Here is an extract from David Kilcullen’s Blood Year: The Failures of the War on Terror: As I write, Western countries (several, particularly the US, now with severely reduced international credibility) face a larger, more unified, capable, experienced and savage enemy, in a less stable, more fragmented region, with a far higher level of geopolitical competition, and a much more severe risk of great-power conflict, than at any time since 9/11. It isn’t just Islamic State; al-Qa’ida has emerged from its eclipse and is back in the game in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Syria, Somalia and Yemen. We’re dealing with not one but two global terrorist organisations, each with regional branches, plus a vastly larger radicalised population at home, and a flow of foreign terrorist fighters 10 to 12 times the size of anything seen before. Likewise, last year’s Taliban resurgence shows that as bad as things seem now, they can get much worse if the Afghan drawdown creates the same opportunity for Islamic State next year as the Iraqi drawdown did in 2012.
Last year was a “blood year” in the Middle East – massacres and beheadings, fallen cities, collapsed and collapsing states, the unravelling of a decade of Western strategy. We saw the rise of ISIS, the splintering of government in Iraq, and foreign fighters – many from Europe, Australia and Africa – flowing into Syria at a rate ten times that during the height of the Iraq War. What went wrong?