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Winning hearts and minds in the 'war on terrorism'

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Ten days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon US President George W Bush addressed a joint session of Congress. In an emotional speech he declared war on terrorism and vowed that the US would not rest until all of the perpetrators were brought to justice and A1 Qaeda destroyed. In virtually the next breath he hastened to add that the US-led campaign would not be a war on Islam, a promise Muslims might have found more reassuring had the President not sounded so much like a Baptist preacher. Whatever its propaganda value, the speech distorted the reality of the struggle facing the West while tacitly acknowledging an important truth. Since terror is merely a weapon in a larger struggle, there can be no war on terrorism per se. The West faces a counterinsurgency campaign on a global scale. Winning the hearts and minds of disaffected people in lands where terrorism thrives must be central to conducting this campaign.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 2003

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