order to give them legitimacy and sovereignty as part of the State (Lang, 2018, pg. 134).

Grotius still affirmed the three traditional bases for just war – “self-defense, retaking of property unlawfully taken, and punishment of wrongdoing” (Lang, 2018, pg. 134). He still relied on natural law to guide people morally and saw no conflict between natural law and divine law (Lang, 2018, pg. 134-35). He concluded that natural law and the law of nations worked in tandem to support the guidelines that shape the jus in bellum between warring nations; and he did not condone breaking either natural law or the law of nations (Lang, 2018, pg. 135).

We, therefore, see Grotius condoning war that conforms “to both natural law and the law of nations” (Lang, 2018, pg. 136). A private war is just when someone (or a private entity) is acting to defend himself from harm (Lang, 2018, pg.136). However, he condemns “insurrection by subjects of a sovereign, arguing that once they enter into the relationship of a formal community there is a need to ensure that peace is the outcome rather than continued war” (Lang, 2018, pg. 136).

Was the Vietnam War Ethically Justifiable in Terms of Grotius’s Standards

According to Greenspan (2019), “the Vietnam War was ostensibly a civil war between the communist North and pro-Western South” (Greenspan, 2019, pg. 1). After the French were ousted from colonial rule of the country in 1954 by communist leader Ho Chi Minh, civil war broke out between Viet Cong forces from the North and Ngo Dinh Diem’s U.S.-backed forces in the South. Under pressure from the Cold War that was going on between the Soviet Union, China, and the United States, American leaders elected to back Diem’s forces in the South to prevent a communist take-over of South Vietnam. The U.S. eventually overthrew the Diem government in a coup in 1963 (Greenspan, 2019, pg. 2, 3).

In 1964, President Johnson committed “combat troops and launch[ed] a massive bombing campaign” which cemented America’s investment in the war. By the time of the U.S. troop withdrawal in 1973, the war had cost American taxpayers $111 billion in military costs alone (Greenspan 2019, pg. 3), and America could not claim victory in the war. In 1975, South Vietnam fell to North Vietnam, becoming a communist country against the will of the people (Greenspan, 2019, pg. 6).

The Vietnam War has many layers to it. In the first phase, the Vietnamese people staged an insurrection against the French colonial government in order to win their own freedom and become a sovereign nation. In the second phase, when the country was divided with the understanding that it would be re-united, elections were not held, and the Viet Cong from the North started hostilities against the South in order to turn the whole country communist. In the third phase, the United States and other countries intervened in the hostilities, with opposing countries supporting opposite sides. In the fourth phase, the United States pulled out of Vietnam, and the North defeated the South, turning Vietnam into a communist country against the will of the people (Greenspan, 2018, pg. 1-6).

If we are to take Grotius literally, he would have condemned the insurrection against the colonial French government by the Vietnamese (Lang, 2018, pg. 136) and then the civil war that broke out because he did not condone either instance of war. He himself said that “submitting to an unlawful government” (Armitage, 2018, pg. 8) was better than ripping a country apart with civil war. Elections had not yet been held to reunite the country, so neither government was legitimately elected by the people. When the North attacked the South, it was attempting to take over the South against the will of the people. Grotius’s defense of self-defense against harm would apply here because the people in the South were defending themselves from harm against an illegitimate government (Lang, 2018, pg. 136).

When the United States got involved in the war, we were helping the South Vietnamese defend themselves against an aggressor. It may have been foolish to get involved, but the right intention was there – charity in helping one’s neighbor defend himself. Grotius, as a Protestant Christian, said, “we must also take care that we offend not against Charity, especially Christian Charity” (Lang, 2018, pg. 139). The paranoia about the communist threat was real at that time, and America’s leaders acted to minimize that threat, however misguided. The Viet Cong did not follow any rules of war – their goal was just to win, and they did (Greenspan, 2019, pg. 6). So, although Grotius would not have agreed with insurrection and civil war, I believe he would have lauded the United States for attempting to help the South Vietnamese defend themselves against the aggressors in the North.

Works Cited

Armitage, D. (2018). Civil war time: From grotius to the global war on terror. The american

       society of international law, 3-14. doi:10.1017/amp.2017.152

Greenspan, J. (2019, June). Which countries were involved in the Vietnam war? History.com.

       http://www.history.com/news/vietnam-war-combatants

Lang, A.F. (2018). Hugo grotius (1583-1645). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (21-33). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Shermer, M. (2017, December). Can we agree to outlaw war – Again? Scientific american.

       Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-we/agree-to-outlaw-war- 

       mdash-again/?

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

November 3, 2021; April 29, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism

(Photo from The Guardian)

Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism

       Fighting terrorism is a different situation than fighting a conventional war because it is not about one nation in conflict with another nation.  Terrorists embody an ideology which conflicts with established culture and values.  In the case of Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, radical interpretations of Islam were used to recruit jihadists to wage guerilla warfare against all people in the West and even other Muslims who did not agree with their interpretation (9-11 Commission, 2004, pg. 55-68).   This defies both the jus ad bellum and jus in bellum traditional requirements for just war.

Jean Bethke Elshtain and the War on Terrorism

       Osama bin Laden fought as a freedom fighter (mujahideen) in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.  After the Russians were driven out of the country, he organized the terrorist group, Al Qaeda.  The CIA did not become aware of Al Qaeda and its leader until 1996-1997 (9-11 Commission, 2004, pg. 55-68).  After the August 7, 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Osama bin Laden became one of the FBI’s “most wanted fugitives” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017, pg. 390).  After the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush ordered the creation of the Department of Homeland Security with Executive Order No. 13228 on October 8, 2001 (Exec. Order No. 13,228, 2001, pg. 51812). 

