Watch Live: Foreign Policy and USIP’s PeaceGame
Getting to bottom of what drives extremism -- and what the world can do about it.
From where does the first spark of what becomes violent extremism come? Is it poverty and lack of economic opportunity, or the twisting of religious doctrine to meet less than holy ends, or simmering frustration with political corruption and disenfranchisement? At this winter's PeaceGame -- a twice yearly event organized by Foreign Policy and the U.S. Institute of Peace, conceived to answer just these kinds of questions -- we're asking some of the best minds we could find what the international community might do to about the economic and political drivers stoking the fire of Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group that has found infamy for its campaign of brutal murder, kidnapping, and intimidation in Nigeria.
From where does the first spark of what becomes violent extremism come? Is it poverty and lack of economic opportunity, or the twisting of religious doctrine to meet less than holy ends, or simmering frustration with political corruption and disenfranchisement? At this winter’s PeaceGame — a twice yearly event organized by Foreign Policy and the U.S. Institute of Peace, conceived to answer just these kinds of questions — we’re asking some of the best minds we could find what the international community might do to about the economic and political drivers stoking the fire of Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group that has found infamy for its campaign of brutal murder, kidnapping, and intimidation in Nigeria.
So how does this work? We’ve assigned our assembled experts roles to play, from international organizations, to local leaders, to Boko Haram itself, and told them to fight it out in search of the best possible solution, based on their self-interests in two scenarios. Then they’ll break character and talk about what happened and why.
Watch the whole discussion live below, and tweet at us as it happens with #PeaceGame. The day’s full agenda is at the bottom of the post.
8:30–8:45 a.m.: Welcome and Introduction
George Moose, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, United States Institute of Peace David Rothkopf, Editor & CEO, Foreign Policy
8:45–9:45 a.m.: Framing Discussion: “The Economic Roots of Extremism”
Dr. Pauline Baker, The Fund For Peace
Dr. Raymond Gilpin, National Defense University
Dr. Paul Lubeck, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
The morning panel will feature experts on the economic roots of extremism. We will discuss the rise of extremism and Boko Haram and the economic roots of extremism in Nigeria, including poverty, unemployment, and economic inequality. Drawing from the example of Nigeria, the discussion will explore how economic drivers of support for Boko Haram are similar (or different) to those that gave rise to radicalized groups in other countries (e.g. Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Somalia). The economic issues identified in the panel will be the centerpieces of the scenario to follow.
9:45–10:00 a.m.: Break and Refreshments
10:00–12:15 p.m.: Scenario I: Exploring the Economic Drivers of Radicalization and Extremism
The first scenario will focus on the economic roots of extremism in northern Nigeria. It will bring together experts playing the role of Nigerian and international actors who can play an active role in quelling the rise of Boko Haram via programs that focus on economic issues, such as job creation, entrepreneurship, or engaging the international and local private sector.
12:15–12:45 p.m.: Lunch Break
12:45–1:45 p.m. Framing Discussion: “Exploring Political Drivers of Radicalization and Extremism”
Dr. Mohammad Barkindo, Nigeria LNG Limited
Dr. Martha Crenshaw, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford
Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, National Democratic Institute
Dr. John Paden, George Mason University
The second panel will be a discussion on how political factors, including political marginalization, ethnic and tribal dynamics, or human rights abuses by the security forces are fueling the rise of extremism. It will be similar in format to the first panel with two experts on extremism from other parts of the world and Nigeria experts. The panelists will also focus on how several key regional dynamics, such as international Islamist movements or cross–border links between ethnic or tribal groups can fuel extremism among politically marginalized populations.
1:45–4:00 p.m.: Scenario II: Exploring Political Drivers of Extremism and Radicalization
The afternoon scenario will explore the political discord underlying the situation in Nigeria, examining issues around inclusion, marginalization, and security in the context of the 2015 election. At play is the tension between the democratic process and Boko Haram’s basic premise that democracy is a tool of western oppression and that an Islamic caliphate is the only system that will genuinely address their grievances.
4:00-4:15 p.m.: Break and Refreshments
4:15–5:00 p.m.: Concluding Discussion: “Lessons for the World: Opening New Fronts for Peacemakers”
Ambassador Johnnie Carson, United States Institute of Peace
Ambassador James Jeffrey, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
H.E. Maqsoud Kruse, Hedayah, The International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism
In this last session, the Nigerian and extremism expert observers will identify the most important lessons of both scenarios, not just for Nigeria but for other specific situations in which they may be expert, including but not limited to, elsewhere in Africa, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. They will give concrete ideas about what can be done to counter the rise of radicalized groups around the world.
More from Foreign Policy
Can Russia Get Used to Being China’s Little Brother?
The power dynamic between Beijing and Moscow has switched dramatically.
Xi and Putin Have the Most Consequential Undeclared Alliance in the World
It’s become more important than Washington’s official alliances today.
It’s a New Great Game. Again.
Across Central Asia, Russia’s brand is tainted by Ukraine, China’s got challenges, and Washington senses another opening.
Iraqi Kurdistan’s House of Cards Is Collapsing
The region once seemed a bright spot in the disorder unleashed by U.S. regime change. Today, things look bleak.