How To Defeat ISIS

By John McLaughlin

John E. McLaughlin is the Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).  He served as Acting Director of Central Intelligence from July to September 2004 and as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from October 2000 to July 2004. He was a US Army Officer in the 1960s, with service in Vietnam.

Few things are more hotly debated in Washington and other capitals than the question of how to defeat the Islamic State. Ideas are all over the map, but a starting point for strategy has to be acceptance of the realities we face. Here are six:

First, the context is totally different than any previous Middle East crisis.  The region today is torn by no fewer than five dimensions of conflict: Persian vs. Arab; Shia vs. Sunni; democrats vs. authoritarians; terrorists vs. regimes; and terrorists vs. terrorists.  Maneuvering through all of this requires unprecedented agility.

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