Internal War with Dr. Kalev Sepp

After taking a quick quiz, the whole class piled into the Economic Collaboration room, where our paraprofessional, Cate, was setting up a Skype interview. After a few minutes, Dr. Kalev I. Sepp’s face popped onto the screen. Everyone stopped chatting. Dr. Sepp was online to discuss with us how countries recover from an internal war.

We were very lucky to be on a Skype call with Dr. Sepp. Currently a Senior Lecturer in Defense Analysis at the US Naval Postgraduate School, Dr. Sepp specializes in special operations, strategy, and irregular warfare. He also served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, as well as a member of the White House Counterterrorism Strategy Group. He is a former US Army Special Forces officer, with a PHD from Harvard University and has many other important accomplishments.

In discussing internal war, Dr. Sepp used the example of the US Civil War. He shed light on the build up of the Civil War, the war itself, and then how the economy recovered. One aspect of this lecture that I found particularly interesting was the need to consider the residual effects of war and what actions must be taken to address these effects: are there still ethnic tensions? Who address them, and how? Who is responsible for law enforcement? Should there be trials for the separatists? Should they be re-accepted into society?

Sepp answered these questions by recalling the US response. But he said that the thing that allowed the US economy to rebuild was this idea of a shared culture: both sides of the civil war believed in the validity of constitution and its ability to protect human freedoms. This connection was what caused the South to step down. However, Sepp pointed out, not countries with internal war have a similar experience.

It was a wonderful opportunity to talk with Dr. Sepp about the difficulties of internal war. We are very lucky to have such an expert in our classroom (even when its electronic!).