In the past several weeks, some folks who are, like me, veterans of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan have suggested that some of the extremists we face in the United States are akin to the forces we struggled to defeat abroad. On NPR Tuesday afternoon, for example, Robert Grenier, a former senior intelligence officer, made this argument (with—surprise—more nuance than social media gave him credit for).

As someone who wrote his doctoral dissertation on Hezbollah and then helped oversee the campaign to defeat the Islamic State, I have been more than a little unnerved to see so many of my fellow Americans radicalized by apocalyptic cults such as QAnon…

But I feel confident saying that the worst thing we could do right now is overreact—like we did two decades ago by invading two countries, one of which famously had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks. We should, if anything, err on the side of caution…

Be wary of anyone—myself very much included—who has bright ideas about how to apply lessons learned overseas here at home. In case you haven’t noticed, we weren’t all that successful overseas. Some of us were perhaps a bit cleverer than others, true, but collectively, we largely failed in our objectives in both Iraq and Afghanistan. What success we did achieve came at an astronomical cost: in dollars, yes, but also in the lives lost by Iraqis, Afghans, and American and allied forces.