1) ISIS is bad. Their track record of repression against religious
and ethnic minority groups in Iraq speaks for itself. So does their
habit of executing Western hostages in lavishly produced videos. Rolling
back their influence and destroying their organization are desirable
2) ISIS is not in any clear way a direct threat to the lives of ordinary Americans.
The murder of two American journalists working in a war zone is a cruel
crime, but it's not a national security emergency. Innocent Americans
are, unfortunately, murdered every day right here at home.
Bashar Assad's main goal is to hold power in Damascus. Iraqi Shiite
factions' objective is to hold power in Baghdad. Turkey and the Gulf
states want to check Iranian power, and are playing out a complex
regional rivalry amongst themselves. Syria's "moderate" rebels are
trying to avoid getting wiped out. Iraqi Kurds are continuing their
decades-long quest for statehood.