As columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote: "They know that illiteracy, ignorance and oppression of women create the petri dish in which extremism can flourish." Not always. The young men are not just graduates of the infamous madrassas, some of which are in Syria, Pakistan, and Nigeria and teach a narrow version of the Koran and not much else. Still, the lack of educational opportunities around the world, where 58 million children are not in school and 10 million child brides are married off each year, contribute to the appeal of radicals. It is hard to oppose judicious airstrikes in the short-term. But helping refugees, particularly the three million Syrians in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, get proper schooling is vital. Otherwise the bombs will reign for decades.
As ISIS raced through Western Iraq, cutting through Kurdish villages and Sunni enclaves with rapid speed, the United States reacted with shock. How could the Iraqi Army give up resistance so rapidly? Why weren't locals fighting back?
Panetta doesn't spell out just exactly how big a U.S. military presence he says should have stayed in Iraq. That's the first question he leaves dangling. And there are others. What would they actually do once there? Namely who would they fight?
U.S. efforts to combat al-Qaeda have not diminished the threat from terrorism. Osama bin Laden's absence has not defeated terrorism. It has created a power vacuum that has been filled by groups more radicalized and more ruthless than al-Qaeda. America keeps playing the terrorist Whac-a-Mole. There is no grand strategy, only arbitrary lurches from crisis to crisis.
Investing in domestic water security has obvious benefits, from national security of critical infrastructure against terrorist attacks to mitigating the ongoing drought in California.
President Obama announced a new American war this month, but it didn't resonate in his polling much, if at all. Overall, his poll numbers dropped, but the net result was rather flat.
The American nightmare in Mesopotamia and the Levant, begun in 1990-1991 with Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, will continue into the indefinite future with no guarantee but its ultimate failure.
President Barack Obama's claim that he doesn't need congressional authorization for his current war in Iraq and Syria is troubling. However, Obama is not the first president to believe that he has the rather imperial authority for war by executive fiat.
When Ben Affleck differentiates the extremists from the overwhelming majority of peaceful Muslims, and when Harris and Maher claim that polls indicate the extreme are a larger part of the overall pie than we think, Affleck's argument is not only stronger, but correlates to the raison detre for both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
I consider this ideology to be the greatest danger that the world will face in the next decade. Its seeds are growing in Europe, the United States, Asia, and elsewhere. With its twisted religious overtones, this pre-packaged franchise of hate is available for any terrorist group to adopt. It carries the power to mobilize thousands of desperate, vindictive, or angry young people and use them to strike at the foundations of civilization.
Now it is for all concerned with children's rights to rise up and insist that the torture, rape and militarization of children be placed at the center of our demands for an International Criminal Court investigation that will aim for the prosecution of the guilty.
The economy appears to be making a slight comeback as the number one issue, and the immigration issue seems to have reached its peak. However, the increasing likelihood that global conflicts may have an impact on American soil may result in additional focus on conflicts as the number one issue.
When the Secretary of Defense reiterates "no boots on the ground," military families don't breathe a sigh of relief alongside the rest of America. We know too much. Whether the Pentagon calls it a combat mission or boots on the ground won't matter much to those doing the job and wearing the boots.
Critics of the coalition may see military action as a threat and think that it will only intensify the problem. However, such critics seem to be ignoring that it was the inaction towards the atrocities in Syria and the failed state in Iraq that resulted in the swelling of ISIS's ranks from a few hundred to nearly 30,000 according to the latest estimates.
The head of the Secret Service abruptly resigned, after she got grilled by Congress over several disconcerting lapses which happened on her watch. She fell on her sword immediately, to her credit, rather than drawing the story out day after day.
What is the center of gravity for this 21st century hybrid outfit ISIS? Has the administration identified a center of gravity? And if so, is its assessment correct? It's all more than a bit unclear, as you'll see.