19 years later — how to wind down the War on Terror

The threat of terrorism has not been defeated, nor can it ever be entirely eliminated. But have military interventions prevented acts of terrorism or, conversely, fueled them? 19 years after 9/11, two things are clear: The U.S. will not be able to defeat jihadist terrorist threats “over there” as long as U.S. interventions inflame civil conflicts and inadvertently contributes to the dysfunctions of the host government. Secondly, the fact that the US has only been successfully attacked by a foreign jihadist once since 9/11 is mainly due to investments in domestic defenses rather than U.S. foreign operations within the Global War on Terror. In a new Quincy Paper titled “Winding down the War on Terror,” Steven Simon and Richard Sokolsky address these issues and demonstrate why and how the war on terror finally can come to an end. To explore the issues, Karen Greenberg, Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law, and Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, Director of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding joined Steven Simon in a Quincy webinar moderated by New York Times national security correspondent Eric Schmitt from 12noon-1pm EST on June 11, 2020.


Dan Benjamin

Daniel Benjamin is the Norman E. McCulloch Jr. Director of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding. Prior to joining the Dickey Center, in 2012, Daniel Benjamin served as Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the U.S. State Department. In that position, he was the principal advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on counterterrorism. Ambassador Benjamin was the longest serving coordinator for counterterrorism since that position was created, and during his tenure, the Office of the Coordinator was elevated to become the Bureau of Counterterrorism.Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Benjamin was a senior fellow in Foreign Policy Studies and director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. From 2001 to 2006, he was a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Affairs in Washington, and prior to that, he was a Jennings Randolph Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace. During more than five years on the National Security Council staff in the 1990s, Benjamin served as a foreign policy speechwriter and Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton and as director for transnational threats.

Karen Greenberg

Karen J. Greenberg, a noted expert on national security, terrorism, and civil liberties, is Director of the Center on National Security. She is the author of The Least Worst Place: Guantanamo’s First 100 Days (Oxford University Press, 2009), which was selected as one of the best books of 2009 by The Washington Post and Slate.com.

Her newest book, Rogue Justice:The Making of the Security State (Crown, 2016), explores the War on Terror's impact on justice and law in America. She is co-editor with Joshua L. Dratel of The Enemy Combatant Papers: American Justice, the Courts, and the War on Terror (Cambridge University Press, 2008) and The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib (Cambridge University Press, 2005); editor of the books The Torture Debate in America (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and Al Qaeda Now (Cambridge University Press, 2005); and editor of the Terrorist Trial Report Card, 2001–2011. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Nation, The National Interest, Mother Jones, TomDispatch.com,and on major news channels. She is a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Steven Simon

Steven Simon is Professor in the Practice of International Relations at Colby College, following stints as John J. McCloy ’16 Professor of History at Amherst College and lecturer in government at Dartmouth College. Prior to this, he was Executive Director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies for the US and Middle East. From 2011 to 2012 he served on the National Security Council staff as senior director for Middle Eastern and North African affairs. He also worked on the NSC staff 1994 - 1999 on counterterrorism and Middle East security policy. These assignments followed a fifteen-year career at the U.S. Department of State. He is the co-author of The Age of Sacred Terror, winner of the Arthur C. Ross Award for best book in international relations; The Next Attack, a finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize; Iraq at the Crossroads: State and Society in the Shadow of Regime Change; and The Pragmatic Superpower: The United States and the Middle East in the Cold War.

Eric Schmitt

Eric Schmitt is a senior writer covering terrorism and national security for The New York Times. Since 2007, he has reported on terrorism issues, with assignments to Pakistan, Afghanistan, North Africa, Southeast Asia among others. He is the co-author, with The Times’s Thom Shanker, of “Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America’s Secret Campaign Against Al Qaeda,” published in 2011. He was first appointed as a Pentagon correspondent for The Times in May 1990. Mr. Schmitt served this position until February 1996, and then again from Sept. 11, 2001, until 2006, covering issues of national security. Between 1996 and 2001, he worked as a domestic correspondent covering, among other subjects, Congress and immigration.