Why Does Progress Against ISIS in Iraq and Syria Feel Like Defeat?

Iraqi security forces advance during the fight against Islamic State militants, Fallujah, Iraq, June 15, 2016 (AP photo by Anmar Khalil).
Iraqi security forces advance during the fight against Islamic State militants, Fallujah, Iraq, June 15, 2016 (AP photo by Anmar Khalil).

In the summer of 2014, the Obama administration found itself between a rock and a hard place. The Islamic State had just swept through northern Iraq, decimating the American-trained Iraqi army left to keep the peace after the U.S. withdrawal. Islamic State foot soldiers executed Iraqi troops and commandeered their American weapons, growing stronger and better equipped as they passed through each town. The U.S. had few options to counter the Islamic State’s rise. Having just vacated Iraq in 2010, any thoughts of a massive military deployment returning to the Middle East to win back Sunni “hearts and minds” would […]

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