- - Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Islamic State — or ISIS, or Daesh, or whatever we’re calling it this week — has won a stunning victory with the collapse of the Iraqi army and the conquest of Ramadi and Anbar. The attempt by the Obama administration to spin it any other way is foolish. The loss is an enormous gain for the forces of radical Islamic terrorism.

If and when the city and province can be taken back it will cost an enormous sacrifice of men and machines, with losses of blood paid by the Iraqi and allied military and the civilians who live there.

The assault by suicide bombers and the abandonment of recently acquired American weapons by fleeing Iraqi government forces further imperil the regime based only 60 miles away, in a capital swamped with more refugees and infiltrators.

At a stroke, the barbarians have established themselves as winners. No feats of derring-do in neighboring Syria by U.S. Delta Forces, however spectacular and valuable for intelligence gathering, can compensate.

Nothing succeeds likes success: The Islamic State will now enlist new recruits, not only for its forces in Syria and Iraq, but for the growing caliphate in places as far away as Nigeria and Chad, and even in Europe and America.

What looked at first like an irrelevant publicity stunt to announce a new caliphate by a shady and unknown caliph, the combination of religious and civil governance that has plagued Islam since its founding — is now reality writ large.

Another assassination of military and civilian opponents in the takeover of Ramadi will further intimidate the millions of Muslims who want to live their lives in peace and in the pursuit of prosperity without commitment to fanaticism.

If, as seems probable now, Ramadi’s reconquest will be undertaken by Shia militias allied with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, this will be another step to bring Iraq and its vast oil and gas reserves into a subservient satellite relationship with the mullahs in Tehran.

Attempts by the White House to minimize the strategic and tactical defeat, supported by Gen. Martin Dempsey, the retiring chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are foolish and impress no one. More than two-dozen airstrikes after the fact may impress some critics of the Obama administration’s offensive against the Islamic terrorism that the president cannot bring himself to call by its true name, but spin is never a substitute for a strategy. It will take more than spin to stop a menace that is swiftly becoming more than a regional conflict and threatens the peace of the larger world.

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