At Mass this Sunday, we heard from a missionary who worked in Nigeria. She had helped build hospitals and schools and improved access to food for the poor. In the last few years, however, Boko Haram, the Islamic terror group, had destroyed much of what the Nigerians had built. They sacked villages, killed the men and enslaved the women and children. They had blown up Catholic churches at the rate of about one per week.
Think about that last one. A prolonged, weekly campaign of Catholic church bombings. How long could that go on before a serious dent in the availability of churches occurred? After 20? After 40? That's not a lone wolf slicing the head off a French priest, that's war.
Therein lies the point. This is a global war with an ideology, not a scattered, marginally connected series of psychotics acting out. Defeating ISIS in Iraq is a good thing, but it does nothing to stop Boko Haram or any of the other groups. The recent spate of killings in Europe are terrible, but they're even worse when you connect them, appropriately, with the Islamic offensives in Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Yemen and elsewhere.
We're not fighting ISIS, we're fighting a brand of Islam. If you can't admit that, the public won't harden itself for the long struggle. When capturing a few more towns in Iraq doesn't put an end to the killings around the world, what happens?
When you accomplish a goal and it doesn't lead to the rewards you expected, it's exhausting. When you accomplish a subordinate goal along a path you already knew existed, you don't expect everything to change. You've got to define the enemy if you're going to lay out that path for he public.
Finally, dig the table below. In France, 20% of young Muslims are pretty much OK with suicide bombings. Think that's localized to Europe? In the US, the number is 15%. That's less, but it's still 1 in 6. With numbers like that, you've got a decent-sized, ideologically-prepared recruiting pool to do some serious damage.