Here's a Stephen (Vodka Pundit) Green post from a few years back proposing a different way to settle the jihadis' hash.
Imagine instead that Bush had actually waged the war in accordance with his own (correct) formulation of the Axis of Evil. The major sponsors of state terror were North Korea (chiefly as an arms merchant), Iraq, and Iran — and Iran’s junior partners, Syria and various Palestinian groups. North Korea, as a non-ideological foe, could be safely isolated by taking away its customers. Israel can — and mostly does — keep the Palestinian problem a local one.Yes, and the Russians are simply continuing the southward quest for warm-water ports that tsars since Ivan (Grozny) IV have made.
As for the rest? An ultimatum, mid-2002, after ejecting the Taliban, to turn over all records, funds, and materials related to terror. If not, a long, rapid march from the beaches of Syria to the streets of Tehran, destroying all government buildings — and any military forces stupid enough to stand in the way. Then get our soldiers back on their ships in the Persian Gulf, with the stern message: “Don’t make us come back here again.”
Would it have worked?
Who knows — but the troops would have been home by Christmas, their casualties in the hundreds not thousands, and we’d be a trillion or two dollars richer. And I’d wager that whoever was left in power in the Middle East, they’d be much less likely to indulge their terrorist fantasies.
Instead, we’ve wound down to an exhausted finish in Iraq while we engage in never-ending nation-building in Afghanistan. We’re so exhausted that now even a punitive expedition, smaller than the one I’ve just described, might be discredited before it began.
I suspect, though, that the "you broke it, you own it" school of international relations would have none of it.