Why Barack Obama Needs To Target ISIS Leadership

President Obamarsquos Sunday night address from the Oval Office has done little to quell calls from Republicans that he needs to do more to defeat ISISmdashand has done even less to calm unease among Americans fearing terrorism at home. But neither politicians nor public, beyond that exhortation to ldquodo more,rdquo seems to have a credible list of options.

Surely, the U.S.-led air campaign could be stepped up, but thatrsquos already happening. Allied warplanes dropped 3,271 bombs and missiles on ISIS targets in November, nearly double the June count, Bloomberg reports.

The enemy always gets a vote when it comes to war. That means the U.S. and its allies have to ensure that whatever action they take doesnrsquot make things worse. Thatrsquos whymdashunlike the 2003 invasion of Iraqmdashthe U.S. is pursuing a ldquolight footprintrdquo strategy designed to grind down the territory occupied by ISIS and choke off the oil flow and other revenue sources it has been using to carry out, and inspire, jihad among its members and sympathizers.

Any large land army, especially one from the West, would give ISIS what it wants: a Crusaders-like clash of civilizations that could engulf the Middle East in war for years. Thatrsquos why the Pentagon has stressed its campaign is one of persistencemdashor ldquostrategic patience,rdquo in Pentagon parlancemdashdesigned to crush ISIS slowly without triggering a bigger war.

But, as the recent attacks launched in ISISrsquos name show, its message and murder have spread beyond the swaths of Iraq and Syria it now occupies.

Hundreds have been killed in ISISrsquos name in Beirut, Egypt, France and California. ISISrsquos Yemen affiliate claimed responsibility for a bomb blast Sunday that killed the governor of Aden, grabbing, at least temporarily, the Yemen terror crown from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. ISIS said it detonated a car crammed with explosives as General Jaafar Mohammed Saad#8217s convoy passed by, killing him and five others. In a statement, ISIS declared more such attacks against ldquothe heads of apostasy in Yemen.rdquo

Zarqawi

Such increasingly widespread and disparate attacks heighten the sense of vulnerability felt by many. That is the feeling that Obama failed to ease Sunday night. As ISIS continues to strike, all the dropped bombs in the world wonrsquot erase the perception that it is shrugging off those attacks and continuing to kill at will.

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