For better or worse, President George W. Bush has engaged the United States in a war to address the strategic threat from Islamist Middle-East-based terrorism. The consensus from all the studies and publicly available intelligence of the past thirty years, is that Islamist Terrorism is essentially a loose network of groups with a common general goal or driving the United States out of the Middle East, after which a union of Islamic Republics will be established. Some of these groups are backed by governmental organizations, such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Others are nominally independent, such as Al Qaeda. The essential point to understand here, is that these groups cooperate to varying degrees for the common purpose of asymmetrical warfare, especially designed to pursue propaganda and financial goals, to weaken alliances between the West and where possible break them, and to destabilize any and all Western-style governments in the Middle East.
To call terrorism a "global threat" is like saying there's a "global threat" of crime that requires some sort of military response. I still believe that most terrorism is a matter for POLICE response, not military. The first attack on the World Trade Center was solved by police work and the perps are in jail and no longer a threat to anyone. OTOH, the author of the second WTC attack is still on the loose and no doubt still plotting dirty deeds.
Admittedly, having a puppet government in Kabul helped Osama out and we were justified to replace them with people who had some respect for international law and order.
But what about Iraq. Terrorism was one of the many excuses that Bush has used to justify his invasion of that nation, but the result has been that it's gone from a place with almost no terrorist activity to being the site of the vast majority of the world's attacks. If this is what Bush sees as the "central front" in the GWOT, then we are losing.
And I believe it's because of using the wrong tactics in the fight. We learned that when you remove all semblance of civil authority in a region, the terrorists do NOT go away, but rather become the authorities themselves.
I still believe that the best solution is to work with governments to help them handle terrorism issues within their own borders. There will be some, like the Taliban, who choose to enable terrorists, and those should be met with a unified, international front to either get them to comply with international law, or through multilateral, unified action, to find another group which will.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!