So far, the war on terror is a classic guerrilla war. Irregular troops are pitted against civil authorities and the military of various countries. If you listen to what the terrorist organizations are saying, it becomes apparent that the motivations for terrorist actions are based upon Islamic doctrine and culture. The wild card here is the repeated suicide attacks. This is only the 2nd time in all of recorded history that this phenomenon has been seen. The 1st occurrence had its basis in the culture of Bushido. This prior occurrence was eventually defeated through massive violence. The entire political, educational and economic systems of the area that produced these attackers were changed completely. It is unlikely that this type of change will occur in the areas that are producing the current crop of suicide attackers.
The widespread occurrence of this phenomenon indicates that the population that is supplying these attackers is so large that it is most likely to continue into the indefinite future unless some cataclysmic event occurs. The population that is supplying these attackers is so large that it would take World War III for this event to take place. The eventual spread of weapons of mass destruction makes the likelihood of another world war almost inevitable. Warfare is a basic part of human nature. As technology increases, our ability to kill each other is enhanced. As a result, our wars are becoming more and more destructive. How do we prevent the next BIG war?
I like to use the analogy of earthquakes. If you keep having small ones, you are probably OK. Once you notice that it has been some time since the last one, WATCH OUT. This is because the pressure is not being released, and a build up occurs. Human nature is not so precise, however it does not change. It has been more than 4 generations since the last world war. People forget what it is like. They forget how it happened, and how it could have been prevented. Although history can never repeat itself exactly, patterns do emerge. Warfare is a part of us, despite the fact that most people do not want it to occur. The issues that trigger war many times cannot be resolved except through warfare. Slavery in the United States is one obvious example. No political solution was available to end slavery. This is a common feature with most wars. The issues that are underlying the current war on terror today likewise will not be resolved without violence. Attempting to stall the resolution or preventing the violence that it triggers just may end up making the overall effect much larger than it already is. The fact that so many people are involved in these issues already can be an indicator of just how large this war can eventually become.