European governments pay millions of dollars in ransoms to free their hostages. The White House needs to decide whether it’s willing to sacrifice principle for people.
One wishes, of course, for some sort of Inglourious Basterds, in which the former victims rise up to give the monsters a taste of their terrible medicine. That’s what the movies are for. In real life, Obama has done what he can do by sending American warplanes to hammer IS positions in Iraq. For the moment, at least, he has saved Kurdistan from being overrun, and driven the jihadists away from the Mosul Dam. That’s a very good start. There may be nothing Obama can do to save Steven Sotloff. But there is a great deal he can do to show the criminals of the Islamic State that the West is prepared to defend the values it professes.