Debate over formulating appropriate responses to terrorism has raged for many years. In the case of extremist groups such as Al Qaeda and their operations in the Muslim world, many critics have argued that Western diplomatic and development initiatives may contribute more to a long-term solution than the application of military force ever could. In this essay, I will explore the landscape of counter terrorism by examining the seismic shift in tactics that is emerging amongst analysts, who are moving incrementally towards a broad recognition that diplomacy and development are more powerful tools in addressing extremist violence that military coercion has proven to be. Diplomatic and development initiatives can dramatically truncate the ability of extremist groups to recruit and inspire adherents by addressing the sources of terrorism, conversely military offensives have often served to further radicalise restive elements.
At the beginning of the ‘War on Terror’, rhetoric on counterterrorism was terrifyingly simplistic: ‘We do not negotiate with terrorists!’ Being a cornerstone of the coalition strategy. Philip Wilcox, the United States (US) State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism during the late nineteen nineties writing for the intelligence community sums up a view broadly held at the time; that the conflict with terrorist organisations will be won when terrorism and its practitioners have been ‘renounced and marginaliz...
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...S administration in response to a recognition that low-level insurgents would be better persuaded to lay down their arms through diplomacy than by military offensives has begun to develop protocols for reengaging in diplomatic relations with Taliban and Al Qaeda sympathisers. Extremist groups have proven to be remarkably resistant to military coercion with both the Taliban and Al Qaeda growing in strength and membership during the conflict with Western forces. Diplomacy and economic development have emerged as the only tactic that can bring about a long term solution; stability and tolerance are by products of a society that can engage with its diverse elements rather than isolate them. Public support is key to extremist recruitment and by being seen to uphold their own norms and values states forge for themselves a powerful tool for the protection of p
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