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If Ever There Was a Case for Genuine Global Action in the Mideast, Destroying ISIS Is It

Graham E. Fuller



ISIS, with its horrific attack on purely civilian targets in Paris, has established new realities about its nature, capabilities and intentions. The need for its elimination can now no longer be in doubt. It is not that Parisian lives are more important than others, but Paris changes the game.

ISIS has proven to be a serial game changer over the past 18 months since it first came to significant public attention in establishing its so called "Islamic State" athwart the desert border regions of Syria and Iraq. Its hideously choreographed media events and grisly executions were specifically designed to create shock and awe. But it operated locally.

It has now overturned the analyses of most observers, including myself, who tended to view it as primarily regionally and territorially-focused, intent on (non-viable) state-building, Caliphate formation, targeting regional enemies rather than operating on a broader world stage. Now recent bombings in Beirut, the destruction of a Russian airliner midair and the vicious attacks in Paris have now raised level of threat to new heights.

What is yet unclear is how much the Paris action was the brainchild of a centralized command structure operating out of the ISIS capital in Syria, or an action by local "franchise" organizations or "wild cat" operations inspired by ISIS to act locally.

Whatever the case, these series of events now call out for broader and deeper international action. ISIS must be eliminated.

I reach this view with much mixed feeling. Over the years I have grown increasingly convinced that western military interventions and wars to "fix" the Middle East have not only failed, but have vastly exacerbated nearly all regional situations. Washington has at the end of the day, in effect, "lost" every one of its recent wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere. The West has been as much the problem as the solution.


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