Obama's Midnight Basketball Counterterrorism Strategy

Posted: Feb 18, 2015 12:30 PM

President Obama isn't scheduled to address the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism till Wednesday evening, but he previewed his remarks in The Los Angeles Times op-ed page this morning: 

We know from experience that the best way to protect people, especially young people, from falling into the grip of violent extremists is the support of their family, friends, teachers and faith leaders. At this week's summit, community leaders from Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Boston will highlight innovative partnerships in their cities that are helping empower communities to protect their loved ones from extremist ideologies.

And what exactly do these "partnerships" do? The Associated Press reports:

Minnesota's program gets its formal launch next month. Luger told The Associated Press that key elements developed with Somali community leaders include more youth programming, more mentors, expanded job opportunities and job training, more dialogue between youth and religious leaders, and help affording college.

If this sounds a lot like President Clinton's "midnight basketball" strategy for fighting gang violence in the 90s, that is because it is. As Obama explicitly told Vox.com earlier this month, he views his job of protecting Americans from terrorism as similar to "the same way a big city mayor's got to cut the crime rate down if he wants that city to thrive."

Is this big-city-crime/jobs-for-at-risk-youth the right approach to counterterrorism?

Or, as Guy Benson notes here, do the roots of Islamic violence go much deeper.