I’m not sure I agree, from a counterinsurgency perspective, that breeding more terrorists than we’re killing is really an important issue. I’m not sure how you really assess such a thing anyway. No one likes having their country invaded and occupied, this much we know, but how many examples in history can we find of exactly this happening? Any military operation against a foe is quite likely to breed more of that foe than you’re currently killing.
Britain’s colonization of any number of places, from South Africa, to India, certainly bred it’s fair share of resentment, but the British Empire was certainly able to bring these people’s under its sphere of control. It was only after the British Empire was weakened through new challenges from Europe, that it would give up these possessions. India would ultimately guilt the British into surrendering it, through a non violent independence movement.
In our own history we can find examples of this. Lincoln’s decision to raise an army to invade the territories that had decided to actively challenge federal authority certainly created more soldiers for the Southern cause than were actively being killed for quite some time, but in the end, the Army or Northern Virginia was to surrender.
In Vietnam, as is the goal of any counterinsurgency, the Viet Cong eventually built up its number to the point where they felt the time for the hit and run operations was at and end, and so executed a general offensive, known as The Tet Offensive. The VC decided to come out of the jungles, and acts as an army does, to seize and control of territory and men. Unfortunately for the Viet Cong, they were effectively destroyed by the US military. From Tet onward, we were fighting the North Vietnamese Army, and the counterinsurgency known as Victor Charlie would cease to be relevant, even though up until that time they were building their power.
Sure, there are plenty of examples of insurgencies rising up and defeating great powers; we owe our own independence to this. The British lost three armies trying to keep North America, and for them, given they faced a real, existential threat from France at the time, was just too much for them to handle, and here we are.
War is more than just a contest of people. It’s more than just a numbers game. It’s a contest of wills. All the military advantages in the world amount to a hill of beans if you lack will. Whether we have the will to see this conflict through to a just conclusion isn’t clear yet. But it’s not a matter of whether we’re breeding more terrorists than we’re currently killing.