Peter Bergen, Vice President, Director, International Security, Future of War, and Fellows Programs at New America
Moderated by Walter Andersen, South Asia Studies Program, Johns Hopkins SAIS

October 18, 2016

Peter Bergen, journalist, author, and documentary producer came to campus to share insights from his career of reporting on terrorism and national security. The discussion was video-linked with a live audience at National Defence University in Islamabad, Pakistan.  

Providing an overview of the fight against ISIS, Bergen argued that the terror group is not the cause of the problems in the Middle East but a symptom of greater issues that will be much harder to resolve. According to Bergen, the underlying issues include: sectarian strife between Sunni and Shia Muslims being fueled by the deep pockets of regional powers; the collapse of governments in the Middle East and North Africa; the largest wave of immigration coming out of the Middle East since World War II; disenfranchisement of Muslims in Europe; and the rise of nationalist political parties across Europe. These issues must be addressed if viable solutions to Middle East instability are to be realized, Bergen said. 

Bergen also shared an update on the status of the fight against ISIS. At the time of this presentation, Iraqi forces had begun an assault on the ISIS-controlled city of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. ISIS forces have been significantly reduced, its recruitment numbers are as low as 50 per month, and the terror group is on the verge of losing control of its last big city in Iraq, Bergen said.