Islamic State is clearly a threat to pretty much everyone. They use shock tactics that enrage the citizens of many nations, they've attacked Syria and Iraq, and butchered many in those countries, running roughshod over Iraq's army and giving Syria's a run for their money. They've been condemned by many nations, and as far as I'm aware they have no allies. It would be fully justified for a coalition to put boots on the ground. Thus far all that's happened is a little light bombing in Iraq, which has only just about helped curb their advance.

Can someone give an explanation as to why this hasn't occurred, and why, despite IS's gains, they are allowed to continue to commit war crimes, not only against their own people, but against many other nations as well?

  • 1) Since when does foreign country geniunely fight for democraty? As far as I know it never happened, or it was just an excuse (i.e. USA vs Iraq). 2) The journalists seem to love the Islamic state. They can increase their sales greatly if they cover this topic.
    – Bregalad
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 20:16
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    Other nations are taking action: nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/…
    – user1530
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 1:37
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    What countries do u mean, exactly?
    – Anixx
    Commented May 23, 2015 at 10:09

2 Answers 2


The experiences of the past 15 years has finally taught some people that there are some problems foreign soldiers simply cannot fix. Who is willing to sacrifice tens of thousands of their own soldiers, not to mention enormous financial expenditures, just to have the same experiences the US has had for more than a decade fighting insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, with the best case outcome looking something like the current state of Libya?

Turkey is not at risk, Jordan is holding its own (with international assistance), Kurdistan is holding quite valiantly (also with assistance), so international forces have reasonably contained the contested area to Syrian and Iraq with Lebanon (insufficient assistance) as a likely victim too.

Iraq is a politically toxic environment nobody wants to return to, full of its own internal strife for which even a decade of American occupation (at great expense) was wasted effort, and nobody wants to spend that again with no prospect of a better outcome.

Syria is the main issue where this all really stated, and the desire on the part of some world leaders to see the regime fall prevents any effective response. Right from the beginnings of ISIS, were this anywhere else in the world, the US would be sending in a lot of support in the name of the global war on terror, and ISIS would never have gotten as large as it is. This keeps nations from assisting the Syrian government but instead there is support for the rebellion which indirectly support ISIS. Trying to fight on both sides in a civil war has no win condition.

Beyond just a desire to see Assad fall, the Syrian regime is supported by Iran, which taints the conflict with overtones of the greater regional power struggles. Other powers who are opposed to Iran will not support another state they see as being a client of Iran, so the conflict is partially seen as a proxy fight against Iran - even if they don't much like ISIS, they are happy to see them cause problems for Iran and its clients.

Obviously this is an incredibly simplified explanation, as the reality on the ground involves a multitude of smaller groups, local politics with opposition to their own governments leading people to sympathize with ISIS (easy to 'invade' and occupy territory when the locals are keen to throw off their own government, even if they regret it later), even just the logistical issues of conducting a war which partially resembles fighting an insurgency has an influence in why people do not want to get involved. And never discount basic fatigue - more than a decade of fighting and occupying in the middle east has left people with little enthusiasm for mobilizing to go back in.

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    Although this answer may be correct, it lacks any links or references to any credible resources. Without those, the entire answer looks like a series of bareword assumptions, which looks as an example of how ""not** to write answers. Example: Syria is the main (or one of?) issue (for whom?) where this all really stated, and the desire on the part of some world leaders (who? why?) to see the regime fall prevents (limits?) any effective response (what is "effective"?). Commented May 23, 2015 at 5:46
  • I have another theory as to why western countries are so reluctant to do anything. I think they support action only so far as it puts IS into a stalemate. That way, they get to kill all the extremists in one place instead of having them act as terrorists in their own countries. They're big enough to attract people to them, but not enough to be a serious threat. Commented May 26, 2015 at 6:38

I will restrict my answer to those nations who have a military capable of mounting a counter-offensive.


  1. Money: It costs money to drop bombs and arm a military. Many nations don't have money to fund such activities, and others choose to retain their money for other purposes.
  2. Politics: While most nations aren't fond of ISIS, some are Muslim-based, some aren't fond of the West, and others are pacifist.
  3. Syria is complicated: The Syrian conflict is not black and white, good vs. evil. While the humanitarian/refugee crisis is undeniable and inescapable, the other factions which would fill a post-Assad power vacuum, aren't necessarily forces for good. Therefore, some feel that it's difficult to pick a side in this conflict.

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