Towards a Theory of Homeland Security

In an imagined four-part conversation with Christopher Bellavita a number of participants explore the meaning of “theory,” the extent to which homeland security draws on theories from other disciplines, and how having a single theory might (or might not) strengthen the academic discipline. At the heart of this conversation are several important questions that need to be answered. Finally, is a “theory” of homeland security really necessary?   This Homeland Security Journal article can be downloaded from:

After 9/11, Neil Smelser was invited to contribute to various panels on terrorism established by the National Academies, and he took the view that social scientists ought to offer fresh approaches that sidestep partisan political debates. The resulting book is valuable not only because of Smelser's shrewd judgments but also because he draws on such a wide literature -- including on issues related to a range of radical political movements and on the factors that allow these movements to prosper or become discouraged. A couple of nice touches are his use of personal experiences to illuminate key issues and his identification of a number of "entrapments," apparently intractable debates in which analysis can get snarled up -- for example, the debate over the tradeoffs between fighting terrorism and protecting civil liberties. More information about this book can be accessed at:

The Center for Civil Military Relations (CCMR) at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA has been building US partner nation capacity in governments, on issues related to terrorism, since 1994. Paul Shemella is both the program manager for the Combating Terrorism Fellowship Program at CCMR and the editor for this volume. Shemella has put together an impressive array of subject matter experts from CCMR faculty to address the question of how a government can “fight back” against terrorism in Fighting Back: What Governments Can Do About Terrorism.   This  also provides an interesting summary of the literature on terrorism.  The full review review of Paul Shemella’s book by David Brannan including comprehensive links to a bibliography of terrorism literature, was published in the Homeland Security Journal, and can be accessed at: