On Wednesday, December 6th, Rise to Peace hosted the first in a series of panels focusing on issues relevant to understanding violent extremism. This panel, The Global War on Terrorism: Myths, Realities, and Solutions, featured Ambassador John Limbert, Distinguished Professor of International Affairs at the US Naval Academy; Professor Christopher Kojm, former chairman of the National Intelligence Council and visiting professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs; Professor Gawdat Baghat, professor of National Security Affairs at the National Defense University; and Ahmad Shah Mohibi, founder of Rise to Peace. The panel was moderated by Rise to Peace Senior Advisor, Assistant US Attorney Michael Sherwin, and introduced by the Director of Editorial & Outreach, Alicia Fawcett.
Through a series of questions, panelists expressed their views on the root causes of extremism, and the necessary conditions for eradicating it. All discussed the importance of perceived injustices and avenues for expressing discontent.
In Professor Baghat’s words, “The main reason for terrorism is perceived injustice. When people believe they have been unfairly treated they try to do something about it.” Under repressive systems, when there are few peaceful methods of ‘doing something about it’, violent extremism becomes an outlet for discontented groups. “It is that marginalization,” Professor Kojm warns “which lead to horrors.”
The panelists also emphasized the need for the US to take a positive, diplomatic role in the Middle East. “Every other state, whether we like them or not, is a potential partner where we share interests,” noted Ambassador Limbert. Professor Baghat highlighted the need for the US to “promote democratic values and transparency.”
Professor Kojm, however, warned of the need for responsible involvement adding, “The rise of ISIS is due to perceived injustice, perceived existential danger to a community, enormous social and political destabilization in Iraq, all as a result of the US intervention.”
More than one hundred people attended the panel, held at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Food and refreshments were graciously provided by the Master’s of International Policy and Practice program.