As the United States ramps up its 'no boots on the ground' war against jihadists in Iraq and Syria, the stream of threats emanating from the region appear to grow ever wider and deeper.
By any yardstick, the conflicts of the Middle East are not being well managed. Three states have failed - Iraq, Syria and Libya - two of these as a consequence of Western intervention. Other states like Yemen are tottering.
Obama said a week ago he did not have a strategy to combat ISIS, and that now he does. He was right the first time.
In times past, talk of "humanitarian intervention" brought to mind images of Red Cross trucks and nurses coming to the scene of a natural disaster to tend the afflicted.
If the past is any indication of what could result out of this "mission," the U.S., the nation leading the way with words, guns and treasure, is likely to fail simply because every time it has gone there it has made things worse.
Congress needs to vote on this war. They need to vote not just on a budget item to move some money to some rebels, they need to vote on a clear Authorization for Use of Military Force resolution.
President Obama has announced a strategy for fighting ISIS that, in many respects, is at odds with the interests of the allies in the Middle East whose support he is seeking. Trying to keep his allies happy and in line with the new ISIS battle has trapped the U.S. in a policy full of contradictions.
Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primaries and took office on the premise that he would wind down America's role in Middle Eastern and Central Asian conflicts. But his legacy will be the contrary.
Obama is trying to walk a very fine line between doing nothing and all-out war. He will be counting on others to do the ground fighting, which may depend on how much support America gets from regional allies. The end game of this limited warfare is going to be hard to see, however.
Without question, the complexities we face now are even more difficult to navigate from what those seeking peace during the Cold War encountered. Can "Just Peace" be a model for addressing the messy conflict in Syria and Iraq, which involves the terrorist group ISIS?
This story is fiction, but it could unfold in Iraq or Syria or Afghanistan or Libya or the Central African Republic or Colombia or Ukraine or Gaza or the Philippines or anywhere in at least 23 countries around the world where conflicts affect children.
Obama's caution about jumping into the Syrian civil war seems tacitly to acknowledge that the intervention went awry. So how should it affect the conduct of the campaign against ISIS?
Largely an exercise in fantasy, like the longest-running science fiction show on the planet, NATO, since the end of the Soviet superpower erased the Cold War fear of a Red Army surge through the heart of Western Europe to the Bay of Biscay, has been an institution in search of a new mission and an accident waiting to happen.
The problem is not that Obama is a shrinking violet on the international scene, it is that the American public and media are so accustomed to their government pulling the trigger (or aiding others in doing so) at the slightest potential for an international problem.
The U.S. government and the international community must explicitly and clearly rebuke the flagrant moves by the GNC leadership, controlled by the Islamists and their militias, as they derail the democratic process represented by the newly elected House of Representatives. Expressions of concern are not enough.