America’s Counter-Terrorism Policy Is Failing

TIME

The U.S. approach to countering violent extremism is failing badly. Our current “light footprint,” counter-terrorism approach, posits that a combination of precisely targeted drone strikes, U.S. special forces raids, and training small, elite units of local forces can kill enough of the extremists’ “core” leadership to render those groups incapable. But, there has never been a strategy behind this hope, never an articulated theory of the case to explain where we were headed.

These methods have, for limited periods, degraded extremists’ capabilities. But, today it is clear they are fundamentally flawed and severely counter-productive. Rather than reducing threats, our tactics produce more dangerous, more committed extremists. The crucible of the pressures we have created has not destroyed the extremists, instead it has evolved them into more virulent forms. Our singular focus on killing, without any serious attempt to ameliorate basic societal problems — and the absence of a moral core…

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