The third group to join ISIS and pledge loyalty to the Caliph has already been on the world stage for some time with acts of vile depredation in Africa, now Boko Haram has joined the monsters ball, and been accepted.
There has been an increase in the force arrayed against ISIS. The United States and other Arab Nations have continued the bombing campaign and Iraqi forces along with Kurdish forces have managed to push forward and regain territory.
Boko Haram, of #bringbackourgirls fame, has continued its attacks in Nigeria and the violence has been upping its game lately but once it was on track to become a caliphate on its own. Now they freely profess loyalty to al-Baghdadi and suddenly ISIS and Boko Haram gets a joint boost.
This is the challenge we face in the world. The longer we wait to do something about the Islamic State the more it has a chance to spread. We are dealing with an ideology that will continue to attract followers, men and women alike, who feel that it offers them something and while it attracts individuals, it will also attract groups who are already on the terrorist scoreboard.
We may already be out of time.
Like cancer, terrorism should be dealt with swiftly and mercilessly before it has a chance to spread, the chance that the dithering by the White House has given them. Already groups in Egypt and Libya have joined in pledges of loyalty and in doing so; the Islamic State grows and spreads.
Fighters from one area can take experience to another with marked gains. We saw in Iraq that techniques that proved successful in one region were soon found in other areas. Biometrics proved that people with skills were moving around to other areas spreading knowledge that was effective. Individual application of the training might vary but the techniques were specific enough to notice.
Financially, the Islamic State is well off and can afford to support larger groups. There is no doubt that money is part of the motivation of other groups to join and the longer the Islamic State stands, the more they can attract.
The Islamic State is playing a very delicate game of strategic and tactical advances. While they have lost some gains, they have done the one thing that they cannot be allowed to do, they continue to exist. The longer they stand, the more virulent they become in the world.
Imagine what will happen should it finally be recognized that we must engage the Islamic State more directly, will that also mean that we must engage their proxies in Egypt, Libya, and Nigeria? Will we face a war in four locations?
Each day that goes by allows the Islamic State to grow and consolidate.
It started with Al Qaeda and branched into various groups. As each was confronted, even to the point of the death of Osama bin Laden, others have risen to continue onward. Like the hydra of legend, every time we cut of the head of one, several others rise to take its place.
The Islamic State is the latest and so far most successful of the offshoots and they continue to grow by absorbing others. This trend will continue. The terror groups that spawned the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and others exist only to grow.
In the end, what is a nation? It is a group of people with like minded goals who intend to keep those goals alive at all costs. We as a nation feel the same way. We fight wars to continue our existence because that is who we are. We are a nation that fights for existence.
Perhaps the danger to our nation posed by the Islamic State is small today. But they keep consolidating, growing, and existing. It is often the small things that we ignore today that become the vital and life threatening challenges of our future.
There are numerous ways that the current lack of in depth involvement can go wrong. While I fully appreciate the vaunted power of the United States Air Force, and those of the other nations providing airstrikes against the Islamic State, someone needs to remind the President that regardless of the number of planes involved, air power alone will not suffice to win a war.
The United States military personnel on the ground, one of whom was reported wounded but thankfully returned to duty, are doing a great job but with less than 3000 reported on the ground, they cannot defeat the Islamic State even with air power. While Kurdish forces are fighting hard, and it appears that the Iraqi forces are finally showing gains on the battlefield, this is our war and we need more involvement.
If we continue to wait with only impartial involvement, the Islamic State will continue to grow. All they really need to achieve is survival. Each day they exist they gain. It is not only about territorial gains. They have an ideology. It is very difficult if not impossible to destroy and ideology. Even with the end of WWII and the defeat of Hitler, the ideology of Nazism is still alive in the world today.
The one thing we can see from history is that if you don’t adequately deal with an ideology, then you cannot successfully contain it.
Different ideas are being floated about to challenge the outlook of the people by providing jobs, education, and financial gain. The problem is these are long term solutions to a fluid and violent situation. We cannot even get that strategy to work in America.
War is not something to be contemplated lightly. The choice is to fight it now while we have regional containment, or wait until we are hit at home and there are branches of the Islamic State everywhere.
Peace is not in the cards.