Sunday, March 01, 2009

Rewriting the Narrative: An Integrated Strategy for Counterradicalization by Matthew Levitt

"As the U.S. government has come slowly to the realization that military force alone cannot defeat radical Islamist extremism, a precise strategy to effectively counter this extremism and empower mainstream alternatives has proved challenging."

A strong investment in counterradicalization -- with special focus on helping mainstream Muslims provide hopeful and practical alternatives to jihadist ideology -- should be a critical element of the Obama administration's counterterrorism strategy, a high-level Washington Institute task force urged today.

Rewriting the Narrative: An Integrated Strategy for Counterradicalization is the final report of the Task Force on Confronting the Ideology of Radical Extremism, a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission of diplomats, legislators, strategists, scholars, and experts. A joint project of two Institute programs -- Project FIKRA and the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence -- the task force has been meeting since June 2008 to devise a comprehensive strategy to counter the growing radicalization of Muslim populations, particularly youth, worldwide.

The report provides analysis and recommendations on a spectrum of discrete policy issues -- democracy promotion, political reform, public diplomacy, strategic communications, and counterradicalization -- offering an integrated approach to staunching the spread of Islamist extremism. The extensive recommendations suggest an array of policy instruments, from creating a Counterradicalization Forum that draws on "best practices" of friends and partners in Europe and the Middle East, to infusing with renewed mission, urgency, and creativity U.S. international broadcasting to Arab and Muslim societies.

Rewriting the Narrative is endorsed by a distinguished group of policy practitioners: members of Congress Jane Harman (D-CA); Sue Myrick (R-NC), and Adam Smith (D-WA); former 9/11 commissioner Timothy J. Roemer; former U.S. ambassador to Morocco Marc Ginsberg; former deputy assistant to the president for homeland security Frank J. Cilluffo; the presidents of the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute Kenneth Wollack and Lorne W. Craner, respectively; prominent scholars Bruce Hoffman and Mohammed M. Hafez; former Kennedy School dean and Clinton administration official Joseph S. Nye, Jr.; former Bush administration officials Randa Fahmy Hudome and M. C. Andrews; president of the Henry L. Stimson Center Ellen Laipson; Freedom House executive director Jennifer Windsor; Hudson Institute vice president S. Enders Wimbush; president of the Progressive Policy Institute Will Marshall; Johns Hopkins SAIS adjunct professor Joshua Muravchik; and Washington Institute executive director Robert Satloff.

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