Missing in Action: The U.S. Still Lacks a Comprehensive Counterterror Strategy

Though the Bush administration created a department of homeland security after 9/11 and President Obama has issued two national security strategies since 2008, Washington has yet to formulate, let alone implement, a comprehensive strategy to counter the Islamic State (ISIS) and the proliferation of like-minded Islamist groups. With outposts or affiliates in nine countries, ISIS now rules territory the size of Great Britain. It has staged deadly terror attacks throughout the Middle East and, more recently, in Brussels, Paris, and San Bernardino. It has attracted more than 36,500 fighters from 100 nations, 6,500 of them from Western countries, according to director of national intelligence James R. Clapper. Through the Internet and thousands of daily social media posts, ISIS continues to radicalize and recruit young Muslims, even in the United States. Yet President Obama’s pledge to “degrade and destroy” ISIS through a counteroffensive remains more “rhetoric than reality,” according to former House speaker Newt Gingrich.

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