In what is now the vicious circle of violence that pits ‘terrorist’ and ‘counter-terrorist’ is there a place for dialogue? Can dialogue feasibly restrict the spread and intensity of violence? More ambitiously perhaps, can it set in train a process that might bring healing to the deep wounds that that have been festering for decades? To explore these questions this paper begins by clarifying the nature and scope of the problem as it has unfolded over time. It delineates the scope and modalities of the conflict: its historical roots, the way it has manifested itself in the politics of the Muslim world, the interests of the United States and its allies, and the tensions that have accompanied the rise of substantial Muslim minorities in several Western countries. The paper then goes on to consider the efforts made thus far to bring the philosophy and method of dialogue to bear on the Islam-West divide, and its offshoot the terrorism-counterterrorism dynamic. Reflecting on the lessons to be drawn from these earlier endeavours, the paper sets out the new conceptual and practical innovations that should inform the dialogue agenda in the years ahead.
Keywords: War on Terror, Terrorism, the West, Islam, Dialogue