Key Points

The Trump administration has condemned the latest attack and reaffirmed its support for Egypt’s efforts to “combat terrorism and violence against religious communities.” To help Cairo overhaul its counterterrorism strategy, Washington should encourage the government to tackle the underlying causes of terrorism by combating the radical Islamist ideas that drive it. The United States should work with Egypt to advance policies that reform educational curricula, roll back policies discriminating against Copts and other religious communities, and foster the rule of law.

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All the while, the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is running a shadow government, which is preparing to rule over more ground in the future.

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The United States is no longer trying to defeat the Taliban. Instead, the Trump administration, like the Obama administration before it, wants out. The Taliban knows this and is more than happy to dictate the terms of America’s withdrawal. That’s what is now being negotiated. The jihadists also know that wars end in victory or defeat—and their victory is at hand.

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President Trump’s new NSC is not the last word on counterterrorism. Our enemies learn and adapt, and so must we. History’s advice aside, military strategists for millennia have been counseling that, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” With the tide of war rising rather than receding, that’s a conservative estimate of the number of battles that lie ahead.

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Projects