The pace of Islamic State operations, and its propaganda skill, are illustrated by the daily dispatches of its Al-Bayan online news service. Each day this week, Al-Bayan announced attacks in at least six “wilayats,” or regions, of the self-declared state. This week’s announced operations stretched across four countries. Often the targets were Muslim rivals or local security services.
The Islamic State brags about its ability to strike the United States, too, in the opening pages of the latest issue of its slick online magazine, Dabiq. Lauding the San Bernardino, Calif., bombers who “caught America off-guard,” the magazine warned: “As the American-led crusaders continue waging war against the [caliphate], more and more Muslims continue demonstrating their willingness to sacrifice everything precious to them.”
How should the United States and its allies combat the Islamic State wisely, without getting bogged down in an endless global land war? That’s the biggest foreign policy issue facing the country. The political discussion so far has been mostly sound bites and speeches, rather than analysis that would lead to sustainable actions. This problem isn’t going away; it’s getting worse.