From the beginning, the War on Terror has been both a
battle of arms and a battle of ideas. In the short run, the fight involves the
application of all instruments of national power and influence to kill or
capture the terrorists. In the long run, winning the War on Terror means
winning the battle of ideas. (Department of State)
The US long term strategy for winning the war on terrorism,
according to state department, is the advancement of freedom and human dignity
through effective democracy. One of the signs of democracy is elections, it
shows the express of free will by the people. Effective democracies
exercise effective sovereignty and maintain order within their borders. In
effective democracies, freedom is indivisible. They are the long-term antidote
to the ideology of terrorism today. Democracy is the antithesis
tyranny, which is why the terrorists denounce it and are willing to kill the
innocent to stop it.
There are two approaches aimed at effectively
combating terrorism. Deradicalization and prison-based approach. Prisons have
been long characterized as hotbeds of radicalization and as inefficient in
reforming criminal behaviour. (Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post, 2015) these
programmes aimed to reduce the number of active terrorist in a society thus
enabling individuals to abandon terrorism.
Deradicalization is “the social and psychological
process whereby an individual’s commitment to, and involvement in, violent
radicalization is reduced to the extent that they are no longer at risk of
involvement and engagement in violent activity” (John Horgan, Walking
Away from Terrorism, 2009). This, however, goes hand in hand with
disengagement, which includes some sort of rehabilitation of these individuals
once released back into the society.
In conclusion, soft approaches will most likely
continue to play a significant role in the counterterrorism strategies. At the
moment, there are more than 40 counter-radicalization programs worldwide. This
is due to realization of declaring war on terrorism globally nearly a decade
ago. However, having such programmes does not bring us any closer to
eliminating the threat today.