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The response of France is understandable. First, hunker down and stabilize the country. Next, strike back at the enemy. The enemy's tactic is to hide behind human shields, such as in their headquarters in Raqqa, Syria, or in the midst of the wave of refugees who were running away from them in actuality.|
Terrorism, whether in France or in Xinjiang, has made war much bloodier and much harder to contain from harming innocent civilians. At the same time, terrorism is also harder to identify, contain and destroy, because its identity as individuals can be switched on and off, just like that. One moment, an innocent victim of the very terrorists France is combating, and another moment, the very terrorist himself. In a sense it is like a cancer whose cells can look normal under the microscope, but when you look away, they start destroying the very organ they are supposed to be healthy members of.
The fact is that the IS is a very peculiar entity. It came out of nowhere, and can vanish equally quickly into nothing. Faced with this kind of an enemy, or rather of a "common enemy", the danger to its would be attackers is that after they are knee deep in the Levant, it may disappear, as if it never existed before.
Then, we have new geopolitical dilemma. Which country or power shall stay in the Levant to maintain peace and order, and which should retire and go back home, perhaps without having done any harm to its enemy? Now, the problem becomes the members of the international community enmeshed in this region. For example, even as we speak, Russia and the US have come to an agreement of how to wind down this war in Syria over the next 2 years. But with the IS still active, there is a good chance that both Russia and the US would expand their operations in the meantime. Suppose the IS then vanishes. Who is to remain to administer the region?