Violent Extremism and U.S. Response: A Conversation with Senators’ Graham and McCain by Ms. Breann Garcia

Protestors outside of the event.

Protestors outside of the event.

On a pleasant evening in downtown Denver, protestors took to the streets for an anti-war rally in response to Senators’ Lindsey Graham and John McCain’s political discussion on violent extremism. Denver police filled the area, and a strange amount tension lurked in the environment, especially given the recent criticism against local law enforcement nationwide.

That, however, is a discussion suited for a different blog post… This post explains the importance of the recent event, hosted by the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (CELL), and what we can learn moving forward in an increasingly unpredictable world.

During the sit-down, the two most central topics of discussion were U.S. response against ISIS, and Iran’s nuclear capability. First, as most nightly news programs have advertised since the summer of 2014, ISIS or ISIL continues to become a more prominent threat to the U.S. and other states. Both Senators’ endorsed an offensive approach to this threat, but for different reasons.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)  Alex Wong / Getty / Meet the Press

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Alex Wong / Getty / Meet the Press

Senator Graham stated that ISIS is a group who is both wealthy and firmly entrenched in the region, which is why the need for U.S. deployment is necessary.

Senator McCain however, boasted a different perspective- explaining that the U.S. cannot merely count on Iraqi (or other) troops to fight ISIS due to their likeliness to join forces with the Islamic State. McCain reminded the audience, that the same troops we fought against in Iraq are now the ones we are hoping will fight off this powerful new threat.

American boots on the ground are not ideal, and most certainly are not what the Obama administration would like; but according to Senator Graham, there is no way to defend this country without sending troops.

Senator John  McCain Kasfter/AP

Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
Kasfter/AP

Regardless of one’s political perspective, McCain makes a valid point suggesting the unlikeliness of success against ISIS without some powerful military reinforcements.  American boots on the ground are not ideal, and most certainly are not what the Obama administration would like; but according to Senator Graham, there is no way to defend this country without sending troops.

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Love America and Love It so Much to Guide It with Wisdom in the Future – Learning from General James Mattis by Mr. Richard Hancock and Mr. Zachary McArthur

General Mattis in front of the CU Denver Veteran Services department.

General Mattis in front of the CU Denver Veteran Services department.

On February 17th, former commander of the U.S. Central Command General James Mattis came to CU Denver on behalf of the History and Political Science departments. General Mattis had a 41 year military career as a General in the Marine Corps. The General came to CU Denver for addressing a variety of topics to the school’s veteran student population. This is part of a series of blogs that critically analyze the General’s discussion. Our blog will focus on the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.

General Mattis consistently stressed the importance of using history to guide strategic thinking in U.S. foreign policy. In 2011 a female intelligence analyst informed the General that in the summer of 2014 a new Muslim extremist group would emerge as an evolution of the Al-Qaeda model. This analyst predicted this group would redefine Muslim extremism.

General Mattis consistently stressed the importance of using history to guide strategic thinking in U.S. foreign policy.

General Mattis with author RIchard Hancock

General Mattis with author Richard Hancock

While this analyst’s forecast proved to be true, the U.S. government has struggled to adopt an effective strategy to combat the Islamic State ideology. General Mattis advocated the need to define the ideology before moving forward. After this, the government must clarify its political end state. While defining the ideology and political end state the U.S. must include other Arab countries who share common interests. Effectively working with other MENA countries will allow the U.S. to weaken IS’ funding through its black market networks. A crucial ally to combatting the ideology is utilizing Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, who is well known for his expertise in counter-terrorism. Effective Muslim leadership must also be utilized to attack the IS ideology from a grassroots level. The General also emphasized cracking down on IS social media presence.

With that being said, a strong and effective military presence is required from the U.S. General Mattis specifically mentioned a more nuanced use of special operation forces. One example is striking sensitive IS targets that are unapproachable by conventional boots on the ground. Also, moving a battalion of the 82nd airborne off the coast of Syria would send a clear message to IS that the U.S. is serious.

It is important for our generation to avoid the pitfalls of cynicism; and instead, use this energy to guide America with wisdom in the future.

General Mattis with author, Zachary McArthur

General Mattis with author, Zachary McArthur

General Mattis briefly switched gears to discussing Egypt. Egypt is a crucial ally for combating extremism across the MENA region; however, this country must improve its human rights record. The General acknowledged that Egypt’s public impeachment of the Muslim Brotherhood clearly violates human rights.

Mattis aimed his discussion to the student body and the millennial generation as a whole. He encouraged our generation to provide fresh perspectives to guide strategic thinking in the U.S. government. Mattis stated, “foreign policy requires passion and human connection.” It is important for our generation to avoid the pitfalls of cynicism; and instead, use this energy to guide America with wisdom in the future.

About the Authors:

Mr. Richard Hancock.

Mr. Richard Hancock.

Richard Hancock: Richard is a recent graduate from CU Denver’s International Studies Program with a focus on the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region and Arabic. He has helped found CU’s Arabic program where he has served as the Teaching Assistant for 1 ½ years. Previously Richard lived and studied at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan, a city that is struggling to handle Syrian refugee flows because it is less than twenty miles from Syria. After briefly living in Egypt, Richard was employed by the Department of Defense as a Contract Administrative Assistant in the MENA region. Currently he is working on freelance journalism and job opportunities primarily within the MENA region. Richard is excited to start a career in Political Risk Consulting.

McArthurZach McArthurFollowing a stint in the Army, Zach moved back to Colorado where he enrolled in college courses, majoring in Political Science with minors in Chinese Studies and Economics at University of Colorado Denver. He helped pioneer a program at CU Denver combining students studying as part of the ICB program from China with Americans in an effort to increase cultural awareness and help integrate students into American culture. Following graduation he hopes to continue his studies of the Chinese language and culture by moving to the country. His favorite aspect of life at CU Denver is the diverse student population that affords everyone the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life.

 

 

Win YOUR ticket to see Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

The CU Denver Political Science Department is thrilled to announce it is sponsoring an essay contest for CU Denver students to WIN their ticket to see Malala Yousafzai – the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, activist, and author – speak in Denver on June 24th, 2015.

Essay Question: Why do you want to see Malala?

Submit your essay below:


Essay Contest Rules

  1. Pieces must be between 300-600 words in length.
  2. Pieces must be submitted no later than 11:59pm Wednesday, June 17th, 2015.
  3. Pieces must completely answer the essay question.
  4. Work must be original, written by the participant.
  5. Participant/s must be available on June 24th,  from 5:00-9:00pm for the event and promotional photos.
  6. Entries are limited to one entry per student.
  7. Participant/s must be a current or former CU Denver student.
  8. Winner/s will be expected to write one departmental blog post about the experience due within one month (by July 24th, 2015) for publication.
  9. Essays must be submitted through: https://ucdenverpoliticalscience.org/malala-essay-contest/
  10. All entries will be judged by the CU Denver Political Science faculty and/or staff.
  11. No transfer, assignment, or substitution of a prize permitted.
  12. Sponsor is not responsible for lost or late entries nor for electronic-transmission errors resulting in omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operations or transmission, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to or alterations of entry materials, or for technical, network, telephone-equipment, electronic, computer, hardware, or software malfunctions or limitations of any kind, or inaccurate transmissions of or failure to receive entry information by Sponsor or presenter on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website or any combination thereof.

If a participant does not comply with any of the aforementioned rules, he or she loses his or her opportunity to participate.