July 13, 2011 | Quote

The Panetta Doctrine: Declare Victory, Don’t Go Home

A forthcoming book from Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a terrorism analyst with the conservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, contends al-Qaida’s primary strategy against the U.S. is economic. Provocative attacks like 9/11 don’t just kill Americans. They goad U.S. leaders into doing counterproductive things like overspending on endless, bloody wars, like Mohammed Ali patiently baiting George Foreman into exhaustion.

Want to actually defeat al-Qaida? Start looking for cheaper, more sustainable counterterrorism. Gartenstein-Ross argues in his Bin Laden’s Legacy for a “nimble, flexible and relatively inexpensive system of homeland defense” and to keep “the battlefield as small and focused as possible.” It’s also a good idea not to overhype the impact of rinky-dink terror plots, as the outgoing director of the National Counterterrorism Center urged last year.