Is ISIS the best possible enemy?

They are, in an Orc-like way, almost the perfect enemy: So extreme in their methods and coldly ascetic in their vision that even fellow Islamic extremist organizations and authoritarian regimes have turned against them in revulsion. While their military success has been impressive, they have united a surprisingly wide variety of nations, factions, faiths and forces against them.

We are now witnessing the spectacle of a Coalition of the Begrudgingly Willing that has brought together the United States, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, Europe, Canada, Turkey and the Kurdish People’s Party in an extremely awkward but very real alliance against the black flag.

So, as distasteful as this may sound during a week in which the group decapitated a journalist and pledged genocidal murder, it is worth asking whether the Islamic State is the best possible enemy that could have emerged from the chaos of the post-Iraq war, post-Arab Spring Middle East. Unlike other potential threats, this one has transformed the politics of the region in profound ways. While still posing a terrible threat to thousands of lives, by attempting to form a grotesque Caliphate, the IS fighters have provoked many changes that were long overdue…

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