Obama Administration Looks for ‘Root Causes’ of Terrorism
Speaking at the Center for a New American Security’s annual Washington policy conference, Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy (and CNAS co-founder), made some news: The Obama administration is taking a new look at just why it is that the U.S. faces a challenge from terrorism.
“We are in the midst of re-thinking and re-drafting our counterterrorism strategy,” Flournoy said in response to an audience question. “And one of the discussions we’re having in that context is what are the root causes of extremism, and what are the historical conditions that gave rise to this. How do we understand the cycle of radicalization?” She anticipated work continuing on that study for “the next several months.” So much for “the terrorists hate us for our freedom.”
Consider it tomorrow’s political headache today. Led by counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, the administration has aggressively denied any linkage between al-Qaeda-like extremism and Islam, out of a stated desire to prevent playing into the terrorist group’s rhetorical frame. It’s earned Obama scorn from the right. So will any effort in the forthcoming strategy document to say that U.S. policy has any role, however inadvertent, in contributing to radicalization — despite reams of evidence indicating that to be the case.