Winning Without War: Nonmilitary Strategies for Overcoming Violent Extremism

Author:David Cortright
Position:Policy Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame and Chair of the Board of the Fourth Freedom Forum
Pages:197-225
Winning Without War: Nonmilitary Strategies for
Overcoming Violent Extremism
David Cortright*
I. INTRODUCTION .................................................................................. 197
II. HOW (NOT) TO COUNTER TERRORISM .............................................. 201
III. THE ROOTS OF RESISTANCE .............................................................. 203
IV. THE REJECTION RESPONSE .............................................................. 206
V. COUNTERIN SURGENCY TO THE RESCUE? .......................................... 208
VI. THE POLITICS OF FAILURE ................................................................ 211
VII. INTERNAT IONAL COOPERATION......................................................... 215
VIII. ERODING THE SUPPORT BASE FOR TERRORISM ................................. 218
IX. POLITICAL SOLUTIONS ...................................................................... 220
X. CONCLUSION: DEMOCRACY, THE ANTIDOTE ..................................... 223
I. INTRODUCTION
In the name of countering terrorism, the United States has pursued
policies over the past decade that have harmed U.S. and global security. In
the wake of the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush declared a global
war on terrorand initiated a series of militarized responses. 1 The United
* David Cortright is the Director of Policy Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace
Studies at the University of Notre Dame and Chair of the Board of the Fourth Freedom Forum.
Cortright has written widely on ending the war in Afghanistan, nonviolent social change, nuclear
disarmament, and the use of multilateral sanctions and incentives as tools of international
peacemaking. He has a long history of public advocacy for disarmament and the prevention of
war. Following his opposition to the Vietnam war as an active duty soldier, Cortright was named
executive director of SANE, the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, in 1978. In November
2002, he helpe d to create Win Without War, a coalition of national organizations opposing the
invasion and occupation of Iraq. Cortright holds a B.A. in history from the University of Notre
Dame and an M.A. in history from New York University. He com pleted doctoral studies in
political science at the Union Institute in residence at the Institute for Policy Studies in
Washington, D.C. He is the author or editor of seventeen books, most recently Ending Obama 's
War (Paradigm, 2011) and Towards Nuclear Zero (Routledge, IISS, 2010) and is the editor of
Peace Policy, Kroc's online journal.
1 See President George W. Bush, Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People
(Sept. 20, 2001), available at http:// georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/
2001/09/20010920-8.html (“Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It
will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”).
TRANSNATIONAL LAW & CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS [Vol. 21:197
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States started two w ars, ventured over to the dark sidein the use of
torture, indefinite detention and o ther abusive policies,2 and greatly
increased arms spending and militar y operations worldwide. 3 In recent years
the Obama Administration has expanded U.S. military involvement in
Afghanistan and increased the use of Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”) and
military covert operations in Pak istan and other countries. The direct costs of
these policieshuman, economic, and politic alhave been enormous. More
than 6,000 U.S. service members have die d, more than 110,000 Iraqis and
Afghanis have lost their lives, 4 and the cost to U.S. taxpayers so far is more
than $1 trillion.5 The diplomatic and security repercussions have been far
reaching. The invasion and occupation of Iraq generated what conservative
analyst Francis Fukuyama termed a “frenzy of anti-Americanism” around the
world.6 Al-Qaida and relat ed extremist groups experienced a sign ificant boost
in recruitment and political support in response to the invasion and
occupation of Iraq.7 I n Pakistan and some other Muslim countries, opinion
polls showed the public had a more favorable opinion of Osama bin Laden
than George Bush.8 While the hostility toward U.S. po licy has ebbed slightly
under the Obama Administration, anti-American insurgency remains strong
in Afghanistan and has spread now to Pakistan.9 Ten years after the invasion
2 See JANE MAYER, THE DARK SIDE: THE INSIDE STORY OF HOW THE WAR ON TERROR TURNED
INTO A WAR ON AMERICAN IDEALS (2008).
3 See OFFICE OF MGMT. & BUDGET, EXEC. OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT, HISTORICAL TABLES,
BUDGET OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, FISCAL YEAR 2012, tbl.4.1 (2011). In 2010, total
military spending by the Department of Defense amounted to $666.7 billion. Id. Total military
spending is estimated to increase to $739.7 billion in 2011. Id.
4 This estimate comes from an aggregation of data compiled for the duration of the Iraq War
(2003present) and the past four years of the Afghanistan War (2006present). S ee IRAQ BODY
COUNT, http://www.iraqbodycount.org/database/ (last visited May 30, 2012); see also Afghanistan
Civilian Casualties: Year By Year, Month By Month, GUARDIAN: DATABLOG (Mar. 10, 2011, 06:57
EST), http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/aug/10/afghanistan-civilian-casualties-
statistics.
5 For up-to-date estimates on the costs of both wars, which exceed $1.2 billion at this writing, see
Cost of War to the United States, NATL PRIORITIES PROJECT: COST OF WAR, ht tp://costofwar.com/
(last visited May 30, 2012). Economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have speculated that
the cost of the Iraq War has prolonged the war in Afghanistan, contributed to rising oil prices,
and doubled the national debt, compounding the costs. See Joseph E. Stiglitz & Linda J. Bilmes,
The True Cost of the Iraq War: $3 Trillion and Beyond, WASH. POST, Sept. 5, 2010,
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2010/09/03/AR2010090302200. html.
6 Francis Fukuyama, After Neo-Conservatism, N.Y. TIMES MAG., Feb. 19, 2006, at 62.
7 Press Release, Office of the Dir. of Nat’l Intelligence, Declassified Key Judgments of the
National Intelligence Estimate “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States”
dated April 2006 (released Sept. 26, 2006), available at http://www.dni.gov/press_releases/
Declassified_NIE_Key_Judgments.pdf.
8 PEW RESEARCH CTR. FOR THE PEOPLE & THE PRESS, VIEWS OF A CHANGING WORLD: JUNE 2003
3, 22 (2003), available at http://people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/185.pdf.
9 KENNETH KATZMAN, CONG. RESEARCH SERV., RL30588, AFGHANISTAN: POST-TALIBAN
GOVERNANCE, SECURITY, AND U.S. POLICY 1620 (2011), available at http://fpc.state.gov/
documents/organization/174244.pdf.

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