       Although Osama bin Laden and the majority of 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, the Al Qaeda training camps were located in Afghanistan.  In fact, forces within Afghanistan and Pakistan were collaborating with the terrorists.  Al Qaeda also had the support of regular citizens in both Afghanistan and Pakistan who felt a strong hatred for the United States.  The Taliban, a fundamentalist Islamic group, had taken over large parts of Afghanistan and supported the use of terror against the West (9/11 Commission, 2004, pg. 47-68).

       Invading Afghanistan was a natural response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.  But the U.S. military should have stayed focused on destroying the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan before embarking on a war in Iraq, especially since the 9/11 Commission found no involvement by Iraq with the attacks on the World Trade Center (9-11 Commission, 2004, pg. 47-80).  Imposing economic sanctions on Pakistan instead of giving them economic aid, in my opinion, might have yielded results sooner.

       The invasion of Afghanistan was justified, from the point of view of Jean Bethke Elshtain, because “those who launched the 9/11 attacks cannot be reasoned with, in the manner the ‘humanists’ would like – and that no change in U.S. policy would have that effect – for the simple reason that: they loathe us because of who we are and what our society represents” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 220-221).

What Role did the U.S. have in Afghanistan Beyond Military Action?

       “In October 2001, the United States of America initiated air strikes on Afghanistan, followed by a ground offensive called Operation Enduring Freedom, to topple the Taliban government and drive out Al Qaeda forces hosted in Afghanistan following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States” (Bella, Giacca, & Casey-Maslen, 2011, pg. 47, 48).  A new government was installed, and with a new regime in control, U.S. troops became peacekeepers, which undermined the original military offensive.  Al Qaeda and the Taliban continued to push back at the expense of American troops.  Although bin Laden was finally killed in 2011, this did not extinguish Al Qaeda or the Taliban.  The U.S. concentrated on re-building Afghanistan, and a new terrorist threat emerged under President Obama: ISIS.

       Elshtain believed that the United States’ War on Terrorism was just because “the United States must take the lead – not alone, to be sure – but it must take the lead in defending human dignity. ‘As the world’s superpower’”” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 221).  If the United States failed in Afghanistan, in my opinion, it is because we lost sight of our goal to destroy the terrorist camps and the power of the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  By not going in and finishing the job, the United States left itself open for more terrorist attacks on American soil, especially since the Taliban now control Afghanistan.

Given the Larger Human Rights Implication that Elshtain Addresses, what Role did the World at Large have in Combating Terrorism?

       Few countries in the world have been left untouched by terrorism, whether it is direct terrorist attacks or taking in refugees from war-torn countries.  For security reasons alone, the United Nations and all countries in the world should be working together to address the issue – which certainly will not go away anytime soon.

       Ultimately, it is the non-combatant citizens who suffer the most when terrorists are wreaking havoc in a country.  According to Amnesty International (2011): “The Taliban and related insurgent groups in Afghanistan show little regard for human rights and the laws of war and systematically and deliberately target civilians, aid workers, and civilian facilities like schools (particularly girls’ schools)” (Bella, Giacca, & Casey-Maslen, 2011, pg. 51).

       The larger humanitarian issues of violence, refugees, homelessness, poverty, and starvation affect all nations in one way or another, and all nations have a moral obligation to address it.  Elshtain called it the “principle of equal regard, faced with a terrible situation, an enormity, one is obliged to think about what is happening, and to conclude that the people dying are human beings and as such equal in moral regard to us” (Dissent, 2005, pg. 60).                                                                                                                                         

References

9-11 Commission. (2004). 9-11 Commission report. Retrieved from

https://www.9-11Commission.gov/report

Bellal, A., Giacca, G., Casey-Maslen, C. (2011, March). International law and armed non-state 

       actors in afghanistan. International Review of the Red Cross 93(881), 47-79.

       Retrieved from https://www.corteidh.or.cr/tablas/r27089.pdf

Dissent, The Editors. (2005, Summer). Interview with jean bethke elshtain. Dissent. Retrieved

       from http://www.dissentmagazine.org/wp-content/files_mf/1390329368d1Interview.pdf

Exec. Order No. 13228, 66 Fed. Reg. 196 (October 10, 2001)

Haddow, G.D., Bullock, J.A., & Coppola, D.P. (2017). Introduction to emergency management.

       (6th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Elsevier

Rengger, N. (2018). Jean bethke elshtain (1941-2013). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

       (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (216-226). Abingdon, Oxon: 

       Routledge

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 23, 2021; April 1, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

5 Comments »

Humanitarian Aid and Peacekeeping in Somalia, 1992-1994

(Famine in Somalia, December 13, 1992. Photo by Yannis Behrakis, REUTERS.)

Jean Bethke Elshtain’s book, Women and War, insisted that “the roles men and women play in war are represented and narrated in the stories we tell about ourselves” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218). Women are represented as “beautiful souls” and men as “just warriors,” but ethicist Elshtain felt that this was too simplistic and that the roles were “more ambiguous and complex” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218) in reality. She believed that St. Augustine had the best understanding of humans and their relationship to war and peace because he saw that humans are fragile and limited in their ability to control the world and human impulses. She further elaborates on this theme in Augustine and the Limits of Politics. (Rengger, 2018, pg. 218-220) By the time she wrote Just War Against Terror, she was convinced that the United States had to embrace its role of most powerful nation and step up to the plate to address terrorism (Rengger, 2018, pg. 220,221).

Based on her beliefs, I believe she would have encouraged the United States’ involvement in Somalia. In an interview with Dissent magazine (2005), she said:

“Beginning with that principle of equal regard, faced with a terrible situation, an enormity, one is obliged to think about what is happening, and to conclude that the people dying are human beings and as such equal in moral regard to us. So we are then obliged to consider this horrible situation and think about whether there is something we can do to stop it. Would the use of force make a difference in this situation? Minimally you are obliged to do that. Perhaps the use of force would not. But one must not just evade the question. Another minimal requirement is that if you have decided that you can’t intervene you are obliged to explain why that is, in light of the principle of equal moral regard.”

