Another reason that America's counterterrorism strategy is unsustainable is because the bar has been set too high. It is unrealistic to expect local partners to be interested in or capable of controlling every shred of territory or teeming city where extremists might take root and flower. The primary goal of regimes like this is holding on to power, not making the United States more secure. Accepting this basic truth might allow American policymakers to jettison traditional notions of "victory" and "defeat" that do not apply to the struggle with the form of transnational terrorism created by the ongoing social and political revolutions in the Islamic world. Policymakers and analysts should abandon the quixotic search for a magic number of U.S. forces small enough to be tolerated by the public and Congress but large enough to deter or defeat the extremists. Policymakers need to walk away from the idea that almost every regime or political organization in the Islamic world fighting extremists deserves support. They should realize that the political elites in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere will not suddenly change no matter how long American money flows to them. And, most of all, Americans need to accept the idea that eradicating extremism once and for all is not a realistic objective.
I think we really need to focus on countering unconventional and political warfare that is being practiced by state and non-state actors.
• Our opponents excel at Unconventional Warfare (UW), Political Warfare (PW), New Generation Warfare, Three Warfares, Psychological Warfare and Propaganda, etc.
– AQ, ISIL/ISIS, Iran, Russia, and China just to name a few
– We do war fighting very well – best in the world
• We need to be able to do something else well in addition to war fighting so maybe countering UW/PW is a necessity particularly to address non-existential threats
• Bottom line is we have to operate effectively across the spectrum of conflict and that includes countering our adversaries who are conducting unconventional and political warfare in a hybrid conflict environment.
• Change the Narrative
– Terrorism is a tactic and a symptom
• Part of subversion and sabotage in UW
– Threats are conducting UW and PW and using terrorism
– Focus on enemy conducting UW/PW and exposing and attacking the enemy’s UW/PW strategy