Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) could win its battle with the West, and advance its cause of Islamic fundamentalism -- if America's two major parties cannot unite in opposing them.
I believe the enemy is not just Islamic fundamentalism -- it is fundamentalism, period. I blame political and media strategists from both the right and left for using fundamentalist tactics right here in the U.S., to create raging fanatics on all sides of all issues -- people who are easy to manipulate into supporting the selfish political objectives of their clients.
The strategists don't all work for campaigns or politicians. They represent a thousand vested interests from the left to the right. They use battles over everything from national security, to jobs, to immigration, and to climate, to create fundamentalists on both the right and left, and divide America.
Their purpose is to stop action on any issue -- because this keeps the status quo in place, and keeps the billable hours rolling on. These strategists may pretend to support one side or the other. In reality, they often just want gridlock -- to keep the money, power, and advantages they hold now.
When Islamic Nation gains, so do their clients and political clients gain more contributors, volunteers, and news coverage. Media clients gain more clicks, viewers, and listeners. Corporate, union, and professional clients keep the division of power they now enjoy. They all put their interests first, not the nation's.
But the nation loses, and so ultimately do all their clients and dependents, because they can't prosper without a healthy nation.
We all know that Islamic and other religious fundamentalists need to stop trying to destroy each other. But so do conservatives and liberals. We need to stop feeding our own fundamentalist movements. The left can't achieve its aims, unless the right does too.
Neither side, and no specific interest group, is primarily to blame; that's why neither the right nor left, nor the media, want to report this. They don't know how. They all want a traditional villain to blame -- a corporation, a union, a billionaire, a bureaucrat, whatever. But there is no single villain. There are many -- all of us are partly to blame.
Conservatives blame big government and unions. Liberals blame big corporations and banks. Politicians blame voters. Voters blame politicians. Everyone blames lawyers. None of them cause the problem by themselves -- so none of them take responsibility for their collective result: a weak and divided America.
To the rest of the world, the U.S. looks like a divided nation of unpredictable fundamentalists on the right and left. It offers aspiring people nothing they can count on. It abandons its historical role as a beacon of hope. That leaves a vacuum that extremist groups like ISIS fill.
The failures of both Republican and Democratic administrations created the opening for ISIS. Through narrow-minded incompetent strategy, we invited a skillful, media-savvy enemy to arise. Now we have one.
What does the U.S. need to do to defeat Islamic Nation? Three things:
First, we need a military response, to block their on-the-ground gains.
Second, we need a social media response, to undermine their messaging.
But third, above all, we need a confident, united America, dedicated to the deepest principles of both the right and the left -- and we need to convey that to hopeful people around the world, so that no future ISIS can gain a foothold in the first place.
Political strategists and leaders from the bottom to the top of both major parties, and media strategists from across the spectrum, need to commit to one another not to sacrifice the nation's interests, to win a few more votes or attract a few more clicks, viewers, and listeners.
Most won't do it voluntarily. They'll need public pressure from dedicated conservatives, moderates, and liberals who are ready to do the hard work to work together and re-unite America.