The main argument upon which Alan Dowd bases his well-researched July 2002 article is that the United States should grasp historical and practical similarities between the Cold War and the War on Terror, but should more importantly understand the critical differences. It is crucial that these differences be identified and incorporated into U.S. policy for the War on Terror to be won.
Though both the Soviets and al Queda share a goal of "global revolution", a strategy of containment worked for the former and not the latter. Containment is a successful tactic only when coexistence with an enemy is an option. And coexistence is an option only when the enemy recognizes the legitimacy of the United States.
Further, the War on Terror cannot be won on a traditional battlefield. Dowd's thesis is that the following three thrusts of American power must be brought to bear long term; "capital, creativity and continuity". His conclusion is that with a sustained blending of these factors, the U.S. is a "superpower capable of defeating any foe and outlasting any transnational movement".
Dowd makes the distinction that the Cold War emphasized foreign aid to those totalitarian countries they wished to unseat. And this may be helpful in the case of Pakistan or Afghanistan, but 21st terrorism is not found only in "misery and want" but is a state of mind found in echelons of many lands and economic levels.
To be effective against terrorism Dowd re-emphasizes the absolute need for creative diplomacy which embraces Alexis de Tocqueville's observation that Americans can rely on their "inventive power of the mind", in this case an economic and military policy. The military issues presented to countries involved must be specific and non-negotiable along with support economically or domestically where appropriate. This could "widen the gap between political moderates and (the) religious extremists" who continue to be enemies of democracy. As support for this view, Dowd offers the example of Ronald Reagan providing "hope" to those oppressed in Poland and Hungary as part of an effective diplomacy against Communism. As countries today for whom the U.S. could use the same tactics, he suggests Turkey, Jordan and Pakistan.
Dowd's premise of the U.S.'s necessity to be "creative warriors" in order to be successful against terrorism, emphasizes diplomacy and "military audacity". The extended airlifts to Berlin and success when the Berlin Wall fell illustrates this. Dowd submits that today's opportunity lies in Afghanistan.
Finally, Dowd concludes his article with explaining that unique and successful foreign policy in America can only work in the war against terror, with (a.) the continuity of policy through various administrations and (b.) the patience and support of the American population.