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Crime & Justice

What the attack in Nice means for US national security




People visit the scene and lay tributes to the victims of a terror attack on the Promenade des Anglais on July 15, 2016 in Nice, France.
People visit the scene and lay tributes to the victims of a terror attack on the Promenade des Anglais on July 15, 2016 in Nice, France.
David Ramos/Getty Images

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Apart from yesterday’s attack in Nice, two other terrorist attacks have occurred within France in less than two years.

Also in light of the terrorist attack in Orlando just last month and what seems like an increasing frequency of terrorists attack on civilians in the West, defense experts from both sides of the political spectrum discuss and debate what is being done and what domestic and foreign policy strategies should be rolled out in response.

On Airtalk Friday, Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who studies terrorism and the Middle East, said that no one strategy will be wholly effective in stopping the threat of terrorism.

"There’s a conceit in Washington that we can resolve everything with a political speech or in the course of this one administration," he said. "We’re gonna be living with [the] problem [of terrorism] for quite some time."

Interview highlights

On reconceptualizing how we think of the war on terrorism

Katulis: What I do think we all need to think about is reconceptualizing war to include the war of ideas, the battle against the ideologies of groups like [the Islamic State]. When you look at the U.S. strategy right now it has that in the five lines of effort, but everything that we debate is what our military does. And that’s important. But what we haven’t done enough is figure out "how do we actually counter the spread of the hate?"

On the U.S.'s approach to stopping attacks

Katulis: There is a gap when there are some signals, either in the immediate sort of environment of the individuals around their family or their friends and networks. We have an almost exclusively law-enforcement approach to countering violent extremists and ultimately terrorists. Meaning, we try to go for a conviction. I think that’s good before an incident happens. But there are instances where we don’t have the ability to pull people back from the edge when somebody notices and ‘sees something and says something'.

On our timeline for fighting terrorism

Rubin: We need to recognize that there is no magic formula right now. The seeds for this problem were set over the course of decades. There’s a conceit in Washington that we can resolve everything with a political speech or in the course of this one administration. We’re gonna be living with [the] problem [of terrorism] for quite some time.

Yesterday’s attack in France came on the heels of a spate of violence that has gripped our collective consciousness here in the U.S. We want to know how the string of recent events has affected you and your communities. Do you feel safe? Do you plan on changing your travel plans? Has any of this changed the way you live your daily life?

Call and leave KPCC a message at 818-797-5722 / 818-797-KPCC.

Guests:

Brian Katulis,  a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress - a left-leaning think tank in D.C., where his work focuses on U.S. national security strategy and counterterrorism policy

Michael Rubin,  resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank based in D.C., where his research focuses on terrorism and the Middle East. He is the author of the book “Dancing with the Devil,” a history of diplomacy with rogues and terrorists.