However, she would have recognized our limitations and possibilities for human inadequacy when dealing with the situation in Somalia.

The Role of the United Nations and the United States in Somalia

In 1969, Mohamed Siad Barre came to power in Somalia through a military coup. The regime became more and more repressive, and opposition forces removed him from office in January 1991. “The country descended into chaos, and a humanitarian crisis of staggering proportions began to unfold” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 1). The Somali people faced “the combination of civil war, a famine after a poor harvest, and a prolonged drought” (Mugabi, 2018, pg. 2).

The United Nations and the United States attempted to aid the Somali people in 1992, but “intense fighting between the warlords impeded the delivery of aid to those who needed it most, and so the United Nations contemplated stronger action” (Department of State, 2021, pg. 2).

“There was a fairly lengthy period in which preventative diplomacy and the focused attention of the international community could have headed off the catastrophe in Somalia” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 5). The United Nations and the international community could have engaged in diplomatic negotiations when: 1) the Somali National Movement (SNM) was repressed by Barre in 1988 and the situation exposed by Amnesty International and Africa Watch; 2) the Manifesto Group arose in 1990 and suggestions by the Inter-African Group “that the UN appoint a special envoy to conduct ‘shutter diplomacy’ in the Horn” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6) were squashed; 3) Barre left office in January 1991 with no replacement government in place and the UN declined to get involved until a year later, when it passed its first resolution on Somalia (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6).

From January to March 1992, UN resolutions “called for an arms embargo and increased humanitarian aid, and urged the parties to agree to a cease-fire, which they did through an UN-sponsored meeting in New York in February” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6). In April, the Security Council approved UNOSOM, which “was intended to provide humanitarian help and facilitate the end of hostilities in Somalia” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 6). However, these efforts met with resistance from warlord militia leaders Aideed and Ali Mahdi. In August, Operation Provide Relief was implemented which authorized the United States to deliver humanitarian aid and bring in five hundred peacekeepers (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7). Later, a Hundred Day Plan was devised to bring together UN agencies and NGOs to deliver aid, but continued violence interfered with the plan (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7).

Bureaucracy at the United Nations also held up operations. “Food and medicine could not be distributed because of looting . . . [and] famine intensified as the civil war continued” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7). People around the world reacted emotionally to the famine in Somalia, and “President George [H.W.] Bush announced the initiation of Operation Restore Hope” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 7) on December 4, 1992. The United Task Force (UNITAF) was “a multinational coalition of military units under the command and control of the American military” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8) authorized by a United Nations resolution (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8). UNITAF’s goal was to provide “security in the service of humanitarian ends for a brief period” (United States Institute of Peace. 1994, pg. 8) in compliance with Chapter VII of the United Nations charter and allowed the use of force (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 8-11).

Unfortunately, conflicts arose between the United Nations and UNITAF which impeded the efficiency of these efforts. Secretary General Boutros Ghali insisted on nationwide disarmament in Somalia with the United States in charge of implementation, but UNITAF refused. The task force was more interested in a cease-fire.  The UN also insisted on top-down reconstruction of the country, whereas the United States believed that reconstruction should begin at the local level. The UN refused to take long-term responsibility in the operation, insisting that UNITAF held that responsibility. The United States countered “that the project was limited not only in scope but in time, and that when certain humanitarian and security goals had been met, responsibility for Somalia would be turned back over to a ‘regular UN peacekeeping force’” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 10). When Ghali created the peacekeeping force, UNOSOM II, the United States agreed to participate (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 9,10).

On May 4, 1993, UNOSOM II assumed all military responsibilities in Somalia and became “the first UN peacekeeping force authorized under the provisions of Chapter VII of the UN charter” (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 11). The new goal for the force was rebuilding Somalia and safeguarding the peace.

After Aideed and his soldiers killed twenty-four Pakistani and three American peacekeepers, the United Nations and United States agreed to go after Aideed. The effort resulted in the raid of Mogadishu on October 3, 1993, which killed eighteen American soldiers. By the end of March 1994, all U.S. troops had been withdrawn from Somalia (United States Institute of Peace, 1994, pg. 12).

Responsibility of the International Community

The United Nations had a definite responsibility to address the humanitarian crisis in Somalia and to make an attempt to end the violence. This is the designated function of the United Nations. People around the world, shocked by the starvation in Somalia, were demanding action. The United States, as the most powerful country with the most resources, was obligated to get involved. Politically and morally, it was the right thing to do.

Jean Bethke Elshtain, as a proponent of St. Augustine and his writings, would have supported it because Augustine stressed love of neighbor and extending charity to others. To ignore the situation would have been immoral and inhuman.

The problem with Somalia isn’t that nations got involved. The problem is that the fierceness and tenacity of the warlord militias was underestimated, and bureaucracy and internal disagreements were allowed to undermine the operation, as outlined by the United States Institute of Peace. But both St. Augustine and Elshtain would have recognized that humans are imperfect creatures living in an imperfect world, and as such, there is only so much we can do to contain and control chaos.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 15, 2021; March 11, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Department of State. Office of the Historian. (2021). Milestones: 1993-2000: Somalia,

       1992-1993. Department of State. Retrieved from

       http://www.history.state.gov/milestones/1993-2000/somalia

Dissent, The Editors. (2005, Summer). Interview with jean bethke elshtain. Dissent. Retrieved

       from http://www.dissentmagazine.org/wp-content/files_mf/1390329368d1Interview.pdf

Mugabi, I. (2018, December). Opinion: How George h.w. bush’s failed somalia intervention

       shaped us-africa ties. DW. Retrieved from

       http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-how-george-hwbushs-failed-somalia-intervention-shaped-

       us-africa-ties/a-46598215

Rengger, N. (2018). Jean bethke elshtain (1941-2013). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

       (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (216-226). Abingdon, Oxon:  

       Routledge

Special Report. (1994). Restoring hope: The real lessons of Somalia for the future of                                                                                                                                       

       intervention. United states institute of peace. Retrieved from

       http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/sr950000.pdf

5 Comments »

Cicero’s Three Tenets for Just War

(Marcus Tullius Cicero)

It is difficult to determine just when the just war idea began. Aristotle used the phrase, “just war” (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 4), but it is Cicero who developed a “systematic ethical project” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 8) around the concept of just war.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BCE – 43 BCE) grew up in a wealthy Roman family, acquired a good education, and worked his way up the ladder to achieve the high political status of Consul. When Catiline tried to seize power over Rome by force, “Cicero had five of the conspirators executed without trial and was thereafter hailed as ‘the father of his country’” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 9). His experiences helped to shape his ideas about just war.

