But the tide has clearly turned. The peoples targeted by Dâ'ish for such atrocities are fighting back and winning. In November Kurdish forces liberated the city of Sinjar, whose Yazidi (a non-Muslim religion) inhabitants had suffered mass killing and enslavement by Dâ'ish after they captured it more than a year earlier. In February the Iraqi army recaptured Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province. In March the Syrian army, with Russian air support, drove the jihadists out of the ancient city of Palmyra. Several top leaders of the group have been killed in US airstrikes.
And now, the pressure is escalating. The Iraqi army, now rendered considerably more effective by Iranian military advisers, has begun an offensive to retake the besieged Dâ'ish stronghold of Fallujah. US-backed Kurds and Arabs are advancing toward Raqqa, Dâ'ish's "capital", from the north -- indeed, by some accounts fighting has already reached the northern edge of the city -- while the Russian-backed Syrian army threatens it from the south. And the groundwork is being laid for an attack to recapture Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city and the most important place still under Dâ'ish control.
Dâ'ish won't die easily. There is still much more fighting ahead, and the jihadists' frustration at their continuing defeats in the actual war may provoke them to lash out with further terrorist attacks. Or, maybe not -- the mass murder of Russian and French civilians in the airliner bombing and the Paris shootings just provoked Russia and France to increase their engagement against Dâ'ish. But even if further such attacks do happen, they will have little impact on the course of the war.
After Dâ'ish is defeated, other problems will rise to the surface. US influence in Iraq and Russian influence in Syria may clash with rising Iranian influence in both. The Kurds, having fought so tenaciously and at such cost for their homelands in both countries, will not meekly submit to a restoration of the sovereignty of Baghdad and Damascus. If they do seem likely to retain their de facto independence, Turkey will bitterly object, fearing the inspiration such an outcome would offer its own huge Kurdish minority.
It will take a wise, steady, and prudent US President to help manage not only this complex war but the even more complex peace to follow -- yet another reason for us as voters to choose well in November.