“Thanks for all that you have done so far, this has truly been a great experience for me. I think that the first day was one of my favorites, particularly the sessions with Roger [Pilon] and Dr. Spalding. I have just recently gotten my feet wet in the world of political philosophy, and am seeing its importance more and more in how the foundations of thinking, and of our institutions, can help us to make prudent decisions. Perhaps blame for not fully understanding these key concepts rests fully with me, though I do wish my education incorporated more of a base for which to build on, as opposed to trying to drink from a firehose with no intellectual grounding. While I came to this conference looking for many answers, I ended the first week with even more questions than I started with. I do see the value in that because I, on one hand, now know of a lot of material that I wish to read up on. On the other hand, having unanswered questions is more comforting now that I’ve heard the experts say time and time again that they also do not know , which provides a weird feeling of both comfort and ambition.
Those are some of my general thoughts so far, but in terms of individual sessions, apart from the two mentioned above, I really enjoyed Jack Dziak for his insight into intelligence competition with the Soviet Union, and the still present Russian operations, which are not entirely dissimilar from the KGB’s. Another session that stuck with me is Ilan Berman. He came across as incredibly knowledgeable on not just on his issues, but also on issues around the world. The lesson that I learned from him is the difference that travel can make on one’s understanding of critical issues, which seems related to, as you discussed in your book, the human and cultural aspects of intelligence. I also greatly enjoyed listening to Eric Hannis, possibly because I have put a lot of thought into a with career in the Air Force as an officer as well as working on the hill, both of which he has done. The last session I would like to mention is Dorothy Taft’s. I think it was clear that she truly cares about the world and believes in what she is doing, which is very refreshing. Her approach to some of the world’s biggest issues was rational and results-driven, while still being deeply devoted to the cause. Her business is the first I have seen of that model, and from what I could tell, it is very effective and I wish there were more like it.”

-K. N., American University

“I wanted to thank you again for allowing me to participate in the WAPONS program. I thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by fellow students with the same interests and learning about national security issues from experts in the field. My peers and I had many lively discussions on the topics in the dorm in the evenings, which I really appreciated. I will confess: I did not realize how ignorant I was on some of the topics discussed, prior to enrolling in the program. There were many issues, such as cyber security and terrorist propaganda, which I only studied briefly in classes that I have taken. The opportunity which I was given, to have information presented in an unbiased, factual manner by experts, was incredibly enlightening. I wish you the best in finishing your next novel, and in all of your pursuits! Thank you so much again for this incredible experience. I am already missing our subway adventures!”

-M. S., Colgate University

“I want to thank you again for a wonderful two weeks. I learned so much in such a short amount of time and the speakers have definitely helped to shape my plans for the future. I feel so fortunate to have been able to be a part of such a wonderful [WAPONS] program.”

-C. Z., Hamilton College, Class of 2019

“I would like to thank you very much for the opportunity of being selected for the Alexander Hamilton Institute National Security Program. Not only was it insightful but it offered me the opportunity to obtain a greater understanding of the issues, policies, and inner workings of national security. I thank you for the time and effort you have put into this program. I also enjoyed working and exchanging ideas with the diverse students that attended the program as it allowed me to widen my views on policy issues. If there are any similar summer programs you come across, I would be interested in being a part of it as it would give me a better insight and perspective on a possible diplomatic career.”

-J. B., The State University of New York at Stony Brook