Powerful states simply cannot combat terrorists using the same tactics they would apply to a conventional war with a traditional enemy. Massive aerial bombardment and armored invasion are excellent for, say, toppling Saddam Hussein's regime but they're actually counter-productive in counter-terror/counter-insurgency ops.

The editor of the Defense and the National Interest website puts it this way: "As important as finding and destroying the actual combatants, for example, is drying up the bases of popular support that allow them to recruit for, plan, and execute their attacks. Perhaps most odd of all, being seen as too successful militarily may create a backlash, making the opponent's other elements of [4th generation warfare] more effective."

--James Joyner

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