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Strategic Vision for the War on Terror

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 their murderous ideology.  In the short run, the fight involves the application of all instruments of national power and influence to kill or capture the terrorists; deny them safehaven and control of any nation; prevent them from gaining access to WMD; render potential terrorist targets less attractive by strengthening security; and cut off their sources of funding and other resources they need to operate and survive.  In the long run, winning the War on Terror means winning the battle of ideas.  Ideas can transform the embittered and disillusioned either into murderers willing to kill innocents, or into free peoples living harmoniously in a diverse society.

The battle of ideas helps to define the strategic intent of our National Strategy for Combating Terrorism.  The United States will continue to lead an expansive international effort in pursuit of a two-pronged vision:

  • The defeat of violent extremism as a threat to our way of life as a free and open society; and
  • The creation of a global environment inhospitable to violent extremists and all who support them.