Cicero tried to place an emphasis on “virtuous behavior” (Stewart, 2018, pg.8) based on the principles of natural law. He believed that all civilized nations were bound by the same law and that “the god will be the one common master and general (so to speak) of all people” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 11). He expected all civilized nations to follow a course of laws, morals, and ethics that reflected the will of God. Following the will of God would lead nations to make the best decisions.

Out of this came Cicero’s idea of the “ideal statesman” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 14, 17, 18) who would have the wisdom to discern the difference between the justice of war and the necessity of war. After a thorough analysis, an ideal statesman would decide when conflict could be solved by diplomacy and debate, and when the use of force would be necessary. He would base his decision on what was best to ensure the safety and survival of the Roman Empire.

He developed three maxims:

     Jus ad bellum covered the justification for the use of force.

     Jus in bellum outlined the limitations imposed in the use of force.

     Jus post bellum offered guidelines about how to deal with participants after a war was over.  

          (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 1).

If we adhere to Cicero’s idea about the ideal statesman then jus ad bellum is the most important. The decisions that leaders make can determine the fate of the whole nation. If they make wrong decisions out of a “selfish passion” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 15) for glory and ambition, justice has not been done, and the whole nation may suffer.

In order to justify the use of force, there must be a legitimate reason to declare war. Roman officials must have the authority (right thinking and right intention) to declare war. The decision to go to war must come as a last resort. There must be a high probability of a successful resolution. And the use of force must lead to more benefits than harm to society (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 1).

The use of force in war will be limited to what needs to be done to defeat the other side.  It must never exceed the purpose of its use. It must only be aimed at “legitimate targets” (Brunstetter, 2018, pg. 1). Discrimination in the use of force must be exercised by military leaders to achieve the objective and nothing more.

After the conflict is over, the winner must decide what to do with the survivors and post-war plunder. Can peace be restored? Has justice been done? Have grievances been resolved? The winner is responsible for restoring balance and harmony in the region and making sure that humanitarian efforts are made to help the survivors recover. This fulfills the principles of beneficence and honor (Stewart, 2018, pg. 13).

If peace cannot be restored and a nation continues to be a threat to the survival of the Roman Empire, Cicero concludes that necessity overrules justice and beneficence and complete annihilation is justified (Stewart, 2018, pg. 14-16).

Rome was a militarized society. Cicero served in the military and never discounted the inevitability of war. He believed in ius gentium (international obligations between nations) (Stewart, 2018, pg. 9). These international relations involved treaties and agreements made in “good faith” (Stewart, 2018, pg. 10). Broken treaties and other wrongs were justification for the use of force. But Cicero insisted that there were acceptable limits when following a path of revenge and retribution (Stewart, 2018, pg. 12). He believed that there were duties owed to the people who broke good faith and were defeated in battle (Stewart, 2018, pg. 13). This, for him, is what defined justice.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

October 6, 2021; March 4, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Brunstetter, D.R., & O’Driscoll, C. (Ed.). (2018). Just war thinking: From cicero to the 21st  

     century. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Stewart, G. (2018). Marcus tullius cicero (106 BCE – 43 BCE). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

     (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (8-19). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

16 Comments »

Foreign Non-Intervention: Soviet Invasion of Hungary, 1956

In light of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, it seems appropriate to remind people that Russian Premier Nikita Krushchev invaded Hungary in 1956 in a similar way when the Imre Nagy regime began to institute democratic reforms and pull away from the Soviet Union.

On October 22, 1956, student protests began in Budapest, and a list of sixteen demands were adopted which included the complete withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary, free elections, free speech, workers’ rights, and a multi-party political system. By 6:00 pm, 200,000 to 300,000 people had joined the protest. At 9:30 pm, the statue of Stalin was overturned.

The next night, around 9:00 pm, tear gas bombs were thrown into the crowd of protestors, and State Security Police (AVH) began firing into the crowd. A number of people were killed and wounded. The infuriated crowd attacked other AVH police who arrived wearing white doctors’ coats. At first, Hungarian forces came to the aid of the AVH and then sided with the protestors.

In other parts of Budapest, workers drove through the city, snatching up weapons and firearms wherever they could find them. Many soldiers voluntarily gave over their firearms to the protestors.

In the early hours of October 24th, protestors seized and occupied the Radio Building and then were driven out. Again, AVH police fired into a crowd of unarmed protestors, further infuriating the people. Armed protestors fought back against the AVH and seized the newspaper building. At 2:00 am, Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest.

The important thing to understand is that the Soviet Union had already been planning to invade Hungary before the protests began. The invasion was intended to overthrow Premier Imre Nagy’s government and to install a more cooperative Soviet puppet in his place.

Neither the United Nations nor the United States intervened to help the people of Hungary, before, during, or after the invasion. And, so far, this is holding true for the people of Ukraine.

~

Immanuel Kant, the United Nations, and International Law

Philosopher Immanuel Kant, who despaired in his lifetime that “there [was] no reliable or effective international authority” to prevent war, could not foresee that in the future there would exist the League of Nations and then the United Nations. These organizations arose in the aftermath of World War I and World War II to provide a forum for nations to come together and discuss their differences in order to prevent world war.  The United Nations, in my opinion, has not been very effective in dealing with international conflicts. It does, however, have a good track record of attempting to provide humanitarian aid to countries wracked by internal conflict and natural disasters.

