Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 7, 2007

National Counterterrorism Strategy Analyzed by CRS

Filed under: Strategy — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 7, 2007

The National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, released by the White House in 2006, cites a “Freedom Agenda” as the basis for pursing the following goals:

• Advance effective democracies as the long–term antidote to the ideology of terrorism;

• Prevent attacks by terrorist networks;

• Deny terrorists the support and sanctuary of rogue states;

• Deny terrorists control of any nation they would use as a base and launching pad for terror; and

• Lay the foundations and build the institutions and structures we need to carry the fight forward against terror and help ensure our ultimate success.

Last week, Raphael Perl of the Congressional Research Service published what I believe is his final work in a long list of valuable analyses while at CRS. Raphael reports November 12 for a new post at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The November 1 paper from CRS examines the National Strategy and suggests a series of issues that Congress may want to address in overseeing the execution of that strategy.

It is an ambitious one. Accomplishing those five bullets above represents a task that requires the combined effort of the entire Executive Branch and a generation or two of committed Americans. However, this new study by Raphael suggests a few areas that remain unfinished or flawed. He identifies seven areas that could pose challenges for the U.S. if the Strategy isn’t augmented. In classic CRS style, the following are listed as “issues for Congress”:

• Democratization as a counterterrorism strategy

• Assumptions about terrorist adversaries

• The role of the U.S. invasion of and continued presence in Iraq in spreading terrorism

• How the National Strategy addresses the threat of rogue states

• How the National Strategy addresses certain threats raised in recent National Intelligence Estimates

• Reducing radicalization and extremist indoctrination, particularly among the young

• The effectiveness of public diplomacy

This is not a criticism of the National Strategy. It is a useful analysis that deserves a broader audience than Congress. (CRS reports are not normally distributed to the public, but FAS and CQ made this one available.) Ultimately, the paper suggests that a core challenge that may need to be addressed by the next Administration in revisiting this Strategy is the fundamental way in which it characterizes the nature of the threat of terrorism, including its primary drivers.

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Comment by J.

November 7, 2007 @ 9:08 am

Of course it is a criticism of the National Strategy. That’s not a bad thing; lots of good products can be improved, if they have inherent flaws. We’re in a democracy so that there can be productive debate and differing views designed to improve our overall strategy. That was a great report, very refreshing and frank.

Comment by Jonah Czerwinski

November 7, 2007 @ 9:11 am

J —

We are on the same page. I meant that this study is not just a criticism. Its definitely refreshing.


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