A few points regarding ISIS:
1) The Kurds and the Shiite-dominated Iraqi army have been begging for months for some help against ISIS. Even many Sunnis are souring on them, as ISIS likes to kill even Sunnis who don’t meet their purity standards.
2) For those who think that ISIS’ beheadings are all about luring the US into a quagmire: Not every terror attack, not even those by Al Qaeda, is about tricking people into invading Iraq. The Madrid and London bombings were done to make Spain and the UK stand down, not double down, on their involvement. Furthermore, the latest beheadee isn’t an American, but a British aid worker. Does anyone think this was meant to get the Brits to invade Iraq?
3) ISIS is not Al Qaeda. They’re just one of many Sunni groups working the armchair-jihadi grift in the Middle East. They got kicked out of Jordan because the Jordanian security apparatus was a lot tougher than they were, so they fled to the jihadi-filled area just east of the Golan Heights (an area that for some reason never gets attacked by the IDF that rains bombs down upon Gaza, even though it’s well within IDF missile range) and to the largely empty wastelands in western Iraq. They hit the jackpot two years ago when the Saudis and Kuwaitis started their efforts to topple Syria’s Assad Baathist government, but even with boatloads of Saudi money they still couldn’t topple Assad, so they contented themselves with nabbing a few undefended oil towns on the Syria-Iraq and Kurdish frontiers so they could keep the money rolling in. (Trouble is, they killed too many engineers and the oil production machinery is starting to fall apart: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/09/03/business/defterios-oil-isis/ )
4) If anyone thinks that US bombing is going to increase ISIS’ numbers, I suggest they think again. From http://pando.com/2014/09/03/the-war-nerd-the-long-twisted-history-of-beheadings-as-propaganda/ :
IS was on a roll, overrunning lightly armed Peshmerga and village militias, before the US ruined everything by authorizing drones and airstrikes. It must have been damned annoying, being an IS fighter, bouncing over the plains in your Toyota Hilux, as the terrified Iraqi Army forces vanished ahead of you in a cloud of panicky dust. Quite a rush for the mix of AQI survivors and European-Muslim war tourists who fill IS’s ranks.
And then all of a sudden, you go from the dashing light-armor knights of the Iraqi plain to the biggest, most vulnerable targets imaginable—thin-skinned vehicles crawling over a completely flat, treeless plain while the drones buzz overhead, armed with Hellfire missiles, just waiting for authorization from a desk jockey in suburban Virginia before they release a weapon designed to destroy much bigger, tougher, Soviet tanks. Suddenly, you, with your Sunni Lawrence of Arabia war-tourist dreams, are nothing but a bug getting zapped by an automated pest-control device.
It’s insulting. And the kind of young men who join IS are romantics, of a sort. They might not mind dying in the abstract—most guys don’t, at that age, until they find out what it feels like to get shot in the stomach—but they hate the idea of dying in such an unchivalrous way.