Blending academic objectivity with a clear agenda of devising a new strategic U.S. approach to Al Qaeda, McGrath proposes policy options for confronting terrorism. He asserts that Al Qaeda is primarily a political threat, rather than a military one that challenges the very nature of the U.S. political system and therefore requires a political response. He argues that while coercive means are necessary to reduce Al Qaeda’s capacity for violence, a coercive approach alone is insufficient.
The U.S., McGrath contends, must politically undercut Al Qaeda by addressing key political disputes that fuel the US-Al Qaeda conflict in a manner consistent with traditional U.S. foreign policy values. He argues that not only will such an approach weaken Al Qaeda's internal cohesion and politically isolate Al Qaeda from the public that hides and assists it, but it will also stunt terrorism's subversive effects on the American political character.