U.S. Special Operations Forces have had considerable practice by now chasing jihadists in Iraq and Afghanistan. The JSOC headquarters at Baghram is so full of high-tech listening and tracking equipment that it resembles "something out of 'Star Wars'," says a Pentagon official who has seen the place. In recent months, says John Arquilla, a Special Ops expert at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., the U.S. military has achieved a 100-to-1 kill ratio (100 dead guerrillas to every American). But by calling in airstrikes, the Americans also kill a lot of civilians, which breeds more jihadists. And according to Thomas Johnson, also at the Naval Postgraduate School, the military's continued fixation on body counts and kill ratios is irrelevant and even counterproductive. "When you kill a person it's a multiplication factor. It demands that all the male relatives join the fight."
A tough question: To kill, or not to kill for fear of continuing the cycle of violence.