There has been much very justified criticism of US strategy in attacking the Islamic State militia in Iraq and Syria. Air strikes have barely dented its advance. Various military types have weighed in with doubtless sage advice that, to have any hope of destroying Islamic State, boots are needed on the ground. To which, of course, neither the US nor the UK are prepared to commit, having been so badly bruised in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The core reason for the failure of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, however, is currently being repeated in the campaign against Islamic State. For the message that the US and UK have signally failed to learn is that any war fought half-heartedly will be lost and the sacrifice of blood or treasure will be in vain.
Fighting whole-heartedly isn't just a matter of military tactics. There has to be a coherent strategy based on a correct analysis of what is the goal, who is the enemy and what is the nature of the war that the enemy is fighting. That enemy must then be fought with all appropriate means: military, political and economic. None of this is being done in the case of Islamic State. The war is not only half-hearted, but is focusing on the symptom while ignoring the cause. Islamic state is backed by Qatar, which along with Kuwait helped fund and form it before the militia became self-financing through plundering bank accounts, oil fields and territory on its spectacular advance.
However, Qatar and Kuwait are supposedly allies of the West. Indeed, America and its allies liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War. Yet the Kuwait Scholars' Union raised several million dollars for anti-aircraft missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and fighters, some of which went to Islamic State and some to the al-Qaeda front, Jabhat al-Nusra.
Qatar is a principal backer of anti-west, Muslim Brotherhood-based terror outfits in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Gaza and elsewhere. As a result, Qatar has been shunned by Saudi Arabia (itself no stranger to Islamic extremism), the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Any war that is fought half-heartedly against ISIS will be lost
To say the West is making nice with Qatar would be an understatement. While the war in Gaza raged last summer, Obama signed a billion-dollar arms deal with Qatar even though it was funding Hamas.
On this side of the pond, Qatar has been steadily buying up much of the UK. It owns a vast amount of the Canary Wharf financial district. During the banking crisis, it stepped in to become the biggest shareholder in Barclays. It owns the Olympic Village, Harrods and the world's most expensive apartment block at No 1 Hyde Park. It owns Camden Market, the Shard and 20 per cent of the London Stock Exchange. It has also become Britain's biggest supplier of imported liquefied natural gas. And so on.
So what on earth is the point of bombing Islamic State if at the same time the US and UK are hand in glove with its sponsors?
The West is treating Islamic State as if it is an unprecedented phenomenon of barbarism and aggression. It is not. It is but the latest manifestation of the hydra-headed monster that is the Islamic jihad against the "infidel" world.
To defend itself, the West needs to form a strategic response that involves treating the sources of the jihad not as allies but as enemies. This is not to argue that the US and UK should mount bombing raids on Qatar. But it does mean no arms deals and an end to the financial dependency that has given one of the West's most dangerous enemies the upper hand.
Otherwise, the West will lose not just against Islamic State but against the holy war whose very nature the US and UK still so cravenly deny.
Melanie Phillips is a columnist
for The Times