Islamic State

Americans are not really thinking. They suppose we can just bomb IS into oblivion, maybe send in a few commandos. In reality it would be extraordinarily bloody and prolonged urban combat.

There would be lots of youtube clips of U.S. sons and daughters burning alive in cages. And it would all be for nothing. Four years later I.S. would have been replaced by something else in the same way IS replaced Al Qaeida, after we destroyed it and stepped into the power vacuum after we toppled the Hussein dictatorship.

The bombs and soldiers can’t obliterate the underlying social and economic reasons that movements like IS have purchase. People join the Islamic State militancy or tolerate its presence in their communities because these countries we see on maps hardly exist.

Their borders are fictitious colonial remnants. There are little in the way of state institutions, law has no force, bribery and corruption are endemic, the economy is choked, property is worthless, red-tape is everywhere, justice is wanting, the people have no voice, education is unattainable, truth is weak. They despair of their lives.

This is what must be banished. You don’t have to bomb IS, you have to deprive it of a political leg to stand on. You need political and economic development, secular state-building, legal reforms, a market economy which is fair and well policed. You need a dream of prosperity and a reality of brightened prospects. You need aspiration. You need a middle class.

Unfortunately, Congress has no idea how to do any of that.