The Military’s Role in Counterterrorism

Capitol Hill Briefing
June 18, 2010 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM EDT

B-340 Rayburn House Office Building

Featuring Christopher A. Preble, Director of Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute, and co-editor, Terrorizing Ourselves: Why U.S. Counterterrorism Policy Is Failing and How to Fix It; and Paul R. Pillar, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies for the Security Studies Program in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Military force is a powerful tool for good or ill, and it can prove instrumental in combating terrorism. The potential effect on terrorist capabilities can be immediate and unqualified, as when a strike kills or otherwise disables a prominent terrorist leader. Military strikes — or the threat of such strikes — can disrupt terrorist operations. The limitations and drawbacks of using the military, however, are numerous. Strikes aimed at terrorists can result in death or injury to innocent bystanders and collateral damage to infrastructure. The victims of this violence will often focus their anger on the attacker, generating support and sympathy for terrorists. Pillar and Preble will discuss these and related issues and show how effective counterterrorism balances the immediate gains of particular policies against the unintended medium- to long-term consequences.