Obama has thus been allowed to wage a war for more than a year not only without the authorization he called for but also without the accountability that pressure from his left would bring. He’s flying solo, and below him are an endless, inconclusive war, a terrorist state built on sharia law and sex slavery, rampant chemical weapons use, civilian casualties, and a refugee crisis that is causing social, economic, and political instability in Europe. The only thing missing from this picture is outrage—elite fury over the geopolitical and humanitarian results of the president’s evasive policy, of doing only the bare minimum necessary to convince people that you aren’t ignoring the problem.
There’s no outrage because the media, our bipartisan political establishment, and indeed the American people themselves are unwilling to face the scope of the challenge the Islamic State presents. To uproot it we would have to send U.S. ground forces to Iraq in large numbers, not just special forces operating in tandem with unrestricted air support. We would have to retake and hold ground lost in the years since we departed Iraq, and we would have to commit to remaining in Iraq and Syria for a long time. To deal a blow to radical Islam that would deter recruitment, stop the bandwagon effect, and secure America from attack by militants and their fellow-travelers would require a military and economic commitment the United States, and least of all our president, is simply not prepared to make.