I've been reading a good deal of commentary over the weekend, following terrorist attacks overnight Friday in Paris, including this one at the site Religion Dispatches, located on the Web site of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism.
The author, Mark Juergensmeyer, argues that a "war on ISIS" --- as opposed to the more general "war" on terrorism in progress since the World Trade Center bombings on Sept. 11, 2001 --- would in fact be a major victory for that self-proclaimed caliphate.
In one sense, the attacks already have had a desired effect --- fostering anxiety and fear in the West, feeding the right-wing xenophobia already flourishing in the United States and some parts of Europe. The Paris victims, after all, look like us.
A declaration of war specifically on ISIS --- most desirably commitment of ground troops to a general campaign (rather than a carefully targeted one) --- would be icing on the cake. A campaign of indiscriminate bombing would be useful, too --- a majority of the victims would be Muslim civilians.
Among the goals of ISIS, pursued cold-bloodedly, is intensification of hostility in the west toward Islam and Islamic people and broadening its own base by radicalizing more supporters.
Here are a few of the minor victories since Paris that ISIS can add to its total:
Governors of Michigan and Alabama attempt to close the borders of their states to Syrian refugees, among the victims of ISIS.
Politicians and others who advocate "bombing the hell" out of ISIS, overlooking the fact that ISIS is a moving target and its leaders would relish the "collateral" damage such bombing campaigns would have.
Anti-Islamic rantings, vocal and otherwise, by those who know nothing in particular about Islam.
Absurd suggestions, fostered by politics and ignorance, that President Obama and the current administration is unqualified or unwilling to combat terrorism.
I'm sure there will be more of this as the days pass.