The end, though, takes a look at what really is the only long-term workable solution to the issue...assuming there is a solution:
[I]n the short run, winning this war requires effective police/intelligence action, to kill or capture the jihadists. I call that “the war on terrorists.” In the long run, though, winning requires partnering with Arab and Muslim societies to help them build thriving countries, integrated with the world economy, where young people don’t grow up in a soil poisoned by religious extremists and choked by petro-dictators so they can never realize their aspirations. I call this “the war on terrorism.” It takes a long time.I say "assuming there is a solution" because I have my doubts about the passage I put in bold in the first paragraph. It's an open question how much of the "religious extremists" are, in fact, mainstream Islam; the answer you get seems to depend on who you ask--not on the basis of any actual evidence, but on the basis of what they've already decided the "right thing to do" should be. Commentators, right and left, pick whatever interpretation of Islam best fits their predetermined world view.
Our operation in Afghanistan after 9/11 was, for me, only about “the war on terrorists.” It was about getting bin Laden. Iraq was “the war on terrorism” — trying to build a decent, pluralistic, consensual government in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world. Despite all we’ve paid, the outcome in Iraq remains uncertain. But it was at least encouraging to see last week’s decision by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to run in the next election with a nonsectarian, multireligious coalition — a rare thing in the Arab world.So, what President Obama is actually considering in Afghanistan is shifting from a “war on terrorists” there to a “war on terrorism,” including nation-building. I still have serious doubts that we have a real Afghan government partner for that. But if Mr. Obama decides to send more troops, the most important thing is not the number. It is his commitment to see it through. If he seems ambivalent, no one there will stand with us and we’ll have no chance. If he seems committed, maybe — maybe — we’ll find enough allies. Remember, the bad guys are totally committed — and they are not tired.
If mainstream Islam is moderate Islam, then this course of action has a chance. If not, then the Middle East will see this course of action--correctly--as the United States seeking to undermine and sabotage its religion.
That will almost certainly lead to war...but in that case, war is inevitable, no matter what the US does.