If the United States were truly serious about terrorism…

Stephen Walt in the columns of Foreign Policy Magazine has written a piece titled The Unbearable Lightness of America’s War against The Islamic State.

Although I have reservations about some of the arguments put forward by Walt, I find his article particularly stimulating and worth reading.

Here is an especially interesting excerpt:

We now have a vast counterterrorism industry, much bigger intelligence budgets, and more energetic government surveillance, but the basic counterterrorist playbook has evolved little over the past 20 years. In particular, our national security establishment is still convinced that the main way to defeat extremist groups is U.S. military intervention, despite the nagging suspicion that it just creates more ungoverned spaces and makes it easier for groups like the Islamic State to recruit new members.

Then, Walt has listed a number of things the United States should do if it were truly serious about terrorism:

it would start by gauging the level of threat properly and communicating that appraisal to the American people.

…we would also have a more honest and open discussion about our own role in generating it.

…we would now be having a frank discussion about the role of the media.

…we’d also see more creative efforts to discredit, marginalize, spoof, and embarrass the groups we oppose.

…you’d see a more hardnosed approach to the various American “allies” who are part of the problem rather than being part of the solution.

Follow me on Twitter @EugenioLilli


One comment

  1. lenrosen4

    I have always found the approach by Western countries to the issues of Southwest Asia as being dominated by tunnel vision. The lack of understanding of the history of the region is appalling. With that lack of knowledge comes bad policy.

    What dominates the narrative today in Southwest Asia and North Africa.

    1. Post-colonialism fallout.
    2. Israel, its impact on the region and the unresolved issue of Palestine.
    3. Oil and energy.
    4. The Saudi effect.

    The roots of ISIS and Al Qaeda are directly linked to the 4 points above. These terrorist organizations arise from a narrow interpretation of religious doctrine with Saudi roots. Israel’s existence fuels the fires of discontent even further. Oil and energy are the economic weapons of choice. And states that are really not in the post-colonial world make things worse. iraq and Syria are artificial constructs drawn hastily on maps dating back to World War One. What is Libya? A nation or a polyglot series of tribal alliances that easily break down. From anarchy and chaos rise dissent in the form of revolutionary movements. And in the Middle East these movements are heavily tied to religion which acts as a binding force. The Quran which teaches people to follow the pillars of Islam also contains jihad as one of them. And although modern Islamic teaching sees jihad as anachronistic, in the minds of dissenting voices within Islam jihad is a weapon, one that ISIS and Al Qaeda profess as religious dogma and orthodoxy. You don’t have to look far to see the link between what these organizations teach and Wahhabi-Saudi derived religious viewpoints.


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