Writing about Islamic State (IS) is a struggle. IS commits brutal acts of violence, packages it for social media, and broadcasts it to the world. IS recently beheaded 21 Christians and did the same to its hostages, including American James Foley. IS’ violence is a declaration of war against Christianity and Western values as much as it is a call for Muslims to move to IS and join the fight.
The struggle, at least in my view, is which concept will win out. The West will not tolerate gross human rights violations nor, and perhaps more importantly, security threats. IS’ own propaganda could bring such outrage that Western governments feel compelled to stamp IS out. Meanwhile, IS is building a brand based on bloodlust and the concept of a pure Islamic state. For the thousands of unemployed Muslims in the Middle East, Europe, and elsewhere, the allure is real. Why not fight for something you believe in, and through violence imbues you with meaning?
If IS can recruit and sustain itself, the threat of a viable nation-state is indeed terrifying. Indeed, reports reveal that IS can govern, setting up post offices, issuing parking tickets, and policing territory. IS ultimately runs on a governance model based squarely on violence, intimidation, extortion. Sadly, the same model works: just ask North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, or some of the world’s other autocrats.
Yet, IS is in trouble. IS’ decision to kill a Jordanian Muslim by trapping him inside a cage and setting him afire provoked outrage in Jordan and the West. IS’ decision to kill the 21 Christians brought swift retribution from Egypt. President Obama is seeking a ‘use of force’ authorization from Congress. In short, IS is waging a war against too many fronts.
IS has a number of enemies, and that list grows longer with every act of violence perpetrated. Those enemies will, ultimately, force IS to collapse under its own weight. Its end cannot come soon enough.