The Caravan was conceived as a vehicle for thoughtful and elevated discourse on the Middle East, especially the dangers that Islamism poses to the international order. In the past, we have looked at America’s options in Afghanistan, the military coup in Egypt, and the consequences of the Iran “deal” among other topics. This time we turn to the terrorist attacks in Paris which demonstrated the capacity of ISIS to cause devastation in Western capitals, even as it remains a formidable force in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. Refusing to revise American policy toward ISIS, President Obama has challenged his critics to come up with a better strategy. So does the Caravan: How should the US meet the ISIS challenge more successfully?
This question goes beyond narrow counter-terrorist matters: The ‘state of emergency’ in France illustrates the public’s willingness to accept expanded policing powers, akin to the Patriot Act, in response to domestic terrorism. The Europeans have reached an agreement with Turkey to stem the flow of immigrants, while tensions simmer between Turkey and Russia, and the United Kingdom is strengthening its defense budget. Meanwhile, the Iran deal gives no sign of moderating the radicalism coming out of Tehran. There is a need for American leadership and opportunities as well, but success will require a willingness to leave behind the administration's policies of disengagement and to pursue the defeat of ISIS on the basis of a genuine strategic vision.