In conjunction with the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, Secretary of State John Kerry has written an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal where he argues that when a government provides basic needs and a "chance at a better life," people are much less likely to "strap on an AK-47 or a suicide vest." The secretary says that the world must offer "concrete alternatives" to extremists who "exploit anger, ignorance and grievance" [emphasis added]:
Eliminating the terrorists of today with force will not guarantee protection from the terrorists of tomorrow. We have to transform the environments that give birth to these movements. We have to devote ourselves not just to combating violent extremism, but to preventing it. This means building alternatives that are credible and visible to the populations where terrorists seek to thrive.
The most basic issue is good governance. It may not sound exciting, but it is vital. People who feel that their government will provide for their needs, not just its own, and give them a chance at a better life are far less likely to strap on an AK-47 or a suicide vest, or to aid those who do.
We must identify the zones of greatest vulnerability, the places that could descend into the chaos that breeds terrorism—or that could turn the corner and be the hotbed of growth or innovation. And then we must tailor our efforts and target our resources to meet the specific needs of those places. It may be training young people so they can get jobs and envision a future of dignity and self-reliance. It may be working to eliminate corruption and promote the rule of law, so that marginalized communities can enjoy security and justice. It’s very likely both, and of course much more.
Kerry closes by saying that just as the 20th struggled against "depression, slavery, fascism and totalitarianism, we must now "charge forward" against violent extremism "in the name of decency, civility and reason."
The whole thing is here on the State Department website.