tv Counterterrorism Strategies in North Africa Panel 4 CSPAN December 6, 2017 11:03pm-12:17am EST
foreign alliances. they warned americans against sectionalism and excessive partisanship at home. jackson warned them of their own government by in his words, the rich and powerful. >> "american history tv" all weekend, everybody weekend, only on c-span 3. next, current and former intelligent officials outline u.s. counterterrorism strategies in northern africa. this was part of a delay-long forum for security threats in the region. it's an hour and ten minutes.z.ç
good afternoon. i hope everybody enjoyed lunch. i'm the senior vice president here at the director of the middle east program. one of the great joys of being in washington is sometimes you're in an environment where you get to be the dumbest guy in the room. i think i'm here as the dumbest guy on the panel. the people that we have talking now, and we envisioned this sort of as a way to capture some of the strategic wisdom, are just three people for whom i have tremendous respect. lieutenant general mike negata. your title it has -- it is the most difficult title, the director of the directorate of strategic operational planning. >> word name ever. >> but the job is incredible. he was the commander of the special operations forces in the
u.s. central command and now is with the national counterterrorism center, thinking all of the strategic do thought that i think we have been struggling with in many ways. we're very grateful for you to take the time to be with us. john maclachlan, as many of you know, was the acting director of central intelligence, was the deputy director for intelligence at the cia. i have grown reliant on him for the personal who comes to our small meetings and is able to distill the strategic points that everybody has been struggling to articulate and he mansion to capture it in a way that i find breathtaking. christine, an old and valued colleague of mine here at csis. whenever we had the internal things to work through, having christine on my team was always a sign we were going to be successful. she is currently directing the
adrian arch center for resilience at the atlantic council. so what we have are people with tremendous intellectual ability and government experience to help us think about, where is all of this -- where are we trying to take it? where is all of this going when we talk about counterterrorism in north africa? how much should we care about it? what should we be doing about it? when should we stop focussing on it? when should we start focussing on it? because it's very easy to take something small and to say this is the problem, but what we have here is a panel of people who have thought and acted worldwide. and i think they can help us both contextualize what's happening in north africa and think about what it is that we're all trying to do. so i think we'll start with the general if we can and then work down.
do we have any benchmarks for strategic success or failure? can we conceive a benchmark for strategic success or failure when we're thinking about a problem like fighting terrorism in north africa? >> well, first of all, thank you for inviting me to be here today. i think you should always start with me because whatever i say is going to be improved on by the other two panelists here. and, unfortunately, i'll start with -- i'll demonstrate that with the way i'm going to answer your question. in order to describe a benchmark, you actually have to know where you're going, otherwise you don't know whether or not you're looking at is actually a benchmark on the road to your destination. i know that we're here to speak principally about the maghreb, but what i'm about to say i
think you can conflate to virtually everything we confront when it comes to countering terrorism both as the united states and as a member of the international community. i was recently asked on another panel a very kind of similar question. i wasn't asked about benchmarks, but i was asked a more simple question about what are we winning? to know what you're winning, you have to hit your benchmarks. here is my basic answer, i would argue the world is still struggling with inconsistency about what our goals are. the united states does articulate certain goals when it comes to countering terrorism and countering violent extremism. the problem is in too many cases our definition of what constitutes sufficient success is often very different from what other actors, other nations, other communities are describing as their goals. and so long as that is true, the
search for benchmarks proves to be pretty elusive. now, so that i don't completely come across like i'm trying to dodge your question, i'll float a couple of ideas that may be of some utility to you or the people that are observing this event. one might make the argument that our goal is -- as the united states, this is specific to the united states, is to avoid another 9/11. it's a commendable goal and so far we haven't had a repeat of that awful event. if that is our goal then we -- i would potentially describe some benchmarks for this part of africa that help us pursue that goal, but the real problem with having a repeat of 9/11 as our goal is we will have to do that forever. there is no end to preventing another 9/11 unless there are some other things we're willing to do that don't involve preventing a catastrophic attack but avoid the creation of the
ability and the desire to conduct a catastrophic attack. another way to define our goals is by characterizing the capabilities that we think we need. an example, i'll use this as an example because as a military officer it's the one i'm most familiar with, but should the united states, should our partners in this particular part of the world have the ability to identify a danger, a threat, a malign actor who intends to do harm, track that individual or that group of individuals and then ultimately use the appropriate capability to arrest, to detain or if necessary take military action against those actors. sure. that's necessary and we've done a great deal of that along with our international partners around the world, but it has the same basic problem that preventing another 9/11 has, and that is you're going to have to do it forever.
