Why military force is usually the wrong choice for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency

I’ll open my first contribution with a confession: I chose a deliberately provocative title. Though of course I did this to draw attention, the statement is nevertheless true.

Before delving into why, let’s ask an easier question: Why is the title provocative? In other words, why would we expect military force to work in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency? The reason, I believe, is that in both terrorism and insurgency there are armed, organized people trying to kill us. This recalls war, and anything short of a show of military force in war smacks of appeasement. Even if a settlement is sought, force acts as a signal of strength. And without force, an enemy comparable to us in strength can run right over us.

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