07 February 2017
The new Trump administration has made the eradication of “radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the earth” a policy priority. However such terminology reveals a flawed understanding of the true nature of the ongoing transnational terrorist threat.
New US President Donald J. Trump has made it very clear that a central focus of his tenure will be, in his own words, to “eradicate radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the earth”. In adopting such rhetoric Trump has gone further than Barack Obama and George W. Bush, his immediate predecessors. Both took care to avoid associating Islam with the terrorist threat posed by the likes of Al Qaeda and later the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). That Trump means business was illustrated by the attack by US Navy Seals on 28 January 2017 on the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) network in Yemen, in which 14 militants were reportedly killed, along with an American soldier.
The raid demonstrated that Trump not only has ISIS in his crosshairs; other terrorist networks with transnational reach such as AQAP – which was implicated in the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris two years ago – are being targeted as well. In keeping with a campaign promise, Trump has given the Pentagon 30 days to come up with a strategy for defeating ISIS. Trump even mentioned that he has an “extremely tough secret plan” to defeat ISIS that will “knock the hell out of them”. When such a plan does materialise, it will likely be one in which military force will play the dominant role in the ongoing struggle against “radical Islamic terrorism”. But how effective will it be?
… Kumar Ramakrishna is Associate Professor, Head of Policy Studies and Coordinator of the National Security Studies Programme in the Office of the Executive Deputy Chairman, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
NSSP / RSIS / Online
Last updated on 09/02/2017