“This is serious business,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry told reporters earlier this week. “I think the world is beginning to come to grips with the degree to which this is unacceptable.”
So far, though, the Obama administration’s response to the group’s blitzkrieg through northern Iraq has been defined primarily by the limits it has placed on the U.S. military’s intervention.
The disconnect between the unnerving assessments of the Islamic State and the apparent lack of urgency in confronting it reflects a mix of political and military constraints. Among them are no clear military strategy for reversing the group’s recent territorial gains, a war-weariness that pervades the Obama administration and the country, and significant uncertainty about the extent to which the Islamic State is prepared to morph from a regional force into a transnational terrorist threat that could target Europe and the United States.
Let me apply the clue bat: the Islamic State is prepared to morph into a transnational terrorist threat and only our passivity in the face of that organization's advances in Iraq and Syria will allow them to do so.
Sadly, the Obama administration took the king slogan too literally and believed that killing Osama bin Laden was the key to victory, when in truth Core al Qaeda under his leadership was not the enemy. Al Qaeda was one symptom of the jihadi impulse that infects too many young Moslem men who rush off to jihad when it looks like the caliphate is about to be won. So killing Osama was just given his role in 9/11 and necessary to smash the group that killed so may of us on that day.
But it was also necessary to demoralize jihadis in general by killing the figurehead of jihadis and dumping his sad carcass at sea like so much garbage. Yet we did not exploit that victory (and the 2008 victory over jihadis in Iraq where al Qaeda chose to make its primary battlefield) to continue the Long War against the embedding of jihadi thinking in the Moslem world.
And now we've tentatively re-engaged militarily in Iraq as the jihadis have risen from defeat.
As I've long argued, using military force doesn't create more jihadis--using ineffective (unbelievably small?) military force creates more jihadis.
All we are doing now is inflicting enough pain to piss the jihadis off at us even more and convince them that we can't defeat them rather than actually killing the bastards and convincing the proto-jihadis back home that maybe now isn't the best time to log off the Islamist chat room and head off to wage physical jihad. Maybe next year, eh?
Take friggin' Vienna, shall we? Anything less should be unacceptable.