[T]he world may be tacitly slipping into a new species of Cold War. The War on Terror isn’t being fought to win, it’s being fought to keep the lid on. The conflict will be managed, not resolved. The War will be kept within bounds, at all costs. An explosion in New York will be met by a flurry of missiles fired from robotic aircraft circling over certain countries. Tit for Tat. Corpse for corpse. Missile for car bomb.
But unlike the Cold War, which was waged between two rational superpowers, a limited war between fanatics and rationally timid West is not necessarily stable. The levels of violence instead of stabilizing will tend to increase. They are already trending upward. If the Times Square bombing is any indicator, then the terrorists are ramping up their campaign. And so will the American drones ramp up the response. Smaller missiles, more drones, more surveillance. But there is no natural ceiling to the escalation. That is the specter which must haunt Washington. There’s no reason why, having reached N that you shouldn’t go to N + 1.
Read the whole thing here.
This is the situation in which we find ourselves, in part because the Pakistani government is not fully cooperating in the effort against the Islamists and to some extent is probably protecting them, and in part because of the Obama administration's need to avoid direct engagement with the enemy so as to keep American casualty totals low.