Frances Townsend joins Cameron Munter to discuss the U.S. approach to counterterrorism and homeland security under the Trump administration and in the context of a polarized political environment. Topics highlighted include new vulnerabilities in cybersecurity, domestic terrorism, diplomacy with Iran and the U.S. relationship with China and Russia.
"There are new vulnerabilities now, and they revolve around infrastructure and our cyber world, the Internet," says Townsend. "It took us too long to approach cyber as a separate domain—it's both an avenue of attack, it's a threat and vulnerability, and it's a wartime domain, just like air, sea and land—but it took the United States, in terms of the policy maker, a while to think if it that way because the Internet came to us as an economic engine, and we didn't really understand it could also be a weapon of war."
Turning towards U.S. diplomacy, Townsend says "the extent we withdraw and turn only to our domestic issues and don't show leadership, we ought to expect—just as Russia did with Syria—that China and Russia will assert themselves in areas where we [the U.S.] have been the dominant influence."
Frances Townsend is currently the Senior Vice President of Worldwide Government, Legal and Business Affairs at MacAndrews and Forbes Holdings, Inc. An expert on global security issues, she served as Assistant to President George W. Bush for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and also chaired the Homeland Security Council. She is also President of the Counter Extremism Project.