Op-eds

Why Obama's $5 Billion Counterterrorism Fund Will Actually Support Terrorism: Op-Ed by Alex de Waal

Boston Review

Alex de Waal is Director of the World Peace Foundation at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

On May 28, in his commencement address at West Point, President Barack Obama announced a $5 billion Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund, which “will allow us to train, build capacity, and facilitate partner countries on the front lines.” This plan indicates a change in tactics rather than a change in strategy. It unfolds what will likely be known as the “Obama Doctrine”: disengaging U.S. troops from foreign entanglements, and filling the gap by supporting the efforts of America’s local allies to fight terrorist groups. In reality, this approach makes the world a more dangerous place.

The money is destined for the Middle East and North Africa. However, such a fund will only amplify the United States’s misguided proclivity to seek military solutions to political problems. From West Africa to Central Asia, American money has been poured into funding, training and equipping counter-terrorist special forces. This in turn has contributed to corruption, conflict, the growth of police states—and a more complicated and deeply-entrenched terrorist threat. Analysts at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point note that, in aid-recipient states where terrorism is present but the threat is low, “providing economic and security assistance to combat terrorism based on the presence of terrorists, or the severity of its threat, actually risks increasing the expected future level of terror in that target state.”

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