“The UN Charter recognizes self-defense as the only legitimate use of force (although only until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to ensure international peace and security, Article 51)” (Brown, 2018, pg. 209). And since the time of Kant, we have established “the Law of Armed Conflict (also known as International Humanitarian Law), that is, the Geneva and Hague Treaties and the accompanying Protocols” (Brown, 2018, pg. 209). The international community has come together to set rules to limit and prevent war. But, the United Nations and other organizations seem very ineffective. Conflicts never seem to get resolved, and human rights abuses continue without redress. Situations drag on for years with no resolution, leading to a different kind of war – prolonged conflict.

Michael Walzer’s Arguments against Foreign Intervention

Just war theorist Michael Walzer believes that nations have autonomy to decide for themselves, regardless of the form of government they have embraced. “Outsiders are obliged to assume that whatever form of government exists reflects the wishes of the people concerned; even if pro-democracy movements are suppressed, as long as the society has not collapsed into civil war and insurrection, it has to be presumed that there is a ‘fit’ between government and people . . . the only real circumstances in which outsiders would be entitled (although not obliged) to intervene would be in the case of genocide or mass enslavement” (Brown, 2018, pg.211).

Clearly, the Hungarian people wanted their freedom and were prepared to fight and die to get it. Clearly, Premier Imre Nagy tried to institute reforms, limit the Soviet Union’s influence in Hungary, and create a free Hungarian State. Clearly, there was no “fit” between the Hungarian people and their Soviet oppressors. From Walzer’s point of view, then, the Hungarian people were exercising their right to autonomy, and the United States should have offered assistance if our leaders were sincere about fighting totalitarianism and helping oppressed people to gain their freedom. Since the Voice of America had been broadcasting this message to the Hungarian people and “approximately 30,000 Hungarian refugees were allowed to enter the United States” (History, 2021, pg. 3), President Dwight D. Eisenhower should have offered some sort of assistance. To just stand by and offer sympathy was hypocritical.

And where was the United Nations in all of this? I have found no indication that the United Nations tried to intervene. Indeed, it wasn’t until 1957 that the UN compiled a report on the Soviet invasion of Hungary and its causes. According to the report, “Consideration of the Hungarian question by the United Nations was legally proper and paragraph 7 of Article 2 of the Charter does not justify objections to such consideration. A massive armed intervention by one Power on the territory of another with the avowed intention of interfering in its internal affairs must, by the Soviet Union’s own definition of aggression, be a matter of international concern” (United Nations, 1957, pg. 31).

The United Nations Special Committee determined, after the fact, that the Hungarian national uprising was spontaneous in nature, with Hungarians wanting to be free of Soviet oppression and rule; the protestors demanded an independent, democratic socialist government; the protest occurred in reaction to Poland’s efforts to gain independence from the Soviet Union; the Soviets were already making plans for an armed invasion as early as October 20, 1956; the initial protests of October 23, 1956 were peaceful until the AVH (State Security Police) opened fire onto the crowds; rumors circulated that Nagy had requested help from the Soviets, which turned out to be false; rumors also circulated that Kadar had requested Soviet troop intervention during the second round of protests, which turned out to be false; the real power was in the hands of the Revolutionary and Workers’ Councils – not Nagy; after the first few days of freedom, freedom of speech was established, with the support of the people; reported lynchings and beatings were carried out by members of the AVH (State Security Police); negotiations were conducted between the Nagy government and the Soviet Union for full withdrawal; the Workers’ Councils began initiating the reforms demanded by the people and life was returning to normal; the Hungarian people’s human rights “were violated by the Hungarian Governments before 23 October, especially up to the autumn of 1955, and such violations have been resumed since 4 November” (United Nations, 1957, pg. 31); Hungarian citizens were deported to the U.S.S.R. in order to suppress the uprising; Hungarians showed no support for the Kadar government, which reinstated Soviet-style repression and totalitarianism and put elections on hold; negotiations on Soviet troop withdrawals were suspended; and 190,000 Hungarians sought asylum in other countries, with most refusing to return (United Nations, 1957, pg. 31).

The Hungarian people had chosen freedom and the kind of government they wanted, and their newly-won liberation was subverted by outsiders who would not intervene after “Budapest Radio broadcast its last message before going off the air . . . an appeal to the writers and scientists of the world to help the people of Hungary” (United Nations, 1957, pg. 26). But this aligns with Walzer’s philosophy of limitations on foreign intervention, to the detriment of the Hungarian people.  And that means that I cannot agree with him.

What Role could the U.S. have Played in Hungary

It is clear from the United Nations report that the Soviet Union was preparing for the invasion as early as October 20, 1956. And it is possible, although not proven, that the Soviets had planned for Kadar to replace Nagy from the beginning. I believe Nagy and the members of the Revolutionary and Workers’ Councils were naive in thinking that the Soviets would give up Hungary without a fight. As soon as the Hungarians achieved their liberation, they should have consulted the United Nations, and the leaders of the United States and Europe, for help in keeping it. Instead, Nagy waited until November 1, 1956, when Soviet troops had already crossed the border into Hungary, to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact and to notify embassies located in Budapest and the United Nations of the situation. He specifically requested “the aid of the four Great Powers in defense of Hungary’s Neutrality . . . [and appealed] to our neighbors, countries near and far, to respect the unalterable decision of our people” (United Nations, 1957, pg. 25). By this time, there was no time for either the United Nations or the United States to stop the Soviet invasion (United Nations, 1957, pg. 18-31).

The Risks of War with the Soviet Union

If the United Nations and the United States (and the “four Great Powers”) had been involved in the negotiations with the Soviet Union, urging a complete troop withdrawal from Hungary, the Soviet Union might have backed down or delayed taking any action against Hungary. But this also risked getting the “four Great Powers” involved in another major conflict, one few could afford after World War II.