where this really drives us to and i would argue this is particularly appropriate for a conversation about africa is should our goal be undoing the root causes, the drivers, there are many different descriptions that you can hear both publicly and privately about this, but it's basically removing the causes, the drivers that propel vulnerable individuals and vulnerable groups into the path of radicalization and ultimately mobilization to violence. i would argue that's the best goal. but identifying the benchmarks for that journey is actually much harder than the benchmarks for taking physical action because this has to do with what people believe, this has to do with what people perceive, this has to do with what -- this has to do with deep ceded emotional,
psychological, societal drivers that often big governments are not in a good position to generate a lot of skill against. at the end, it probably sounds like i've dolked your question, but identifying benchmarks without a consistent definition of what we're trying do has never struck me was a particularly useful endeavor and frankly it ends up being few tile. >> one of the problems with trying to promote economic development abroad is we've been trying to do it as a u.s. government for 70 years with kind of checkered success. mr. maclachlan, save us from ourselves. >> i'm glad we've switched to "game of thrones" here. i feel good about that. thank you for inviting me. and this panel. you gave us about ten questions and i'm going to take a look at maybe four of them. one of them is one you just asked about benchmarks. the others have to do with what priority this should have in
american policy. whether the right -- that's number one. whether the right structures are in place to deal with it. what is the trajectory of terrorism in this part of the world? and whether, well, whether the right benchmarks are there. and let me start by saying that listening to the panelists today and thinking about the problem, i think this area and this set of problems deserves the highest priority in u.s. attention to counterterrorism. and i think it's because there are at least four characteristics here that i don't see present in the same measure in any other part of the world. first, you have linkages among
these groups that are very pronounced. i'm going to come back to that with a case study. second, you have very weak borders. third, you have something that reenforces that problem, which is vast ungoverned spaces or loosely governed spaces. and, finally, you have what i think general nagata was referring to in his last remark which is a set of, you know, socioeconomic cultural conditions that are challenging to say the least when it comes to a formation of attitudes and so forth. you have all of those things kind of converging in this area in ways that i don't see them converge in, say, europe, southeast asia or certainly not in our own hemisphere. so i will tell you my perspective on this is shaped to
a large degree -- i'm not a north africa specialist. i've spent a lot of time on counterterrorism, but i did delve into a north african problem in conjunction with the president of csis, john hamery, when we were both on a panel to advise a norweigian oil company, stat oil, with regard to a terrorist attack that it had experienced in algeria. where they were managing a natural gas facility in conjunction with the algerian oil company and bp. so three of them. this occurred in 2013. and to refresh your memory, this facility, which is about 40 kilometers as i recall inside the algerian border from libya, was attacked by a gang of
terrorists led by mokhtar belmokhtar and close to 40 hostages died. this was a really major event which was briefly noted in the international press but not given the kind of attention that it deserved as a kind of benchmark, if you will, for a variety of things. and among the things i took away from it was the first point i made about linkages among these groups. because when we looked at the terrorists who had attacked this under belmokhtar, i counted at least eight nationalities involved. i don't know that i can list them all but there were egyptians, tunisians, canadians, believe it or not, at least two canadians, martainians, malians, and i'm leaving somebody out but
there were at least -- niger. there were at least eight. and what i took from that was you can assemble a pretty strong terrorist group that crosses a lot of lines here very easily in that part of the world and you can move across a border. when i looked at the satellite imagery, commercial imagery of that border between libya and algeria, i said to someone, not to make a joke about terrorist attacks, but i said give me a land rover and i can probably organize a group here to go and attack something. i didn't see any controls along that border that were at least visible from space. so that sort of affected my perception of the problem in this area. and that takes me to my second point that i wanted to talk about, which is -- so first point is a lot of things combine
