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A new push for change in the war on terror

In Foreign Policy magazine's Terrorism Index, experts paint a bleak picture of progress and point to diminishing security for the US.

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The US is losing the war on terror. That's the assessment of the nation's top foreign-policy, intelligence, and national-security leaders from across the ideological spectrum. In this year's Terrorism Index, a survey released Monday by Foreign Policy magazine, 84 percent of these experts believe the nation is losing the war on terror, while more than 90 percent say the world is growing more dangerous for Americans.

That's prompted a variety of leaders to call for a complete rethinking of the nation's strategy. And some are looking back to the cold war's battle against communism to find models for the ideological struggle against terrorism.

A key component is deterrence, the policy that, at the height of the cold war, kept the superpowers' nuclear warheads safely in their bunkers – the only way to avoid mutually assured destruction (MAD). Another is a call for a Middle East Marshall Plan to help develop the region's economies and confront the alienation of the young.

"We need a grand strategy to address not only the question of al Qaeda, but also, how do you put out the fires in the region?" says Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East expert at New York's Sarah Lawrence College. "How do you diffuse the crisis and help the Muslims in order to counterbalance the militant ideologies that are simmering above the surface and below the surface?"

The Terrorism Index was developed by Foreign Policy magazine and the Center for American Progress a year ago, as a way to gauge progress in the war on terror. The original idea was to determine whether the nation was deterring, capturing, or killing more terrorists each day than were being recruited, trained, and deployed. Such information proved nearly impossible to obtain. So the groups decided to survey top foreign-policy, intelligence, military, and academic experts on their sense of progress.

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