Jack Goldstone in Politico on why the United States should consider partnering with Iran in order to defeat the Islamic State. According to Goldstone, ISIS depends on support from disaffected Sunnis, therefore removing Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria is crucial to defeating the terrorist group. "How could such a barbarous and brutal group as ISIL, as Obama described it Wednesday, earn the support of those millions? By promising to protect and avenge them against the Assad regime in Syria, which has slaughtered their children and gassed their relatives and fellow townspeople and tribesmen; and against the Shiite regime in Iraq, which has stolen their jobs and destroyed their livelihoods, contemptuously dashing the hopes and careers of Sunni Arabs in that country." Goldstone suggests that in the same way Iran supported the replacement of Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq, it may be persuaded to support the replacement of Assad in Syria. "As long as Assad is in power in Syria, however, ISIL will have an ideal recruiting environment to draw ever more fighters and supporters to its cause. Assad’s departure is thus not a later phase that can be dealt with after a military campaign; it is an essential part of the strategy to make any military campaign effective. And Iran’s cooperation is essential for forcing Assad to relinquish power."
Jerry Coyne in The New Republic on why the Islamic State does, in fact, represent a strain of Islam. Coyne contends that the Islamic State does represent a religion. "If ISIS is not Islamic, then the Inquisition was not Catholic. The fact is that there are no defensible criteria for whether a faith is 'true,' since all faiths are man-made and accrete doctrine—said to come from God, but itself man-made—that becomes integral to those faiths. Whatever 'true faith' means, it doesn’t mean 'the right religion: the one whose God exists and whose doctrines are correct.' If that were so, we wouldn’t see Westerners trying to tell us what 'true Islam' is." In other words, while we may revile what ISIS represents and practices, it is still a brand of Islam. "By all means let us say that ISIS is a strain of Islam that is barbaric and dysfunctional, but let us not hear any nonsense that it’s a 'false religion.' ISIS, like all religious movements, is based on faith; and faith, which is belief in the absence of convincing evidence, isn’t true or false, but simply irrational."