The United States and its European allies do not possess the wit nor the will nor the might to fix whatever it is that ails much of the Islamic world. This is the principal lesson that the long Iraq war has to teach. The beginning of wisdom lies in recognising that fact.
So yes, to address the plight of innocent people at immediate risk, let us airdrop lifesaving bundles. If nothing else, doing so allows fatuous pundits like Richard Cohen of the Washington Post to preen about the United States doing ‘the right thing’, thereby ‘saving many lives and our honour as well’. But let us not confuse moral imperatives with the obligations and complexities inherent in national security policy.
No doubt the ‘Islamic State’ poses a danger of sorts. But for the United States and for Europe, that danger is negligible. Regional powers such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran are both more directly threatened and far better positioned to deal with it. Offering whatever indirect assistance might be helpful, the United States would be better served simply to butt out. We’ve done enough damage.