EXCERPT FROM THIS ARTICLE: ISIS is not a military force. It is a cultural one. Much of its success has come from its cultural appeal.
As long as the Middle East is defined in terms of Islam, some variation of the Islamic State or the Muslim Brotherhood bent on recreating the Caliphate will continue reemerging. We can accept that and give up, but the growing number of Muslim migrants and settlers mean that it will emerge in our country as well.
We have a choice between Islamization and de-Islamization.
Obama can’t defeat ISIS with soft power, though ISIS could beat him with soft power assuming its Caliph ever decided to agree to sit down at a table with John Kerry without beheading him. Iran has picked up billions in sanctions relief and the right to take over Yemen and raid ships in international waters in the Persian Gulf just for agreeing to listen to Kerry talk for an hour. And that might be a fair exchange.
As bad as having your capital or ship seized by Iran is, listening to John Kerry talk is even worse.
If ISIS were to agree to a deal, it could pick up Baghdad and Damascus just in exchange for showing up. All it would have to do is find a Jihadi who hasn’t chopped off any heads on camera to present as a moderate. The administration and its media operatives would accuse anyone who disagreed of aiding the ISIS hardliners at the expense of the ISIS moderates who also represent the hardliners.
If Obama did that, he would at least lose in a way that he understands; instead of in a way he doesn’t.
So far ISIS has preferred the classical approach of killing everything in its path. The approach, deemed insufficiently nuanced by masters of subtlety like Obama and Kerry, has worked surprisingly well. Their response, which is big on the Bush arsenal of drone strikes, Special Forces raids and selective air strikes, hasn’t. But Bush was fighting terrorist groups, not unrecognized states capable of taking on armies.
It’s hard to destroy something if you don’t know what it is. And it’s hard to know what a thing is if you won’t even call it by its name or name its ideology.
The left loves root causes, but the root cause of ISIS isn’t poverty, unemployment or a lack of democracy.
It’s Islam. (more…)