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Countering Violent Extremism Takes More Than a Strong Military

posted on: Mar 23, 2017

BY: Julia Jahanpour/Contributing Writer 

In his first budget request, President Trump proposed to remove $54 billion from the State Dept. budget and transfer it to the Pentagon. This would drastically reduce spending for foreign aid and non-defense programs.

Trump’s new proposal shifts the focus from approaching terrorism from all directions to war-only strategies. He plans to invest solely in the military and military-based operations, including adding and strengthening troops, buying new artillery, trucks, and gear. These costs will be allotted for by removing funding in the arts programs, public media, and environmental programs.

Gen. Thomas Waldhauser of U.S. Africa Command, commented “We could knock off all the ISIL and Boko Haram this afternoon; but by the end of the week, so to speak, those ranks would be filled. Many people, especially those in uniform, have said we can’t kill our way to victory here.”

If wars against terrorist organization were based on strength only, the U.S. would always win. With the largest military in the world, no state or non-state groups can compete with the U.S. and its already-robust budget.

Many top war commanders have stated that quick military campaigns will not win wars. It takes more strategy than just violence to bring home a victory.

Wiping out terrorist leader after terrorist leader will only lead to more extremists rising to power. It is a continuous cycle. With a more complete approach to ending terrorism that included strategies to defeat the mentality of terrorism, or reasons behind people joining the organizations, the cycle would be broken.

“A solely military response is not sufficient,” Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, said in a written statement. “We want to increasingly involve other elements of the U.S. government and the international community, recognizing that it is only through a combination of capabilities that we will achieve and sustain our strongest deterrence posture.”

If Trump wants to end the violence of the Islamic State, a non-military approach is necessary.

President Obama urged for increases in non-defense spending, but was refused by congress. Trump disagrees with that strategy and wants to use money from other departments for military funding, stating that he feels the State Department and other civilian agencies were “a waste of time and taxpayer money.”

Retired generals and veterans gathered in Washington, DC this week to discuss the possibilities of war with the Trump administration. Half agreed that a state-on-state war is likely to happen within the next four years, and Iran 40% agreed that it could be with Iran.

If war is in America’s future, what will the country defeat?