Our left-leaning brethren often claimed that jihadis flocked to Iraq because we were there--but not to Afghanistan which was the "good" war. Jihadis were favorable to the 9/11 attacks and not inclined to agree with that "good" label, but no matter.
At some point as the Iraq War wound down (temporarily) and our fight in Afghanistan was escalated, the anti-war people turned against the only war that they had to protest and transformed Afghanistan into a "bad" war as well.
So now we're skedaddling from Afghanistan. Yet as we withdraw Western troops--supposedly the magnet for jihadis--foreign jihadis are now flocking to Afghanistan:
Afghanistan is under attack from "an unprecedented convergence" of Taliban insurgents, more than 7,000 foreign fighters, and other violent groups including the Islamic State, Afghanistan's ambassador to the United Nations said.
Huh. That's not supposed to happen. We leave. They see no reason to arrive. Right? That's the nuanced way to analyze jihad.
The fact is, the jihadis are flocking to Afghanistan--as they are now flocking to Syria and Iraq--because they think they can achieve victory. Our failure to provide critical military power to defend Afghanistan increases that conviction that the jihadis can win.
Remember, jihadis are nutballs--not oblivious to reality. Here's one reason Sunni jihadis never did declare a caliphate in Yemen:
" ... Second: Fear of failure, in the event that the world conspires against us. If this were to happen, people may start to despair and believe that jihad is fruitless."
While it is true that ultimately Islamic society has to reject Islamist influence that breeds jihadis, it is also true that defeating them on the battlefield discourages them (and puts many in the grave).
And declaring a caliphate creates something that the jihadis must defend or risk making people despair and think jihad is hopeless--if we resolve to use our military power kill them in large numbers and defeat them, breaking their jihad and image of victory.
We did that once in Iraq and must now do it again.
Make the jihadis the weak horse, and their ideology and recruiting will falter. Let them advance and survive, and they appear to be the strong horse and their ideology and recruiting thrive.
But I freely admit I'm deficient in nuance.