Whether it be drone strikes, Quran burnings, machine-gunning Afghan villagers, or spying on Muslim students in East Coast colleges, we seem to be quite ingenious in fueling the radicalization of Muslims. Unfortunately, we are interested in the opposite. As an American with an international background, hoping to serve my country in the Foreign Service, it is beyond frustrating that we can’t get radicalization right.
Our government’s strategy remains primarily military driven, perhaps best captured through this administration’s beloved drone strike program. Although we have taken out key militants, drone strikes also kill innocent civilians — something that violent extremists always highlight in their recruiting propaganda. Even when it comes to providing “development aid,” a disproportionate amount goes to corrupt militaries that hinder the progress of democracy and civilian rule. We see this in the examples of Pakistan, Yemen, and more famously today, Egypt.