Now, Phillip Carter gives another area in which the Bush admin is looking at the war on terror through the pre-9/11 lens: It sees it as a law enforcement issue (Thanks to Kevin Drum). Obviously this is quite ironic, as one of the Bush campaign's key charges against Kerry was that he didn't see the war on terror as a war at all. But as Carter notes:
"I can't even count the times have we heard this administration said it was fighting a war against terrorism — not an intelligence and law enforcement endeavor. I think this critique hits the nail on the head. The Bush administration is waging a war on Al Qaeda. But it continues to use metrics better suited for law enforcement in measuring its success in that war. To date, the administration has not devised a grand strategy for measuring political, moral, economic or strategic progress against Al Qaeda, much less what victory might look like. And thus, we measure our success using crude metrics like the body count — something which is ananthema to most military planners today, but still used in the prosecutorial context by officials who measure their success by convictions and imprisonments."
Michael Scheuer, former chief of the CIA's Bin Laden unit supports, remarking in The New York Times:
"I think Al Qaeda has suffered substantially since 9/11, and it may have slowed down its operations, but to take the two-thirds number as a yardstick is a fantasy.[...] To say that they have only one-third of their leadership left is a misunderstanding. That is looking at it from a law enforcement perspective. They pay a lot of attention to leadership succession, and so one of the main tenets of Al Qaeda is to train people to succeed leaders who are captured or killed."
I pointed out in reference to the Iraq insurgency that measures of success based solely on body count (either ours or theirs) are flawed and don't take into account the political realities of the ground situation. Unless we want to continue fighting this war into perpetuity, we need to win the war of ideas as well as the war on the ground. We could be killing 100 Al-Qaeda operatives a day, but if they can replace them as fast as we can kill them we aren't making progress. The Bush administration, by not creating a comprehensive strategy for winning the war (and by mucking up the closest thing they have to one: Democratizing Iraq and the Middle East), is making the world a more dangerous place and hampering the war on terror.