It began almost 14-years ago as a campaign to wipe out a bunch of terrorists in Afghanistan. Or so we thought.
Today our once hopeful adventure in the Hindu Kush has metastasized into a conflict with radical Sunni fundamentalism that stretches from South Asia to western North Africa. And even though we've got a dandy fleet of jet fighters lobbing bombs into Iraq, overall we're really falling behind.
ISIS, Daesh, call them whatever you like, they're on a bit of a roll. They just staged a mass beheading in Libya of about 21 Coptic Egyptians they kidnapped some time earlier.
ISIS, it seems, operates a bit like an outlaw biker gang. It spreads through chapters established in various countries, states and provinces. You sign on, go through some sort of ritual, and - boom - you're in business. So, when we unload our stuff on one chapter, the others are free to go about their business virtually unmolested. Hmm, that so doesn't sound like a plan.
When you compound that dilemma by pointing out that we're only making a symbolic gesture anyway, (let's face it - six CF-18s does not an airwar make) it gets even worse. We're not really trying to put out a fire. We're just trying to keep the smoke down a bit.
I don't know how you fight a plague like ISIS with symbolic gestures. They're dandy for making voters believe you're doing something just so long as they don't dwell on what that 'something' really is and what it isn't.
We've already got nearly 15-years in on this and precious little to show for it. What are we going to do, another 15? The people we're going after seem perfectly willing to keep it going as long as we like.
We don't have an exit strategy. We don't even know what 'victory' against these guys looks like or how to achieve it. We've set the bar so astonishingly low for ourselves that we don't even know what failure looks like any more. That last one? That's bad.