Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany (June 10, 2016) – Experts from a broad spectrum of society came together at the George C. Marshall Center from 1-3 June to discuss security challenges related to the European migration crisis, including facilitating travel by foreign terrorist fighters to Europe and North America. They shared perspectives and challenged conventional practices to produce a draft set of policy recommendations on how to best respond to the current international security environment.
Our world is on a trajectory leading to a point where terrorists will eventually acquire a nuclear weapon. It is only a matter of time. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States recognized the lack of effectiveness of its previous intelligence and military efforts in deterring terrorists and sought an alternate way to defuse the radical Islamist threat. By continuing to advocate the use of military force in Iraq after weapons of mass destruction were not found, the U.S. pursued a strategy in line with the idealist school of thought by attempting to plant a democracy in the heart of the Middle East. Iraq became the centerpiece of the United States’ ambitions to stop the region from exporting violence and terror, and attempted to transform it into a place of progress and peace. This effort was ambitious indeed, and many argued that these goals were beyond the United States’ ability to achieve. However, this strategy offered a possible solution to the endless cycle of violence across the Middle East and Africa and its continuing threat to U.S. national security. The current administration, in contrast, announced last year a “rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region,” ostensibly to counter the growing strength of China’s military power. Like an ostrich sticking its head in the sand, this shift pivots the U.S. away from its true threat and increases the peril its citizens will face. The United States should focus its efforts on supporting democratization in troubled regions, and policy makers must counter those who criticize this strategy, including military-industrial complex advocates of the “pivot.”