Mark Collins – American CT Madness?

An excerpt from a piece by Rosa Brooks:

U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy Is the Definition of Insanity

Six theories for why Washington keeps doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result…

Even some of those who do get paid by Uncle Sam have grown more openly skeptical of U.S. counterterrorism policy. Capt. Robert Newson, a Navy SEAL who served as director of the Joint Interagency Task Force-Counter Terrorism, told an interviewer at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center that “drone strikes, manned airstrikes, and special operations raids … buy space and time. But by themselves they are only a delaying action, and everywhere I have been, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, every military person up and down the chain of command acknowledges this. This ‘CT concept’ — the solution that some people champion where the main or whole effort is drone strikes and special operations raids — is a fantasy.”

Like Newson, I haven’t encountered many defenders of U.S. counterterrorism strikes. Last year, I co-chaired a Stimson Center commission on U.S. drone policy with retired Gen. John Abizaid. The commission, which included former senior military and intelligence officials from both Obama’s and George W. Bush’s administrations, concluded in June 2014 that “the Obama administration’s heavy reliance on targeted killings as a pillar of US counterterrorism strategy rests on questionable assumptions, and risks increasing instability and escalating conflicts. While tactical strikes may have helped keep the homeland free of major terrorist attacks, existing evidence indicates that both Sunni and Shia Islamic extremist groups have grown in scope, lethality and influence in the broader area of operations in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.” In dozens of interviews and conversations with national security experts since June 2014, I have yet to find anyone who won’t admit, off the record, that U.S. counterterrorism policy is flailing badly.

So here’s the question: If no one except administration press flacks thinks the whack-a-mole approach to counterterrorism is working, why are we still using it?

To me, that’s one of the unsolved mysteries of the universe, right up there with “what is dark matter?” and “why do we yawn?” Why do smart people like Obama and his top advisors continue to rely on counterterrorism policies that aren’t working?…

Continue for the six theories.  An earlier post based on Prof. Brooks:

Big Picture Lists: Why US Interventions Screw Up

Sure is a lot of up-screwing going on.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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