The House Divided

There are apparently two different federal government views of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, that of the White House and that of the intelligence departments:

The Obama administration’s Iraq policy seems premised on the idea that the terrorist Islamic State is so toxic that it will be self-limiting and ultimately self-defeating. But that’s not the view of U.S. intelligence officials.

In a briefing for journalists Thursday, a panel of five U.S. intelligence officials summed up their assessment of an organization that has shown a remarkable durability because it is “patient,” “well-organized,” “opportunistic” and “flexible.” Under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group has rebounded from about 1,500 fighters in 2010 to more than 10,000 today — becoming a global jihadist organization that communicates in many languages.

Given the Islamic State’s stated intentions we had better hope that the White House is right and, indeed, our intelligence services’ track records in the region haven’t been particularly good for some time.

My own view, as I’ve mentioned any number of times before, is that as long as we’re content with security theater rather than security and are unwilling to disrupt the critical success factors that lead to the attacks on 9/11 we’ll continue to be as vulnerable as we were on 9/10/2001. As we learned it doesn’t take a lot of people or money to launch a disruptive, punishing attack and ISIS has both.

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