to make this a more fertile environment for terrorist development, plotting and activity than most parts of the world and part of the first point again, i think it makes classic counterterrorism much harder than it is almost anywhere else. again, coming back to general nagata's point just a moment ago about the difference between action on the ground and harder things to get at, my sort of thumbnail way of thinking about counterterrorism, a little simple-minded, but sometimes you have to be, is you need to do three things to defeat a terrorist phenomenon. you have to destroy the leadership. you must deny it safe haven and you must change the conditions that give rise to the
phenomenon. what general nagata was talking about is number three, i think. it's one thing to attack the leadership, it's another to deny it safe haven, and, by the way, i don't think we've done those two things in this part of the world, attacked leadership to agree but certainly haven't denied it safe haven. though there are pockets where that might be true, for example, along the algerian/moroccan border. but that third one changed the conditions. that's something that my old profession, intelligence, can't do by itself. we can work the first two. but changing conditions means an all of government approach but really an all of government multiple latera multiple -- multilateral, multinational approach. the dimensions are impressive. go to my second point, are the
right solutions and are the right structures in place? given that terrorists can cross boundaries so easily in this part of the world and clearly share legitimates and other things and are all as one of the earlier panelists mentioned intwined with other phenomena such as corruption and organized crime and smuggling, i can't think that the right structures are in place to substantially attack the problem. in part because -- and here i'm just drawing on my own experience in our hemisphere and in europe. the key to this is fusion of data. not just fusion of kinetic capability, but fusion of data. that requires information sharing at a sophisticated level and that's hard for us to do
here. we're dramatically better at it than we were at the time of 9/11, but i see our european counterparts with much longer history of working this still struggling with it as they attempt to cope with the kind of attacks that we've seen in europe over the last several years. so i'm not familiar enough with the inards of this area to know how hard it is, but i suspect it's very difficult because to do it successfully you need trust, you need information technology that is multilateral, you need joint operations to build that trust and you need ways of what we call sanitizing the information in order to pass it without revealing sources. that's all hard stuff to do. so i think that some things are underway. the sahil multilateral planning
group may be a nascent model. it values a number of the mediterranean countries on the european side plus tunisia. and something like that seems to me to be needed in greater measure. i'll make two other quick points because i've gone on longer than i intended, but two other questions i wanted to answer were oare military solutions helpful? and, yes, of course. there has to be a military component. i'll just shorthand this by saying the danger -- but in my judgement ought to focus, and general nagata should speak to this, i think it ought to focus primarily on the fusion of special operations and intelligence versus what we call large military. i think when big military gets involved you run the risk, particularly in a part of the
world like this, of driving moderates underground. so the military component here needs to be stealthy almost to the point of invisibility, in my judgement. and finally you wanted to talk about the trajectory of terror in this part of the world. i think i would just say is in shorthand, i think it's -- even though some of the earlier panelists had cited some data about decreased number of incidents in 2017, i think we can't put too much weight on one year's data. if you look at the data over the last -- let's say since 2001. in 2001, the data i'm familiar with is that there were a little over 20 terrorist incidents in north africa, sahil and sub-saharan africa to a point, and in 2016 i think there were 235.
depending on who is doing the counting, i suppose. but the trajectory has been up, and given the conditions i just walked through, i would -- if i were a betting person, and it turns out i am, i would say that the trajectory is going to continue to be up but with the potential of -- it struck me from the panelists speaking earlier that there is acute awareness of the problem and many efforts underway to combat it. so it's not a hopeless situation but it's a tough one. so i would leave it there and turn to christine. >> thank you. it's always fun to bat cleanup at the panel, but i'm also delighted to be here, john. it's really nice to be back. and general nagata, it's great to see you. we had the pleasure to work together in difficult circumstances, but that was always lots of fun.
