...the larger danger is ISIS’s growing ability to win the allegiance of geographically distant groups or individuals beyond Syria or Iraq. It is doing so partly through its sophisticated propaganda channels, but mainly by the power of its example. As long as ISIS is in the fight and undefeated by the U.S. or other “apostate regimes,” it becomes a natural pole of radical attraction—the proverbial “strong horse” in the race for ideological sympathy among young Muslims around the world.
That’s what makes the Obama Administration’s lackadaisical approach to fighting ISIS so dangerous. Local battlefield reverses such as ISIS’s conquest of Ramadi in May don’t stay local. They amplify a growing Mideast and world perception that the U.S. has no stomach for a real fight and is prepared to tolerate the existence of Islamic State over the long term.
The longer ISIS holds large chunks of Iraq and Syria, the stronger its offshoots in Sinai, Afghanistan, North Africa and elsewhere will grow.
The greatest folly of the Administration’s Mideast policy has been to imagine that an arms-length approach to the region’s troubles would keep its problems away from us. But as with the refugee crisis in Europe, or ISIS-inspired jihadist attacks in the U.S., the tragedy in Sinai is another reminder that trying to downplay the threat of terrorism only brings its risks closer to home.
Wall Street Journal opinion piece: