These and many other questions can be asked about what we are currently doing; indeed, the two of us don’t necessarily fully concur with the prevailing approach (or with each other) on every aspect of our counterterrorism operations.But where we do agree is in thinking that it’s more likely that we will be able to thoughtfully approach questions like those above – and that we’ll be much more likely to be able to intelligently de-escalate our conflicts, if conditions warrant – when counterterrorism is not treated as a political wedge issue.
The strategy is structured around a set of six strategic objectives, four end states, and six lines of effort, which the authors convey as interconnected through a series of helpful icons. In this sense, the new strategy stylistically reads more like a traditional military strategy than previous versions.
Yet the core actions it proposes are fundamentally conventional and a continuation of the activities that have underpinned our counterterrorism efforts since at least 2006.
● Finally, there’s of course the possibility that the continuity to date and the counterterrorism strategy don’t really reflect the considered view of the President himself and that, at some point, he’ll be willing to spend the political capital required to take a dramatically different course, perhaps one more in line with his harsh campaign rhetoric.
The President has, after all, shown himself willing to engage in what other commentators have called “faux counterterrorism” – , “policies shaped by preconceived political and ideological agendas that masquerade as counterterrorism.” The best example of this is of course President Trump’s three “Travel Ban” Executive Orders, which he used to stoke fears of terrorism (among other things), but which in actuality hindered rather than helped our counterterrorism efforts by alienating key foreign partners and populations.
The most striking thing about the Trump Administration’s counterterrorism strategy – which the White House finally released last month, after President Trump had been in office for nearly two years – is its utter conventionality.
President Trump has reveled in his “different kind of Presidency” since the day he took office by delivering an Inaugural Address that, unlike the hopeful speeches of his predecessors, dwelled on the “American Carnage” ravaging the country.Thus, this consensus has helped to simultaneously raise the political cost of and lower the political benefit in making dramatic changes to many aspects of the Nation’s counterterrorism approach.Consistent with this view, upon being bequeathed this consensus, President Trump has shown neither the ability nor the inclination to put his shoulder to the bureaucratic wheel in order to implement anything close to approximating his campaign vision.Indeed, a lack of transparency has been perhaps the Trump Administration’s biggest discontinuity with the approach of its predecessor – and the counterterrorism strategy does nothing to reverse or suggest that we are mistaken in perceiving this trend.One final note before turning to a more detailed analysis of President Trump’s counterterrorism strategy.Unfortunately, the theme of terrorism is now still very acute.The terroristic acts aren’t history, they can happen in the centers of the peaceful cities of developed countries. but still it isn’t the reason not to study terrorism and search ways to prevent it and, possibly, eliminate it completely.The hard topic that also appears from time to time is: can terrorism be justified in some cases of dire need, if the alternative is way worse and the goal is worth it?Sure, almost everyone of us will say “no”, but even nowadays there are a few totalitarian regimes that are so horrible that knowing of them may make even the purest souls doubt.The definition of terrorism is actions made to frighten the people and threaten them to achieve some political, ideological or religious goals.So it can be classified by the goals the terrorist try to achieve and by the methods they use to do this.