What Measures, if any, could have been Aimed at the Soviet Union?

Economic sanctions and isolation are about the only measures the United Nations could have taken to pressure the Soviet Union into leaving Hungary. Under pressure from the United States, the United Nations General Assembly passed several resolutions early in 1957, demanding the Soviets avoid all military offensives against the Hungarian people; withdrawal of  all troops from Hungarian soil; restoration of the legitimate government chosen by the Hungarian people; establishment of free elections; the end of deportations to the U.S.S.R.; and permission for UN officials to go into Hungary to assess and observe the situation (Harrison, 2012, pg. 3).

Unfortunately, the resolutions could not be enforced, but Soviet expansion was stalled by public pressure, Kadar’s government was not given official recognition, and Hungary lost its membership in the United Nations. Ultimately, the non-compliance of the Soviet Union with these UN resolutions led to the creation of the United Nations Special Committee that compiled the report. This Special Committee submitted public protests against the execution of Nagy in 1958 and kept the Hungary issue on the UN agenda because of its continued maltreatment and human rights abuses of the Hungarian people (Harrison, 2012, pg. 3).

At the same time, the United States and the Soviet Union were attempting to improve relations, and the Hungarian situation became less important as the Soviets convinced other countries to look the other way. On December 20, 1962, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution to drop the Hungary situation altogether (Harrison, 2012, pg. 4).

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

November 29, 2021; updated February 24, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Brown, C. (2018). Michael walzer (1935-present). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll (Eds.),

       Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (205-215). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Harrison. (2012). United nations report on the hungarian uprising 1956. Libcom. Retrieved from

       http://www.libcom.org/history/united-nations-report-hungarian-uprising-1956

History, The Editors. (2019). This day in history: Soviets put a brutal end to hungarian

       revolution. History. Retrieved from

       http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/soviets-put-brutal-end-to-hungarian-revolution

United Nations Special Committee. (1957). Report of the un special committee on the

       problem of hungary (compiled 1957). Libcom. Retrieved from http://www.libcom.org

23 Comments »

Community Engagement: The Boston Marathon Bombing

Photo Credit: Britannica

The Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013 changed how police departments communicate with the public during important emergency events. For the first time, social media played a critical role in communicating information about the bombings and capturing the culprits (Haddow, 2017).

On the day of the bombings, Commissioner of Police Ed Davis held a press conference. He calmly explained what happened and reassured the public that Boston had a comprehensive emergency response plan in place. The FBI, State Police, National Guard, and ATF were already in the city, offering their services. The Commissioner exuded confidence, control, and common sense. He asked for the public’s help in capturing the perpetrators (Global Breaking News, 2013).

Commissioner of Police Ed Davis and the Boston Police Department were committed to providing accurate, timely information to the public and keeping the lines of two-way communication open. He asked people to stay home and away from crowds for their own safety. He asked people to call the Mayor’s hotline and the Boston PD TIPS line with information (Global Breaking News, 2013).

The Boston Police Department was a leader in using social media to communicate with the public. Photos, videos, and information were shared through Twitter, Facebook, and websites. Inaccurate information was quickly corrected. It was noted by Bar-Tur that “BPD’s presence online helps reinvent the whole notion of community policing for the 21st century” (Haddow, p. 185, 2017). When the Tsarnaev brothers were finally caught, Boston Police Department tweeted a resounding “CAPTURED!!!” (Haddow, p. 185, 2017).

Instead of cowering in fear and feeling powerless, the Boston community was kept involved. This community empowerment contributed to situational awareness and the recovery of Boston after the event.

Global Breaking News. (Presenter). (2013, April 15). First press conference boston marathon

       bomb attack [Video file].Retrieved from (link not working):

Haddow, G.D., Bullock, J.A., & Coppola, D.P. (2017). Introduction to emergency

       management. (6th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Elsevier.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

October 7, 2019

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

4 Comments »

Radical Islamic Bullies

While discussing the liberation of Afghanistan from the Soviet Union, many people fail to understand that Osama bin Laden was one of the freedom fighters (mujahideen) who helped to defeat the Soviets. The United States backed these freedom fighters economically and militarily.

Afghanistan is where bin Laden and his followers learned to use weapons, engage in guerilla warfare, and the art of making bombs. Bin Laden — a Saudi Islamic fundamentalist — objected to the presence of U.S. military bases on “holy soil” in Saudi Arabia. He organized the terrorist group Al-Qaeda to fight westernization in Muslim countries and the U.S. itself. It was Saudis linked to Al-Qaeda who slammed into the World Trade Center on 9/11.

President Bill Clinton and the CIA warned the American people about Al-Qaeda, but people did not know enough about radical Islam to understand. Nor could they imagine such a terrible thing happening.

Instead of addressing the problem head on, President Bush invaded Iraq and avoided any major military action against Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where their camps were actually located. This was incomprehensible to many people. (If he was going to break international law and invade a country, it should have been Afghanistan.)

Under President Obama’s watch, bin Laden was finally killed and Al-Qaeda temporarily dispersed. But another threat emerged: ISIS. They announced their presence to the world through video-taped beheadings of Western journalists and other unlucky victims. Instead of taking these horrific actions seriously, Europe failed to act, and President Obama laughed and called them “J.V.” Realistically, the western world should have acted after the first beheading.

NO RADICAL ISLAMIC GROUP CAN BE WRITTEN OFF AS NOTHING BECAUSE ALL OF THESE GROUPS ARE WILLING TO USE VIOLENCE AND A CALL TO ISLAMIC UNITY AND PURITY TO PROMOTE THEIR AGENDAS. The media either downplays these groups or portrays them as “victims” of colonialism, even though European colonialism ended a long time ago. In point of fact, the Islamic governments which arose after colonialism puppet governments failed, are the real culprits.

