1. Rajiv Chandrasekaran explains why defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will be tremendously difficult.
“Harder than anything we’ve tried to do thus far in Iraq or Afghanistan” is how one U.S. general involved in war planning described the challenges ahead on one side of the border that splits the so-called Islamic State.
2. The New York Times writes about how little we know about the threat that the Islamic State could pose to the United States.
Daniel Benjamin, who served as the State Department’s top counterterrorism adviser during Mr. Obama’s first term, said the public discussion about the ISIS threat has been a “farce,” with “members of the cabinet and top military officers all over the place describing the threat in lurid terms that are not justified.”
“It’s hard to imagine a better indication of the ability of elected officials and TV talking heads to spin the public into a panic, with claims that the nation is honeycombed with sleeper cells, that operatives are streaming across the border into Texas or that the group will soon be spraying Ebola virus on mass transit systems — all on the basis of no corroborated information,” said Mr. Benjamin, who is now a scholar at Dartmouth College.
3. The Post's David Nakumura writes on how strange it is that Obama, of all people, is talking about waging war in the Middle East.
It is not a legacy the president expected to leave. Less than a year after taking office, Obama delivered an address in Oslo as he accepted a Nobel Peace Prize, awarded for what the prize committee called “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people.” The president spoke about the search, among philosophers and statesmen, for the terms that would define a “just war” — but concluded that such a conflict was “rarely observed.” “I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war,” Obama said. “What I do know is that . . . it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.”
4. Spencer Ackerman annotates President Obama's speech, fact-checking details and providing context.
5. The amendment to overturn Citizens United got voted down in the Senate today. No one who voted against it is going to face many electoral ramifications; voters care about campaign finance, but not passionately, as this NPR post points out. Voters are watching what happens to the economy far more.
6. Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg View says that the amendment was a time-waster to begin with, and they should have been doing something else all week anyway.
7. Shane Goldmacher at National Journal writes about the battle back in Kentucky that could determine whether Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will be able to run for president and the Senate at the same time in 2016.
8. The New Yorker collected photos taken by an electrician who worked at Windows on the World, the restaurant atop the World Trade Center's north tower.
9. The Center for Responsive Politics shows how Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) have both relied on fundraising from outside Kentucky, even -- gasp -- in Washington.