Jessica Stern

Archive for the ‘Op-Ed’ Category

Brief Interviews with Hideous Terrorists

In News, Op-Ed on April 26, 2013 at 2:28 pm

A few times, I have felt myself in the presence of true evil. At those times, I learned what it means to have the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It’s not just an expression. It happened to me when I met with a leader who recruited cannon fodder for his “jihad,” and on a few other occasions in the last couple decades that I’ve spent interviewing terrorists to learn why they do what they do. But, more often, the evil I’ve witnessed has been banal. I have found myself able to understand the mistaken moral logic that can turn a boy into a terrorist.

Here’s a surprising thing. Almost everywhere — in Pakistan, in Indonesia, in Texas — terrorists offer you tea. Sometimes a full meal.

Otherwise, they are quite different from one another. Their motivations vary — from irredentism, to pleasing the God they claim to worship, to cleansing the Earth of the mud-people that contaminate the world of purity in their minds. Some live in war zones with grievances that are easy for outsiders to grasp; for others, living in the cushy West, the war that is taking place is principally in their own minds, often over identity. Some are paid, some are blackmailed. Some are recruited, and some recruit themselves to their own holy war, whether at home or far away.

Read Jessica’s article on talking with terrorists in Foreign Policy.

Iraq: Where Terrorists Go to School

In News, Op-Ed on April 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm

The costs of the terrorism inspired by the war include much more than the number, however horrifying, of lives lost. The terrorists who have been drawn to Iraq since 2003 and survived have been battle-hardened after fighting the most sophisticated military in history, often working together with former officials from Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime. They have developed expertise in counterintelligence, gunrunning, forgery and smuggling. Smuggling routes and alliances that moved terrorists and supplies into Iraq during the height of the war, in 2006-7, have been reversed, allowing fighters and supplies to flow into neighboring countries, particularly Syria, now in its third year of civil war.

Read Jessica’s article in The New York Times.

The Costs of the Moral Injury to Our Troops Fighting the Wars on Terrorism

In News, Op-Ed on February 28, 2013 at 3:00 am

Those who volunteer to defend their country know they are putting their lives at risk.  But the troops and their families are only just beginning to understand the extent to which they are putting their mental health at risk.  As we get better at keeping wounded warriors alive, we need to get better, and more serious, about developing tools for healing the injuries to the mind and brain that are often at least as destructive as more visible wounds.

Read Jessica’s Op-Ed at the Hoover Institution website.

Osama Death Will Reopen America’s 9/11 Wound

In Op-Ed on May 2, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Bin Laden’s death will remind America of everything it has sacrificed in the decade since 9/11—making the moment not only an opportunity to rejoice, but a time to grieve what the nation has irretrievably lost. Read Jessica’s full op-ed on The Daily Beast.

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Muslims in America

In Op-Ed on April 19, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Congressman Peter King has had quite a lot to say about Muslims in America—much of it seemingly inflammatory.

The congressman is right about the growing threat of violent Muslim extremism. The problem is he mischaracterizes the source. American mosques are not at the heart of the threat any more than is the Muslim community. Just as there is a difference between those who oppose abortion on religious grounds and those who target and kill abortion providers, there is a difference between the Muslim community and Muslim terrorists. But it is also wrong to claim, as some have suggested, that because they are greater in number and commit more crimes, white-supremacist and antigovernment groups pose more of a threat to national security than do Muslim extremists. Indeed, it is precisely because the threat of violent Muslim extremism is so serious that Mr. King’s rhetoric is so dangerous.

Read Jessica’s Op-Ed in the May-June edition of The National Interest.

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Jessica writes on rape in the US military

In Op-Ed on March 9, 2011 at 3:34 pm

This is an excerpt of the op-ed Jessica published on The Washington Post calling for the US military to take a harder line against sexual assault:

The Pentagon has taken steps to reduce the frequency of rape: It created the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office in 2005 with the goal of implementing prevention programs across the services. (A Government Accountability Office assessment of these efforts in 2008 suggested the military has only “limited visibility” over such incidents.) In 2009 it established a task force to study the issue and make recommendations.

But the military is still not making available accurate statistics about the extent of the problem or the services and benefits that survivors have received, so progress is difficult to measure. The Service Women’s Action Network and the ACLU filed suit in December, demanding that these data be released.

Sexual assault is associated with high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder in men and women and an even higher rate of PTSD than that reported by men after exposure to combat, according to the VA’s Iraq War Clinician Guide. Soldiers who experience sexual assault are also at higher risk of PTSD than civilians.

Read the entire op-ed here.
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44 rapes were preventable

In Denial, Op-Ed on June 21, 2010 at 2:11 am

Amy Vorenberg (The Boston Globe) observes that the 44 rapes mentioned in Denial: A Memoir of Terror were preventable. Read about it and her revelation about being girl number 12 in Jessica’s memoir.

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Why terror “fascinates” Jessica

In News, Op-Ed on June 21, 2010 at 2:02 am

Jessica writes on the Washington Post (June 20, 2010) about how the terror of her past helped her understand terrorism now.

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Op-Ed Piece in The Washington Post

In Op-Ed, Other Writing on January 31, 2010 at 2:40 pm

Read 5 Mthys About Who Becomes a Terrorist, a January 10, 2010 Op-Ed in The Washington Post.

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