By RALPH PETERS
Our terrorist enemies are out-thinking us. It's not only embarrassing, but deadly.
The Taliban's latest innovation was on display again last week, when a suicide bomber, reportedly garbed in an Afghan army uniform, killed seven Americans, including a CIA station chief.
The terrorists are "inside the wire." Everywhere. From eastern Afghanistan to Texas. And we're stalled. For all of our wealth, technology and power, our enemies have the strategic and psychological initiative. The low-tech nature of most reported combat in our recent conflicts obscures the advent of four powerful innovations in warfare.
Unfortunately, three of those revolutionary techniques belong to our enemies. The single breakthrough we've exploited has been Unmanned Aerial Vehicles -- UAVs, commonly known as "drones." They're a terrific stand-off targeting tool. Our enemies, though, have mastered new forms of the tactical fight -- with strategic effects. They still lose every classic firefight, but they are pioneering the means to win without directly confronting our combat troops.
The first terrorist and insurgent innovation of this conflict era was the bulk employment of suicide bombers, dirt-cheap weapons with a high probability of success -- the poor man's precision arsenal.
Their second innovation was another cheap-but-powerful tool, the Improvised Explosive Device, the IED or roadside bomb. We still can't beat it.
Then, over the last year or so, we've seen the ever more frequent use of their most insidious psychological weapon: the suicide assassin disguised as "one of ours."
This is an anti-morale nuke. Our linchpin effort in Afghanistan is the development of Afghan security forces. (The Obama Doctrine: "When they stand up, we'll run like hell.") And building up the Afghan army and police relies on trust between our trainers and advisers and "their" Afghans -- as well as between Afghans themselves.
Last year, we saw incident after incident in which a Taliban cadre within the Afghan security forces gunned down our officers at meetings (the Brits took a really bad hit), turned their weapons on our combat troops or, most devastatingly, blew themselves up when we embraced them as comrades.
Don't let this weapon's low-tech nature fool you. This is the big one. President Obama's desperate "strategy" for Afghanistan relies on building trust -- between Afghans and their government, but above all on the security front. Our enemies have done what we refuse to do. They've analyzed the problem objectively and engineered ruthless solutions.
And we won't even block their Internet sites.
We make up fairy tales about the power of development projects to deter religious fanatics. We impose rules of engagement on our troops that protect our enemies. We ground our air power. We grant terrorists "legal" rights with no basis in existing law.
And our enemies do whatever it takes to win.
I want to see every one of those enemies dead. But I have to acknowledge their commitment, their maddened courage and their genius at waging war for peanuts. Our troops in the field know all too well what a self-imposed mess we're in. But the gulf between our grunts and their generals is immense and growing wider.
It's a (literally) bloody disgrace that our ragtag enemies innovate faster and more effectively than our armed forces and the legion of overpaid contractors behind them.
They ask themselves, "What works?"
We ask ourselves what the lawyers will say.
The crucial difference?
Our enemies believe in victory, even if we don't.