Zack Beauchamp in Vox:
The basic premise of the Obama Administration's drone program is that decapitation, the killing of a terrorist organization's top leadership, works. Killing al-Qaeda's leadership should, in theory, limit the organization's ability to plot attacks on the US and its allies.
But what if that's not true? That's the core finding of a just-published study in the prestigious journalInternational Security. In it, Georgia Tech professor Jenna Jordan takes a look at the history of targeting terrorist leaders and draws lessons for the fight against al-Qaeda. According to Jordan, believing that targeted killing can actually weaken al-Qaeda means assuming al-Qaeda depends on a group of charismatic leaders. But that's wrong, and that mistaken assumption has led the Obama Administration to pursue a strategy centered on targeting al-Qaeda's leadership with drones when it'd really be better to cut down on targeted killings altogether.