Two New Fronts for Obama

The Red Sea and Persian Gulf mark the beginning of a new warlike adventure for the United States. The undertaking has two objectives in sight—the Islamic State and Khorasan, a terrorist group formed by former al-Qaida members—and the justification, according to what Barack Obama said yesterday before the U.N. General Assembly, to “[take] action against immediate threats” and “dismantle this network of death.”

On the first front, the United States is not alone, as it has knit together a coalition of more than 50 nations in which the most visible participants are the Arab countries with Sunni governments—the same point of view as the Islamic State—like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar, some of which had agreed, until very recently, to give economic support to the aforementioned jihadi.

However, depending on these allies does not decrease the uncertainty regarding the outcome of this new enterprise. What is certain is that it will not be short. It is more than enough to remember that the U.S. is making an excursion to a land of shifting sands, in which the threat of these two groups is far from the only factor in destabilization.

Obama has insisted, contrary to those who see this as a battle rather than a long war, that it is a new confrontation, this time against the extremism of a group that has used Western audio-video language to spread terror without caution, with shocking scenes of decapitations and calls to randomly assassinate Americans and Europeans. The latter has earned a popular backing of around 75 percent.

In addition to the said support, Obama is counting on that of the allies and the technological tools that guarantee that each strike is accurate. However, it has been shown that, when facing an enemy like this, these factors are not always enough. The tumorous cancer of violent extremism could be removed—and it needs to be—but if what is wanted is to attack the causes, then what is needed are long-term, multidisciplinary interventions and, above all, a better understanding of the clinical history of the patient.

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