While the dialogue continues on how best to conduct this fight, we and our partners stand united on its larger purpose. And this much is certain: America cannot win this war without allies.
My deputy Steve Kappes and I have gone to dozens of countries in our first year--many have been visited more than once. I cannot overstate how vital these relationships are to our overall effort.
For when I talk about winning this war, I do so in full knowledge that it is a highly complex and long-term struggle fought on two levels--what I call the close fight and the deep fight. And our foreign partners are pivotal to success on both fronts.
The close fight is very straightforward--it's about people who want to kill us. They can't be stopped unless we kill or capture them.
On this front, our foreign partners extend our reach and help us across the spectrum of our operations. The efforts of multiple services are often coordinated against a terrorist or group that has regional or global affiliations. Our collaboration has disrupted attacks that could have been on the same scale as those of 9/11.
The UK airliner plot and the takedowns of Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, Mullah Dadullah, and many, many others show what can be accomplished by close teamwork among allies. We've used that teamwork and every lawful tactic at our disposal--every inch of the space we're given--to protect all our citizens from terrorist brutality.
We've had strong success in the close fight. But we face an adaptive and resilient enemy who poses a heightened threat, as I mentioned earlier.
I talked recently with a reporter friend about my hard-to-find/easy-to-kill model. With his usual insight, my friend added--once again, unlike the Soviet Union--that al-Qa'ida, in addition to being hard to find, is quick to regenerate. Al-Qa'ida has compensated for losing its Afghan safehaven and key operational lieutenants by regrouping in Pakistan's tribal areas, where they've recruited from a ready pool of adherents.
And therein lies the deep fight: blunting the jihadists' appeal to disenchanted young Muslim men--and, increasingly, young Muslim women as well. The deep fight requires discrediting and eliminating the jihadist ideology that motivates the hatred and violence. It requires winning a war of ideas.
I recognize that some of the actions required by the close war can make fighting the deep war even more complicated. But it's rare in life that doing nothing is a legitimate or morally acceptable course of action. Responsibility demands action. Dealing with the immediate threat must naturally be our first priority.
Killing and capturing terrorists keeps them at bay and protects our people. But defeating the worldview responsible for producing those terrorists diminishes the threat itself. Winning the war of ideas defines the long-term victory we and our allies seek.
I want to be absolutely clear that this conflict is not about religion. The war of ideas is not about Islam. It's about fanatics whose victims most often have been Muslims. The terrorists must be exposed for the scourge they are and reviled for the horror and suffering they inflict. Only then can they be uprooted at their source.
The deep fight, which our society as a whole must wage, requires that jihadist ideas of violence, extremism, and intolerance be countered by ideas of peace, moderation, and inclusion. It requires a tireless global campaign by a broad coalition of nations and societies. But it's our friends in the Islamic world, repulsed by al-Qa'ida's savage distortion of their faith, who must take a leading role.
Any discussion of this war--and certainly this war of ideas--would be incomplete without reference to global media. It is one of the decisive battlegrounds in the post-9/11 era. It's where al-Qa'ida can attempt to spread its grand illusion of a noble struggle, or where its operatives can be revealed as murderers who try to justify their atrocities with a violent, bankrupt ideology.