Two sides of a debate. On one side are those who think...
... there may be alternatives to a large ground force in Afghanistan. They say Al Qaeda can be held at bay using intensive intelligence, Predator drones, cruise missiles, raids by Special Operations commandos and even payments to warlords to deny haven to Al Qaeda.
On the other side:
But most specialists on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, inside and outside the government, say terrorism cannot be confronted from a comfortable distance, such as by airstrikes or proxy forces alone. It may take years to turn Afghanistan into a place that is hostile to Al Qaeda, they say, but it may be the only way to keep the United States safe in the long term. Many agree with the classified strategy for a troop buildup that Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, has presented to Mr. Obama and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in recent days.
And so on, on both sides of the argument. But notice the common presupposition on both those sides: how to defeat terrorism by the use of military (amongst other) means. The war on terror takes one more ride. Correction: two more rides. But let's just say 30 anyway.