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Fifteen Years of Fighting Terror: Lessons for the 2016 U.S. Presidential Candidates

  • When
  • February 1, 2016, 8:00a.m.–2:30 p.m. (EST)
  • Where
  • Open Society Foundations–Washington, D.C.
    1730 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 7th Floor
    Washington, DC 20006
    United States of America

What the United States Can Learn from a New Report on Counterterror


The U.S. presidential election this year presents an opportunity for policymakers, the media, and academics to rethink counterterrorism efforts. Despite a significant investment of personnel and money, current policies have mostly failed to stop violent extremism and instability from spreading across the Middle East and North Africa.

Now, as candidates from both parties debate the future of national security policies, an honest reassessment is necessary if the United States is going to have a better shot at building lasting peace in countries where violence and political instability have become the norm.

Saferworld, a London-based NGO that promotes peace in over 20 countries, has released three reports analyzing lessons from 15 years of counterterror and stabilization efforts in Afghanistan, Somalia, and Yemen. The reports conclude that the U.S. approach to counterterrorism, stabilization, and state building has been counterproductive—and could be improved by focusing strategically on peace, relying less on the military, taking a tougher line on bad governance, and working more closely with society.

In this event, an expert panel assesses the operational impacts of the policy recommendations derived from these three case studies.


  • Sarah Chayes is senior associate for the Democracy and Rule of Law Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
  • Richard Fontaine is president of the Center for New American Security.
  • Larry Attree is head of policy for Saferworld.
  • Scott Shane (moderator) is a national security reporter for the New York Times.

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