Without an inchoate caliphate, ISIS becomes another bunch of terrorists roaming in the area, competing with several others.ISIS can be defeated, and quite readily. It set itself up as an easier target than other terrorist groups when it defined itself as seeking to found a state, governed in line with its particular interpretation of Islam.
If America doesn't have the stomach for such an open-ended commitment -- and honestly, it's hard to imagine a successful candidacy for the White House in 2016 built around the theme, "Let's Re-invade Iraq" -- the options get much more limited. But there are three things that would make a difference.
The U.S. has the most powerful military in the history of the world, but it should not be utilized as a political tool or for retribution. The government and its leaders must do their best to make the right decisions, to be truthful with the American people, and to provide all the necessary support needed to fulfill the military's mission. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case.
At the level of global affairs, there hasn't been anything like ISIS since Genghis Khan left immense piles of skulls outside conquered cities and dared the world to gang up against his Mongol horde. Genghis Khan didn't negotiate. The only word in his diplomatic vocabulary was capitulation. So too with ISIS and its dream of a caliphate of the oppressed.
Nobel Peace Prize-winning Obama is looking to one-up George W. Bush in the toppling of dictators' category as he redoubles efforts to overthrow the Syrian government. Unfortunately, Obama's obsession to effect regime change in Damascus will likely only bolster the Islamic State, which happens to be a sworn enemy of Assad the Apostate.