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Bounding the Global War on Terrorism

Dr. Jeffrey Record, Strategic Studies Institute, December 2003

The views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.


The author examines three features of the war on terrorism as currently defined and conducted: (1) the administration's postulation of the terrorist threat, (2) the scope and feasibility of U.S. war aims, and (3) the war's political, fiscal, and military sustainability. He believes that the war on terrorism--as opposed to the campaign against al-Qaeda--lacks strategic clarity, embraces unrealistic objectives, and may not be sustainable over the long haul. He calls for downsizing the scope of the war on terrorism to reflect concrete U.S. security interests and the limits of American military power.


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Dr. Jeffrey Record joined the Strategic Studies Institute in July 2003. His previous assignments included Professor of Strategy and International Security at the Air War College, Montgomery AL; Visiting Professor, Air War College, 1997-99; Military Commentator, The Sun (Baltimore), 1984-92, 1995-2000; Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology, 1995-97; Professional Staff Member, Senate Armed Services Committee, 1993-95; Consultant, Lockheed Martin Corporation, 1980-87, 1995; Legislative Assistant to Senator Bob Krueger, 1993; Legislative Assistant to Senator Lloyd M. Bentsen, 1992-93; Senior Fellow, BDM International, 1990-92; Military Analyst, NBC-TV News (New York), 1990-91; Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute, 1987-90; Consultant, Rockwell Corporation, 1987-90; Senior Fellow, Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, 1980-87; Advisor to Senators William Cohen and Gary Hart, 1980-83; Adjunct Professor of Modern Military History, Georgetown University, 1978-85; Legislative Assistant to Senator Sam Nunn, 1976-80; Research Associate and Rockefeller Younger Scholar, Brookings Institution, 1973-76; and Assistant Province Advisor, Republic of Vietnam, 1967-69.

Dr. Record is the author of numerous books including The Wrong War, Why We Lost in Vietnam (Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1998); Serbia and Vietnam, A Preliminary Comparison of US Decisions to Use Force (Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: Center for Strategy and Technology, Air War College, 1999); Perils of Reasoning by Historical Analogy: Munich, Vietnam, and American Use of Force Since 1945 (Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: Center for Strategy and Technology, Air War College 1998); co-author of NATO Enlargement: Two Views (Atlanta, GA: Center for International Strategy, Technology mad Policy, 1997); and Ready for What and Modernized Against Whom? (Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 1995); and numerous articles appearing in New York Times, Parameters, Proceedings, Defense Week, Atlanta Journal, Baltimore Sun, Armed Forces Journal, Los Angeles Times, Survival, Forth Worth Star-Telegram, and Strategic Review. Dr. Record received a B.A. in Political Science from Occidental College and an M.A. and Ph.D. in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.