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ERIC Number: EJ871035
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0146-5945
Diverting the Radicalization Track
Cohen, Jared A.
Policy Review, n154 Apr-May 2009
The struggle against violent extremism is the most significant national-security challenge of the 21st century. It is the challenge that makes all the threats Americans face that much more dangerous. The ungoverned spaces, urban slums, and impoverished regions of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, along with the poorly integrated immigrant communities in Western Europe, are the epicenters of vulnerability around the world that al Qaeda and other terrorist groups actively exploit. There has been a great deal of debate about how Americans address these vulnerable populations and effectively challenge the threat posed by violent extremists; it is an argument fueled by the larger question of how to "win hearts and minds." While winning hearts and minds would be a tremendous feat if achieved, it remains an idealistic goal and one that must not distract from the immediate and realistic objective of diverting impressionable segments of the population away from the extremists' recruitment process. To accomplish such a diversion, the author stresses the need to look for ways to drain the swamp of potential recruits by overwhelming the target populations with alternatives, opportunities, and choices that are driven and disseminated by local vehicles and credible voices. These alternatives need not necessarily be pro-U.S.--so long as they unshackle populations from a situation in which a turn to extremism is the sole viable option. As young people around the globe are becoming more tech-savvy, the U.S. could provide much of its own alternative education in the digital space. In this sense, the author contends that the road ahead should be looked at more as a challenge of alternatives. The challenge of alternatives is not about promoting democracy; it is about diverting at-risk populations from the grip of extremist actors so that such populations have space to experience the freedom to choose. The author stresses the role of America in both the process of network-building and in engaging youths around the world, as well as in challenging extremists abroad. (Contains 9 endnotes.)
Hoover Institution, Stanford University. 21 Dupont Circle NW Suite 310, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 877-558-3727; Tel: 202-466-6730; Fax: 202-466-6733; e-mail: polrev@hoover.stanford.edu; Web site: http://www.hoover.org/publications/policyreview/about
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Africa; Asia; Europe