Summary of The Evolving Terrorist Threat: Implications for Global Security

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The George W. Bush administration set lofty goals after September 11, 2001: Iraq would become a thriving democracy, and the United States and its allies would end jihadi terrorism. Alas, the next 16 years proved that dreams of Middle Eastern peace and democracy were far-fetched. The Middle East will never be tranquil, former US defense official Michael G. Vickers flatly says in this lecture and the subsequent interview with RAND Corporation senior vice president Andrew Hoehn. The best hope is to contain the terror threat to allow the region to stabilize – but even that reduced goal will require constant vigilance, Vickers posits. getAbstract recommends this speech to policy makers and global investors seeking insight into the chaos in the Middle East.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why al-Qaeda won “round one” of the war on terror,
  • How the United States bounced back to claim “round two,” 
  • How ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliates took “round three,” and
  • Why the war won’t end anytime soon.

About the Speaker

Michael G. Vickers, PhD, is the former US undersecretary of defense for intelligence and the former assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict.



The war on terror, which began in 2001, has shown dramatic turns of fortune. The momentum shifted notably as al-Qaeda, the US and ISIS have experimented with various strategies. Al-Qaeda won “round one” of the war, a five-year period. The terrorist group completed the devastating September 11, 2001, attacks, revealing weaknesses in the previous US strategies of containment and one-time strikes. After executing the strikes on US soil, al-Qaeda absorbed the US counterattack and continued to innovate. The US response was ambitious: The George W. Bush administration aimed to turn Iraq into a model democracy. However, a dearth of troops and intel weakened the campaign.

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