To what extent does the War on Terrorism represent a break with previous United States foreign and defense policy? To what extent does the War on Terrorism represent a break with previous United States foreign and defense policy?

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The War on Terror is like the War on Drugs, but facing outward. It is every bit as difficult and possibly futile. In each case, we were fighting a war we did not know how to fight. We didn't know where our enemies were.
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The War on Terror is a very abstract war - it is a war against an idea and a decentralized group, or groups, of terrorists spread throughout the globe.  This is very different from the Cold War, which, while still a war against an idea - communism - was a very clear cut war against the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union.  It was very clear who our "enemies" were, and the country was relatively united in what to do about it in terms of military action.

With the War on Terror, we are fighting al-Qaeda (in more than one country), the Taliban, local Islamic militants in several countries, and even homegrown terrorists in the United States.  A war strictly against terrorism, as has been admitted by US Generals, has no military solution.  It is much more a war for the economy, and for hearts and minds over the long term.

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