Defining the Threats in the War on Terror
March 2007

Why is the war on terror going wrong in the Middle East? Several reasons exist, but one of the primary obstacles to better policies is the definition of threats used in US media and policy circles. American security thinking is masking real-world divisions between vastly different terrorist groups and Islamic sects, raising the probability of military confrontation with Iran while lessening the chances of an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

To start with the latest headlines: Iran’s nuclear energy program indeed has strong potential for use in weapons production, which could cause further nuclear proliferation by Saudi Arabia and dramatically raise regional tensions. Iran also supports Hamas and Hezbollah, two anti-Israeli groups that could evolve toward normal political activity—like Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland—but whose current violent activities block any regional peace effort.

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This page is part of Rising Powers: The New Global Reality, a project from the Stanley Foundation.