OK, I know it sounds crazy, but that is the sanest strategy for the U.S.A.
Let me explain. By any common-sense definition, we are at war even though there has been no congressional declaration of war. I believe the first thing we must do is to enact a formal declaration of war against any and all terrorists and terrorist organizations that threaten the United States.
The declaration should specify that we will pursue such terrorists anywhere they may be found without regard to national borders. Once that position is made clear, we should bring home most of our troops and cease our attempts at nation-building.
Our troops would be replaced by beginning the development of a far more extensive intelligence network than we now have or have ever had in the past. As terrorist networks are discovered through our intelligence network, we would, where practical, request that law enforcement arrest and prosecute the terrorists or deliver them to us. In countries such as Afghanistan, where there is no effective national government, the intelligence agents on the ground would be empowered to make calls for missile strikes from aerial drones in order to destroy the terrorist networks, training camps, etc.
I realize this is an unconventional approach, but we are fighting an unconventional enemy and it takes advantage of our technological superiority. This is not a quick fix, but our current military strategy assumes that we will maintain some level of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan more or less indefinitely, probably for the next fifteen years, or longer. Developing the intelligence networks will take time but will be far less costly in both the blood of our soldiers and in dollars over the long run.
Our current strategy is working but is unsustainable. It is too costly and we will, in time, lose the political will to continue that strategy because of its success at preventing attacks here at home. Yet this success cannot be allowed to keep us from being on the offensive against terrorists both now and for years to come. The only practical way to combat a non-uniformed force employing terrorist tactics is with human intelligence. It can be done, and with patience and persistence, it will succeed.
So, are you ready to declare war and bring home the troops?