Russia intervened in Syria, did what it came to do–strengthen the position of the Assad government–and has partially withdrawn. Meanwhile, our war with ISIS continues its endless futility, an inevitable result of war by pinking.
War by plinking, using airstrikes that blow up an ammo dump here, an ISIS leader there, and wedding parties everywhere is largely a product of futility of thought. We think we have to do something, but our military leadership has few options to offer. We can invade, but as we have experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan, doing so merely increases the scope and cost of our defeat. We can carry out an aerial campaign of annihilation, but our civilian leadership’s ideology forbids it. It might also generate new enemies faster than we can kill them, no matter how many bombs we drop. Approaches that require both imagination and skill cannot make it through our leaden, elephantine military decision process (where the process is the product). So we plink.
Much of our plinking seems devoted to war by assassination. There is a reason states have generally avoided that. As I fear we may discover, it is a game two can play. In the end it devolves, as it has, to mere war of attrition. Wars of attrition are usually indecisive, continuing until one party or another, or both, are exhausted. we are likely to tire before ISIS does.