Dr. Palarino

Dr. R. Nicholas Palarino Visits the Potomac Institute

On Monday, June 29, the Center for Revolutionary Scientific Thought hosted Dr. Nicholas Palarino for a discussion on the threat of Islamic fundamentalism.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice has stated that "while the dangers we face may be more numerous and varied, they are not of the existential nature of what we confronted during World War II or during the Cold War,” touching off a debate over whether Islamic fundamentalism is an existential threat to the United States. 

Discussing what the spread of ISIL and Islamic fundamentalism means for the U.S., Dr. Palarino argued that currently the United States' “physical or governmental existence” is not threatened by the spread of Islamic fundamentalism. Despite this, it is indeed a threat to our citizens and our allies abroad. To be considered an existential threat, Palarino argued there must to be two existing components: intention and capability. He compared recent threats from Muslim fundamentalists to what the Nazis were to the Jews, the Soviet Union was to the US, and what Iran is to Israel.

Dr. Palarino explained the roots of Islamic fundamentalism and the belief that the Islamic State is a rebirth of the caliphate, an all-Muslim state governed by Sharia Law. After an overview of the recent prominent terrorist leaders, he described how the Islamic State and al-Qaeda are spreading into countries throughout the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. “The more barbaric acts of terrorism, the more recruits the Islamic fundamentalist movement gets.”

Dr. Palarino argued that the increase in lone wolf attacks and violent extremists abroad undeniably pose a significant threat to our citizens, but not to our existence as a sovereign state. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies can actively pursue suspected terrorists, but Palarino argued that the U.S. needs a real strategy to prevent the spread of Islamic fundamentalism.

Dr. Palarino’s remarks will be published as part of a larger report soon to be released by the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

Please see also our most recent CReST blog, A Weapon of Mass Destruction is Growing in the Middle East, which provides the counterargument that ISIL and Islamic fundamentalism do constitute an existential threat to the United States.

Dr. R. Nicholas Palarino Biography

Dr. Palarino served as the Deputy Staff Director in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security from 2012-2014. In this position, Dr. Palarino implemented committee objectives, strategies, investigation, and oversight of government agencies related to national and homeland security issues while acting as the chairman’s policy advisor. Additionally, in 2011 he served as the Staff Director for the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security. In his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, Dr. Palarino developed and conducted numerous Congressional Delegations to overseas locations to include the Middle East and Southeast Asia. In 2010, Dr. Palarino served as Senior Investigator for the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs where he oversaw the Committee’s international affairs operations and conducted a comprehensive investigation of how government agencies coordinate counter-terrorism efforts. In 2009, Dr. Palarino served as the Country Director for the International Republican Institute in Pakistan, where he developed and implemented strategies for political party capacity-building, coalition-building, political polling and voter education activities. From 2000-2008, he served as a Senior Policy Analyst, Staff Director, and Senior Investigator for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, where he reviewed government agencies and programs including the DoD, State, Homeland Security, and CIA, focusing on national security issues such as homeland security, counterterrorism, Iraq and Afghanistan reconstruction, arms control, technology transfer, and force protection. As the Director of Policy, Security, and Technology Analysis at Veridian/Pacific-Sierra Research Corporation from 1988-2000, he provided consulting services to the Departments of State and Defense and the Intelligence Community on national security issues including counter proliferation, arms control policy, treaty implementation and counter measures, counterterrorism, and technology transfer.

Prior to his involvement in Congress, Dr. Palarino served in the U.S. Army from 1966-1988 and retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. While in the Army he held positions including Joint Chiefs of Staff Representative to the CSCE, Special Assistant to the Deputy Director for International Negotiations, JCS Strategic Policy Planner, and Deputy Special Adviser to the President and Secretary of State for Arms Control Matters and as a helicopter pilot engaged in combat operations with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. Dr. Palarino currently teaches on the history of terrorism, current threats, and the future of terrorism as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University.

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