For John, BLUF: We need to understand the human terrain, at the strategic level. Nothing to see here; just move along.
This is one of those articles that calls for a "Maybe" response. It needs a lot more social science examination, but it is plausible.
From Crisis Magazine♠ we have an article by Mr William Kilpatrick, The Gender Confusion Challenge to Army Recruitment. The author contrast military recruiting for The Caliphate (née ISIL) with the US military's efforts. He focuses on the issue of young men without Fathers and how they are going to break. He notes that of those young men in prison who convert to a religion, 60% adopt Islam. That doesn't mean that when they get out they are buying a one-way ticket to the Middle East, but it shows that Islam offers attractions to young Fatherless men.
Mr Kilpatrick draws a contrast between what The Caliphate offers with what the US military offers. And he talks about what Fatherless boys are looking for. The last three paragraphs:
There are armies of teens in the West who are looking for an army to join. It doesn’t have to be a real army. A gang will do—so long as it provides male bonding, a warrior ethos, and the “reputation” that goes along with gang membership.Reading this you might dismiss it as the ravings of some off center Roman Catholic. On the other hand, you have Professor Andrew Bacevich♥ making the point that the wars in the Middle East are about religion. And Professor Bacevich is no friend of the previous and present Presidents, foreign policy wise. Writing in Notre Dame Magazine the Professor ends:
If you’re a young man without a father around, you’ll be looking, naturally, for the biggest, toughest brotherhood on the block. Increasingly, that looks like militant Islam. It promises everything that a wannabe warrior could ask for, and it commands far more respect than your average street gang ever will.
Our own military should take note. When the armies of Islam are drawing young men from around the world to join the jihad, it might not be the best time for the U.S. Army to emphasize its feminine side.
Whatever Washington’s intentions, we are engaged in a religious war. That is, the ongoing war has an ineradicable religious dimension. That’s the way a few hundred million Muslims see it and their seeing it in those terms makes it so.We can be as secular as we want, but that doesn't mean the other side has to take that approach. And, the other side gets a vote.
The beginning of wisdom is found not in denying that the war is about religion but in acknowledging that war cannot provide an antidote to the fix we have foolishly gotten ourselves into.
Does the Islamic world pose something of a problem for the United States? You bet, in all sorts of ways. But after more than three decades of trying, it’s pretty clear that the application of military power is unlikely to provide a solution. The solution, if there is one, will be found by looking beyond the military realm — which just might be the biggest lesson our experience with the War for the Greater Middle East ought to teach.
And, we can look for non-military actions, but sometimes the kinetic approach is the solution, at least the immediate solution.
Regards — Cliff
♠ From Bedford, NH, Southwest of Manchester.
♥ Himself a Roman Catholic.