i wanted to say a few things about -- add a little bit to what john had to say about strategy for counterterrorism in the region, add a few thoughts about what i think success looks like and then close with a couple of comments on priority and timeframe. i think i had originally envisioned the ct strategy as being sort of a three-legend stool. i think john has made me think it's more of a chair now with four legs. if one leg is going after leadership, another leg is the denying of physical safe haven, a third leg is the one i think i didn't hear john mention, which is denying the virtual safe haven where we see so much of the counterradicalization happening and where i think we've seen, you know, a lot of these groups develop very sophisticated media strategies to get out their narrative to do recruitment that sadly has been very effective, and then the fourth leg of the chair, which i
think is arguably the most important one but also the most difficult one to work on is what general nagata was talking about, which is addressing the underlying conditions that can lead to violent extremism and terrorism. and that's really about getting at governance and getting at rooting out corruption, building the capacity of ministries to be able to provide security, to provide services, to provide economic opportunities. that is a very, you know, long-term effort and i think it's a critical one that often doesn't get as much attention because i think certainly in my experience in the last administration, there is a tendency to reach for that military tool in the tool kit. it's a very developed tool. it's a very proficient tool. it's a very well-resourced tool. and so policy makers tend to reach for that very often, and really, if we really want to be
successful, i think we need to be reaching for those -- for the diplomatic tools, the development tools, the economic and trade tools and, you know, we don't do that as much. i think in part because they aren't as well-resourced and we in the united states government doesn't have the same amount of capacity there, but also those, you know, using those tools, applying those tools i think the fruits of that labour takes much longer to become evident and certainly, again, in the united states, i think our public, our politicians are anxious for results and want to see things sort of now, now, now. anyone who has ever had the opportunity to testify in front of congress knows that it's all about, you know, show me how this is working now. and if you -- you know, there is a not a lot of patience or appetite for give us two years, give us five years and then you'll really start to see this
take off, but, frankly, that's a lot of what i think is most needed. because otherwise we're just going to be playing whack-a-mole and, you know, focussing on doing the best we can to prevent the next 9/11, which as general nagata said, is going to be a job we'll be doing in pers perpetuity. when i think about what success looks like, i think of it as crawl, walk run. in the near term, i think success would be are we able to do everything we can to prevent a major attack? and are we able to get a much better handle around all of the foreign fighters, where they are now, where they're going, what their plans are? that to me i think is sort of a starter goal. and i think, you know, moving more into the mid to longer term, it's about really trying to develop capable and sustainable security institutions, both on the military side, but also on the intelligence side, look at
ministries of interior, looking at counterradicalization programs. and i think morocco in particular has done some good work in that area in the obama administration i think in the last couple of years we were making some progress there and getting a little bit smarter about how we were doing that and looking more to the private sector and the civil society sector. and my hope is that we're not losing ground in that area, but, frankly, i'm not entirely sure what we're really doing there. and i think when you think about what do we need to do to build that capacity in the security sector, a key piece, i think, is really putting together mechanisms so that the different ministries in country in the region can be communicating and coordinating effectively amongst themselves, first and foremost. then going out and being able to coordinate with neighboring countries and then again, you know, with multilateral institutions, with things like
the european union, with things like nato. those reforms and cooperation and coordination i think is really, really essential. but, again, if we don't start getting to that longer term -- getting to the causes of weak governance, think we'i think we to be in this for a very long time. i think i would just close with a cup of comments. one of the concerns i have in this area is about the mismatch, if you will, between the scale of the threat and the challenge that we're facing and the resources that we're able to put against it. whether you're talking about countries in the region themselves, which obviously have a number of fiscal challenges, but also looking at the united states, at european countries, we just don't have the resources really that are needed right now it seems to me to grapple with this. we got the counterterrorism partnership fund a couple of years ago. that was a useful start but i think there is so much more that's needed. and, unfortunately, i don't
