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Win the Battle, Lose the War: How the U.S. Can Sustain Counterterrorism Gains

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Just Security

by Eric Rosand and Leanne Erdberg

After enduring years of terrorist brutality, citizens of places like Mosul, Mogadishu and Maiduguri can finally enjoy a semblance of normal life, after recent successes in countering terrorism. That makes the U.S. and its international partners in the fight safer too. This week’s first global meeting of heads of national counterterrorism agencies at the United Nations likely will celebrate these success, while at the same time understanding that the threat is far from eradicated. In 18 countries, for example, the self-styled “Islamic State” has shifted from its failed state-building to insurgencies and affiliation with local terrorist groups.

U.S. global leadership and action has been a driving force behind many of the counterterrorism successes since 9/11. That kind of robust engagement is needed more than ever to consolidate these gains and prevent the re-emergence and spread of the Islamic State and other terrorist groups. That means ensuring a comprehensive U.S. counterterrorism strategy and a cadre of seasoned senior officials and diplomats who can promote it internationally.

The absence of such a strategy and key U.S. government leadership on the issue threatens long-lasting consequences. Already, Russia is stepping into the breach, playing an increasingly conspicuous and worrying role in global counterterrorism. Now that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the new national security team at the White House are in place, they should move fast to prioritize production of the new – and long-delayed — strategy and the appointment of necessary leadership.

Read more: https://www.justsecurity.org/58592/win-battle-lose-war-u-s-sustain-counterterrorism-gains/