Tom Gjelten

Tom Gjelten covers issues of religion, faith, and belief for NPR News, a beat that encompasses such areas as the changing religious landscape in America, the formation of personal identity, the role of religion in politics, and social and cultural conflict arising from religious differences. His reporting draws on his many years covering national and international news from posts in Washington and around the world.

In 1986, Gjelten became one of NPR's pioneer foreign correspondents, posted first in Latin America and then in Central Europe. In the years that followed, he covered the wars in Central America, social and political strife in South America, the first Gulf War, the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and the transitions to democracy in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Gjelten's latest book is A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story, published in 2015. His reporting from Sarajevo from 1992 to 1994 was the basis for his book Sarajevo Daily: A City and Its Newspaper Under Siege (HarperCollins), praised by the New York Times as "a chilling portrayal of a city's slow murder." He is also the author of Professionalism in War Reporting: A Correspondent's View (Carnegie Corporation) and a contributor to Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know (W. W. Norton).

After returning from his overseas assignments, Gjelten covered U.S. diplomacy and military affairs, first from the State Department and then from the Pentagon. He was reporting live from the Pentagon at the moment it was hit on September 11, 2001, and he was NPR's lead Pentagon reporter during the early war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. Gjelten has also reported extensively from Cuba in recent years. His 2008 book, Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause (Viking), is a unique history of modern Cuba, told through the life and times of the Bacardi rum family. The New York Times selected it as a "Notable Nonfiction Book," and the Washington Post, Kansas City Star, and San Francisco Chronicle all listed it among their "Best Books of 2008." His new book, A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story (Simon & Schuster), recounts the impact on America of the 1965 Immigration Act, which officially opened the country's doors to immigrants of color.

Since joining NPR in 1982 as labor and education reporter, Gjelten has won numerous awards for his work, including two Overseas Press Club Awards, a George Polk Award, and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a regular panelist on the PBS program "Washington Week," and a member of the editorial board at World Affairs Journal. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, he began his professional career as a public school teacher and freelance writer.

With the fight over the U.S. debt ceiling finally over, investors are free again to focus on all the economic challenges that lie ahead, but they are finding little reason to celebrate. Stock markets around the world fell sharply on Tuesday, skipping the "relief rally" that customarily follows the resolution of a crisis.

In the United States, signs of a serious economic slowdown had been building up, though with attention focused on the debt-ceiling debate, the news had apparently not yet sunk in.

As members of Congress spar over whether to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, they might consider the efforts of other governments to manage their own debt problems. Some have been successful — some not — but all their experiences are instructive, with lessons for Washington.

With U.S. military spending coming under new pressure from congressional budget cutters, Pentagon planners want European allies to pick up a greater share of the defense burden. The question is which way to look.

West European countries are the most accustomed to working with the U.S. military, but they are now the least inclined to invest in defense. To the east, the former Soviet bloc countries are generally eager to help, but their militaries have less experience in joint operations with their U.S. counterparts.

The U.S. military can fight on land, in the air, at sea and in space. Now it has a strategy for operations in a new domain: cyberspace.

Under a new plan unveiled Thursday, the Defense Department said it is preparing to treat cyberspace "as an operational domain," with forces specially organized, trained and equipped to deal with cyberthreats and opportunities.

The strategy presumes that "cyberattacks will be a significant component of any future conflict" and that the United States must be prepared to retaliate, possibly even with military force.

Computer users have for years struggled with viruses, worms and all sorts of malware. But the most recent cyberattacks have targeted institutions whose computer systems were thought to be relatively secure: the French Ministry of Finance, Sony, Lockheed Martin, Citibank, even the International Monetary Fund.

"These are first class attacks," says Luis Gorrons, technical director for Panda Security, a global cybersecurity firm. "We were always seeing attacks on small and medium companies, but now we're seeing that many big companies are being targeted and successfully attacked."

A long-standing debate within the Obama administration over how to characterize the cyberthreat has complicated the U.S. effort to lay out a government-wide cybersecurity strategy.

At issue is whether the nation faces the prospect of cyberwar and needs to prepare for it. The Pentagon says yes. Howard Schmidt, the White House coordinator for cybersecurity, sees such talk as "hype" and rejects the "cyberwar" term.

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