How to rise above the war your government waged

You are not your government. An Iraqi is not theirs. Is it time to retune your perspective?

Politics & Current Affairs

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.

Former CIA Operative Reveals How to Overcome 3 Roots of Terrorism

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.

Politics & Current Affairs

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.

Keep reading Show less

Russia and AI: Why Global Election Tampering Will Only Get Worse

Which country influences foreign elections the most? An extensive dataset of every election from 1946 to now has the answer.

Culture & Religion

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.

Keep reading Show less

Raised Racist: How David Duke's Godson Decided to Oppose White Nationalism

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.

Politics & Current Affairs

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.