By Annie Shiel, Jordan Street, and Abigail Watson
As attention across the world remained fixed on the Afghanistan withdrawal and the runup to the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Biden administration quietly delivered one of the first public insights into its developing counterterrorism policy. In a speech at the Atlantic Council on Sept. 8, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security Liz Sherwood-Randall introduced the three core principles to guide counterterrorism strategies in the future: change approaches to match changing threats, integrate counterterrorism efforts into other national security challenges, and invest in a broader set of tools to tackle emerging threats.
Scratch below the surface, and these three principles seem more like a rebranding of approaches from previous administrations than the basis for a new international counterterrorism framework. A continuation of lethal strikes around the world, accompanied by fresh investment in capacity building and technical assistance to local partners to “prevent violent extremism,” appears to be a redux of the same policies that, for 20 years, have caused significant civilian harm and undermined human rights, peace, and democracy.