Fighting Terror Four Years On

Article excerpt


It has been four years since our nation and the world were forever altered by the cowardly September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It is not only appropriate, but vital, that U.S. policymakers, scholars and media come together to help find ways to effectively fight the global war on terrorism.

September 11 demonstrated to everyone - those to the left and to the right on the political spectrum - that terrorism is a major national security problem.

Four years later, there is still no consensus on how terrorism challenges our national security. This is a serious problem: If we cannot agree on the nature of the challenge, we will not create a coherent policy to combat it.

In my view, radical Islamic terrorism is an existential threat to our nation and to the Western values upon which it rests. Radical Islam is an ideology akin to fascism and communism in terms of demonizing Western democratic values and suppressing universal freedoms.

Radical Islamic terrorism is an insidious threat involving religious fundamentalism, powerful state sponsors, substate networks and mass destruction capabilities in a lethal combination that could prove more destructive than fascism or communism.

After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, America came to realize radical Islam's lethal nature. The Bush administration understood Islamic terrorism could not be solved by one battle or a Security Council resolution. The War on Terrorism, like the Cold War before, is a generational war that must defeat terror and the ideology that fuels it.

I often am asked why we haven't been attacked since September 11, 2001. The usual theories include successful reorganization of homeland security, enhanced intelligence-gathering, closer cooperation between agencies and greater international cooperation, among other factors.

My view of this "lull" is twofold: The terrorists understand the U.S. mentality, and know we are tiring of the war on terror, especially in Iraq. Eventually, they believe, we will turn our attention elsewhere. Secondly, they know they must disrupt the everyday lives of Americans. …