Smokey, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling.
There are rules
--The Big Lebowski (1998)
The essential American soul is
hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.
It has never yet melted
--D. H. Lawrence
What right have you to be morose?
You're rich enough
--A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
The recent film American Sniper brings Ranger to the idea that the entire Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) has been about "chasing a zero" -- a losing proposition if one is aiming to be an effective sniper and make one's shot.
Some background: in Army rile marksmanship training, soldiers learn to "call their shots". Calling one's shots is essential in order to zero one's rifle. Zeroing one's rifle is what allows for the shooter to hit his mark with accuracy and consistency. When shooting at the range, it allows the shooter to achieve a tight shot grouping.
If one does not achieve a zero one fires "scattershot", which implies throwing everything you have downrange and hoping that something will hit the target. It shows a lack of discipline and skill.
Riflemen used to be taught to record and thence learn from every shot. For example, after firing the round and before the primer would send the round on its way, Ranger would note mentally: "seven ring, three o'clock." After practice noting where the trigger breaks and where the shot impacts, the shooter can then put a zero on his rifle's sights. The gun and its shooter are then well-adjusted and in accord.
If one fails to zero one's rifle one will be forever "chasing a zero", meaning that the rounds hit the target in an unpredictable fashion -- helter-skelter, like the efforts in the War on Terror. If one cannot call one's shots one cannot hit the center of the target with any surety, and such willy-nilly placement does not make for effective sniping.
Today soldiers use expensive sights with fancy range finders, but if one cannot zero without a scope, one cannot zero with a scope. A scope on one's rifle does not a rifleman make. Only training and experience will produce riflemen, and riflemen grow up to be snipers.
Like a rifleman unable to zero his rifle, the United States is fighting wars that cannot be accurately zeroed. Even if you inadvertently hit something not aimed at, you cannot count that an intentional hit on the range. Likewise, you cannot call the occasional winging of the target a foreign policy on the national level.
If you cannot zero your rifle, you will be an ineffective shooter. Likewise, if you can't zero your foreign policy -- whether because you lack absolute control of your weapons of state or the target keeps moving -- it, too, will be ineffective.
Instead of calling the shots the U.S. has been chasing a zero in its War on Terror.