WASHINGTON, November 15, 2016: The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) issued today a groundbreaking report from its Commission on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) calling for a new comprehensive strategy to address “the global scourge of violent extremism” in the United States and abroad.
Cochaired by Leon Panetta and Tony Blair, the Commission argues “that violent extremism, inspired by twisted interpretations of Islam, constitutes an acute and growing global threat, with profound implications for our security, societal cohesion, and international norms and values.”
The Commission concludes that while military and law enforcement operations are essential to taking terrorists off the battlefield and disrupting plots, they are insufficient for extinguishing the underlying ideologies and grievances that motivate scores of recruits to join violent extremist groups.
The chairmen stated that, “What is needed is a new paradigm—one that recognizes violent extremism as the global, generational challenge that it is and leverages all tools available to defeat it.”
The goal of the Commission was to clearly articulate what the next U.S. administration, in close collaboration with governmental and nongovernmental partners, must do to diminish the appeal of extremist ideologies and narratives.
The report makes the following eight key recommendations:
1. Strengthening resistance to extremist ideologies: The international community must forge a new global partnership around education reform to stop the teaching of extremist ideologies in schools. At the same time, we must redouble efforts to enhance respect for religious diversity, stem the spread of intolerance, and reinforce community resilience to extremist narratives.
2. Investing in community-led prevention: Governments should enable civil society efforts to detect and disrupt radicalization and recruitment and rehabilitate and reintegrate those who have succumbed to extremist ideologies and narratives. Community and civic leaders are at the forefront of challenging violent extremism, but they require much greater funding, support, and encouragement.
3. Saturating the global marketplace of ideas: Technology companies, the entertainment industry, community leaders, religious voices, and others must be enlisted more systematically to compete with and overtake extremists’ narratives in virtual and real spaces. It is the responsibility of all citizens to rebut extremists’ ideas, wherever they are gaining traction.
4. Aligning policies and values: The United States should put human rights at the center of CVE, ensuring that its engagement with domestic and foreign actors advances the rule of law, dignity, and accountability. In particular, the U.S. government should review its security assistance to foreign partners to certify that it is being used in just and sustainable ways.
5. Deploying military and law enforcement tools: The international community needs to build a new force capability and coalition to quickly dislodge terrorist groups that control territory, avert and respond to immediate threats, weaken violent extremists’ projection of strength, and protect our security and the security of our allies and partners.
6. Exerting White House leadership: The next administration should establish a new institutional structure, headed by a White House assistant to the president, to oversee all CVE efforts and provide clear direction and accountability for results. The Commission finds that strong and steady executive leadership is essential to elevating and harmonizing domestic and international CVE efforts.
7. Expanding CVE models: The United States and its allies and partners urgently need to enlarge the CVE ecosystem, creating flexible platforms for funding, implementing, and replicating proven efforts to address the ideologies, narratives, and manifestations of violent extremism.
8. Surging funding: The U.S. government should demonstrate its commitment to tackling violent extremism by pledging $1 billion annually to CVE efforts, domestically and internationally. These resources are meant to catalyze a surge in investment from other governments, the private sector, and the philanthropic community.
The Commission held hearings in Washington, New York City, and Silicon Valley and consulted with more than a hundred experts and practitioners throughout the United States, Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The Commission’s consultations were augmented by extensive research and a survey conducted in China, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Although the Commission makes clear that the problem was not created overnight and will not be defeated by episodic, reactive interventions, it concludes, “We urgently need a new comprehensive strategy…one that is resolute, rests in soft and hard power, and galvanizes key allies and partners from government, civil society, and the private sector.”
The bipartisan Commission, managed by Shannon N. Green, senior fellow and director of the CSIS Human Rights Initiative, was composed of 24 highly regarded leaders from the private sector, civil society, the faith community, and academia. Farah Pandith and Juan Zarate served as senior advisers and commissioners, contributing their immense expertise to shaping the Commission’s analysis and recommendations.