Chapter III. Strengthen Alliances to Defeat Global Terrorism & Work to Prevent Attacks
Section C. The Way Ahead
From the beginning, the War on Terror has been both a battle of arms and a battle of
ideas a fight against the terrorists and against their murderous ideology. In the short
run, the fight involves using military force and other instruments of national power to kill
or capture the terrorists, deny them safe haven or control of any nation; prevent them
from gaining access to WMD; and cut off their sources of support. In the long run,
winning the war on terror means winning the battle of ideas, for it is ideas that can turn
the disenchanted into murderers willing to kill innocent victims.
While the War on Terror is a battle of ideas, it is not a battle of religions. The
transnational terrorists confronting us today exploit the proud religion of Islam to serve a
violent political vision: the establishment, by terrorism and subversion, of a totalitarian
empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These terrorists distort the idea of
jihad into a call for murder against those they regard as apostates or unbelievers
including Christians, Jews, Hindus, other religious traditions, and all Muslims who
disagree with them. Indeed, most of the terrorist attacks since September 11 have
occurred in Muslim countries and most of the victims have been Muslims.
To wage this battle of ideas effectively, we must be clear-eyed about what does and does
not give rise to terrorism:
· Terrorism is not the inevitable by-product of poverty. Many of the September 11
hijackers were from middle-class backgrounds, and many terrorist leaders, like bin
Laden, are from privileged upbringings.
National Security Strategy 9
· Terrorism is not simply a result of hostility to U.S. policy in Iraq. The United States
was attacked on September 11 and earlier, well before we toppled the Saddam Hussein
regime. Moreover, countries that stayed out of the Iraq war have not been spared from
· Terrorism is not simply a result of Israeli-Palestinian issues. Al-Qaida plotting for the
September 11 attacks began in the 1990s, during an active period in the peace process.
· Terrorism is not simply a response to our efforts to prevent terror attacks. The al-
Qaida network targeted the United States long before the United States targeted al-
Qaida. Indeed, the terrorists are emboldened more by perceptions of weakness than by
demonstrations of resolve. Terrorists lure recruits by telling them that we are decadent
and easily intimidated and will retreat if attacked.
The terrorism we confront today springs from:
· Political alienation. Transnational terrorists are recruited from people who have no
voice in their own government and see no legitimate way to promote change in their
own country. Without a stake in the existing order, they are vulnerable to
manipulation by those who advocate a perverse vision based on violence and
· Grievances that can be blamed on others. The failures the terrorists feel and see are
blamed on others, and on perceived injustices from the recent or sometimes distant
past. The terrorists' rhetoric keeps wounds associated with this past fresh and raw, a
potent motivation for revenge and terror.
· Sub-cultures of conspiracy and misinformation. Terrorists recruit more effectively
from populations whose information about the world is contaminated by falsehoods
and corrupted by conspiracy theories. The distortions keep alive grievances and filter
out facts that would challenge popular prejudices and self-serving propaganda.
· An ideology that justifies murder. Terrorism ultimately depends upon the appeal of
an ideology that excuses or even glorifies the deliberate killing of innocents. A proud
religion the religion of Islam has been twisted and made to serve an evil end, as in
other times and places other religions have been similarly abused.
Defeating terrorism in the long run requires that each of these factors be addressed. The
genius of democracy is that it provides a counter to each.
· In place of alienation, democracy offers an ownership stake in society, a chance to
shape one's own future.
· In place of festering grievances, democracy offers the rule of law, the peaceful
resolution of disputes, and the habits of advancing interests through compromise.
National Security Strategy
· In place of a culture of conspiracy and misinformation, democracy offers freedom of
speech, independent media, and the marketplace of ideas, which can expose and
discredit falsehoods, prejudices, and dishonest propaganda.
· In place of an ideology that justifies murder, democracy offers a respect for human
dignity that abhors the deliberate targeting of innocent civilians.
Democracy is the opposite of terrorist tyranny, which is why the terrorists denounce it
and are willing to kill the innocent to stop it. Democracy is based on empowerment,
while the terrorists' ideology is based on enslavement. Democracies expand the freedom
of their citizens, while the terrorists seek to impose a single set of narrow beliefs.
Democracy sees individuals as equal in worth and dignity, having an inherent potential to
create and to govern themselves. The terrorists see individuals as objects to be exploited,
and then to be ruled and oppressed.
Democracies are not immune to terrorism. In some democracies, some ethnic or
religious groups are unable or unwilling to grasp the benefits of freedom otherwise
available in the society. Such groups can evidence the same alienation and despair that
the transnational terrorists exploit in undemocratic states. This accounts for the
emergence in democratic societies of homegrown terrorists such as were responsible for
the bombings in London in July 2005 and for the violence in some other nations. Even in
these cases, the long-term solution remains deepening the reach of democracy so that all
citizens enjoy its benefits.
The strategy to counter the lies behind the terrorists' ideology is to empower the very
people the terrorists most want to exploit: the faithful followers of Islam. We will
continue to support political reforms that empower peaceful Muslims to practice and
interpret their faith. The most vital work will be done within the Islamic world itself, and
Jordan, Morocco, and Indonesia have begun to make important strides in this effort.
