Losing the War on Terror

Produced by Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders

Original Broadcast: May 13, 2009.


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You may have noticed that the United States is no longer fighting a “war on terror.” The term coined by the Bush administration has been tacitly dropped from the rhetoric of the Obama administration. But according to Reza Aslan, that’s not enough. He says, “It is time not just to abandon the phrase “war on terror” but to admit that the ideological struggle against radical Islam could never be won militarily.” Nobody can win a cosmic war. Aslan suggests that we bring things back down to earth, stop thinking in terms of good and evil, and start considering real political grievances that can be absorbed and addressed. In How to Win a Cosmic War he contends that we need to focus our attention less on the streets of Bagdad and the mountains of Afghanistan and turn instead on the boys behind their computers in the suburbs of Paris, the slums of East London and the cosmopolitan cities of Berlin and New York where the real battle for the minds and hearts of Muslims can be won. What are the signs that the Obama administration may be heading in this direction? Are you willing to give up your attachment to “the war on terror” and all that it implies?


Dr. Reza Aslan is a writer, scholar of religions, and a columnist at the Daily Beast. His first book was the New York Times Bestseller No god but God and his most current is How to Win A Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the War on Terror.

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Last update: May 14, 2009.

One thought on “Losing the War on Terror

  1. Question for Reza Aslan:

    In your new book, I was interested to see how many instances of historic religious aggression has been carried out by all of the Abrahamic faiths in the past and how few of those examples most Americans are probably able to recall, but at the same time people will harshly denounce Islam as barbaric because of recent terrorism–possibly the greatest case of the pot calling the kettle black.

    How can we overcome this collective amnesia surrounding any wrongdoing done in the name of Judeo-Christian faith and stifle the willful ignorance of anything related to Islam?