Richard J. Chasdi, Corporate Security Crossroads: Responding to Terrorism, Cyberthreats, and Other Hazards in the Global Business Environment. (Praeger, Santa Barbara, CA, 2018),
Reviewed Dr. Robert Martyn.
Richard Chasdi has produced a well-informed work, which underscores the need for business and government entities to understand the political, cultural, and economic environments in which they operate, particularly when in foreign countries. This is a complex undertaking but it is a growing security necessity. Corporations increasingly provide attractive targets, being softer objectives than hardened government or military targets. In light of the media attention such attacks can garner, they also provide symbolic importance. They can also provide potential resources from ransom money to technological skills.
The book contains useful insights for a broad spectrum of readership. The main audience would seem to be CEOs and security officials for multinational corporations and government foreign policy officials. Yet his methodology will appeal to political scientists and statisticians, as will his study of ‘lone wolf’ terrorists attract psychologists and sociologists. As such, the book provides value in several fields.
The research is logically organized, leading with an outline of multinational companies’ particular risks, followed by two noteworthy historical case studies of terrorist attacks. A minor point, but personally, I would have preferred a more varied selection. While the attacks were different, the two chosen are both drawn from Africa. Growing business and political interests in South- and East-Asia may have benefitted from an example from those regions. The author then offers options for addressing issues of terrorism as well as industrial espionage and other criminal activities. In addition to an exceptionally fulsome citation and note section, the book concludes with two appendices, Terrorist Business Targeting Preferences, and ‘Lone Wolf’ Terrorist Data. A personal dislike here is the very term “lone wolf”; the term confers a noble image, which benefits the terrorists, and is often a misnomer in that a significant percentage of such lone actors have been more ‘stray mutt’ claiming conversion to some cause than ‘lone wolf.’
The underlying model throughout the book is a clearly-understood neo-realist three-level analysis, consisting of the international political system, nation-state level, and individual/small group actors. Factors being considered will be seen within and across all three levels. This allows readers to see broad, general trends and threats, which set the background for more specific issues. As such, in conjunction with the mathematical modeling previously mentioned, it can be applied readily to numerous other terrorist examples. This simplifies and benefits follow-on research by the security-focused audience for their particular circumstances, as well as academics.
He also provides value by including charts and matrices throughout the text. While offering thorough explanatory material for these illustrations, it is obvious that these would prove useful in briefing non-experts in this field. Such visual references, for example, include a radicalization type continuum of criminal (greed) to terrorist (grievance), financial/political matrix for incident tabulation, lone wolf traits, employee vetting procedures, etc.
In addition to the familiar kinetic terrorist attacks, he notes the changing dynamic presented by the virtual world that challenges traditional conflict management notions, such as deterrence, compellence, and balance of power calculations. Daily news stories featuring online hacking, data losses, election interference proliferate, etc, suggest that such concerns, and potential responses, are very well-founded.
The recommended response is robust and active public-private partnerships, based on such foresight analysis that he describes. Such an evaluation can provide intervention points where terrorist of criminal threats can be neutralized if recognized and acted upon. This is reminiscent of “The Staircase to Terrorism” model from Georgetown University’s Fathali Moghaddam, in which terrorism prevention is stressed by providing exits to potentially radicalizing individuals as they adopt more extremist behaviours.[i]
In addition to emphasizing the requirement for understanding a situation’s particular criminal and terrorist threats, he offers practical suggestions. This includes building redundancies, shortening supply chains, and perhaps most importantly, cooperating with similar businesses to reduce the costs and efforts of corporate intelligence and security.
As noted, my issues with this book are minimal, bordering on pedantic. While I often despair that public policy on Security Intelligence is a dialogue of the deaf, Professor Chasdi’s research provides a very useful guidebook towards the way ahead. It remains with CEOs and security officials to ask the right questions and be willing to respond effectively to the answers presented.
[i] Fathali M. Moghaddam, “The Staircase to Terrorism: A Psychological Exploration.” American Psychologist, Vol 60, No 2 (February-March 2005), 161-169.
Robert Martyn, PhD, is affiliated with Queen’s University’s Centre for International and Defence Policy, as well as the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research. He has taught history and politics courses at the Royal Military College of Canada, Canadian Forces College, and Queen’s University. His previous military career included tours of Cyprus, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, as well as jumping from airplanes at every opportunity.