RECONSIDERING CVE: THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF COUNTERING VIOLENT EXTREMISM EFFORTS IN AMERICA
Brannan, David W.
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The problem of violent extremism in the United States is complex and, now more than ever, it is politically charged. This thesis critically analyzes countering violent extremism (CVE) efforts in the United States since 2011 to reveal a number of adverse, unintended consequences stemming from policy and programming. Using open-source research, the thesis also establishes a dataset to describe federal CVE efforts, which is evaluated through a sociopsychological lens to determine the impact of the efforts on communities, organizations, and individuals. While many adverse consequences are identified, they culminate in one troublesome conclusion: that current U.S. CVE programming is contributing to greater national insecurity. This research provides recommendations designed to mitigate the damaging impacts of CVE efforts that have already taken root—such as institutionalized racism and insufficient attention on domestic terrorism—and offers data-driven suggestions for policymakers. The findings of this research call for a fundamental restructuring of the U.S. counterterrorism strategy; rather than interdicting violence, the strategy must focus on preventing violence. Preventing terrorism, as shown through this research, begins with countering the susceptibility of vulnerable individuals to violent radicalization and recruitment tactics.
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