NEW YORK – The attacks in Paris by individuals associated with the Islamic State, coming on the heels of bombings in Beirut and the downing of a Russian airliner over the Sinai Peninsula, reinforce the reality that the terrorist threat has entered a new and even more dangerous phase. Just why the Islamic State decided to stage its attacks now is a matter for conjecture; it may well be that it is going global to compensate for its recent loss of territory in Iraq. But whatever the rationale, what is certain is that a clear response is warranted.
Actually, the challenge posed by the Islamic State calls for several responses, as there is no single policy that promises to be sufficient. Multiple efforts are needed in multiple domains.
One is military. More intense attacks from the air against Islamic State military assets, oil and gas facilities, and leaders are critical. But no amount of air power on its own will ever get the job done. A substantial ground component is needed if territory is to be taken and held.
Unfortunately, there is no time to build a partner force on the ground from scratch. This has been tried and failed, and Arab states are unable or unwilling to constitute one. The Iraqi army has also come up short. Iran-backed militias only make matters worse.