The War on Terror represents a new style of warfare by non-state actors using network tactics. Military scholars call this “Fourth Generation Warfare” but the general public still does not understand the conflict and the ways to win. Imagine if in 1943, Americans did not understand blitzkrieg tactics and advocated incorrect military responses to the threat. I propose a framework for analyzing this security threat.

First, Islamism is a political party and ideology seeking universal revolution akin to Communism. Islamists seek to overthrow traditional Muslim political and religious authorities. Islamist movements wage insurgencies and revolutionary activity throughout the Muslim world. The Muslim world is in a civil war between various traditionalists and Islamists.

Second, Islamists use 4th Generation Warfare. Non-state actors form autonomous social networks with a common ideology to form wider confederations. They utilize asymmetrical and unrestricted tactics to disrupt their opponents’ political, cultural, and economic way of life rather than seek victory in battle.

Third, Islamists wage Global Insurgency across dozens of countries. Terrorism and Counterterrorism will play a small role. Counterinsurgency strategies will disrupt enemy network operations and win the war. David Kilcullen’s advise in “Countering Global Insurgency”

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(Image by LTC David Kilcullen).

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