Small Wars Journal

Interim Report: Beyond the Homeland: Protecting America from Extremism in Fragile States

Beyond the Homeland: Protecting America from Extremism in Fragile States - United States Institute of Peace Interim Report

Today, on the 17th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the Task Force is releasing its first report, which warns that the United States urgently needs a new approach to stem the spread of violent extremism and previews a comprehensive preventative strategy that focuses on strengthening resilience against extremism in fragile states.

Key Takeaways from the Interim Report

Beyond the Homeland: Protecting America from Extremism in Fragile States

Since the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, extremist groups have expanded in fragile states across the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. Against this backdrop, the congressionally mandated, bipartisan Task Force on Extremism in Fragile States has released a report that calls for a new strategy to mitigate the conditions that enable extremist groups to take root, spread, and thrive in fragile states.

Read the entire interim report.


Bill C.

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 12:36pm


From our interim report above:


Extremism emerges through the confluence of poor and undemocratic governance in fragile states and extremist ideology and organization.


Re: this assertion, that "extremism emerges through the confluence of poor and undemocratic governance," etc., let us consider two cases -- one from earlier -- and one from recent history:

Extremist Case No 1:  The Jewish Zealots versus the Pagan Romans:

"Zealot: A member of a Jewish sect noted for its uncompromising opposition to pagan Rome and the polytheism it professed. The Zealots were an aggressive political party whose concern for the national and religious life of the Jewish people led them to despise even Jews who sought peace and conciliation with the Roman authorities.

Extremist Case No 2:  The Islamists -- in Afghanistan and elsewhere -- versus the secular Soviets/the communists (cir: 1980):

"The overt attack on Afghan social values was presented, by the resistance forces, as an attack on Islamic values. This was also seen as an attack on the honor of women. The initiatives introduced by PDPA -- to impose literacy on women and girls -- inevitably raised questions as to the potential role of women outside the the home. This provoked defensive actions from men, concerned with protecting the honor of women with their families, and to also ensure that traditional roles of women within the domestic sphere continued to be performed. It also generated fears that the important roles of women, as the primary vehicles for passing traditional and Islamic values from one generation to another, would be undermined if they were exposed to external and, particularly, non-Islamic values. This enabled the exiled radical Islamic parties to claim leadership of the resistance and to also declare a jihad."…

Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above:

As my two extremist cases above suggest, extremism WOULD NOT -- as our interim report declares -- seem to "emerge through the confluence of poor and undemocratic governance" etc. 

Rather, as my examples above appear to indicate, the best explanation for extremism is the intolerance of a people to outside powers seeking to "transform" them. 

Thus, the explanation for extremism (see poor and undemocratic governance, etc.), in our interim report above, this such explanation would seem to be self-serving; this, (a) re: the interests of western powers who, (b) post-the Cold War, (c) seek to transform other states and societies more along modern western lines? 

(Herein to note that this initiative, to wit: "advancing market-democracy" post-the Cold War; this such initiative can be traced all the way back to President Clinton and his  "Engagement and Enlargement" National Security Strategy; wherein, in his 1993 introduction thereto [see "From Containment to Enlargement")] then-National Security Advisor Anthony Lake stated that the logical replacement for the strategy of containment of communism-- during the Cold War -- was a strategy of advancing market-democracy -- in post-Cold War.)