What is the Islamic State? Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors. Read the full essay.
About The Author
The Atlantic is an American magazine, founded (as The Atlantic Monthly) in 1857 in Boston, Massachusetts, now based in Washington, D.C. It was created as a literary and cultural commentary magazine, growing to achieve a national reputation as a high-quality review with a moderate worldview. The magazine has notably recognized and published new writers and poets, as well as encouraged major careers. It has also published leading writers' commentary on abolition, education, and other major issues in contemporary political affairs. The magazine has won more National Magazine Awards than any other monthly magazine.
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