Long-term Approach to Combating Terrorism: Advancing Effective Democracy

Description:   An Iraqi woman prepares to cast her voting ballot into one of the bins after filling it out at a polling site in Rawah, Iraq during the country’s first parliamentary election. Muslim voting.

The long-term solution for winning the War on Terror is the advancement of freedom and human dignity through effective democracy. This is the battle of ideas. The terrorism we confront today springs from political alienation, grievances that can be blamed on others, subcultures of conspiracy and misinformation, and an ideology that justifies murder. Defeating terrorism in the long run requires that each of these factors be addressed. Effective democracy provides a counter to each, diminishing the underlying conditions terrorists seek to exploit.

The strategy to counter the terrorists' ideology must empower the very people terrorists most want to exploit: the faithful followers of Islam. We will continue to support political reforms that empower peaceful Muslims to practice and interpret their faith. We will work to undermine the ideological underpinnings of violent Islamic extremism and gain the support of non-violent Muslims around the world. Responsible Islamic leaders need to denounce an ideology that distorts and exploits Islam to justify the murder of innocent people and defiles a proud religion.