The Global War on Terrorism: A Religious War?

  • November 01, 2007
  • LTC Laurence A Dobrot

The United States has been actively engaged in prosecuting the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) since September 2001. However, after 5 years of national effort that has included the loss of over 3,000 service members in combat operations, many question whether the U.S. strategy is working, and whether the United States understands how to combat an enemy motivated by a radical revolutionary religious ideology. The author reviews the pertinent cultural history and background of Islam and then posits three root causes of this conflict: the lack of wealth-sharing in Islamic countries, resentment of Western exploitation of Islamic countries, and a U.S. credibility gap within the Islamic community. Following this discussion of root causes, this analysis compares the Ends, Ways and Means of the U.S. Strategy for Combating Terrorism with that of terrorist organizations such as al-Qai’da. The author concludes that the United States is not achieving its long-term strategic objectives in the GWOT. He then recommends that U.S. strategy focus on the root causes of Islamic hostility. Accordingly, the United States should combat radical Islam from within the Islamic community by consistently supporting the efforts of moderate Islamic nations to build democratic institutions that are acceptable in Islamic terms.