A new approach to countering global extremism.
From 2009 to 2014, Pandith, a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, visited 80 countries as the first U.S. special representative to Muslim communities to investigate radicalization and millennial extremism, an issue she considers “both a generational and a connected global problem.” The author’s efforts to establish deeper connections in Muslim communities resulted in the formation of the Countering Violent Extremism grassroots movement, although it would come with its own set of challenges, which the author describes in detail. Pandith, who has served under three presidential administrations, believes a global identity crisis in younger Muslim generations is largely responsible for the current potent extremist threat. This has occurred through the manipulations of cultural, ideological, and economic elements, combined with negative Saudi influences. In her years of outreach work, Pandith sought to empower Muslim youth to resist the trend of replacing traditional culture with extremist teachings. She criticizes the U.S. government for its multipronged attack that engages too many different departments and agencies, all of which consistently fail to sync. She blames senior government officials, who lack relevant real-world knowledge of Muslim history or credible experience with grassroots programs, for failing to truly connect with the core issue of radicalization. With great passion and commitment, Pandith, a perceptive observer and strategic thinker, argues that the fight must encompass elements of government, business, private sector organizations, and local communities and philanthropists, all working together with like-minded individuals to stem the extremist tide. Comprehensive and expansive in scope, the narrative is unquestionably dense, which may push away some readers. However, she effectively outlines how the war against the extremist threat is being countered by diligent, structured efforts to intercept vulnerable young minds. She remains cautiously optimistic that her collaborative, “open power,” entrepreneurial, leadership-sharing approach could make a world of difference, with or without the current administration’s advocacy.
An inspired, intensively focused examination of issues of and solutions about extremist ideology, sure to inspire spirited debate.