The Obama adminstration begins its three-day summit on countering violent extremism with a "roundtable discussion" Tuesday afternoon led by Vice President Joe Biden and including "representatives from cities working to address the spread of violent extremism." President Barack Obama will join the summit twice this week, according to the Associated Press:
President Barack Obama is scheduled to address a gathering at the White House on Wednesday that will examine how U.S. cities are dealing with these issues.
Obama will also deliver remarks Thursday at the State Department, where representatives of some 60 countries are scheduled to meet. The White House did not release the complete list of participating countries, though representatives from the United Kingdom, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are expected to attend, one of the officials said.
Representatives from the private sector, nongovernmental organizations and social media companies also are scheduled to participate in the summit.
What sort of progress can Americans expect from this summit? According to a senior official who previewed the summit with reporters, the Obama administration views countering violent exteremism (what they label CVE) as "one incredibly important element" of the government's counterterrorism and national security strategy.
"[O]ur CVE efforts are premised on the central goal of preventing violent extremism and the extremists themselves and their supporters from inspiring, radicalizing, financing or recruiting individuals or groups in the United States from committing acts of violence," said the official. "Our approach empowers communities to push back against violent extremists."
What does that mean, exactly? The official continued: "Really at the core of our approach is that the government does not have all the answers in combatting violent extremism. It is, at its core, a bottom-up approach. It puts communities with civic leaders, with religious authorities, with community power brokers, teachers, health providers, et cetera, in the driver’s seat. They know their citizens best. They are the first line of defense to prevent or counter radicalizing forces that can ultimately lead to violence. And so our approach is to really embrace and empower what local communities can do."
This appears to be in sync with what State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told MSNBC's Chris Matthews Monday evening in response to the cable host's questions about the lack of a strategy in the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group. "But we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the medium and longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups."
Are we watching the demise of al Qaeda or its rebirth?
A bracing new piece in the Daily Beast makes a persuasive case that it’s the latter -- that recent developments in Iraq, across the greater Middle East and South Asia point to a resurgence of al Qaeda and a strengthening of its affiliates.
Al Qaeda cleric Anwar al Awlaki described both the Fort Hood Shooter and the Christmas Day bomber as his “students” in a tape released this weekend, according to pressreports. This is not surprising – the evidence tying Awlaki to both terrorists has continued to mount. But Awlaki’s comments highlight, once again, the U.S. Intelligence Community’s many failures in investigating the al Qaeda cleric.