Ambitious national CVE policies are trapped in a vicious circle that restarts after every major terrorist attack.
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The clear threat of right-wing extremism demonstrates the need for a broad-based approach to CVE.
Other agencies can better promote CVE initiatives by building bridges to communities and taking a less security-focused approach.
Editor’s Note: In recent years, so-called homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) have eclipsed returned foreign fighters and other sources of terrorism. National Defense University’s Kim Cragin assesses the HVE threat and finds that, contrary to popular opinion, Western security agencies are disrupting many HVE plots and otherwise doing well against this potentially dangerous threat.
Editor’s Note: Government programs to combat violent extremism get far more media attention than resources, in part because it is not clear how to make these programs stronger. Jesse Morton, a former jihadist, and Mitchell Silber, the former NYPD director of intelligence, are working together to combat extremism. Drawing on their experience, they propose a series of practical steps the U.S. government could take to become more effective, focusing on the pre-criminal stage and recidivism, as well as proposing a more coherent bureaucratic division of labor.
Editor’s Note: Programs to counter violent extremism often are well-meaning but misconceived and poorly resourced. As a result, for jihadist-linked terrorism they usually prove ineffective and are a policy afterthought rather than a key counterterrorism tool for the United States. Eric Rosand, the director of The Prevention Project and a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings, argues that these programs can be critical components of effective counterterrorism for right-wing and other forms of domestic terrorism.
Editor’s Note: Programs to counter violent extremism seemed under siege in the early days of the Trump administration, with officials questioning their focus and very purpose. Seamus Hughes and Haroro J. Ingram, of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, argue that far less has changed than most people recognize. Despite a lot of rhetoric, U.S. government CVE programs have a similar orientation as they did under Obama but remain underfunded and inadequate.
Editor’s Note: Few people disagree with the goal of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), but in practice the programs have faced many problems. A big one is that it is hard to know if they are working, as existing metrics do a poor job of measuring success and failure. Evanna Hu of Omelas proposes a set of fixes to CVE programs that would make them more rigorous and more effective.
Editor’s Note: Programs to counter violent extremism (CVE) are often focused on established communities in the United States, Europe, and the Muslim world. However, refugees are among the most at-risk communities, often trapped in a world of violence and despair. Maira Seeley of Princeton University examines the risk of radicalization for refugee populations and finds that they have different needs for CVE programs than their host communities. She lays out a series of recommendations on how to design CVE better for the millions of refugees from the Syrian civil war.
Editor’s Note: Counterterrorism is usually a national government concern, but much of the day to day of radicalization occurs in local towns and neighborhoods. However, integrating local actors into programs to prevent and counter violent extremism is often done poorly or not at all. This may be changing.