Countering violent extremism the challenge and the opportunity
Deardorff, Robert B.
Smith, Paul Jonathan
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It is crucial for the United States to confront the increasing incidence of Americans who turn to violence against their fellow citizens in support of Islamist terrorists. This thesis explores the application of "soft power," the government's ability to mitigate the recruitment and radicalization of new terrorists by attraction rather than coercion, in order to prevent "homegrown" terrorism. Methods include a comparative policy analysis of counterterrorism models in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, a survey of conservative Muslim leaders in the Houston area, and an extensive literature review. Recent arrests portend an increasing threat if the United States continues along its "hard power" path exclusively. Potential solutions require active engagement by government leaders, coordinated messaging, and continuing contact between government agencies and vulnerable communities. A broad national strategy, refined and implemented at a regional level, is required. Strategies that balance hard and soft power separate radicalizing influences from their recruiting pool, alter the social context of potential recruits in favor of democratic process, and make partners of potential antagonists. Regional Outreach and Operational Coordination Centers (ROOCC) offer a mechanism to develop and support strategies that combine government, nongovernment, and community leaders to combat terrorism at the ideological level.
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