Colucci publishes opinion pierce on counterterrorism

Following the London terror attack this summer, Associate Professor of Politics and Government Lamont Colucci published an opinion piece about the future of counterterrorism. In the piece, Colucci argued that the only way to seriously deal with terrorism is to focus on the factors that enable terrorism.

In “Time to Take Terrorism Seriously,” Colucci posits that modern counterterrorism is not focusing on the root issues of terrorism. “Where has counterterrorism gone wrong? It has failed to see terrorism in the light of state actors and geopolitics,” he wrote. “It neglects the key aspect of international relations: The world is governed by national entities that control the real levers of power or whose absence creates an artificial vacuum.

“Terrorism, like any movement, requires oxygen: ammunition, training, inspiration, technique and experience,” he writes. “Where does terrorism get this from? There are two answers, and these two answers have been the same since that Munich attack: rogue states and failed states.”

Colucci argues that most global terrorism comes from a shortlist of suspects. “According to the Global Terrorism Index, four terrorist groups were responsible for 74 percent of all deaths in 2015: the Islamic State group, al-Qaida, Boko Haram and the Taliban. All of these are proponents of an extremist Sunni ideology and emanate out of failed or failing states.”

Colucci says that not only do terrorist groups rise to power from failing states, but that these failing states could have been prevented. “None of these cases would have risen without the absence of western, especially American, primacy. The hard truth also creates clarity: Address the nation-state problem, and you deal an existential blow to the majority of terrorist movements.”

In order to address these geopolitical issues, Colucci outlines a tentative plan for the United States and how the United States should proceed with several countries linked to terrorism. Colucci outlines unique ways the United States ought to interact with Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq, to best help these countries regain stability and quell the terrorist groups plaguing them.

“There is a terror network that has existed for decades – it is not run by a single group and does not have a single purpose,” Colucci says. “It provides a tangled web of training locations, logistics support, safe havens, false documents, arms and intelligence. An Islamic Kashmiri terrorist can be found on a battlefield in Afghanistan one day and Syria the next.”

Colucci concludes by saying the United States has to be willing to intervene if we are to seriously deal with terrorism. He calls for strategy and focus to address these terror attacks. “Five thousand years of international relations can’t be wished away. The world is governed by benevolent and malevolent forces represented by nations, or it is ungoverned, allowing an anarchic evil to take hold. This is the fuel of terrorism whose symptoms are seen in London, Paris, Baghdad and Orlando. One can focus on combating the symptoms or attacking the real problem. In the end, if you seriously want to deal with terrorism, you deal with those factors that allow them to operate.”

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Lamont Colucci