We, the United States, can't wipe out ISIS. In fact, we helped create it when we invaded Iraq and disbanded Saddam's Sunni military. Those well-trained fighters have merged with Sunni fundamentalists and, according to all accounts, have provided ISIS with tough, seasoned military leadership.
What should we do, besides trying to wipe out ISIS, which would require a perhaps Vietnam level of "boots on the ground"?
(Nobody, not even John McCain, is arguing for that kind of commitment.)
Isis has partitioned and dissolved Iraq, for good, it seems to me. Iraq as we've know it — as it came into being after World War I — is over.
The Kurds, with a little help, are on their way to winning autonomy if not independence. (Even Turkey is in accord.)
Some hardcore Shiite despot will take power in Bagdad, some Shiite double of Sunni tyrant Saddam Hussein.
This will not bring Iraq together.
Joe Biden way back when said let's partition Iraq.
That partition is under way and seems irresistible.
I don't know why Obama is still arguing for Iraq a la Sykes-Picot. I hope behind the scenes he's allowing for something different.
There will likely be three Iraqs: the Shiite version headed up in Bagdad; Isis or some version thereof among the Sunnis; and a Kurd region.
How can the United States prevent that?
What it boils down to for me is this: is ISIS a real threat to the United States? The beheadings are unspeakable, of course, and meant to provoke us, but if I may move beyond their sheer barbarity let me ask if ISIS represents a threat to the United States?
I don't see how.
Islamists like those in ISIL and al Qaeda distinguish between a "near enemy" — the Arab regimes, including the Saudi monarchy they despise as contaminated — and the "far enemy".
We are the far enemy.
Al Qaeda devoted itself to the far enemy.
ISIS is concentrating on the near enemy. We are not at risk right now, not even if some ISIS fanatic manages to blow up a car in Times Sq.. . .
Seems to me we should accept the partition of Iraq — I ask again why Obama doesn't — keep our eyes on ISIS, damaging it as best we can, but not letting the footage depicting horrible deeds delude us into thinking ISIS is more than it is.
By that I mean it does not pose an "existential" threat to the United States.