Today’s Islamist terrorists live physically, usually financially, and above all psychologically, in Muslim countries. When their ties are sub-national, they are nevertheless to well-known groups such as Hizbullah or the PLO or to ancestral tribes. None of these regimes, groups, or tribes is what anyone might call permissive. Their rulers rule with bloody iron hands and claim to be unique sources of authority. They make no distinction between society and regime, between state and Mosque. This is a sword one of whose handles the US could grasp.
The US government could use drones effectively to face these rulers with the stark choice between seeing to it that no one, but no one, who lives in or under their orbit shall have any involvement with anti American terrorism and being killed by a US drone. No excuses, no exceptions. Indeed the prospect of sudden death could cause such potentates positively to encourage educational and religious practices leading to peace rather than terrorism. Or they could choose to die, personifying anti-Americanism’s deadly futility.
On the other hand, the US government could continue to use drones as it has, against an uncertain mixture of insignificants and innocents. Who would argue that a decade from now Americans will be safer thereby?