Good if typically inflamed discussion in the comments. But I still get the sense that a lot of people haven't fully grasped that all those lines drawn on the globe after WW2 don't exist in reality; that is, they exist only to the extent people act like they do. People seem to have this sub-conscious picture of lines neatly painted on the ground, snaking off in either direction to mark the border of Iraq and Syria. (Or Mexico and the US.) Based on that globe you may have on your shelf, "Iraq" and "Syria" are real and ISIS is a non-state abstraction, like "al Qaida" which once operated in its super-duper secret underground headquarters in the Afghan wilderness, as hilariously depicted by nobody less than the BBC.
People know these groups are real enough, but I'm not sure at the policy level or the voter level they grasp the details of living, breathing, and highly motivated men, walking around with rifles and meeting to discuss things like tactics, how to keep the groceries stocked, etc. Obama can lecture everybody about ISIS having no place in the 21st century all he wants and Malcolm Pollack's priceless rejoinder remains: "Well it's 2014, and here they are." They sure seem real enough and practical enough in that Vice documentary, which the cutting-edge journal of high thought, The Atlantic, frets may be illegal.
Obama and the NATO leaders, as with everything else they're doing, don't seem to have their hearts in this one. We make aerial bombardments look easy, but they're actually very expensive and nobody has any legislative or popular authority for another Middle Eastern war.
So assuming the Islamic State is more than just a bunch of high time-preference rabble (which may be entirely the case), what if they decide they've captured enough infrastructure and start putting down stakes? They'd have to marry off their fighters and kill the Chechens and their other crazies, but if the leadership is at all forward-thinking then I'm sure they'll do what's necessary. But everybody just seems to think we'll bomb ISIS here and there until there's nothing left to bomb but masses of starving women and children poking around the rubble. Then the aid trucks and troops roll in. Then we set up a government of carpetbaggers and scalawags and tearfully pledge US taxpayers' money to them. Right? Right, guys? Who's with me?
The reality that I've been talking about for months--that Syria and Iraq no longer exist, and Kurdistan does--is only just now creeping into the mainstream. Politically, nobody seems prepared to deal with this reality. Just like nobody seems to realize that Germany is one of the most important countries in the world and is quietly running Europe, as opposed to ever-shrinking Britain and socially-simmering France and non-entity Belgium. Politically, nobody realized that Libya no longer existed, so they sent some fop to pretend to be an "Ambassador" to "Libya" and the poor fairy got himself killed. That's what happens when you pretend reality doesn't exist. Remember the term realpolitik? Grey-haired guys and field operatives used to talk about it and practice it. Now of course, we know it was all just a hate-riarchal construct dreamed up by Richard Nixon, possibly the most evil man who ever lived.
Here's a partial list of American pretensions:
1. Bashar Assad is
2. The current emirs of the Arabian peninsula, being all good guys with popular support, will rule forever.
3. There's no problem pluralistic democracy can't solve. Except for Israel, the most exceptional and important country in the world, which must remain a classic nation-state.
That's my morning rant on things of which I have only attenuated knowledge. But my theme doesn't require any specialized training or experience to grasp: policy should be based on physical, biological and social reality, not on ideology. Can anybody think of a single exception?