think that santa klaus is coming with a bag of money anytime soon, unfortunately. as somebody who served as the under-secretary of state of policy at defense where we had to look at the global suite of issues. if you're the secretary of defense or secretary of state right now and you're thinking about what are the real priorities for the united states of america and the challenging that it's facing in the world, the really big tectonic shifts that are going on right now i think are happening with china and what it's doing and, you know, clearly china is rising and is becoming much more present and assertive in the world. and i think there are some things about that that are fine. there are other things i think from the perspective of the united states that are much more concerning, and that has to be front and center on the minds of our policy makers. similarly, russia, i think russia is a much weaker power than china, but has a very strong military and i think is
clearly being unhelpful in any number of ways. so if you're looking at a finite u.s. government budget and trying to figure out where to put your money, a lot of it is going to go to those big things and i think it's going to be harder to find the money to deal with the challenges that are present in the maghreb and i think that puts a premium on all of us who are involved in that work trying to spend what we have now, hold on to what we have, you know, fight in congress for what we have but really try to use that money as effectively as possible and to collaborate with our partner countries in the region, with our eu countries to really try and find out, you know, okay, if you're working on this area, you know, and france and the uk kind of have this covered, let's have the united states work over here and not overlap and work on the same thing twice. because the resources right now are precious and scarce. i'll just stop there. >> thank you. all of you touched on the
problem of partners and our need to work with partners. that's a challenge because in a lot of cases the agencies we want to work on counterterrorism on the one hand are in contradiction to the forces that might want it to or that might encourage greater pluralism, greater political openism. earlier today a panelist talked about how humiliation seems to be the thread among a lot of people becoming radicalized. as the u.s. government thinks about working with partners, one of the challenges we have is the most important partners are often troubling partners, have troubling practices. we can preach to them. sometimes they don't want to talk to us. i've been told there are some countries that said don't talk to the ministry of the interior except if you're looking at that fourth leg, the ministry
interior is key and if you're looking at policing, the ministry of the interyoior is k. how do we think about that problem? question have partners that are difficult for us to work with because they don't share our analysis to the problem and they don't share our analysis to the solution. i want to start with you because you've been on about this enough. john, can you take a hit at that? >> well, it's complicated. let me start there. you know, if you went -- it's particularly complicated because of the package through that period that we call the arab spring. you know, beginning in 2010/2011, there was as you all will know and remember this upsurge of desire for change and modernization in generally across this region, beginning in tunisia.
and i think morocco, of course, generally escaped that difficult period in large part because the king had for a decade or so been well along the reform path and also morocco is not -- i don't want to offend anyone by putting it this way, but morocco is not an entirely arab country as you all know, so it's a more complex society. but that period of time i think left -- because you've got to start with what is u.s. policy here? that period of time left u.s. policy in a bit of a quandary. because we had been working with all of the proceeding regimes, many of which had shown little attention to the latent desires of, you know, populations.
so, you know, i can tell you that, you know, in my former profession, intelligence agencies here had good relationships with intelligence agencies in that part of the world prior to the arab spring. as john mentioned, simultaneously working with them and simultaneously lecturing them to a degree on human rights. in many parts of the world that was our operating motif. that's one reason why i say it's complicated. but at the end of the day, it comes down to a question of what are your priorities? if your priorities are to defeat terrorists, you work with those who can help you achieve that. if that's your priority. but you also have to be aware
that what you're doing tactically may work against what you're doing strategically. are you with me so far? that's why i say it's complicated. and i don't think there is an easy way around this. between -- the balance -- striking that balance between appropriately messaging your foreign partners about what your preference is with regard to human rights policies, democratization on the one hand and at the same time drawing from them the kind of cooperation that you need and that they need in order to achieve a threat to the lives of their citizens. that's the dilemma. and you have to look for that balance. and i think that balance has been even more elusive since the arab spring.