Responsible Islamic leaders need to denounce an ideology that distorts and exploits Islam
for destructive ends and defiles a proud religion.
Many of the Muslim faith are already making this commitment at great personal risk.
They realize they are a target of this ideology of terror. Everywhere we have joined in
the fight against terrorism, Muslim allies have stood beside us, becoming partners in this
vital cause. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have launched effective efforts to capture or kill
the leadership of the al-Qaida network. Afghan troops are in combat against Taliban
remnants. Iraqi soldiers are sacrificing to defeat al-Qaida in their own country. These
brave citizens know the stakes the survival of their own liberty, the future of their own
region, the justice and humanity of their own traditions and the United States is proud
to stand beside them.
The advance of freedom and human dignity through democracy is the long-term solution
to the transnational terrorism of today. To create the space and time for that long-term
solution to take root, there are four steps we will take in the short term.
National Security Strategy 11
· Prevent attacks by terrorist networks before they occur. A government has no higher
obligation than to protect the lives and livelihoods of its citizens. The hard core of the
terrorists cannot be deterred or reformed; they must be tracked down, killed, or captured.
They must be cut off from the network of individuals and institutions on which they
depend for support. That network must in turn be deterred, disrupted, and disabled by
using a broad range of tools.
· Deny WMD to rogue states and to terrorist allies who would use them without
hesitation. Terrorists have a perverse moral code that glorifies deliberately targeting
innocent civilians. Terrorists try to inflict as many casualties as possible and seek WMD
to this end. Denying terrorists WMD will require new tools and new international
approaches. We are working with partner nations to improve security at vulnerable
nuclear sites worldwide and bolster the ability of states to detect, disrupt, and respond to
terrorist activity involving WMD.
· Deny terrorist groups the support and sanctuary of rogue states. The United States
and its allies in the War on Terror make no distinction between those who commit acts of
terror and those who support and harbor them, because they are equally guilty of murder.
Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror, such as Syria or Iran, has chosen to
be an enemy of freedom, justice, and peace. The world must hold those regimes to
· Deny the terrorists control of any nation that they would use as a base and
launching pad for terror. The terrorists' goal is to overthrow a rising democracy; claim
a strategic country as a haven for terror; destabilize the Middle East; and strike America
and other free nations with ever-increasing violence. This we can never allow. This is
why success in Afghanistan and Iraq is vital, and why we must prevent terrorists from
exploiting ungoverned areas.
America will lead in this fight, and we will continue to partner with allies and will recruit
new friends to join the battle.
Afghanistan and Iraq: The Front Lines in the War on Terror
Winning the War on Terror requires winning the battles in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In Afghanistan, the successes already won must be consolidated. A few years ago, Afghanistan
was condemned to a pre-modern nightmare. Now it has held two successful free elections and is
a staunch ally in the war on terror. Much work remains, however, and the Afghan people
deserve the support of the United States and the entire international community.
The terrorists today see Iraq as the central front of their fight against the United States. They
want to defeat America in Iraq and force us to abandon our allies before a stable democratic
government has been established that can provide for its own security. The terrorists believe
they would then have proven that the United States is a waning power and an unreliable friend.
In the chaos of a broken Iraq the terrorists believe they would be able to establish a safe haven
National Security Strategy
like they had in Afghanistan, only this time in the heart of a geopolitically vital region.
Surrendering to the terrorists would likewise hand them a powerful recruiting tool: the
perception that they are the vanguard of history.
When the Iraqi Government, supported by the Coalition, defeats the terrorists, terrorism will be
dealt a critical blow. We will have broken one of al-Qaida's most formidable factions the
network headed by Zarqawi and denied him the safe haven he seeks in Iraq. And the success
of democracy in Iraq will be a launching pad for freedom's success throughout a region that for
decades has been a source of instability and stagnation.
The Administration has explained in some detail the strategy for helping the Iraqi people defeat
the terrorists and neutralize the insurgency in Iraq. This requires supporting the Iraqi people in
integrating activity along three broad tracks:
Political: Work with Iraqis to:
· Isolate hardened enemy elements who are unwilling to accept a peaceful political process;
· Engage those outside the political process who are willing to turn away from violence and
invite them into that process; and
· Build stable, pluralistic, and effective national institutions that can protect the interests of all
Security: Work with Iraqi Security Forces to:
· Clear areas of enemy control by remaining on the offensive, killing and capturing enemy
fighters, and denying them safe haven;
· Hold areas freed from enemy control with an adequate Iraqi security force presence that
ensures these areas remain under the control of a peaceful Iraqi Government; and
· Build Iraqi Security Forces and the capacity of local institutions to deliver services, advance
the rule of law, and nurture civil society.
Economic: Work with the Iraqi Government to:
· Restore Iraq's neglected infrastructure so that Iraqis can meet increasing demand and the
needs of a growing economy;
· Reform Iraq's economy so that it can be self-sustaining based on market principles; and
· Build the capacity of Iraqi institutions to maintain their infrastructure, rejoin the international
economic community, and improve the general welfare and prosperity of all Iraqis. \
National Security Strategy 13