Give Donald Trump credit for being true to his word about upending idiotic political correctness. The latest victim is the phrase, “Countering Violent Extremism.”
The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.
The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.
This meaningless term made its way into the U.S. Government’s Counter Terrorism Community in 2009 but only appeared fully in print in the 2013 version of State Department’s Pattern of Global Terrorism:
COUNTERING VIOLENT EXTREMISM (CVE). CVE is part of a strategic approach to counterterrorism (CT) that aims to deny terrorist groups new recruits. In 2009, the State Department created a CVE team in the Counterterrorism Bureau, to lead our efforts in this critical area. In our CVE programming and activities, we are seeking to (1) build resilience among communities most at risk of recruitment and radicalization to violence; (2) counter terrorist narratives and messaging; and (3) build the capacity of partner nations and civil society to counter violent extremism.
To be effective, CVE must work on multiple levels. First, our efforts must be well targeted. As such, we identify both key nodes and locales where radicalization is taking place, and focus our programming and activities in these areas. Second, our efforts must be tailored to take the local context into account. The drivers of recruitment and radicalization to violence are varied, often localized, and specific to each region, and our programming choices are developed in response to these factors.
This was the fruit of electing Barack Obama. He and his team did not want to acknowledge the fact that the vast majority of terrorism was being carried out by radical Muslims, specifically Sunni Muslims. And they were doing so in large measure because of their faith, not in spite of it.
That was not the case in the 1970s and 1980s. Back then communist and national liberation movements were more active than radical Islamic groups. But that pattern shifted dramatically starting in August of 1998.
Let me also remind you of how terrorism has changed over the last 25 years with respect to Iran:
Let me be clear–in the 1980s Iran was the major sponsor of terrorism. Iran is no innocent on the issue of terrorism. The Revolutionary Guard and their agents, following the ordres of the Mullahs, were responsbile for the deaths of thousands from hundreds of terrorist attacks since the early 1980s.
When Iran fell under the rule of the Ayatollah, it routinely relied on terrorism—bombings, hijackings and kidnapping—to pursue its goals. They were directly involved in the taking of U.S. hostages in Lebanon and the bombings of the US Embassy in Beirut and the Marine barracks. But Iran’s actions were not just blind hatred. There was a strategic context to Tehran’s use of terrorism. Iran was at war with Iraq, which had the full support of the United States and other western countries. For Iran terrorism was a way to punch back against a more powerful military foe. The pragmatism on the part of Iran was further evidenced by the fact that it had a secret arrangement with Israel in acquiring weapons to use against Iraq.
But it is wrong to insist that Iran continues to be the major force driving the terrorist violence seen in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and America. In contrast to the period 1982 thru 1989, which was the high water mark of Iran reliance on terrorism as a key component of its foreign policy, Iran has shifted towards more conventional political and military methods for achieving its national goals.
The terrorism that marked Iran twenty years ago is no longer its calling card. The role of chief terrorist has been taken over by a legion of radical Sunni groups. Starting with the Al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington, DC in September of 2001, the identity of the terrorist attacks has shifted dramatically, with the vast majority of the violence attributable to radical Sunni Islamists. According to the latest edition of the Global Terrorism Index (http://economicsandpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Global-Terrorism-Index-2016.2.pdf) , a publication of the Institute for Economics and Peace, four groups accounted for 74% of all fatalities from terrorism in 2015—Boko Haram, Al-Qaida, the Taliban and ISIS.
However, I would not recommend titling the new focus with the phrase, “Countering Violent Islam.” Right now the main culprits are the Sunni aligned groups. Iran is not doing much. Lumping Iran in with the likes of Boko Haram, Al Nusra, Al Qaeda and ISIS/ISIL/DAESH is foolish. Let’s concentrate on those doing the actual killings and bombings. If we finally do that then the level of terrorism will recede from its current high water mark.