in part because in many cases security services, intelligence services, if you will, turned over, disappeared, were reformed, restructured with new leadership. that new leadership in many cases is trying to figure out -- take egypt as a case in point. that new leadership is trying to figure out -- we haven't talked about egypt, but that new leadership is trying to figure out not just its relationship with you but with its role in a new society. this must be going on in tunisia. and with the requirement, relatively new, to work with and be loyal to elected civilian officials as distinct from either long-term dictatorships
aurm or monarchies. so that's another thing that makes this complicated. when you say something is complicated, you leave the audience with the feeling and saying so nothing can be done. what i'm saying is that is a balance to be struck here that makes the job harder and that's just the world we live in and the task that you have if you're in a job like christine had or like general nagata has now or that i once had. it's just one of the things that makes your life difficult but not boring, to find that right balance and get it right. did i answer your question? >> not precisely. christine, can you remember some of the more difficult struggles that you -- >> sure. >> that you had on this? >> you know, i was thinking as you asked the question, john, i
have the pleasure of teaching at georgetown university this fall as an adjunct in their security studies program and we've been looking at all sorts of historical case studies, but more recently we were looking at the situation in afghanistan and in iraq. and we were looking at the manual that the army has used to conduct counterinsurgency operations which, again, is not the same obviously as counterterrorism, but when the -- when general petraeus came in and had the manual rewritten, one of the big things he emphasized was governance that, you know, again, it's not just about providing security, you really have to work on the governance piece. but the first time that the manual was written -- field manual. that's right. i forget the number. but when the field manual was written, the whole discussion of providing assistance on the governance side was very apolitical and it sort of assumed is that you had a host country partner that shared the
same goals that you had, that had completely clean hands, that wasn't, you know, engaging in any activity that was counterproductive to the needs of its citizens, that it wasn't engaged in any kind of enriching of itself, and, frankly, that's not really the case in most cases, and i think that's one of the big challenges is whether we think about whether it's counterterrorism or counterinsurgency or trying to work to strengthen fragile states, the assistance on the governance side can't be administered through an apolitical lens because it's just not going to be an apolitical situation, and i think that means that very much with what john was just saying you have to be sort of steering in between the right and left guardrails of making your aid and assistance conditional on cooperation in certain area, but also acknowledging the reality that in some cases if you are
completely rigid about that conditionality you may fundamentally alienate your host country partner and wind up, you know, deeply severing the bilateral relationship. i can remember, you know, we struggled with this when i was in government, whether it came to egypt or pakistan, i mean, you name it, and i think, you know, it's -- you have to sort of -- it's -- i think of it a little bit as a highway you're driving down and you have guardrails on the left and right and you're trying to sort of steer between them. you're trying to have enough conditionality to elicit the kinds of behavior that is needed so that a government is doing what its people needs it to be doing, but at the same time recognizing that if you insist on that kind of purity at every single moment, you're going to probably alienate yourself from the authorities that are in power. and then you're sort of cutting off your nose to spite your face. so it's kind of an unsatisfying
murky middle, but i think that is, in fact, the reality in most days cases, and the difficult part i always found as a policy maker was how to know when the to move the steering wheel, you know? on the one hand you'll have people saying that, you know, we absolutely have to stand up for human rights and freedom of the press and all of those things, you know, or we're completely undermining our credibility. then you'll have the people, usually at the defense department, saying come on, you don't have got to be realistic, we've got to sell them weapons and things like that if we're going to get any cooperation on the other side. it's very difficult in the moment to know what the right judgements are. generally what we do is punt to the ic and say give us a better intelligence assessment. >> she said what i meant. >> let me just maybe narrow it a little bit and then answer the broader question. because i thought that the comments christine made about
conditionality are really interesting, especially for somebody who has been a special operations commander. i remember getting a presentation from the guys in tampa and they had printed gold on the pamphlet you can surge trust, belief -- given your experience, how should we think about conditionality to do with the strategic objectives of helping these countries deal with the underlying drivers of the terrorism? >> i think there's a direct connection between what you just asked and this broader topic of how -- what is the idea of partnering with people around the world? nobody's going to be your partner if they don't trust you. you can call them a partner, but if there is no trust they're just somebody you know. i think in the -- particularly from the strategic lens of
dealing with violent extremism in a place like africa, we have to understand what the interests of all of the stakeholders are and at least demonstrate some respect for those interests or they're never going to be our partners. there are at least four broad groups of people that have an enormous strategic stake in either the negative continuance of terrorism or eventually the resolution of terrorism in this part of the world. there, of course, are the people of the region themselves, the people of the maghreb states, the people who live in north africa, they probably have the biggest stake because they live or die by the outcome here and the fortune of their children will be determined by whether or not we can -- whether or not this evil either continues or it is eventually brought to an end. the europeans have a massive stake in this. this is their near abroad.
