Instead, regarding the recent round of airstrikes in Iraq, I read that the admitted view is "Well, this won't affect their capabilities much, but it will show them we're serious and how!"
Which does not work in the real world.
Effective military force boils down to one of two options:
#1 - a show of force/decisive strike or other limited action; the proverbial "shot across the bow" which informs a foe as to precisely where a line is drawn, and demonstrates the ability and will to enforce said limitation.
#2 - the complete and total use of said force, either as a follow-on to the first option, or when no other alternative is available, and conducted until one of the two sides capitulates or is unable to proceed further (or no longer exists).
Anything outside of one of these two options is mere theater, and will accomplish nothing.
In fact, given the Arab world and mindset, it will actually make things worse. That's in no way a racial or prejudiced statement, it's an understanding of the culture based on over two decades of dealing with it. Don't think I'm right? Look at events since 1947 as demonstrations - those nations and times when "limited actions," "retaliatory strikes," or other euphemisms have been used have universally failed; whereas on the occasions warfare has been treated as the serious business it is, and resources committed fully, have resulted in not only military victories but changes in the status quo. In fact, we've reinforced this cultural ideal through these very actions, showing time and again that "the infidel" will never stay around for the long haul, that we are shallow and weak and too concerned with what the latest trend is to fight the long fight.
All we are doing right now with "limited air strikes" is setting the scene for failure again. It is Lebanon. Iran. Somalia. Libya. Syria. All repeated as examples of "America has no stomach for the fight, see what happens? Their bombs are ineffective and we are still here!" Our foes know it, and more importantly, the masses know it (and are afraid).
Because right now it is abundantly clear that we aren't able or willing to get back in the fight. That, once things get messy enough, or prolonged enough, or the ratings go south, we will be gone in the night, and they will be left to deal with the consequences.
And it sickens me right now, more than I can possibly describe. It bothers me that I have friends who died for apparently nothing, that thousands of us left parts of our lives, our bodies, and our souls in those hells, never to be reclaimed - and that the powers-that-be could care less for such sacrifice. It kills me to see innocent children, women, and men tortured, killed, and living in terror of what may come next, all for the fault of being born into the wrong tribe or sect or belief system. To see pictures, to hear stories, to understand what is happening and realizing it's only the merest surface image of true events. Knowing that there is no hope for a peaceful resolution, for simple coexistence to occur - that instead, things will continue to spiral into darkness until the region fragments even more than it already has; and that worst case, it will spread into a greater conflict in other nations.
We could solve this. I don't mean just the United States, I mean the world community as a whole. But we won't. It's not politically expedient. It's not socially correct to enforce our norms upon others. Most importantly, the average person in the world has lost the concept that there are some evils worth fighting til the last breath, worth sacrificing for, worth joining together to conquer and eliminate.
Instead, we'll keep at this pretense of action - just like we did in Rwanda, in Bosnia and Kosovo, and in countless other places. They'll shake their heads and "tsk tsk, such a shame, but at least we tried." at all the right gatherings.
Because they never see the faces, or realize it's actual people dying - it's not a news story done in 30 seconds.
I fear this is the start of the scream that civilizations make as they die....
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?