Winning the Long War: A Study Guide for Understanding the Public Policy Challenges of the War on Terrorism

Report Homeland Security

Winning the Long War: A Study Guide for Understanding the Public Policy Challenges of the War on Terrorism

September 8, 2005 14 min read Download Report

Authors: Paul Rosenzweig, James Carafano and Rebekah Robblee


This guide is intended for use as a companion to Winning the Long War.[1] The book is suitable for use in academic courses and as a discussion tool for policymakers and legal and business professionals seeking to balance America's need for national security with other needs, such as civil liberties and engaging the global business environment in a post-9/11 world.

Winning the Long War considers the lessons learned from the failures and successes of the Cold War and takes a comparative look at the strategies and policies, both foreign and domestic, implemented at that period in history and those taking shape during the U.S.-led war on terrorism. The authors speak from a historical perspective and rec­ommend a holistic approach to waging the war on terrorism, steering contemporary policymakers, professionals, and citizens away from reactionary measures and toward long-term solutions.

The guide summarizes each chapter of the book, provides a series of discussion points taken from topics covered in that chapter, and recommends additional reading materials. Discussion points and supplemental readings can be used to:

  • Initiate class/group discussion,
  • Suggest topics for small group presentations, and
  • Suggest projects for class assignments (e.g., paper/debate topics, etc.).

Winning the Long War is appropriate for courses and discussions relating to homeland security, national security, history, political science, military strategy and reform, international relations, international economics, macroeco­nomics, legal studies, and information security.

Chapter 1: Taking the Offensive

Chapter Summary

  • Complacency only allows the forces of evil to grow. Deciding to take the offensive is sometimes the only way to manage impending threats.
  • The Cold War shaped the intelligence community (IC), focusing resources on technical intelligence collection and separate agencies. The IC continues to emphasize tactical details and management style at the expense of strategic understanding and analytic expertise even though the primary threat to U.S. interests has shifted from the Soviet Union to international terrorism.
  • The U.S. must focus its military resources on missions that are vital to the nation, such as fighting the immediate war on terrorism, preparing for unconventional warfare, maintaining an adequate capability to deter aggression against American interests and allies, and contributing to homeland defense.
  • Winning the peace is part of winning the war. Developing the capabilities to manage post-conflict operations and win the peace must be part of the U.S. defense strategy. Development will require reforming military education, restructuring overseas commands, establishing special post-conflict units, and undertaking an equipment acqui­sition program to assist in integrating military and domestic security operations in post-conflict situations.

Discussion Questions

  • What are some similarities and differences between the Cold War and the global war on terrorism?
  • What threats does each of the three kinds of states pose to the U.S., its interests and its allies, and how can the U.S. mitigate these threats? Consider measures that could be undertaken by the federal government or by the private sector and that might be implemented by the military, diplomatic agents, the intelligence community, or through economic and education policy.
  • Think of specific suggestions for adapting, integrating, or reorganizing the current IC (or any number of its com­ponents) to better address national security needs on a strategic level.
  • What are specific programs and reforms the U.S. military can implement to prepare for and execute post-conflict operations? What are some ways the U.S. could facilitate cooperation with its allies and the private sector in post-conflict operations in order to achieve an effective distribution of responsibility among its military, allies, and the private sector?

Additional Resources

Arreguin-Toft, Ivan, "How the Weak Win Wars: A Theory of Asymmetric Conflict," International Security, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Summer 2001), pp. 93-128.

Echevarria, Antuilo J., Toward an American Way of War (Carlisle, Pa.: Strategic Studies Institute, 2004).

Executive Order 12333, "United States Intelligence Activities," December 4, 1981, at eo12333.html.

