As ISIS Regroups, the U.S. Is Forgetting the Lessons of Counterinsurgency—Again

U.S. soldiers gather for a brief during a combined joint patrol rehearsal in Manbij, Syria, Nov. 7, 2018 (Photo by Spc. Zoe Garbarino for U.S. Army via AP Images).
U.S. soldiers gather for a brief during a combined joint patrol rehearsal in Manbij, Syria, Nov. 7, 2018 (Photo by Spc. Zoe Garbarino for U.S. Army via AP Images).
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The surprise reappearance of the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a recently recorded video seems like a throwback to the mid-2000s. The most visible difference from the video recordings Osama bin Laden used then to remind al-Qaida followers he was still alive—and persuade them he was still relevant—is that al-Baghdadi, who was last seen in 2014, is seated on the floor of what seems like a furnished living room, rather than a cave. In other ways, too, the defeat of the Islamic State as a self-declared caliphate and its return as a transnational terrorist network would […]

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