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Preventing the Next Attack

A Strategy for the War on Terrorism

The new normal: at John F. Kennedy Airport, February 2012 Andrew Burton / Reuters

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the United States’ resolve was clear: never again. Never again would it let shadowy networks of jihadists, acting in the name of a perverted version of Islam, carry out a catastrophic attack on American soil. And so, in fits and starts, the George W. Bush administration and then the Obama administration developed a strategy for fighting what became known as “the global war on terror.” Washington sought to disrupt plots wherever they emerged and deny terrorists safe havens wherever they existed. When possible, it would rely on local partners to prosecute the fight. But when necessary, it would act alone to disrupt plots and kill or capture terrorist operatives and leaders, including with drone strikes and daring special operations raids such as the one that killed Osama bin Laden.

Today, the terrorist threat looks much different than it did right before 9/11. The U.S. counterterrorism

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