The so-called “Islamic State” is losing ground. The liberation of Mosul, Iraq’s third most populous city, may be the Baghdad government’s next objective.Yet even as the “caliphate” shrinks in the Middle East, Daesh, as the group also is known, is increasing its attacks on Western civilians.​​ (The unintended yet predictable consequence of such foreign meddling is to make America less safe.) In contrast to Al Qaeda, which always conducted terrorism, ISIS originally focused on creating a caliphate, or quasi-state. Daesh’s territorial designed conflicted with many nations in the Middle East: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Turkey, Libya, Jordan, Lebanon and the Gulf kingdoms.

The Obama administration did not intervene out of necessity: ISIS ignored America. Moreover, the movement faced enemies, which collectively had a million men under arms; several possessed sophisticated air forces. Washington’s concern for those being killed by ISIS was real, but casualties lagged well behind the number of deaths in other lands routinely ignored by the United States. The administration seemed most motivated by the sadistic murder of two Americans who had been captured by ISIS in Syria. Although barbaric, these acts did not justify another Middle Eastern war.
Washington took control of the anti-ISIS campaign, but waged a surprisingly lackluster effort. The administration recognized that there was no domestic support for ground troops, so mixed bombing and drone strikes with support for “moderate” Syrian rebels proved to be generally ineffective.