The Thin Veneer of Civilization

On Tuesday, September 25, former General Michael Hayden spoke to a packed audience in 10-250; an event entitled "Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in An Age of Lies" which is also the title of Hayden’s new book. Both the former Director of the CIA (2006-2009) and the NSA (1999-2005), Hayden has never been known as a liberal political figure. However, the current crisis in American politics has spurred him to research and write “Assault on Intelligence”, a scathing analysis of the current president and his administration. As he said at the end of the event, “Please remember: This is not normal. None of this is normal.”  and he urged everyone in the audience to do all they could to promote truth, live in a fact-based reality and stay engaged. 

At the beginning of his talk, Hayden spoke about gazing at the Sarajevo cityscape during the Balkan War. As he surveyed the devastation of that beautiful city, it forcefully struck him: civilization is a very, very thin veneer that can easily be damaged and destroyed. He fears that this could be the fate of the United States if the current direction of this country continues.

As we begin our October series on the 2018 Elections, we will examine a number of crucial issues facing our democracy.  On October 3, we welcome Dr. Suzanne Mello-Stark, a computer science professor at Rhode Island College. She is an advisor to the Rhode Island Board of Elections and a current member of Congressman James Langevin’s cybersecurity advisory board.  Her research focuses on digital forensics, cryptography, security and networking implementations in current election technologies. In a recent, extensive piece on US election security published in the NY Times, the author, Kim Zetter writes,  “There are roughly 350,000 voting machines in use in the country today, all of which fall into one of two categories: optical-scan machines or direct-recording electronic machines. Each of them suffers from significant security problems.” We look forward to Dr. Mello-Stark exploring this complex topic with us.


On October 10, Mary Anne Marsh, a principal with the Dewey Square Group, will discuss the role of women in the upcoming election, both as candidates and voters. Hundreds of articles and hundreds of thousands of words have been written about this election and women. Ms. Marsh brings a wealth of experience and expertise to help us analyze the whys and hows of this election. Throughout her career, she has advised national grassroots organizations regarding their public policy campaigns, and served in senior roles on the campaigns of Senator John Kerry, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and Massachusetts State Treasurer Shannon O’Brien. 

In addition to these two important programs in the next 10 days, Radius is also hosting a panel discussion on the trade war between China and the US and what consequences that conflict will have on our democracy. This program takes place at 5pm on Wednesday, October 10. Panelists will include Daron Acemoglu, the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics and co-author of "Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty. Radius Steering Committee member and Political Science Professor Nazli Chourci will bring her expertise and knowledge of international relations and political economy to her role as moderator. 

Please join us! For full descriptions of all three programs and the full semester line-up, please go to our Programs page.