Thursday, September 11, 2014

Can we defeat the Islamic State?

By Fareed Zakaria Opinion writer September 11 at 11:49 AM WashPost

SAN FRANCISCO

Here we go again. The United States has declared war on another terrorist group. President Obama’s speech Wednesday night outlined a tough, measured strategy to confront the Islamic State — which is a threat to the region and beyond. But let’s make sure in executing this strategy that we learn something from the 13 years since Sept. 11, 2001, and the war against al-Qaeda. Here are a few lessons to think about.

Don’t always take the bait. In one of his videotaped speeches to his followers, Osama bin Laden outlined his strategy. “All that we have to do is to send two mujahideen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda,” he said, “in order to make [American] generals race there.”

The purpose of the gruesome execution videos was to provoke the United States. And it worked. After all, nothing has changed about the self-proclaimed Islamic State, and the dangers it poses, in the past month — other than the appearance of these videos. Yet they moved Washington to action. The scholar Fawaz Gerges writes that a few months ago Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi noted that his organization was not ready to attack America but “he wished the U.S. would deploy boots on the ground so that IS could directly engage the Americans — and kill them.”

(More here.)

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