What’s our Exit Strategy in the War on Terrorism?

Mr. Bush and the Republicans constantly talk about this ongoing “War on Terrorism”. Putting aside the ability to wage war on an idea (that’s been beaten to death), how do we know when we’ve won this particular war?

In most conventional warfare, there’s an exit strategy, something that one side strives toward to show that they’ve succeeded and were victorious. Usually, it’s surrender of the opposing armies or government, a truce or cease-fire agreement, or, in extreme cases, total destruction of the enemy.

Who, in this “War on Terrorism” would surrender? Which army? The Iraqi army? We already defeated them. The Iraqi insurgents? OK, that’s possible, but what about Afghanistan? Iran? North Korea?

Perhaps, you suggest, it’s Al Qaeda that would represent a victory in this “War on Terrorism”. Who is the leader of Al Qaeda who would negotiate the terms of a truce, and does this person have full authority over all people acting on Al Qaeda’s behalf?

Well, maybe it’s when we’ve eliminated all terrorists from the globe, and the world’s a safer place because of it. A laudable goal, indeed, but it seems to me that when we destroy a village in Iraq and kill dozens or hundreds of fathers, uncles, brothers and cousins, it’s likely that there’s a 10-year-old boy buried under a pile of debris who will dedicate his life to destroying “the victors”. When we kill him, his mother, aunt or sister will ensure the memory lives on for generations. How to we kill everyone who might want to kill us?

So I ask: what is our exit strategy on the “War on Terrorism”? I have never heard any of our politicians give a straight answer to this question.

I wonder why that is.