There's this saying that if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. It makes sense, doesn't it? If you ask a neurosurgeon what's wrong with you, chances are he'll point to a problem with your brain, but a heart specialist would call out something to do with your circulatory system, etc.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a group of people who met to try and figure out what could be done to increase STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) graduates in America. But the only people in the room were nerds! If you're trying to attract other people to your party, shouldn't you invite some of them to the room to at least explain why they're avoiding you in the first place? But no - that room felt it was an engineering problem - let's keep it just us nerds - hah!
We all approach the world based on our context, but that's not always the best way to actually solve problems.
Today NPR reported on a "war" status update by General McChrystal (senior US/NATO military officer in Afghanistan). We've already been there 8 years; during that time, the enemy has grown in strength despite not having any armored vehicles, aircraft, or advanced communications and weaponry. According to McChrystal, their opponents are using prisons (prisons!) to recruit and train future soldiers! The terrorists are actually using jails paid for by their enemies to house and train future militants.
McChrystal is quoted as saying: "Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it." My interpretation: "we have no strategy, so let's stay the course, throw more resources at the problem, and see if that helps." But it's not his fault - he's military - his context is clear, and his approach predictable.
So let's talk strategy. First, you declare war on sovereign nations, not people, and certainly not terrorists. Terrorists are mere criminals; by elevating them to the stature of a sovereign nation (declaring "war"), you give them strength, credibility and righteousness. The police, not soldiers deal with criminals - they're designed to keep the peace and bring criminals to justice. They should lead this effort.
History has shown that occupying a country in the interests of peace and freedom are not only oxymoronic but also futile. Sustained peace and freedom can only come from within.
Mr. President - isn't it time to find another tool?