You are not your government. An Iraqi is not theirs. Is it time to retune your perspective?
How does the world view American citizens? It might actually surprise you. Amaryllis Fox is a former CIA clandestine operative who grew up in the developing world and who has spent most of her career so far in foreign countries. "What continues to surprise me in every conversation I have, in each country I go to, is how sophisticated people are at separating the American citizen from the American government." You are not your government, just as an Iraqi is not theirs. That is a humanizing realization that is incredibly powerful for the everyday citizen, and even more so for veterans who have been trained in detachment, inside the military-industrial complex. Fox's organization Operation Zoe brings veterans back into their old theaters of war and uses their unique military skill set for humanitarian missions, like rebuilding homes, youth centers, and health clinics with local townspeople. "There’s a real magic to it when you recognize yourself in someone else," Fox says. Whether you grow up in an autocracy or a democracy, there is often very little say for citizens in the actions of their government. Your perspective on others and personal actions, however, are entirely in your hands.
How do you spot terrorism before it happens? Look for patterns in what might seem like unlikely places. Like the living wage of a border guard.
Amaryllis Fox knows how to spot something 99.999% of people can't spot: acts of terrorism before they happen. She's whittled it down to a near-science just by observing some key elements in local communities and how they tie in to unrest at large. For instance, if there's a lot of hookah bars and madrases in one area there's likely to be conflict between the old and the younger generations, which further down the line can lead to unrest. And something as simple as keeping tabs on the living wage of a border guard—think the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan—could be a good indicator of spotting a potential bribe. With an eye (and a mind) for things like this, Fox shows why these small conditions are indicators of unrest sometimes months and years before they happen in the news.
Which country influences foreign elections the most? An extensive dataset of every election from 1946 to now has the answer.
There was an appropriately great deal of outrage surrounding the "Russian hacking" of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, but that was by no means the first time a government has tampered with a foreign country's change of power. As former CIA operative Amaryllis Fox explains, there is large historical database compiled by Dov Levin at Carnegie Mellon University which contains covert and overt cases of direct election meddling between 1946 and 2000—a dataset that does not even include coups and other attempts at regime changes. What may or may not (at all) be surprising to most people is that 11% of all global elections in that time frame had interference from the U.S. and Russia, and in 70% of those instances it was the U.S. pulling the strings—for example, the 2000 Serbian election, in which the U.S. funded and supported the opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica against human-rights violator Slobodan Milošević. There is a tense point at which legality and ethics clash, and Fox states that in some cases it may actually be irresponsible for a world power not to intervene in an election. Of course, everyone believes their cause is worthy, so which interferences are seen as "noble" as opposed to criminal can be subjective. What is much more certain is that technology is changing nations' ability to tamper with elections significantly. Fox explains a few key methods—from information warfare to AI developments—and will leave positions of power more vulnerable to outside influence in the future. She holds onto the idea of integrity however, and hopes that notion is not completely of a bygone era.
As a teenager, Derek Black was the webmaster for Stormfront, the Internet's most prominent message board for white nationalists. But Black escaped that world thanks to an unlikely ally.
As a teenager, Derek Black was the webmaster for Stormfront, the Internet's most prominent message board for white nationalists. The reason? His father created the site and needed technical assistance. As a result, Derek was indoctrinated to hate non-whites. Derek became so bonded to the white nationalist community that he became the godson of David Duke, outspoken racist and founder of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. But Derek escaped that world thanks to an unlikely ally: a Jewish community that consistently invited him to Shabbat. Derek came to realize that the hatred he'd been taught was a lie. The lesson, says former CIA clandestine operator Amaryllis Fox, is that counter-terrorism tactics regularly used abroad against enemies of the United States, i.e. exposing them to the truth, can be used effectively against its own internal enemies.
Amaryllis Fox is a Former CIA Clandestine Service Officer, writer, television host and peace activist. Before attending university, she traveled to the Thai-Burmese border to volunteer in the Mai Laa refugee camp and worked with the Burmese democracy movement and eventually interviewing Aung San Suu Kyi for the BBC, which landed her a brief stint in Burmese prison at the age of 18, but also resulted in the first radio broadcast from Suu Kyi in almost a year.
In 2002, after extensive field work in East Timor and Bosnia, Amaryllis graduated from Oxford with an honors degree and started graduate work in international security at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. There she developed an algorithm to predict terrorist activity under thesis advisor Dan Byman, a leading thinker on terrorism and US security policy. Asked by the University's CIA Officer in Residence, Dallas Jones, to share the algorithm with the Agency, she began work as a political and terrorism analyst for SE Asia, commuting between Langley and Georgetown to finish her degree with honors. Following graduation, she moved into CIA's Directorate of Operations and deployed as a Clandestine Service officer, focused on counterterrorism and counterproliferation. She served in 16 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, before leaving government service in 2010.
Following her CIA career in the field, Amaryllis has used her coding abilities and international experience to build projects in support of international development and has covered current events and offered analysis for CNN, National Geographic, al Jazeera, BBC, and other global news outlets. She speaks at events and universities around the world on the topic of peacemaking and her videos about dialogue and nonviolence have been viewed over 120 million times online. She is the co-host of the History Channel series American Ripper and lives in San Francisco, CA, with her daughter Zoë.