"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
-- Benjamin Franklin
I don't really think "charity bombing" would have a lasting effect on terrorism (although I'm certain we could feed and clothe the entire Middle East for less than we're spending on military operations there).
But we need to do something other than what we're doing now because our present strategy clearly isn't working. Bin Laden and whoever else masterminds radical Islamic terrorism have gotten inside of our turning circle. Everything we do or don't do plays into their game plan. The Bush strategists either don't see this or they do see it and don't want to believe it.
So what do we do differently?
I'm not sure, but the first step in formulating any plan is to set realistic, achievable, and tangible goals. Abstract platitudes like "spreading democracy and freedom throughout the world" won't cut it any better than visions of sugarplums dancing through our leaders' heads.
It doesn't take a strategic genius to figure out that the objective of a "War on Terrorism" might need to be something to do with terrorism. Defeating it, beating it, stopping it, ending it, deterring it, preventing it, punishing it...
As we have clearly seen, invading and occupying other countries does not defeat terrorism. So we might not want to invade and occupy any more countries, you think?
The size of the errors in Iraq and Afghanistan is too profound to sweep under the carpet. What we need is an honest to goodness plan to exit those countries. Not necessarily abandon them, per se; but we need to make it quite clear that we won't stick around forever, and that means setting timetables for taking off the training wheels. (This business of comparing Iraq and Afghanistan to America's revolution is ludicrous. We didn't ask the British to stick around for a decade or so while we came up with our constitution.)
We've also seen that unilateral US action cannot defeat terrorism. We need to bring our traditional allies into the game. That's going to involve eating a large helping of crow, but so what? Is the objective to defeat terrorism or save face? (Remember now, it's a war on "terrorism," not embarrassment.)
No war can be won without superior command and control. That means establishing clear chains of command defining who is responsible to whom for what. I seriously doubt anyone has a wire diagram that shows the organization of the countless agencies involved in Homeland Security. If such a thing does exist, it's indecipherable.
Our armed services are not designed or organized to combat terrorism or insurgencies. This has to change. And it doesn't have to cost a lot of money. We can probably re-gear our entire military for the cost of two aircraft carriers, and still retain enough "conventional force" to fight and defeat anyone else's military.
But perhaps the most important thing we need to do in our War on Terror is to declare a War on Bullshit. No more "flypaper theory," no more "with us or against us," no more "bring 'em on," no more "last throes." And no more "what's past is past." Our nation's leaders--especially our elected officials--need to be held accountable for their actions. If our leaders aren't accountable, we truly are defeated.