Some policy makers in the US are grandstanding about the Islamic State organization, and how it is the latest in a series of dragons that the US military must slay to save the world (metaphor and hyperbole are mine). Ignored in these arguments is how effectively the dragon creates new offspring wherever injustice, insecurity, hopelessness, and corruption thrive. It has been a never-ending game: slay dragons, watch their offspring multiply.
Here are some truths about Islamic State (central) and its various franchises:
• They pose an indisputable threat to modern standards of society and civilization, and to the international norms established through global consensus in the aftermath of the two World Wars of the last century.
• They pose a threat to concepts of governance and legitimacy in the Muslim world, and especially the Arab world in which they currently find purchase.
• The marketing blandishments of their PR bloggers and recruiters deftly ignore or hide their affronts to human decency and sanctity of life, burying them among otherwise legitimate demands for justice, morality, and piety, used to persuade innocents to join the cause.
• It is not acceptable under 21st century global standards to brandish as legitimate the barbarities and atrocities committed by societies centuries past, just because “those practices were part of the way things were done back then.” The United States, most of Europe, China, and even Russia, among other nations of the modern world, have all abandoned juridical, political, social and economic practices of their otherwise glorious pasts, when such practices have conflicted with contemporary ideals, technologies, and universally recognized standards of human behavior.
Consequently, the United States’ strategy must remain comprehensive and collaborative: drain the swamp, don’t just kill dragons. Enlist many nations to build sustainable institutions, even embryonic ones, where dragons live or seek to live. Thus when you do kill a dragon, there are fewer swamps in which its offspring can regenerate. But don’t just slay dragons and think you’ve solved the problem.