"Many (people) still fail to comprehend the extent of the threat posed by radical Islam," said presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and one of the top Republican candidates for the presidential race. He identified radical Islam and the jihadist threat as "the defining challenge of our generation."
Romney compared the challenge of radical Islam to that posed by Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s and the Soviet Union in the Cold
"Jihad is much broader than any one nation, or even several nations. It is broader than the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, or that between the Israelis and the Palestinians," he wrote, in an article for the Foreign Affairs journal.
"Our enemies now have sleeper cells rather than armies. They use indiscriminate terror rather than tanks. Their soldiers - as well as their victims - include children." He noted that it was often conceptually difficult for representatives, accustomed to conflicts between nations, to know how to deal with such new tactics.
If elected, Romney wrote, he would convene a summit between the United States, moderate Muslim nations and developed countries to create a worldwide strategy to defeat violent Islam.
Among other things, the coalition would fund public schools in the moderate Muslim world, support microcredit initiatives, human rights, education and the rule of law.
This is because, according to Romney, terror groups were often increasingly effective due to their ability to provide civilian services, left unanswered due to mismanagement of such tasks by international organizations.
"We struggle to integrate our nonmilitary instruments into coherent, timely, and effective operations," he said, noting the lag time of trans-national agencies to provide basic civil services in Iraq.
"It's no surprise" that Hamas and Hizbullah gained the support of the people because they were able to provide civilian services that the international community was not, he wrote.
He stressed the importance of transforming interagency coordination, in order to develop a more effective way for national and international organizations to provide civilians services and avoid being displaced in this capacity by militant or terrorist groups.
The former governor talked about the international community's difficulty in dealing with nations such as Iran, noting that it was proving impossible to reach a consensus even about sanctions to address an increasingly deteriorating situation.
Romney said he would also lead an "energy revolution" to make the United States independent of foreign oil, so that "our decisions and destiny cannot be bound to the whims of oil-producing states."
AFP contributed to this report