U.S. Department of Defense, "Transformation," at

Chapter 2: Protecting the Homeland

Chapter Summary

  • Defending the homeland is a strategic problem. A cohesive strategy requires an overarching idea to govern the establishment and implementation of priorities and the integration of the public and private sectors.
  • America must think through its response to the next 9/11. Thinking about, preparing for, and responding to attacks will lessen the chance for terrorists to succeed and can mitigate the damage they cause by attacks or attempted attacks.
  • Congress must streamline oversight of homeland security in order to ensure that those who are charged with protecting the homeland have the necessary resources and are adequately fulfilling their responsibilities.
  • Federal funds should be focused on making all Americans safer. Strategy-directed spending would focus on cre­ating a national preparedness and response system and on expanding the national capacity to respond to cata­strophic terrorist attacks.
  • Protecting the homeland is a responsibility that is shared among all sectors of society. An effective strategy will establish layers of complementary security measures implemented by people who cooperate and share informa­tion with one another.

Discussion Questions

  • The Homeland Security Strategy of 2002 established six critical mission areas for defending the homeland. Would you define the mission differently? Should any of these mission areas be eliminated or merged? Would you add mission areas? Why?
  • Compare the American response to terrorism and the U.S. role in the war on terrorism to Clausewitz's theory of a trinity of military force, rational leadership, and national will as the governors of war. How does the war on ter­rorism affect, or how is it affected by, the U.S. homeland security strategy?
  • Suggest ways in which the Department of Homeland Security can facilitate the inclusion of state and local gov­ernments and the private sector in establishing complementary layers of security to protect the homeland.
  • How does America's international standing bear on its homeland security strategy? Think of specific ways in which U.S. foreign policy could help to achieve the national homeland security strategy while maintaining or improving America's standing abroad.

Additional Resources

Advisory Panel to Assess the Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruc­tion, Implementing the National Strategy, Fourth Annual Report to the President and the Congress of the Advi­sory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, December 15, 2002, at

Falkenrath, Richard A., "The Problems of Preparedness: Challenges Facing the U.S. Domestic Preparedness Pro­gram," Executive Session on Domestic Preparedness Discussion Paper, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 2000, p. 1.

Office of Homeland Security, The White House, "National Strategy for Homeland Security," July 2002, at

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Web site, at

Chapter 3: Between Liberty and Order

Chapter Summary

  • Achieving a proper balance between order and liberty is vital to the national well-being. American lawmakers must protect the civil rights of American citizens, but they must also ensure that the nation and its people are protected from foreign and/or independent would-be attackers.
  • Those who opposed the anti-terrorism measures in the years immediately following the 9/11 attacks generally either feared the expansion of executive power and/or the growth of technology or acted based on their own political interests.
  • History teaches that a nation cannot deal with its enemies by doing nothing. We are also reminded that the bal­ance between liberty and order is not static. Rather, the balance swings one way or another in reaction to the cir­cumstances of the day and corrects itself over time.
  • Caution is required. The full extent of the emerging terrorist threat is not yet known; it differs from the Cold War, however, in being asymmetrical.
  • The U.S. should establish a set of principles that are capable of guarding its treatment of individual liberties and civil rights while guiding its implementation of law enforcement tools and defense strategies during this pro­tracted struggle.

Discussion Questions

  • Is it possible to achieve both security and civil liberties? What are some ways to safeguard both?
  • There is a perception in American society that terrorists would achieve a key objective if their attacks effected sig­nificant change in society's collective behavior. Is America "giving in" to terrorists by implementing technological security measures such as biometric tracking of foreigners inside the U.S.? Should current law enforcement tools be permitted as homeland and/or national security tools against terrorists?
  • What are the next steps that should be taken to provide the proper anti-terrorism tools for the long war?
  • How can the government employ current technologies to ensure security and at the same time protect civil lib­erties?

Additional Resources

Advisory Panel to Assess the Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruc­tion, Forging America's New Normalcy: Securing Our Homeland, Preserving Our Liberty, Fifth Annual Report to the President and the Congress of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, December 15, 2003, at volume_v.pdf.

Rehnquist, William H., All the Laws But One: Civil Liberties in Wartime (New York: Knopf, 1998).

Rosenzweig, Paul, "Proposals for Implementing the Terrorism Information Awareness System," Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Winter 2004), p. 169.

Stone, Geoffrey, Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2004).

