Will We Stay Committed to a Long Battle Against ISIS Extremism?

The basic facts of the Paris attacks are still being assembled, but it appears that Islamic State may be moving toward a different model–one in which it uses self-starter pop-up terrorists, effectively crowdsourcing the murder of innocents among groups it aims to terrorize. The Paris attacks represent another wake-up call about mutating threats posed by an assortment of jihadist extremist networks. The question is: Will we pay attention for a sustained period?

Groups like ISIS and al Qaeda have been attacking Europe and the United States for decades, and our response record is mixed. The U.S. employed cruise missile strikes in the 1990s; then came the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with open-ended commitments of U.S. combat troops in the initial years and a more targeted, light-footprint approach using drones and local partners under President Barack Obama. None of these has been the right remedy, in part because enough attention wasn’t paid to the political nature of the campaigns.

This article was originally published in The Wall Street Journal.