Buffalo Law Review

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In Copyright


The GWOT/Global Jihad is different from prior conflicts (including the ideological struggle of the Cold War), and these differences have important strategic consequences which are not reflected in current US policy. First, US strategy has proceeded on traditional, and inapposite, understandings of the politics that informs this war. Second, radical neofundamentalism is a new form of political organization, attuned to a globalized world, with a distinctive form of violence quite different from the violence organized by the bureaucratic apparatus of a modern professional military grounded in a nation state. Third, the politics of radical neofundamentalism has strategic consequences. On the one hand, there can be no political dialogue, no "battle of ideas," within bin Laden's paradigm. At the same time, bin Laden's war is unwinnable militarily, for the simple reason that any military success is interpreted as a further threat to the ummah, for which further terrorism is the response. Thus the strategic objective for the US is to cope with al-Qaeda while creating an environment in which alternative Islamic ideologies can supplant bin Laden's. Fourth, policies are proposed that would make the conduct of US military and diplomatic policy more suited to the present conflict.