Stephen M. Walt: Learning to Live with the Islamic State

July 28, 2015

As difficult it is to accept, there may be no loosening of the grip ISIS currently holds over its territory, at least not any time soon. Our guest, Stephen M. Walt, begins to come to terms with this unpleasant situation in a new article for Foreign Policy magazine, “What Should We Do if the Islamic State Wins?” His answer is not an inspiring one, but one based on the facts as he sees them: We will have to live with it.

On Point of Inquiry this week, Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Fellow of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, explores with host Josh Zepps the historical precedence for successful revolutionary movements and their near-intractability once they’ve claimed power. According to Walt, once established, these revolutionary regimes will either continue to act as dangerous rogues who are isolated and contained by neighboring countries, or eventually moderate themselves to the point where even the U.S. may eventually be able to make formal connections and begin to do business.

The Islamic State’s potential to become a major power (or rather its lack of potential), the unreliability of personal accounts from inside ISIS, and American moral hubris all weigh into this fascinating discussion on Point of Inquiry.