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The United States has now been fighting a global war on terror (GWOT) for nearly two decades, but the threat posed by extremist groups remains. This essay seeks to reconcile the strategic requirement of prosecuting an aggressive campaign against the most dangerous extremist groups with the grand strategic constraints that the United States currently faces. After reviewing the principal strategic options from which the United States might choose, it recommends a medium-footprint military strategy, one that entails an aggressive operational posture but avoids the high military, economic, and political costs associated with manpower-intensive stabilization and counterinsurgency missions. The limitations of this strategy are numerous, not the least of which is that it will not bring about decisive victory in the GWOT anytime soon. But it nonetheless represents the best of a set of bad options for protecting the United States in an age of enduring terror.
Strategy, Grand Strategy, and the Enduring War on Terror by Hoover Institution on Scribd