we're already seeing the consequences of the migrant crisis and all of these other things. it is -- it is having a debilitating effect on european security. it's already been mentioned here once, i might as well mention it here, the chinese have a rapidly growing economic interest in this part of the world and we would be foolish not to take that into account. and then finally there are our own interests. there are threats to the united states. our own vital interests are at stake when it comes to this part of the world. but getting back to your point, do we have a construct, a strategic construct by which all the interests of all -- at least these four stakeholders and there are actually more than i've listed, but at least these four proud stakeholders, do we have a mechanism by which the
interests of these stakeholders are harmonized? the answer is not yet. there is some work underway to try to create what i've just described, but it is very early. we have a long way to go. but until we do, the idea of having an effective international partnership for dealing with this incredibly complex region that often beggars description it's so complicated is going to prove very difficult. three last things. i'm going to take the liability of referring to some of the things my colleagues have said because i think they relate to the question you've asked. i think north africa, the maghreb is going to be a test case of whether or not the international community, not just the united states, can demonstrate effectiveness against terrorism and violent extremism without large scale military campaigns. we have operation inherent
resolve going on in libya and iraq right now. preefl previously we had operation enduring freedom and the like. the united states is not going to do that kind of thing in africa. it would be politically unacceptable, we can't afford it, there are all kinds of reasons we can't do it. yet we have just as high a need for strategic success in the maghreb as we have anywhere else in the contest against terrorism. so we're going to have to rely on instruments that traditionally enjoy far less manpower, far less resources and far less policy support, not just in the united states but quite literally around the world. things like preventing the international travel of terrorists and foreign fighters. things like denying them resources. typically we call this counterfinance. i think that's too narrow. it's denying them resources of all types. effectively contesting them on the internet, both as a command
and control instrument and as a radicalization platform.ç unfortunately extremists everywhere are becoming much more proficient in both usages of the internet. fighting the ideology. whether it's on the internet, in a neighborhood, in a family, in a mosque, anywhere, fighting the idea that appears very attractive -- even though it's a small fraction of the world's population or of the african population, it still results in thousands of terrorists. and then final and, terrorism prevention. but regardless of what you call it, it's identifying vulnerable individuals in groups and persuading them not to take the path to radicalization so they can never be mobilized to violence in the end. these things don't involve 500-pound bombs. these things could be supported by a military operation but they're not typically done by
military actors. but as i've already indicated, the resources, manpower and genuine policy support for these things tend to be a fraction of what is committed to large-scale military operations. so i think africa will be a test case of whether or not not just the united states, whether or not the international community is capable of making this shift to equally important but generally far less resourced and far less supported counterterrorism activities. and then finally, i think two things immediately emerge from what i just said, assuming you buy what i just said. the first is there is going to be a much larger role for nongovernmental actors in this kind of effort than we've seen in the past. people who are not tethered to a government. civil society actors, nongovernmental organizations are going to have to be a much more prominent part of such efforts. that makes it much more complicated. and then finally something john
alluded to that i think we should never have a counterterrorism forum without mentioning. i think we should be very careful about taking comfort from statistics about the incidents of violence. it's very important to remember that the classic definition of terrorism is the use of violence to create political change. the temple of violence and the political change the bad actor is trying to create are not necessarily tied particularly strongly to each other. you can have episodic low levels of violence that create political havoc. i'll stop there. >> you don't want to take on conditionality? >> conditionality. well, in a way i was trying to allude to it when i started. our conditionality is based on our interests. we will give you this so long as you don't do this or you do
