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Mason Professors Offer Insights in Aftermath of Paris Tragedy

November 16, 2015

Friday’s terror attacks on Paris have shaken the world. To understand what happened and why—as well as what is likely to take place next—George Mason University offers expert analysis from an academic perspective.

Audrey Kurth Cronin, director of the School of Policy, Government and International Affairs’ international security program, told NPR’s “All Things Considered”: “One of the reasons why [ISIS] has the horrendous violence that it has is that they believe that the apocalypse is near. And if we have a large number of Western troops on the ground, that can feed right into their narrative.”

David Alpher, who teaches at Mason’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, says a policy of “ ‘crush them’ is doomed to fail. It’s the long-term governance, peacebuilding and development work that has the only realistic long-term chance.”

Alpher also suggests world leaders “look at where ISIS’s weaponry came from…The ability to carry out attacks like this is in part due to the global inundation with small arms and light weapons.”

An academic studying immigration politics, Justin Gest spent a year embedded in European Muslim communities for a book, “Apart: Alienated and Engaged Muslims in the West.” Gest is a professor at Mason’s School of Policy, Government and International Affairs.

“Depending on the nature of [France’s] response [to the attacks], French Muslims, particularly their inclusion in French society, may not recover.”

Jamil Jaffer is director of Mason’s Homeland and National Security Law program at Mason’s School of Law and an adjunct professor. He is former chief counsel and senior advisor for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

“In light of the Paris attacks and the ongoing threat to the West posed by terrorist groups of global reach, we here in the United States must take a close look at our legal authorities and ensure that we are doing all we can under existing law to collect and analyze intelligence about threats to us and our allies,” Jaffer said. “In particular, given the growing threat, we must look at any self-imposed limitations, whether from executive or legislative branch, and determine whether those need to be changed or modified as we look to find the right balance between privacy and security.”

Richard Rubenstein is a professor at Mason’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution and is widely known as a leader in the study of violent social conflict. His most recent book is “Reasons to Kill: Why Americans Choose War.”

“ [A]n organization like the Islamic State, as cruel and murderous as it is, offers oppressed and alienated people not only employment but also a collective cause: the opportunity to defend fellow Sunni Muslims and their culture against wealthy, powerful and corrupt aggressors,” Rubenstein said. “It is perfectly fine to express horror and outrage over the atrocities committed by these jihadists against people they consider heretics and against artworks they consider pagan. But to the extent that Western powers fail to recognize the systemic dimensions of this conflict – to the extent that they continue to choose sides, arm their clients and attempt to impose their own will on the region – they sabotage any possibility of nonviolent conflict resolution.”

For more information:

Reach Cronin at
Reach Alpher at
Reach Gest at
Reach Jaffer at; 703-993-5620.
Reach Rubenstein at

Media Contact: Buzz McClain Manager, Strategic Communications, 703-993-8782,

About George Mason University

George Mason is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls nearly 34,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the last half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility.