Reza Aslan's "How to Win a Cosmic War"

In "How To Win a Cosmic War," Reza Aslan explains why George W. Bush's war-on-terror rhetoric played right into Al Qaeda's hands—and how Barack Obama might be the best weapon yet against global jihadism.

The idea: Groups like Al Qaeda believe they're fighting a take-no-prisoners war between the forces of good and evil. By adopting the same crusader mentality, Bush and U.S. evangelicals validated Al Qaeda's claim that the West and Muslims are engaged in an end-times battle.

The evidence: Cosmic warriors have several defining features: they're not out to achieve specific political agendas; they want apocalyptic global transformation. They use a "with us or against us" mantra that justifies killing innocents. So how to fight such zealots? Refuse to use their us vs. them terminology. Allow Islamist parties political participation, which tends to moderate them and counterbalances the lure of jihadism. In the case of Europe, home to the vast majority of Qaeda recruits, stop forcing Muslims to choose between their faith and nation.

The conclusion: After eight years of Bush, Obama's election and global popularity are throwing jihadists for a loop. Finally, the U.S. has a president who knows that the "way to win a cosmic war is to refuse to fight in one"—a good step toward defusing jihadism's appeal