Chapter 4: After the PATRIOT Act

Chapter Summary

  • Prior to enactment of the USA PATRIOT Act, intelligence-gathering mechanisms could be used only if foreign intelligence was the "primary purpose" of an activity. The USA Patriot Act removed the artificial wall that this doctrine had erected between intelligence and law enforcement agencies, allowing them to work together and share information.

    Discussion Questions

    • New technologies can help to achieve the national goal of preventing terrorism; however, they also pose a threat to civil liberties and privacy. The U.S. must update privacy laws to accommodate changing technology while ensuring that new collection capabilities can be implemented without being abused.
    • The U.S. must implement a comprehensive, regularized process for dealing with terrorists, including a system of preventive detention for cases involving terrorism.
    • Order and liberty can be achieved together in the U.S. when proper steps are taken to ensure that the powers given to the executive branch are both exercised thoughtfully and subject to review by the judicial and legislative branches.
    • Does the USA Patriot Act sufficiently balance the U.S.'s need for security and its commitment to liberty? Why or why not?

      Additional Resources

      Gorelick, Jamie S., Instructions on Separation of Certain Foreign Counterintelligence and Criminal Investigations, Memo­randum from Deputy Attorney General, 1995.

      Locke, John, Two Treatises of Government (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).

      Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA Patriot Act) Act of 2001, H.R. 3162, Public Law 107-56, 107th Congress, October 26, 2001, at http://

      U.S. Department of Justice, "The USA PATRIOT Act: Preserving Life & Liberty," at

      Chapter 5: Guns and Butter

      Chapter Summary

        Discussion Questions

          Additional Resources

          Bartley, Robert L., "Thinking Things Over: Does Spending Stimulate? Do Deficits?" The Wall Street Journal, Febru­ary 4, 2002, p. A17.

          Council of Economic Advisers, The White House, Web site, at

          Freidman, Milton, Capitalism and Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962).

          Riedl, Brian M., "How to Get Federal Spending Under Control," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1733, March 10, 2004, at

          Chapter 6: Trade in a Challenging World

          Chapter Summary

            Discussion Questions

              Additional Resources

              Miles, Marc A., Edwin J. Feulner, and Mary Anastasia O'Grady, 2005 Index of Economic Freedom (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation and Dow Jones & Company, Inc., 2005).

              North American Free Trade Agreement Web site, at

              Office of the United States Trade Representative Web site, at

              World Trade Organization Web site, at

              Chapter 7: The War of Ideas

              Chapter Summary

                Discussion Questions

                  Additional Resources

                  Armstrong, Karen, Islam: A Short History (New York: The Modern Library, 2002).

                  Satloff, Robert, "Devising a Public Diplomacy Campaign Toward the Middle East," Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Policy Watch No. 579, October 30, 2001, at policywatch2001/579.htm.

                  The Qur'an, trans. M. A. S. Abdel Haleem(New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).

