The Washington Post reports: Even before its assault on Kurdish territories in northern Iraq this month, analysts said the Islamic State had shown an almost impulsive character in its pursuit of territory and recruits, with little patience for the elaborate and often time-consuming terror plots favored by al-Qaeda.
Counterterrorism analysts at the CIA and other agencies have so far seen no indication that an entire al-Qaeda node or any of its senior leaders are prepared to switch sides. But officials said they have begun watching for signs of such a development.
The launching of U.S. airstrikes has raised new questions, including whether the bombings will hurt the Islamic State’s ability to draw recruits or elevate its status among jihadists. “Does that increase the spigot or close it?” said a senior U.S. counterterrorism official, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity and noted that U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere have crippled al-Qaeda but also served as rallying cries against the United States.
Longer-term, U.S. officials expressed concern that the Islamic State, which so far has been focused predominantly on its goal of reestablishing an Islamic caliphate, may now place greater emphasis on carrying out attacks against the United States and its allies. [Continue reading...]
“One of the reasons why I worry about what’s happening in the Middle East right now is because of the breakout capacity of jihadist groups that can affect Europe, can affect the United States,” she said. “Jihadist groups are governing territory. They will never stay there, though. They are driven to expand. Their raison d’etre is to be against the West, against the Crusaders, against the fill-in-the-blank—and we all fit into one of these categories. How do we try to contain that? I’m thinking a lot about containment, deterrence, and defeat.”
The breakout capacity of jihadist groups? I strongly suspect that phrase was a gift from GOP strategist Frank Luntz. It offers a subliminal connection between terrorism and Iran’s nuclear program without having to make any substantive assertion to that effect. Instead, it conjures up jihadist groups as metaphorical weapons of mass destruction. Is this how a President Clinton would frame her iteration of the War on Terrorism?
More importantly, Clinton is echoing the U.S.-centric narcissistic view of terrorism that still prevails in this country: that extremists of every description have no greater desire than to find ways of killing Americans.
No doubt, ISIS has issued blood-curdling warnings, saying that the U.S. will be severely punished if it tries to obstruct the growth of the Islamic State, but the very fact that it has made these warnings is an indication that the group has vastly more interest in its caliphate project than it has in waging war with the U.S..
ISIS is not at war with America — it’s enemy is the Shia.
That’s not to imply that the rest of the world has any justification for being complacent about the level of mayhem ISIS can and already has created. It’s simply a suggestion that “American lives are at stake” should not be the only rationale guiding U.S. foreign affairs.