President Obama has taken a lot of criticism over the rise of ISIS this year, but in actuality the group is falling apart.
As it’s been said a thousand times, news coverage is heavily biased towards covering the negative. A plane crash is after all a big news story, while all the planes that land safely aren’t. So if you’ve been following the news in 2014 you can be forgiven for thinking that the world is failing to pieces.
But lots of good things are happening in the world too. From accelerating economic growth here in the US to the regrowth of Central American tropical rain forests, there’s a lot of things to be happy about.
One of these good things has to be how ISIS (also called ISIL, IS, or the Islamic State), as pointed out in The Washington Post, seems to be failing at, well, actually being a state:
Services are collapsing, prices are soaring and medicines are scarce in towns and cities across the “caliphate” proclaimed in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State, residents say, belying the group’s boasts that it is delivering a model form of governance for Muslims…
“ISIS doesn’t know how to do this stuff,” said the U.S. official, using an acronym for the group. “When stuff breaks down they get desperate. It doesn’t have a whole lot of engineers and staff to run the cities, so things are breaking down.”
There are also signs of falling morale among at least some of the fighters whose expectations of quick and easy victories have been squashed by U.S.-led airstrikes. A notice distributed in Raqqa this month called on fighters who were shirking their duties to report to the front lines, and a new police force was created to go house-to-house to root them out.
To be sure the ongoing civil war in Syria is a humanitarian catastrophe, and the people trapped under ISIS rule are bearing some of the worst of it. But the whole “sky is falling” rhetoric of many American politicians who criticized President Obama back in the fall seems pretty misplaced if this terrorist juggernaut can’t even get their own fighters to report to the front lines. Let alone collect the garbage.
This is to be expected. ISIS is brutal terrorist organization that has taken over a lot of territory. But it still surrounded by enemies, losing equipment and infrastructure to Western air strikes every day, and isn’t doing very well in its war against the Iraqi government. If your choices are “launch Iraq War 3.0” or “contain them and let the fall apart do to their own failures and contradictions” I’d argue that the latter choice is the best. Or as Matt Yglesias put it:
“We’ll do what we can, when we can do something useful on the cheap” doesn’t quite have the glorious ring of JFK’s vow to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship.” But it does have the advantage of being a sustainable, sensible approach to 21st century world affairs.
And it’s working.
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