The Islamic State has enjoyed a meteoric climb to notoriety.
Fueled by atrocity and a blitzkrieg of gains in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has enjoyed a meteoric climb to notoriety. The beheading of journalist Steven Sotloff is the latest, savage step on that climb. Confronted with images of his murder, a war-weary America is once again asked to consider a major military operation. Despite President Obama’s no boots on the ground assurances, we are now left to wonder if this will all end in a Clintonian game of semantics. Define boots.
Having fought against the Islamic State’s precursor, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, as a Marine, I feel deeply conflicted about its gains. Our strategic blunder in Iraq is a visceral, raw and personal memory for me, one I hope we don’t repeat. Living in the Middle East and watching the Syrian Civil War up close, its savagery and the idea of its continuation draws a similar raw and visceral reaction. Unable to make sense of the right course, and skeptical of anyone offering assured solutions, I often dip into my memories of the last decade, retracing my steps, looking for clarity like some lost set of keys.