As digital technologies rapidly grow and the use of the Internet expands, so do the risks that accompany it. Cyber security capacity building efforts thus have become a priority, not only for governments, but also for the private sector and civil society around the world.
Since September 11, the U.S. government has overseen a massive expansion in Pentagon-funded aid to foreign security forces, moving from $800 million in FY 2001 to more than $10.8 billion in FY 2015. However, a string of reports and articles over the past year have highlighted serious concerns with these efforts.
On September 21, 2013, four gunmen affiliated with Somalia’s al-Shabaab entered a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, and began shooting. Kenyan special forces units were on the scene within hours – troops that the United States had spent millions to equip and train, and who were considered the cream of the African counterterrorism crop – but they took two full days to flush out the terrorists, and then spent the next two looting the mall.
In the past few months, major news outlets have highlighted the massive failures of U.S. security assistance efforts to combat terrorism in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. With these failures, a key question is whether or not the United States should increase or decrease the use of security cooperation for U.S. counterterrorism efforts.
On October 22, Ambassador Kurt Volker, Director of the McCain Institute, led a debate, asking the question, “Should U.S. Foreign Assistance be Tied to Human Rights?” The focus of the event touched broadly on a range of U.S. assistance and sought to determine what role human rights considerations should play in cutting off or releasing that assistance.