- The plan to counterterrorism requires a combination of hard power and soft power
- Soft power, here, would include the power to engage, to educate and to have dialog
- Education and poverty being considered as the main reasons for people joining extremist organizations is a myth
July 22, 2017: Global Terrorism is one of the harsh realities of our world and to fight against terrorism is a long term process that requires strategic resilience. A major factor that needs to be considered to counterterrorism is predominantly the ‘perception’ that one has of terrorism because it is the perception that delimits the response of people.
The plan to combat terrorism undoubtedly requires the hard power of military force, surveillance, de-funding terrorism. The plan to combat terrorism still remains ineffective owing to a missing variant – “soft power diplomacy”.
Reports suggest that the United States allocates more budget to its soft power policies and to the related institutions, as the hard power policies implemented before 2010 did not yield the expected results.
Soft power diplomacy, here, would include the power to engage, to educate and to have a dialog. Terrorism is business, and what we’ve got to do is reach out to, not just the producers or marketers but also the consumers. We’ve got to reduce their market, we’ve got to make them cognizant of the dangers and also convince them that there’s nothing heroic about killing innocent people. Adding soft power to the plan to counterterrorism does not mean we’re being soft on terrorism, this, in fact, means that we have found the way out to fight them on the contemporary battlefield.
There are certain misconceptions regarding the reasons for why people choose to join the extremist organizations. Statistics shrug off the widespread belief that lack of education is one of the most important reasons that make one vulnerable to the brainwashing tactics of the extremist organizations. Statistically, the people who join these organizations are highly educated. Another reason that people assume to be true is poverty, but anecdotally, it can be explained that this is not even close to the truth, Bin Laden being from one of the richest families in Saudi Arabia. And of course, Islam doesn’t propagate terrorism, terrorists propagate terrorism, in the name of Islam.
Among important steps taken towards combating terrorism include devising diverse strategies to gain the consent of the terrorists that might serve a purpose. Persuasion of these organizations and cooperation with the ones who support these organizations must be the aim. It is therefore not possible to arrive at solutions through hard power alone, soft power needs to be used in these efforts.
– prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha