May 29, 2015

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Murderers and would-be murderers all. But according to a new Al-Jazeera poll, the warriors of the Islamic State have many Muslim admirers.

In Afghanistan, we have fought the Taliban for 13 years. Yet still they fight. And many fear the Afghan army we trained and armed at a cost of tens of billions will disintegrate when we go home.

Why do the Taliban seem to have in abundance a will to fight that appears far less present in the Afghan army units we have trained?

These questions are highly relevant. For they are about the ultimate question: Can the West win in the Middle and Near East?

In almost all of the wars in which we have been engaged, those we back have superior training, weapons and numbers. Yet, for whatever makes men willing to fight and die, or volunteer for martyrdom, the Islamic State, al-Qaida, and the Taliban have found the formula, while our allies have not.

To be a martyr for Allah, to create a new caliphate, to expel the infidels and their puppets, these are causes Islamic man will die for. This is what ISIS has on offer. And the offer is finding buyers even in the West.

What do we have on offer? What do we have to persuade Iraqi Sunnis to fight to return their Anbar homeland to the Iranian-backed Shiite regime in Baghdad?

Of our Arab allies, the Qataris, Saudis and Gulf Arabs are willing to do air strikes. And the Kurds will fight—for Kurdistan.

But if the future belongs to those willing to fight and die for it, or to volunteer to become martyrs, the future of the Middle East would seem fated to be decided by Sunni tribesmen, Shiite militia, ISIS and al-Qaida, Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

In the Middle East, the time of the True Believers appears at hand.


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