The Atlantic

How Can America Hit ISIS 'Harder' When the Caliphate Is Gone?

The problem of responding to attackers without a state
Source: Jane Roseburg / Reuters

President Trump tweeted Friday that the U.S. “military has hit ISIS ‘much harder’ over the last two days” because of the group’s claim of responsibility for this week’s terrorist attack in New York that killed eight people.

“They will pay a big price for every attack on us!” Trump said.

The tweet coincides with the Syrian military’s capture of the city of Deir al-Zour, whose location near the border with Iraq, and surrounding oil fields, made it a strategic assetTennessee (or South Korea), is now fighting for its life. It has lost Raqqa, its self-proclaimed capital in Syria; Mosul, the second-largest Iraqi city; and Hawija, the Iraqi city it had controlled forthree years until last month. What ISIS hasn’t lost, though, is the ability to inspire people around the world to commit acts of terrorism. At its peak, the group carried out high-profile attacks in France, Belgium, and elsewhere. Attacks still occur, albeit less regularly—but many of these attacks bear few signs that ISIS “central” had anything directly to do with them except inspire the attacker into killing civilians.

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