A recent RAND research effort sheds light on this issue by investigating how terrorist groups have ended in the past. By analyzing a comprehensive roster of terrorist groups that existed worldwide between 1968 and 2006, the authors found that most groups ended because of operations carried out by local police or intelligence agencies or because they negotiated a settlement with their governments. Military force was rarely the primary reason a terrorist group ended, and few groups within this time frame achieved victory.Terrorism’s End: Jon Taplin
How Terrorist Groups End: Rand Corporation
And now I quote from RAND's summary:
These findings suggest that the U.S. approach to countering al Qa'ida has focused far too much on the use of military force. Instead, policing and intelligence should be the backbone of U.S. efforts.So, while we shouldn't just give up, our "war on terror" (is that a contradiction, or just a redundancy?) needs to change from a shooting war to a smart war. I hope someone in Washington begins listening to the smartest people in town.
You can read the actual report yourself right here.