Critics have long called the U.S.’s Syria policy feckless. But the Paris attacks brought this to a head, with renewed calls for escalation to end the Islamic State’s threat and prevent another Paris.


But the critics’ policies won’t end the threat either. More than a decade of continuous warfare against militants in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere have taught us a great deal about what works, what doesn’t, and why. And that experience suggests that to defeat the Islamic State — defined as eliminating its ability to carry out Paris-style terrorism — would require a vastly greater effort than almost anyone now proposes, and a vastly greater effort than the American public is likely to support.
U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles taxi the runway after landing at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Nov. 12, 2015. Six F-15Es are deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and counter-Islamic State missions in Iraq and Syria. (USAF/Tech. Sgt. Taylor Worley/Handout via Reuters)
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