Rand Corporation has recently published a report which concludes that terrorist groups rarely cease to exist as a result of winning or losing a military campaign. To me it is mind-boggling that it took Rand, or anyone else, 8 years to come to this conclusion. Now the damage has been done. Hundreds of billions of dollars wasted, over a million lives lost, millions of people displaced, destruction of property and in the end we’ve only created more “terrorists” which in turn could be used as a pretext to continue the GWOT.
By analyzing a comprehensive roster of terrorist groups that existed worldwide between 1968 and 2006, the authors found that most groups ended because of operations carried out by local police or intelligence agencies or because they negotiated a settlement with their governments. Military force was rarely the primary reason a terrorist group ended, and few groups within this time frame achieved victory.
These findings suggest that the U.S. approach to countering al Qa’ida has focused far too much on the use of military force. Instead, policing and intelligence should be the backbone of U.S. efforts.