Warning: Policy Wonking
This article is an amazingly poor analysis of the Jihadi threat and the Western world's response to it. I quote:
"To ensure that these vulnerabilities remain well below the existential threshold, however, we will soon have to build a new combat orthodoxy involving deterrence, preemption, and war-fighting options, together with bold new ideas for protective international alignments. We will also have to take a fresh look at arrangements for both active and passive defenses."
Terrorism is not a new tactic. The US is well acquainted with it, as it helped secure our freedom from Britain (see the history of sniping and the British reaction to it for more on this). I do not mean this as a slight against the US. It is a fact, although a slightly obfuscated one.
The US used water-boarding torture (yes, it is torture) during the Spanish American war too, but that's not entirely my point.
The far-reaching disruptive effects terrorist actions like 9-11, the British Underground and the Spanish train attacks says more about the fragility of our infrastructure, the poverty of our disaster planning and the malfeasance of our national risk management than it does for the efficacy of terrorism.
If we put all our eggs in one basket by putting every important banking and financial institution in a 10 block radius, can you really expect our enemies not to exploit this?
What I want to see is a serious, intelligent risk assessment of our national infrastructure and concrete ideas for security it. Risk remediation will be painful, costly and time consuming, the results will be worth it.
We need to mitigate the creation of new terrorists. We need to reduce our vulnerabilities to single, low-tech attacks. We need robust emergency response systems. These steps prevent terrorism for becoming an existential threat.
Pre-emptive strikes are not the solution to Terrorism. Broad international coalitions are not, in themselves, going to stop terrorism. Terrorism is extremely personal and decentralized. Neo-conservatives like Dick Cheney could not believe that 9-11 lacked government backing. He is not used to bootstrapping companies, it seems. Technology has made organizing and logistics incredibly cheap.
We are the architects of the weapons the terrorists exploit. The sooner our leaders recognize this point, the sooner we can replace security theater with real national security.