"Quotable: Vice President Biden on defeating violent extremism,"
Image from, with caption: Biden gets close with a woman while visiting patrons over lunch at Cruisers Diner in Seaman, Ohio
Friday, August 12th 2016
In a tour d’horizon of foreign policy issues as the Obama administration closes, Vice President Joseph Biden published an essay, “Building on Success: Opportunities for the Next Administration,” in Foreign Affairs. It was posted to the magazine’s website on August 7, 2016.
Its major subheads were “The Foundations of Power,” “Pacific Opportunities,” “Managing Regional Powers,” “Tackling Transnational Challenges,” “Defeating Violent Extremism,” and “An Enduring Agenda.”
In the section on “Defeating Violent Extemism,” the Vice President largely spoke of the use of “precise and proportional military actions,” training local forces, partnerships with countries facing domestic extremist movements, humanitarian and stabilization assistance, intelligence sharing, law enforcement assistance, and governance. Here are some of the Vice President’s light touches on ideas and ideologies:
- . . . even amid a climate of fear and uncertainty, we must remember that terrorists cannot destroy the United States or our civilization. They are significant, but not existential, threats—and we should never underestimate the strength and resilience of the American people.
- Our administration has not been hamstrung by an ideology of restraint, as our most vocal critics allege. Rather, we carefully consider the use of force because we understand the tremendous human costs and unforeseen consequences of war.
- But even when ISIS’ would-be caliphate is destroyed, the jihadist challenge will continue. Other violent jihadist movements with localized agendas—some that are distinct from ISIS and others that have appropriated its brand—will likely continue to exploit ungoverned spaces and threaten stability in key countries.
- More broadly, the Salafi jihadist ideology that underpins such groups does not require territory to radicalize lone wolves to carry out attacks like those in San Bernardino, Orlando, and Nice. And foreign fighters returning home from the front may continue to attempt attacks like those in Paris and Brussels.
- The next administration will have to continue to address this challenge in a smart, sustainable, and holistic manner. This will require the disciplined application of military force, alongside the best efforts of our intelligence and law enforcement communities, diplomats, and development professionals. It will require working with local partners and the international community to improve governance in fragile and failing states. And it will involve countering toxic ideologies online.
- . . . this comprehensive campaign against violent extremism will succeed only if it is carried out in a manner that is consistent with our values and keeps the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims—the vast majority of whom reject Salafi jihadist views—on our side. We know that al Qaeda, ISIS, and their ilk want to manufacture a clash of civilizations in which Americans think of Muslims in us-versus-them terms.
- Last year, ISIS’ top leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, revealed the goal of his group’s attacks: “Compel the crusaders to actively destroy the gray zone themselves. Muslims in the West will quickly find themselves between one of two choices: either apostatize or emigrate to the Islamic State and thereby escape persecution.”
- We should never let these groups win by giving in to the religious war they want. This only raises the premium on adhering to our values and spurning the tactics of our enemies: torture, indiscriminate violence, and religious intolerance. Doing otherwise not only violates our values but also deeply damages our security.