That’s what Renée Rigdon, Tristan Wyatt, and Karen Leigh would have us believe in their recent Wall Street Journal piece.
It’s true enough that the Daesh—that JV team of ex-President Barack Obama’s (D) estimation—ran through the Iraqi “army” a few years ago, exploded through Syrian territory, and wound up controlling a significant fraction of Iraqi and Syrian land. Their physical expansion was stopped in the immediacy of the situation only by Iraqi Kurds and the confused and fractious condition of Syria. It’s also true that under President Donald Trump, a US-refurbished Iraqi army allied with those Kurds and local militias, with the support of an unleashed US-led coalition of air forces, recaptured nearly all of Iraqi territory in very short order while that same coalition of air forces supported a US-led coalition of rebels (albeit of at best dubious provenance) have disinfected most of Daesh-held Syria.
However, it’s naïve to suggest that the Daesh’s “caliphate” has crumbled, as the article’s title claims. The Daesh, like its forerunner al Qaeda, is a polity that is first and foremost a network entity. It has physical nodes existing parasitically in a broad swath of nation-states, ranging from western People’s Republic of China through northern Africa. It has cells throughout Europe and in the United States. These nodes and cells are connected via the Internet and the world’s cell phone network.
All that’s happened with the physical rollup of the Daesh in Iraq and Syria is that this terrorist polity has been freed from the shackles of geography. Now our battle must shift to the virtual world; it’s far too soon to cry Victory.
Heads up. Be very heads up.