this. it's all tethered to our interests. what's very difficult, not just for the united states government, for all governments, is to sacrifice some of our own interests in order to make common cause. that's a very difficult conversation to have. it's a very difficult conversation to have inside a government. it's a very difficult conversation to have internationally because often as soon as somebody realizes what you're potentially offering is to sacrifice one of your own interests, they immediately approach the conversation with enormous skepticism. prove to me you're willing to sacrifice something that historically has been important to you in the interest of finding common cause with me. i don't believe it until you do it. yet, you know, i mean, there have been so many examples over centuries of building alliances, coalitions, leagues against common enemies. it requires all actors to surrender some of their conditionality, to surrender some of their interests in order
to forge the team that is actually required. paris -- let me just quickly ask one more question before we go to the audience. one of the challenges and i think you alluded to it, it's not about numbers, it's about impact. to the extent it stops having impact you can't marshall resources. to the extent to has impact, it drive us in the direction of more military solutions which have quick results. how should we unpack the problem that the stimulus seems to be driving us away from the sort of wholistic solutions of -- sort of inclusion and inclusive development. is -- are there strategies we can take that can give us a more
enduring durability on the kinds of policies that you're arguing for? >> i'll start. this is probably going to sound overly simplistic, but this is actually a pretty frequent conversation i have with people in my current job of trying to formulate strategy. whether we realize it or not, we decide what we react to. that's a choice we make. i was looking as an act wearial table a few weeks ago, the causes or mortality around the world. it was basically an insurance actuarial table. i have a higher likelihood of being killed by a household pet than i do of a terrorist. i have a much higher likelihood of being killed in a car accident on liberty avenue than i do a terrorist, particularly with the washington, d.c. traffic the way it is these
days. but in all seriousness, but we don't decide to react with enormous political drama because of a car accident or the death from a household pet. we do decide to react politically to episodic and of course every death, every injury is a tragedy, but we actually make the decision to react politically to episodic low casualty-producing events. the united states is not the only country who does this, pretty much every country does this. to a phenomenon that will kill far fewer people than traffic accidents will. we decide to react. now maybe that's a legitimate choice. well, it is a legitimate choice. we're making it. but the price we pay is that everything has to be reacted to.
it begs the question, is that wise? >> i think the answer to your question, john, is that unfortunately you have to do it all at the same time. in my engagement with international problems from the middle east to latin america to europe and africa is that there is seldom success in taking one particular avenue of approach, and following that kind of blindly and aggressively without looking peripherally what's going on either as a result of what you're doing or impacting the environment in which you're trying to succeed. so i think on terrorism, i come back to this idea that we in the united states need a whole of government approach carried out multilaterally. this is very, very hard, but it
means that on something like north africa and the maghreb, and, by the way, i think i put them together. i think drawing a line in north africa is a little artificial. going back to the example i gave you of the attack. north africa, maghreb and parts of sub-saharan africa all parts of a big conglomerate problem. but in attacking that you have to simultaneously build relations with the security services in those countries, work hard to increase their capabilities, work had to increase their ability to work in coordination with each other. we have done this in other parts of the world. wove done this quite successfully in southeast asia, for example. and worked internationally to coordinate, first to gain a
consensus about the importance of supporting the values that we think will diminish the growth of terrorism and the policies necessary to support those values and work multilaterally to bring that to bear on a region like this. that is really hard. that is really hard. and yet i think it's the only way to go about this. and inevitability it leads you to a conclusion we're not, you know, we live on four-year cycles in this country. we need to think about this as a long-term issue that will require not just in north africa but in many parts of the world constancy of leadership and policy over generations. that's the world we're living in. and part of the -- one of the
questions we haven't talked about is how do we know we've ever succeeded? what's the benchmark for that? with terrorism, i think you have to let go of the idea that you're ever going to stamp it out completely. it's been there since biblical times at some level. in all of recorded history. and so we need to get to the point where it is at -- i'm looking for an analogy here. kind of the nuisance level. for example, take communism. with the exception of north korea, that's a pretty big exception, no one worries about communism anymore as an ideological driver of events in the world but it's still there. there are still communist parties in many countries. they still cause trouble. the cold war survives in north korea and maybe one or two other