(Stephanie Kaplan is a Visiting Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center).
I agree with Matt that the notion that U.S. counterterrorism policy is largely under the purview of the military is a false one. It relates, I think, to the partisan charge that the Democrats possess a “pre-9/11 mindset” when it comes to counterterrorism. Throughout the past seven years, the military has been the public face of U.S. counterterrorism efforts (the consequences of which merit their own discussion thread). But behind the scenes the same-old, pre-9/11 intelligence and law enforcement efforts have been crucial to foiling plots at home and across the globe. The twenty-or-so jihadist plots that have been rolled up since 9/11 came as a result of time-honored police and intelligence work, the success of which was sometimes predicated upon strong international cooperation. It is time to put the myth of the pre-9/11 mindset to rest.
That we need to use all of the tools in the toolbox is not a new argument. But in the context of this question, I think it is important to emphasize the heterogeneity of the global jihad and what that means for those who accept a multi-faceted approach. The global jihadist movement is not a monolithic, unitary actor that requires the same set of policy prescriptions across the board. A diverse set of actors (the al-Qaeda vanguard, regional groups, start-up cells) reside under its umbrella with varying degrees of cooperation between and among them. For some segments of the movement, the problem is primarily an intelligence and law enforcement issue. For other segments, namely the vanguard in Afghanistan/Pakistan, the military has and will continue to play a leading role in containing and reducing the jihadist threat.
This week long terrorism salon will continue to be hosted by The Washington Note and UN Dispatch.