                  Voice of America Web site, at

                • How can the U.S. ensure that new authority granted to the executive branch, and to the intelligence community specifically, is not abused? Who should ensure that this authority is used properly?
                • How can the U.S. establish a regularized process for preventative detention without violating the basic rights of detainees? Is preventative detention unconstitutional, as some charge? What safeguards or limitations should be put in place? Explain.
                • Where there is no law there is no freedom. Discuss John Locke's theory that in a civilized state, law is a necessary condition of liberty. Do you agree or disagree? Has America properly interpreted and applied this theory in its response to the war on terrorism? Explain.
                • The single-minded pursuit of either security or prosperity means failure in the long war. The needs of immediate security and long-term viability must be balanced against each other.
                • The role of the economy in the war on terrorism involves the total cost of government, not just government actions related to security. A healthy and growing economy is essential for survival in the long war.
                • Government's top priority is providing for the common defense and safety; its second priority is maintaining a healthy economy that creates jobs and raises incomes.
                • To provide an adequate defense and maintain a growing national economy, the U.S. must focus on essential spending programs, such as defense, and cut inefficient and/or unnecessary spending.
                • In setting budget policy, how would you rank the priorities of national defense and maintaining a competitive economy against such other priorities as domestic programs, entitlement funding, and foreign aid? Explain.
                • Respond to this statement: "The better a competitor the United States is economically, the better able it will be to provide for its own security."
                • Compare the economic philosophies and initiatives of wartime Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and George W. Bush as discussed in this chapter. What can the policymakers of today learn from this comparison of previous policies and decisions?
                • Long wars demand strong economies, and free trade is the ultimate engine of economic growth. The national strategy for a long war must preserve free trade and security in equal measure.
                • Building a security network that incorporates the financial burden as a cost of business can spread the respon­sibility fairly across the private and public sectors.
                • Economic growth and involvement in the global economy provide incentives for countries to eliminate corrup­tion within their governments and increase security, reducing the number of targets and sanctuaries available to international terrorists.
                • Developing economies generally cannot afford to implement global security regimes. Established rule of law and law enforcement, transparency in government action, and governance that facilitates economic growth are also required for security. The U.S. can support developing nations that lack the capacity for good governance by continuing to set high standards for aid recipients through the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) program.
                • The U.S. must not become like its enemies and shut itself off from the world. Rather, the U.S. must reform pol­icies that have been responsible for driving away business and trade, lower corporate tax rates in order to strengthen the economy, and set standards of security that the American people deserve.
                • How can the U.S. provide security to its citizens and businesses while encouraging free trade?
                • Can the U.S. continue to participate effectively in global trade through the World Trade Organization? If so, what are some steps the U.S. could take to help "reenergize" the WTO?
                • How could the U.S. government better establish or facilitate the establishment of layered security systems or net­works? What is an appropriate distribution of responsibility for security between the federal government, state and local governments, and the private sector?
                • Does the MCA program sufficiently address the need to assist developing nations in establishing appropriate security measures and good governance? Why or why not? How can the program be improved or better imple­mented?
                • Many argue that the outsourcing trend threatens U.S. national security, either by compromising technology and information or by endangering economic growth. Is this a valid concern? If so, how should it be addressed?
                • Winning a long war involves a struggle of ideas. To destroy the legitimacy of a competing ideology, we must under­stand the enemy, de-legitimize its view of the world, offer a credible alternative, and evidence a will to prevail.
                • Extremists dominate the Islamic discourse and are bent on converting and/or subjugating the world of unbe­lievers. The U.S. must engage in this war of ideas by implementing a more creative and comprehensive program of public diplomacy.
                • Transnational terrorism is conducted by extremists who are using the name of religion to mask their crimes; their teachings contradict the doctrines of traditional Islam. Moderate Muslims within the traditional Islamic commu­nity present a viable alternative to the radicalism advocated in the madrassas and by Wahhabi clerics.
                • By implementing a stronger, more innovative public diplomacy, and by assisting and supporting those within the Arab-Muslim community who advocate moderation and secularism, the U.S. can demonstrate its goodwill toward the community of Arabs and Muslims and communicate its firm resolve in promoting the universal values of tol­erance, human rights, gender and religious equality, ideas of economic and personal freedom, and secularism.
                • What policies can the U.S. implement to counter the widespread anti-American sentiment in the Muslim and Arab world effectively?
                • How can the U.S. work with its allies and members of the Muslim and Arab communities to assist in this task? Make specific recommendations for working with allies and with members of the Muslim and Arab communities in the U.S. and abroad.
                • Muslim leaders in the United Kingdom have requested that foreign Islamic teachers and clerics be forbidden from teaching in or even entering their country. Is this a good solution to the proliferation of radical jihadist doc­trines? Is this a solution the U.S. could reasonably adopt? Why or why not?
                • Can the Western business community facilitate or assist in the acceleration of economic reform in the Muslim and Arab world? If so, how?

                [1]James Jay Carafano and Paul Rosenzweig, Winning the Long War: Lessons
                from the Cold War for Defeating Terrorism and Preserving Freedom
                (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, 2005).


                Paul Rosenzweig
                Paul Rosenzweig

                Former Visiting Fellow, The Heritage Foundation (2009-2017)

                Jim Carafano
                James Carafano

                Vice President, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute

                Rebekah Robblee

                Visiting Fellow