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Victor Asal Speaks About Terrorism In Moscow: A Synopsis

Victor Asal, Ph.D., a 2005 attendee of the Summer Workshop On Teaching about Terrorism (SWOTT), was recently invited to speak at Moscow State University as an expert on terrorism in addition to talking to faculty and teaching students about research possibilities.

Dr. Asal’s talks in Moscow focused on suicide terrorism, ethnic terrorism, and using simulations to teach international affairs. The audiences for the lectures were “extremely receptive.” The issue of terrorism is a tremendous problem for the Russians, particularly as far as the Chechen problems are concerned. Dr. Asal feels that the Russians hold a “healthy skepticism about American interests.” While in Moscow, Dr. Asal mentioned SWOTT to the Russians, and several expressed interest in attending.

When asked whether he considered anything to be unique about the problems Russia faces with terrorism, Dr. Asal expressed his concern that Russia has a very serious problem. Russia is "one of the countries most seriously threatened by the potential for mass casualty and CBI terrorism and they know it." Many Chechens are hostile to Russia, many of them have served in the Russian military and speak the language fluently. This is a "very serious problem!" The state's response to terrorism "has been largely one of repression. It has not been extraordinarily effective" because the Russian defense system has a problem with corruption. Also, a lot of antipathy exists in Chechnya and the Russian border is not nearly as secure as it needs to be.

On his experience last summer at SWOTT, Dr. Asal feels that it “made me much more informed and it has also given me a network of people I have been consulting with on a regular basis.” While lecturing in Moscow, Dr. Asal gave the example of the simulation Dr. Stephen Shellman runs to teach about international relations. Dr. Asal was very positive about his experience at the SWOTT and said he was “certainly sending students and colleagues.”

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