Having squandered earlier opportunities, the United States now faces a conundrum in Afghanistan, where neither staying nor going will likely produce a favorable outcome to its Afghanistan adventure. Most likely, America will soldier on in Afghanistan, following flawed strategies until some unexpected event or developing trend—such as American retreat from global leadership—causes Washington policymakers to conclude that America has done enough.
The recent wave of international terror attacks committed by the Islamic State (IS) — in Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, and France — mark a significant departure from the group’s past strategic approach. For much of its existence, most notably under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, IS’s overriding priority has been state-building. Localized terrorism in Iraq and Syria, widely used by the organization as it transitioned from an insurgency to a proto-state, has been employed as a method of population control.