America is on fire.
"This is beyond anything that we've seen," said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, "ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. ... They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess."
Sen. Lindsey Graham calls ISIS an "existential threat."
Even Rand Paul has caught the war fever: "If I were president, I would call a joint session of Congress. I would lay out the reasoning of why ISIS is a threat to our national security and seek Congressional authorization to destroy ISIS militarily."
Polls show Republicans turning back toward interventionism. Joe Biden, among the more doveish in the Obama camp, says we are going to chase ISIS to "the gates of hell."
Why would ISIS show themselves engaged in what decent men regard as barbarities, such as the beheadings of innocents and the mass execution of Syrian and Iraqi prisoners, with their hands tied behind their backs?
Though undeniably evil, the men of ISIS are not stupid. And our reaction is playing directly into their hand.
America's recoil, which revealed to the world how the United States has been wounded, enraged and alarmed by ISIS' savagery and success, sends to the most extreme of America-haters in the Islamic world a clear message.
Given our horrified and hyperbolic reaction, ISIS can credibly make this boast to the jihadists from Nigeria to the Hindu Kush, from Libya to Iraq, from Somalia to Syria:
"ISIS is the enemy the Great Satan fears and hates most. ISIS is the Islamist organization that strikes fear into NATO. Not al-Qaida, not Boko Haram, not Ansar al-Sharia, not the al Nusra Front -- ISIS. If you would join the climactic battle for the future of mankind, if you would be in the front lines of the martyrs' brigades changing the world and creating the caliphate of the Prophet, join us. ISIS wants you!"
Thanks to the West's stunned and shocked reaction, ISIS has eclipsed al-Qaida. America daily confirms it. ISIS is today receiving the attention Osama once got for bringing down the twin towers and inflicting the worst blow to America since Pearl Harbor.
Unfortunately, what we view as horrifying, our worst enemies in the Islamic world view as the mark of authenticity, of uncompromising faith.
But while our natural and normal response to these videos is hot-blooded, hopefully, in our retribution, we will be more cool-headed than we have been in the recent past.