The Obama administration has not recently repeated its suggestion that Vladimir Putin should find an “offramp,” its evident assumption being that Putin inadvertently took a wrong turn, with tanks, into Ukraine. But with Russia, nuclear-armed and governed by an angry man, dismembering a European nation, surely the Islamic State ranks as a second-tier problem.
And a solvable one. An Egyptian diplomat, expressing his nation’s disdain for other Arab nations, once dismissed them as “tribes with flags.” Some of them, including Jordan and Saudi Arabia, could go some way toward proving him wrong by using their ample ground forces to sweep the Islamic State off the map of the Middle East.
Some Islamic State atrocities are comparable to the elaborately gruesome and protracted public executions (drawing and quartering, disembowelment, burning, beheadings, etc.) that were popular entertainments in the London of Shakespeare’s time. It is not delusional to anticipate a day when barbarism in the Middle East also will recede.