Yes, Islamist terrorism has a long history that predates the very existence of America. It is not our fault. It is their fault.
But what to do when massive killing (by the West, Assad may have a different answer) is not the answer as it once was?
So how do you fight Islamic terrorism these days? Can't use the old ("kill 'em all") methods, so all you can do is keep the killers out of your own territory and wait for the madness to die out naturally, as it has done many times before. Changing the poor and misgoverned Moslem nations that generate Islamic radicalism is another option. But that takes time as well and the current wave of Islamic terrorism may die out before democracy takes root in the Arab world. The Arab Spring is helping that along but there is still a lot of resistance from the Islamic radicals. Another nasty aspect of Islamic terrorism is that, while only a small percentage of Moslems are willing to become Islamic terrorists, a larger percentage (ten percent or more, even among Moslems in the West) will support the Islamic terrorists and a majority of Moslems will, if asked, say they believe Islamic terrorism is justified when used to “defend Islam.” Unless the Arab world reforms itself, the terrorism will keep returning until it does because the appeal of Islamic terrorism has, for over a thousand years, continually inspired young Moslem men to step up and kill for the cause. Because the victim populations, especially non-Moslem ones, will not stop fighting back, it’s either Islamic reform or continued mayhem.
Defeating ISIL won't end the Long War even though depriving the jihadis of their proto-caliphate is an important part of the war.
This wave of jihadi terror will eventually burn out. But what kind of victory will we have?
Will we have a mere pause in jihadi impulses that will reappear once a new generation not experienced with the death toll (on jihadis) decides that a good jihad is the cure for what ails the Islamic world?
Or will the Moslem world resolve its civil war between reformers and jihadis to redefine Islam so that the jihadi impulse is marginalized in their society?
It would be nice if this was the counter-jihad to end all counter-jihad. But we've had those hopes before in different circumstances dashed by the reality that the hopes of the victims aren't as important as the desires of the aggressors.
Which is why I don't despair at the failure of the Arab Spring to have more success so far. I'm encouraged that Arab Moslems thought of the democracy alternative to autocracy or caliphate as the solution to their problems that have left them further behind the world since independence.
But will we seek to help the Arab Moslem world reform after the current jihadi wave fades away?
Or will we just enjoy the pause, be grateful autocrats keep their Moslem people in line without disturbing our meals while we watch the evening news (I'm being figurative here, although once that was literal) and pretend we solved the problem, and hope that the lull lasts long enough to become the problem of a future generation long after we are gone?