New UT journal informs policymakers, public on national security

Maria Mendez

National security concerns such as terrorist attacks or North Korean nuclear missiles often make headlines, but in-depth analysis is often missing from national security conversations, according to a new UT publication.

Hoping to bridge discussion gaps between national security scholars, policymakers and the general public, the UT System, UT Austin’s Clements Center for National Security, and UT Austin’s Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law launched the new Texas National Security Review journal last week.

“I think it’s more important now than ever to know what we’re talking about,” said William Inboden, the editor-in-chief of the journal. “We want to be featuring articles looking at the deeper trends driving North Korea’s behavior … and their efforts to threaten the United States.”

The online and print journal will include articles by national security scholars. Inboden said the mission of the journal focuses on making peer-reviewed national security articles understandable for policymakers and the public rather than just for scholars.

“We want the (articles) to be relatively free of jargon and accessible to people who are non-specialists,” Inboden said.

Paul Miller, a member of the editorial board, said right now many policymakers only read news articles, overlooking the work of national security scholars in academic journals.

“If you ask policymakers or elected officials what they read, they’re not going to cite a single academic journal,” Miller said. “We want to bring the best of scholarship to the policymakers.”

In collaboration with War on the Rocks, a national security commentary website, the journal will also present articles written by national security and military professionals.

Ryan Evans, editor-in-chief of War on the Rocks, said since journalists must cover multiple national security concerns, highlighting the voices of national security experts is important for preventing dangerous misinformation.

“Journalists are often the ones mediating between the public and these experts, but I also think it’s important for experts to have a direct channel to the outside world,” Evans said. “We should rely on people that have these experiences to inform the policies we make.”

With constantly developing national security threats, Inboden said it’s important to not only focus on daily security headlines. For Inboden, a historian, analyzing the past can help provide insights to combat the growing number of threats, including jihadist terrorism, uncooperative states such as Iran and North Korea and the possibility of disease pandemics.

“We want the journal to be speaking to the longer term and systemic national security issues facing the world,” Inboden said.

Inboden said in order to analyze all these issues, the interdisciplinary journal will publish articles by scholars of any discipline that are working on national security research. Scholars and professionals from outside the UT System and Texas will be regularly featured.

Having the journal based in Texas helps remove the political clutter in Washington D.C., Miller said.

“Getting outside of the D.C. Beltway helps us avoid hyper-partisanship in D.C., and it helps us get more perspective and not get caught up in the daily headlines,” Miller said.

The journal is an initiative of UT System Chancellor William McRaven’s Texas National Security Network, which brings together the work of researchers at all UT universities and institutions. The institutions specialize in different fields of national security research.

“It raises the profile of Texas, and for UT students it raises the profile of the education they’re getting,” Miller said.