Editor’s Note: The recent terrorist attacks in France prompted mass rallies and statements of support from around the world. In the United States, President Obama is convening the leaders of concerned states to discuss ways to fight global extremism. Yet a look at the last decade suggests that Europe’s terrorism problem may be more manageable than the rhetoric surrounding the latest attack suggests.
In January 2014, two French teenage boys ran away from their homes in Toulouse in search of adventure. Like a few hundred other young Frenchmen and over 2,000 Europeans, they looked for that adventure in Syria.
The Foreign Policy Essay: Your Enemy Has a Name—How the “Al Qaeda” Label is Leading U.S Policy Astray
Editor's Note: The United States has been at war since 9/11, but the nature of the enemy remains unclear. Some would say the war is against terrorists of all stripes, while others focus more narrowly on Al Qaeda, the group that perpetrated the 9/11 attacks. Yet even this narrow focus masks definitional confusion, for the name “Al Qaeda” is used to describe not only the band of followers who surround Ayman al-Zawahiri, but also a range of like-minded groups and individuals around the world. Jeremy Shapiro, my colleague at Brookings who previously worked at the U.S.