That influence will be necessarily limited: We are not going to stamp out ISIS on our own, or prevent the Middle East’s rival coalitions — Sunni vs. Shiite, oligarchic vs. populist — from continuing their brutal proxy wars. There is not going to be a major American-aligned model nation in the Arab world anytime soon, of the sort the Iraq invasion’s architects naïvely hoped to build.
Near the bottom of his analysis, Douthat does make this nod to actual reality, which is that just about everything threatening us in the Muslim world can be traced to the endless war between Sunni and Shia and their respective “mother ships,” Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Saudi Arabia essentially created ISIL by financing, arming, and using it as a proxy against a potential Iranian takeover of the Iraqi state. Iran, of course, has always had massive support within Shia Iraq, support which it succors every way it can.
Angelo Codevilla made the following point: If we define victory over Muslim terrorism as an end to attacks against us, so that we live in relatively unconcerned safety, the only way to do this is to destroy the wellsprings of the Muslim terrorist groups that wish to attack us.
And the only way to accomplish that is to convince those regimes who create, arm, train, protect, finance, and otherwise support these Muslim terror groups to cease doing so and, instead, to actively seek to eradicate them.
And if those regimes refuse to do so, then we must destroy them. For those who think such solutions can never work, perhaps you can tell me how many murder bounties Saddam Hussein paid to suicide bombers who killed Jews after “Mission Accomplished?” (And yes, that was what it took to end Saddam’s terror war against Israel – destroying his regime. The eight years of bloodshed after that had little or nothing to do with the end of Saddam’s threat to Israel.
One of the biggest obstacles to doing that, of course, is the massive network of bribery and boodle that the Saudis have established here in the United States for the purpose of political and cultural influence. If you’re interested in learning the awful truth about that network, try this book: Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network. It’s excellent. And terrifying.