I’m not sure about large parts of the argument that appeared in Atlantic Monthly article by Graeme Wood about Islamic State. You can read it here. The idea is basically right. How are we to understand the balance between historical-social-political versus ideological factors and conditions behind the emergence of ISIS. I think the author overstates the medieval character of the organization. Perhaps of most interest from the article is the map. It clarifies what a re-drawn Middle East might end up looking like with a large Sunni state spanning the old borders of Iraq and Syria. You begin to see the logical ligaments in the black control zones and grey support zones. Whether it’s eventually run by ISIS or some other Sunni state-system, the territory runs from Baghdad up to Mosul, over to Aleppo, down to Damascus and back over to Fallujah and Ramadi. It’s hedged externally by the more stable regimes in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and by the Israeli controlled Golan Heights. Internal to Syria and Iraq it’s internally bounded by those countries’ Shia, Kurdish, and Alawite territories.