Addressing the Terrorist Threat

Terrorism violates the most basic human rights. It cannot be justified by any cause and must be universally condemned.

Terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy. The enemy of the United States and our allies is the people, organizations, and institutions that harness extremist Islamist and other ideologies to engage in and justify the killing of innocent civilians to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives.

Neutralizing these violent extremists and countering the ideologies that sustain them is a fundamental challenge of our generation. We cannot succeed without thoughtful, creative, and multi-faceted approaches sustained over decades to come.

We the undersigned urge leaders from across the political spectrum to come together to develop a comprehensive bipartisan national strategy for addressing the terrorist threat based on the following principles:

No nation can successfully address the terrorist threat alone. Destroying terrorist networks and countering violent, extremist ideologies will require strong partnerships with allies based on mutual respect, shared interests and values, sustained coordinated action, effective engagement of the United Nations and other multilateral institutions, and the sacrifice and efforts of many people within many nations. America must work closely with our allies. Our allies must recognize that, in spite of past differences, outcomes in places like Iraq and Afghanistan will affect global security for decades to come, and we all must act toward a common purpose.

Forceful measures are necessary to eliminate terrorist networks. The ability to use force effectively must be enhanced by developing new strategies and new capabilities tailored for this effort.

But force alone will not be sufficient for addressing the terrorist threat and can be counter-productive when not part of a comprehensive, integrated, and long-term strategy for both eliminating terrorist networks and addressing the ideology that underpins their activities. This strategy must engage other nations and institutions, and integrate every appropriate means at our disposal — including public diplomacy, diplomacy, law enforcement, intelligence, foreign assistance, border security, homeland security, and financial measures.

Intelligence is a crucial tool in preventing terrorist attacks and hunting down and breaking up terrorist networks. To succeed, our intelligence agencies must effectively collect, share, analyze, and act upon information to keep pace with a nimble enemy. We must also cooperate with other intelligence services to track and disrupt an enemy that operates across the globe.

America and our allies must wage a far more vigorous campaign of ideas in the Islamic world and elsewhere based on our historic constitutional principles — and consistently live up to those principles, even when fighting the terrorists. Because change in the Islamic world must ultimately come from within, the United States and our allies must reach out to and support voices of moderation in the Islamic world and elsewhere.

The rule of law is not an obstacle to fighting terrorists; it is an essential tool for addressing the long-term terrorist threat. Only promoting the practices and ideals of freedom, liberal democracy, opportunity, and the rule of law around the world — and protecting these principles at home — can help America and our allies ultimately vanquish the ideologies that drive terrorism.

Terrorism is a political act requiring a political response. Our strategy must include helping to build democracies, broaden economic opportunities, deepen civil society institutions, and establish better mechanisms for addressing legitimate grievances while never capitulating to terrorist demands.

Freedom and democracy can only flourish where human dignity is respected. America and our allies must address global poverty, disease, and under-development in a far more aggressive and comprehensive manner to build a safer and more secure future for all Americans and all people. Weak and failing states, where desperation and hopelessness prevail, can provide safe havens for terrorists and their ideology, as well as for organized crime, narcotics trafficking, illegal arms sales, and money laundering — the activities that often fund terrorists.

American security will be greatly enhanced by breaking our over-dependence on oil, which has exacerbated the terrorist threat. America must invest far more in energy efficiency and alternative energy technologies, significantly reduce non-renewable energy use in vehicles, workplaces, and homes, and be more aggressive in setting goals for greater energy independence.

America must address its continuing and unnecessary vulnerability to terrorist attack. We must make our ports, chemical plants, and nuclear facilities and other critical infrastructure more secure, do far more to secure existing stockpiles of weapons materials in Russia and elsewhere, significantly enhance the preventive and responsive capacity of our public health system and hospitals, and take other critical preventive measures.

Our local emergency responders, public health officials, border patrol, Coast Guard, and National Guard must be given the resources they need to prevent and respond effectively to terrorist attacks on US soil. Preparedness funds must be allocated through a national requirements process based on a thorough analysis of long-term risks and vulnerabilities.

How America responds to the terrorist threat will determine not only our safety and security at home, but our leadership abroad. Our future depends on it.



Warren Rudman, US Senator (R-NH) 1980-92
Lee Hamilton, US Congressman (D-IN) 1965-99, Vice Chair, 9/11 Commission
Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State 1997-2001
Howard Baker, US Senator (R-TN) 1967-85
Samuel Berger, National Security Advisor 1997-2000
Warren Christopher, Secretary of State 1993-97
Lawrence Eagleburger, Secretary of State 1992-93
Gary Hart, US Senator (D-CO) 1975-87
Rita Hauser, Chair International Peace Academy 1992-present
Carla Hills, US Trade Representative 1989-93
Nancy Kassebaum Baker, US Senator (R-KS) 1978-1997
Thomas Kean, Governor of NJ 1982-1990, Chairman, 9/11 Commission
Anthony Lake, National Security Advisor 1993-97
Robert McFarlane, National Security Advisor 1983-85
Donald McHenry, Ambassador to UN 1979-81
Sam Nunn, US Senator (D-GA) 1972-96
Thomas Pickering, Undersecretary of State 1997-2000
Ted Sorensen, White House Special Counsel 1961-63
John C. Whitehead, Deputy Secretary of State 1985-89