The Paris terror attacks are likely to galvanize a stronger global military response to Islamic State, after a U.S.-led air war that has lasted more than a year has failed to contain a group now proving itself to be a growing worldwide threat.
The United States, long accused of taking an incremental approach to the struggle, is under growing political pressure at home and abroad to do more and it is expected to examine ways to intensify the campaign, including through expanded air power.
U.S. officials say Washington will look in particular to European and Arab allies to step up their military participation in the war in Iraq and Syria.
It remains far from clear whether Paris and Washington would be willing to radically expand the scope of their current military engagement, given a deep aversion to getting dragged into a large-scale ground war in the Middle East. But President Barack Obama has been committing more to the fight in recent months, and lawmakers and counter-terrorism experts see the Paris attacks strengthening arguments for additional military might.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for Friday’s attacks, which killed 129 people in Paris, in the worst bloodshed in France since the end of World War Two.
In the past two weeks, there have been other major Islamic State-claimed attacks. Two explosions in suicide attacks in a Shi’ite Muslim district of southern Beirut in Lebanon killed 43, and 224 died when a Russian aircraft crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it had become clear that Obama’s strategy of limited air strikes coupled with support for ground forces in Iraq and Syria “are not sufficient to protect our country and our allies.”
“The fight is quickly spreading outside Iraq and Syria, and that’s why we must take the battle to them,” Feinstein said.
Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA expert on the region who has advised Obama, said the string of recent attacks had put to rest once and for all the debate whether Islamic State would stay focused on the war in Iraq and Syria.
“It is a game changer in this sense: there were those who debated whether the Islamic State would stay focused local – or go global. I think that debate’s over now,” said Riedel, now at the Brookings Institution. Read more