The Muslim world has been uniquely divided against itself since the time of the the Prophet Muhammad. Westernization, which brought many countries into the 20th century, has been rejected over and over again when fundamentalist regimes have taken power. In Afghanistan, the Taliban were allowed to take over, resulting in an extreme form of Islamic oppression. The media – and the current Biden administration – does a poor job of reporting on situations like this. The realities of these events are so far removed from American life that people cannot comprehend the horrors of daily life for people in Afghanistan. Before the fall of Kabul, a poll revealed that 75% of the Afghanistan population hated the Taliban. People who were desperate to leave the country died, trying to get on airplanes leaving the airport.

Terrorism on U.S. soil was not as active under President Trump because he was proactive in preventing it. But in Europe, the media still tends to downplay any connection to radical Islamic terrorism when something happens because of the large numbers of Muslim refugees who have been allowed into European countries.

When an act of radical Islamic terrorism occurs — wherever it occurs — people need to know who did it and why. Trying to sweep it under the rug is just ignoring the problem. For example, the goal of ISIS (and Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and other, lesser-known groups) is to re-establish the caliphate in the Middle East. Although this sounds unrealistic to most people, it is a rallying point for ISIS and these other groups in recruiting new members. Referring back to the glory days of Islamic civilization gives down-trodden, oppressed people pride and hope for the future. ISIS – and these other groups – employs technology experts and does much of its recruiting on the Dark Web. The media does not report on this enough.

In reality, some Muslims DO become radicalized. Some of them DO become involved in violent terrorism. Some Americans have been seduced into joining radical Islamic terrorist groups. The media – and our government – has a responsibility to report fully and truthfully on this. Instead, President Biden plans to send $65 million to the Taliban in Afghanistan under the guise of helping the women and children of this war-torn country. The people will never see a dime of that money. Just like the U.S. military left behind $85 billion of weapons and other military equipment for the Taliban to use, the money will be spent on a terrorist government and terrorist activities. Biden has already allowed unvetted Afghanistanis to leave the country as refugees. Nobody knows how many are actual terrorists in disguise.

When we have politicians like Senator Krysten Sinema encouraging Americans to fight with the Taliban; government officials like John Kerry weaponizing terrorist countries like Iran (the leading country when it comes to financing terrorism); and presidents like Obama and Biden kissing terrorists’ asses, the American people are sitting ducks for violence, torture, and death.

Islamic fundamentalists are bullies. And they don’t care what you and I think about it. They are hate-filled, ideology-driven idealists determined to fulfill a goal – the Islamization of the whole world. Groups in America that became influential under the Obama-Biden regime are the Muslim Brotherhood (a well-known terrorist organization that was given access to the White House on numerous occasions under Obama), CAIR (The Council on American-Islamic Relations), and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). These three groups are all connected.

Are all Muslims terrorists? Of course not, and the good ones should not be confused with the bad ones. But we know who the bad ones are, and it is unacceptable and completely unthinkable that our political leaders are negotiating and doing business with these guys. Even worse, it is total incompetence when the CIA and the FBI become aware of active groups and fail to act. The heads of these organizations should be immediately fired when something happens.

Finally, it is up to the American people to educate themselves and demand change from our own government.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

February 5, 2019; updated September 13, 2021

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

5 Comments »

Giuliani vs. Nagin: How Mayors Respond to Disasters

New York Daily News Photo

Both the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 in New York City and Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005 were major disasters. One was a manmade disaster and the other a natural disaster. In New York City, the damage was contained in Manhattan. But in New Orleans, the damage was widespread and uncontrolled.

On the night of September 11, 2001, Mayor Rudy Giuliani held a press conference to inform citizens of New York City and the entire nation of what happened, the response to the event, and future recovery. He talked about his own experiences during the event and how he and the people with him survived.

Mayor Giuliani presented himself as calm, rational, and confident. He maintained his composure and self-control. He made it clear to the public that everything was under control. He reassured them that everything was okay, and they were safe.

His message was positive and hopeful. He honored the victims and praised the people who had evacuated in a peaceful and civilized manner and helped each other along the way. He emphasized how proud he was of the people and first responders of New York City.

Giuliani became emotional when talking about the first responders and fire and police personnel who died. He asked everyone to pray for the victims and to be grateful that they were alive.

Towards the end of the news conference, he stressed that members of the Muslim community would be protected. He condemned all acts of vigilante violence and retaliation. He asked people who worked in Manhattan to stay home from work.

The mayor projected a feeling of hope, security, and confidence that the U.S. government would deal with the perpetrators and New York City would rebuild and be stronger than before.

Three days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, Mayor Ray Nagin made an impassioned plea on WWL Radio for help. He described the horrific conditions in New Orleans and the lack of response by FEMA and the federal government. His anger and frustration were real. He was clearly traumatized by events.

When I was listening to him, I kept thinking that here is a man who feels powerless. There was apparently no clear chain of command or designated people in authority. Mayor Nagin was there, on the ground, asking for the authority to do something from people who seemed indifferent to the situation. He reminded everyone that FEMA knew about the problems with the pumping stations and did nothing. He wanted to know when the help promised by the federal government was coming. He deplored the fact that valuable resources were being wasted on looters and lawlessness instead of rescuing and helping victims.

At the end of the broadcast, he called on the public to be active in contacting authorities and demanding help for New Orleans. He contrasted the immediate response and aftermath of 9/11 to the lack of response to New Orleans. He was outraged.

Mayor Nagin had every right to be outraged by the slow response to Hurricane Katrina. And maybe his angry message was what it took to get things done.

Authentic History. (Presenter). (2011, January 11). 9/11 news coverage: 10:00 pm: Mayor rudy

       giuliani press conference [Video file]. Retrieved from  

       http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DZw0Q6WUsA.

