The war against terror is more than a military confrontation. It is also a spy game, a media battle for "hearts and minds," a war of financial sleuthing and intrigue, a war on the Internet and much more.
If war is "getting what you want," what is it that the U.S. wants?
The end of terror, naturally. But how?
The point of the war against terror is this: we need to change the conditions that cause people to become terrorists. To put it into terms military officers learn at war colleges, we need to find and defeat the enemy's "center of gravity."
And instead of naming this war using a negative term, "war against terror," why don't we use the positive corollary, define the center of gravity, and describe the war that way?
The theme of President Bush's presidency and the global war was grounded in a theory that the political scientist Jack Levy once declared was "as close as anything we have to an empirical law in international relations," namely, that democracies do not fight one another.
President Bush, especially in the early days of the war against terror, reminded us more often that democracies do not go to war against one another.
The United States' real motives for attacking Iraq may have been complex, but "regime change" -- the replacement of Saddam Hussein's gruesome tyranny with a democracy -- was central to Washington's rhetoric by the time it began bombing Baghdad in March 2003.
And the president has lauded and extolled Iraqi democracy ever since.
In fact, President Bush's confidence in the belief that democracies do not fight against one another coupled with his experiences facing Saddam in Iraq, resulted in the Bush Doctrine.
The policies of the Bush Doctrine, taken together, outlined a broad new phase in US policy that would place greater emphasis on military pre-emption and military superiority ("strength beyond challenge"), unilateral action, and a commitment to "extending democracy, liberty, and security to all regions."
The unilateral action aspect of the doctrine comes from the unwillingness of many "allies" to contribute to the overthrow of Saddam, frustration at the U.N., and post-September 11, 2001 foot dragging in the war against terror by France, Russia and others.