Executive Summary: For more than 30 years, an ideological movement called Islamism has been at war with the West. This paper presents a long-term perspective on the nature of this war, alternative Western reactions to the attack, possible future developments, and the likely outcome.
Only a small fraction of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims support Islamism’s war against the West. But Islamist ideology is based on mainstream Muslim thinking and behavior, and Islamism is important because of its potential appeal to Muslims, even though many Muslim scholars and thinkers insist that its ideology is not the correct understanding of Islam.
The war has so far had limited effect on world affairs and casualties in the West have been a fraction of past wars. Most of the turmoil in the Middle East results primarily from other causes, including Western responses in Iraq and Afghanistan.