Why There Is So Little Attention for the Islamic State’s Defeat

Two American UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters fly over southern Iraq, April 3, 2003
Two American UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters fly over southern Iraq, April 3, 2003 (Constantino Ruiz Rodriguez)

David French wonders why the defeat of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (or ISIS) isn’t a bigger story.

Remember how debates about ISIS dominated the presidential primaries? Remember how Donald Trump and Ted Cruz ratcheted up their rhetoric until they both seemed to promise that they’d commit warcrimes, like carpet bombing and torture, to defeat the deadly threat? ISIS was often the most important and most prominent story in the world.

Now that the wannabe caliphate lies in ruins, though, Americans no longer care. Read more

Dark Side to Coalition’s Success Against Islamic State

Police in Mainz, Germany, November 21, 2015
Police in Mainz, Germany, November 21, 2015 (Franz Ferdinand Photography)

The Western-backed effort to drive the Islamic State out of Iraq is making headway. The self-proclaimed caliphate has lost two-thirds of its territory. The battle for Mosul, Iraq’s second city, is well underway.

But there is a dark side to the coalition’s success in Iraq. We’ve seen it in the streets of Paris, Nice and London: The more the Islamic State is cornered, the more of its sympathizers commit terrorist attacks in the West. Read more

Trump Gave a Surprisingly Intelligent Speech to Muslim Leaders

American president Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, arrive at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20
American president Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, arrive at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 20 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

This could have gone a lot worse. The speech Donald Trump gave on Islam and terror in Riyadh on Sunday was surprisingly intelligent.

According to his prepared remarks, the president rejected the clash-of-civilizations paradigm some of his fanatical underlings, like Steve Bannon, have promoted.

“This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations,” Trump told an assembly of Muslim leaders.

This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.

That is quite right — and a reversal from Trump’s previous rhetoric. Read more

Defeat in Mosul Will Not Eliminate the Islamic State

An American airman radios in from a defensive fighting position while on perimeter watch at Qayyarah Airfield West Iraq, November 17, 2016
An American airman radios in from a defensive fighting position while on perimeter watch at Qayyarah Airfield West Iraq, November 17, 2016 (USAF/Jordan Castelan)

As David Downing reported here on Sunday, Mosul could make a quick economic recovery once it is entirely liberated from the self-declared Islamic State by Iraqi government forces.

Not only is the city, once Iraq’s second largest, a hub for northern Iraqi industry and trade; it’s also situated close to major oil and natural gas reserves. The potential for further economic expansion could be close at hand. Read more

Germans Refuse to Panic After Berlin Terrorist Attack

German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Berlin, November 9
German chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a news conference in Berlin, November 9 (Bundesregierung)

Last week’s terrorist attack in Berlin does not appear to have had a major political impact in Germany. Few blame Angela Merkel and her immigration policy, even though it was a Tunisian man who killed twelve people by driving his truck into a Christmas market.

A Forsa survey conducted for the magazine Stern found that only 28 percent of Germans believe there is a connection between the attack and Merkel’s decision in 2015 to allow in more than one million asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa. Read more

The World Is Much Better Off Than It Feels

The sun sets over the San Francisco Bay in California, September 29, 2015
The sun sets over the San Francisco Bay in California, September 29, 2015 (Thomas Hawk)

There will be few who will miss 2016; perhaps fewer still that will miss 2017. Americans despair their electoral choices (choosing cancer or a heart attack, to some). Brits have quit the European Union. Turkey, post-coup, is also mid-purge. Islamic State’s lone wolves butcher and bomb. Even the pope is using the “w” word to describe the state of planetary affairs.

Yet if we step back, draw our heads out of the bleeding and leading trenches of 24/7 news and glance upon the supposedly pock-marked battlefield of our world, we see not vast burned out cities or massed firestorms sweeping upon us. The picture is much better than they say.

Here’s why. Read more

Islam, Sex and Masculinity: What Motivated Omar Mateen?

Californians commemorate the victims of a shooting in an Orlando, Florida gay club in Los Angeles, June 13
Californians commemorate the victims of a shooting in an Orlando, Florida gay club in Los Angeles, June 13 (Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Office)

A lot has been written about Omar Mateen this week, the man who killed 49 people in an Orlando, Florida gay club on Sunday morning. Let me share two pieces that I’ve found the most illuminating.

The first is by Adam Garfinkle, the editor of The American Interest and one of the best-informed analysts of Middle Eastern affairs and Islam that I know, who makes several points. Read more