Meet Bruce Hoffman
Bruce Hoffman firmly believes that we tend to underestimate our adversaries. "As memories of 9/11 recede, I fear that we may become complacent," he admits. "What scares me about September 11th is not the obvious—though that was terrifying enough, three thousand people dying in such a short amount of time. What truly keeps me up at night is that in less than 90 minutes, a group of terrorists irreparably altered the course of history."
Many SFS students today share Hoffman's fears and have come to study terrorism for reasons quite similar to those which drew Hoffman to the topic during his first week of college in September 1972, when terrorists attacked the Munich Olympics. Even years later, during his PhD studies at Oxford University, Hoffman found that his classmates were more concerned with strategic issues like nuclear deterrence than they were with terrorism. It was his observation, however, that “for the most part, it was terrorism that was actually killing people, not states with nuclear weapons.” Hoffman would go on to publish Inside Terrorism in 1998, which the Washington Post described as “brilliant” and “the best one volume introduction to the phenomenon.”
Today, Hoffman does not believe that everything can be boiled down to "just 9/11—it's about Iraq, it's about Afghanistan, it's about insurgencies and terrorism all around the world." When Hoffman left his position as the Corporate Chair in Counterterrorism and Counterinsurgency at the RAND Corporation and Director of RAND's Washington D.C. office to come to SFS as a full-time tenured professor in the security studies program, it was to work further with students who "are particularly invested in issues of terrorism and counterterrorism because they are not only students, but practitioners... You see students not only in class, but around Washington in the offices of government agencies, think tanks and NGOs or at events relevant to the field—not only in the audience but up on stage speaking themselves, because that’s their day job.”
"I believe very strongly," Hoffman remarked, "that we have to be aware of the hidden costs of terrorist attacks to us as a society—the creeping paranoia, the surreptitious xenophobia—or we may find ourselves in a national state of mind that we are powerless