Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to Co-Chair Commission on Violent Extremism
Former Secretary of Defense and Panetta Institute Chairman Leon E. Panetta has joined with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as co-chair of a new commission on violent extremism that will aim to help the next United States presidential administration develop a comprehensive strategy to confront this threat to national security.
The recently launched effort, which also hopes to guide European leaders, will unite experts to study extremist groups like the Islamic State and recommend ways to both defeat them and to curb their appeal among disaffected youth. The group is being sponsored by The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Commission on Countering Violent Extremism.
Commission organizers said they plan to produce a report to help the next president confront this threat to our national security. “Whoever is the next president is going to have to deal with this,” said Prime Minister Blair in an interview in Washington last week.
“Since 9/11, we have fought violent extremism on a crisis by crisis basis,” said Secretary Panetta. “What we need is a comprehensive strategy to deal with the different dimensions of this issue. Reflecting on his work as director of the CIA and later as Secretary of Defense, he noted that an issue this complex can be very difficult for government leaders to understand. “The threat of extremism is too great and too immediate for our next commander-in-chief to face a steep learning curve when he or she enters office. Our goal with this commission is to create a comprehensive report on this vital issue so that global leaders can provide the best possible strategy to protect their countries.”
The commission will also address the trend of successful recruitment of young people by extremist groups. “The problem of competing for the hearts and minds of Muslim youth has challenged experts for years. However, the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have forced an immediate response to the security threat by world leaders. We have to develop an effective strategy to protect our people and reduce the allure of extreme ideologies both at home and abroad, to understand what we can do to undermine this narrative that attracts so many recruits to violence,” Secretary Panetta said.
During the coming months, the Commission will develop new and innovative ideas for undercutting extremists’ radicalization and recruitment efforts and prepare a comprehensive strategy that marshals all elements of national and international power including the military, law enforcement and the intelligence community. In addition, it will study and provide recommendations for mobilizing communities to speak out and take action against the ideology and atrocities committed by violent extremists.
The Commission’s executive director is Shannon Green, a former Obama administration official who worked on the National Security Council and in the United States Agency for International Development. Members will include academics, former government officials and several technology leaders, including Microsoft President Brad Smith and Google general counsel Kent Walker.
For more information on the commission, visit csis.org.