One the West Can Win: A Pragmatist's Approach to Winning the War on Terror


Joshua Jaffe

Date of Graduation

Spring 2006


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Bradley Thayer


The United States government has been engaged for nearly half a decade in a War on Terror. This war was intended to eliminate the sources of violent radicalism, specifically Islamist terrorism, that pose a threat to the United States and its Western allies. However, nearly five years after the start of this war, no consensus exists regarding who the enemy is, what its numbers are, and whether or not it has been or is being defeated. This study sought to identify the enemy of the U.S. in its War on Terrorism. The research initially examined the drivers of radicalism in the Middle East and measured them against the rise of popular radical organizations and ideologues. The study then discovered that there exists a significant dichotomy within the realm of what is typically considered to be radical Islam. Radical organizations fell within two strata: Radical Fundamentalists and Radical Moderates. While many Radical Fundamentalists were engaged in violent acts of terrorism or asymmetric violence perpetrated against the U.S., the Radical Moderates very rarely condoned or participated in such action. Furthermore, although many in the category of Radical Moderates opposed American policy in the Middle East, they also opposed the Radical Fundamentalists and were often the targets of the fundamentalists. This study concluded that the idealistic definition of the enemy in the war on Terrorism was not unlikely to be successful. It then posited a pragmatic strategy that would engaged the Radical Moderates thereby isolating the Radical Fundamentalists and giving definition to the enemy.


terrorism, demographics, Islamic radicalism, U.S. policy, strategy

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Joshua Jaffe