Froomkin, M. (Presenter). (2005, September 2). Interview with mayor ray nagin of new orleans

       [Audio file]. Retrieved from

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

October 7, 2019

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

3 Comments »

What 9/11 Taught Us about Communications and Social Media


What Happened on September 11, 2001
:

„ At 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City (911 Memorial, 2018).

„ John Murphy, CEO of Oppenheimer Funds, was jogging in Battery Park when he saw the smoke. He assumed that an airplane had inadvertently crashed into the World Trade Center (Argenti, 2002).

„ Mary Beth Bardin, executive vice-president of public affairs and communications at Verizon, was stuck in traffic when she noticed the smoke. She assumed that a building was on fire in downtown Manhattan. When the cab driver turned on the news, she learned that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center (Argenti, 2002).

„ Verizon suffered major communications damage. “The attack knocked out 300,000 voice access lines and 4.5 million data circuits and left ten cellular towers inactive, depriving 14,000 businesses and 20,000 residential customers of service” (Argenti, para. 9, 2002).

„ Communication breakdowns abounded during the emergency response to the attacks on the World Trade Center. 911 operators had no clue of what was actually happening. Orders to evacuate were misunderstood or not received. Telephone lines were jammed with callers. Signals to firefighter radios failed. Public address and intercom systems inside the World Trade Center went out (CBS News, 2004; Sharp, 2011).

„ Confusion and lack of situational awareness led to higher casualties. People in the South Tower were told not to evacuate and to wait for instructions and help from emergency personnel. Others evacuated up, toward the roof, not knowing that they needed a key to get onto the roof (CBS News, 2004).

„ A “long-standing rivalry between the NYPD and FDNY” (CBS News, para. 23, 2004) led to disputes over command authority. Fire and police personnel were using different radio channels and could not communicate with one another (CBS News, 2004; Sharp, 2011). A repeater system installed in the World Trade Center after the 1993 bombing was not completely functional (Sharp, 2011). All of these issues were addressed in the 9/11 Commission Report.

* * *

People in New York City Knew Something was Happening, but They Didn’t Know What!

A lot of Changes have Happened Since 9/11:

Post-9/11, the Department of Homeland Security was created, and a National Incident Management System was established to designate clear lines of authority during disaster events.

„ The role of Communications has evolved.

„ Better technologies have been developed.

„ The rise of Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other social media networks has allowed two-way communication with the public.

„ Emergency managers now hire trained communication specialists to communicate accurate, timely information to the media, community and national leaders, and the public. (Haddow, 2017).

* * *

Why are these Changes Important?

„ New York City now has a state-of-the-art fire department operations center. During a disaster, the FDOC contacts other agencies for help. Personnel report to FDOC senior staff. The department’s incident management teams can be activated. FDOC can access NYPD videos, the Department of Transportation digital photographs, and live videos from media helicopters and ground vehicles. FDOC can monitor, record, and replay radio transmissions from Fire, EMS, NYPD, OEM, and others. FDOC can act as a command center. (Sharp, 2011)

„ FDNY now uses multi-frequency radio systems to communicate with each other and NYPD (Sharp, 2011).

„ Training in National Incident Management System processes is now mandatory to ensure that agencies are working together, using the same language, and sharing information with each other (Sharp, 2011).

„ The changes made in New York City have been duplicated in communities all across the country.

„ Community first responders now have social media sites on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks to educate the public about disaster preparedness; relay accurate, timely information to the public during a disaster event; and help members of the community to register for disaster aid and find relief shelters (Haddow, 2017).

* * *

Use the Internet for Disaster Information:

„ In 2001, YouTube, Google News, Facebook, and Twitter did not exist (Praetorius, 2012).

„ Today, the Internet allows free access to all kinds of information:

„ Social networks like Facebook

„ Blogs like Blogger and WordPress

„ Microblogs like Twitter

„ Crowdsourcing and Forums like LiveJournal

„ Digital Mapping like Google Maps

„ Websites

„ Podcasts and TV and Radio broadcasts

„ Video Sharing like YouTube

„ Photo Sharing like Instagram

„ Wiki sites like Wikipedia (Haddow, 2017).

* * *

Participate with Social Media:

„ “Social media is imperative to emergency management because the public uses these communication tools regularly” (Haddow, p. 171, 2017).

„ Submitting videos, photos, digital maps, and information

„ Receiving information about casualties, injuries, and damage

„ Communicating with friends, family, and co-workers

„ Raising money for disaster relief

„ Learning about preparedness and evacuation routes

„ Receiving guidance, information, and moral support

„ Learning how to find relief shelters and registering for aid

„ Access to FEMA information

„ Access to press conferences and local news (Haddow, 2017).

* * *

Summing it all Up:

„ “The mission of an effective disaster communication strategy is to provide timely and accurate information to the public in all four phases of emergency management” (Haddow, p. 162, 2017).

„ “Information sharing is the basis of effective disaster communications” (Haddow, p. 191, 2017).

(This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC By-NC-ND)

* * *

Honor the Heroes!

(This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC By-NC-ND)

View the Power Point Presentation on Dropbox:

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

October 7, 2019

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

References

911Memorial. (2018). 9/11 Memorial Timeline. Retrieved from http://www.timeline.911memorial.org/#FrontPage.

Argenti, P. (2002, December). Crisis communication: Lessons from

9/11. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://www.hbr.org/2002/12/crisis-communication-lessons-

from-911.

Associated Press. (2004, May). Communication breakdown on

9/11. CBS News. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/communication- breakdown-on-9-11.

Haddow, G.D., Bullock, J.A., & Coppola, D.P. (2017). Introduction to emergency management. (6th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Elsevier.

Praetorius, D. (2012, November). How social media would have changed new york on 9/11. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/social-media-9-11-new-York_b_ 1872764.

Sharp, K. (2011, September). Interoperability & other lessons from 9/11.

       Public Safety Communications. Retrieved from https://psc.apcointl.org/2011/09/06/911-10-years-later

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