All of the editorialists are trying to distinguish between ISIS and the Islam religion. For example, Michael Gerson’s column in The Washington Post (2/10/15) is entitled “The War is against ISIS — not Islam.” Don’t believe it for a minute.

It’s not what you and I believe; it’s what the terrorists and ISIS believe. In Saudi Arabia, they teach the students in the ninth grade the Salafi or Wahhabi version of the Islam religion. The Salafi version is the purest form of Islam teachings (“Frontline,” 11/9/2001). The Salafi version is intolerant of other Muslims and it teaches that Christians and Jews are infidels and ought to be eliminated.

In Saudi Arabia there is no separation of church and state. The government controls the mullahs and education. In Saudi Arabia beheadings are normal — not extreme or radical.

In short, as we learned in Iraq, the military will never degrade or defeat religion. If we are going to get rid of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, we’ll have to go to Saudi Arabia and persuade the government to stop the teaching of violence against other religions. Many in the Mideast who adhere to the Salafi version of Islam contribute to ISIS and keep it going. ISIS is only practicing what they learned in the ninth grade.

I remember the fire bombing of Dresden in World War II. ISIS sees no difference in being burned to death in a firebomb from an air strike and burning a prisoner to death in a cage. Burning to death the Jordanian pilot was a lesson for us. In fact, we ought to have learned by now that wars under the cover of “spreading democracy” are futile.

Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq turned out to be defeats for the U.S. Vietnam remains communist, China is picking up our marbles in Afghanistan and chaos reigns supreme in Iraq.

In fact, we should have learned by now that drone strikes spread terrorism rather than defeat it. As a result of drone strikes in Yemen, we have closed our Embassy in Yemen this week and withdrawn.

For 38 years in the United States Senate, I was the strongest supporter of the military.

But today, we’ve got to understand that the nuclear arms have checkmated the military in foreign policy. Ergo Ukraine.

For those wanting to supply weaponry to Ukraine against the Russian separatists in East Ukraine, that’s hitting the ball, but the question is the follow-through. Are we willing to go to war with Russia — both sides having nuclear weapons?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel sees this and urges caution. France sees this and wants to sell a destroyer to Russia.

The press in America keeps headlining weaponry for Ukraine. Ukraine was a Russian country for 300 years when Mikhail Gorbachev let it go in 1989. We stationed 55 entities of the National Endowment for Democracy to stir discord and urge democracy in Ukraine. We thought it best to have Ukraine join the European Union before it joined NATO.

In 2013, when Vladimir Putin countered with a $15 billion economic package for Ukraine to join the Russian Eurasian Union, Ukraine opted for Russia.

The president of Ukraine was overthrown. Crimea joined Russia, and Russian separatists in East Ukraine are in a civil war with Kiev.

Remember, we started the trouble. If Putin had come thousands of miles east to have Mexico and Canada leave NAFTA and join the Russian Eurasian Union, we would be all over President Obama to protect the interests of the United States.

Putin only moves to protect Russia’s interest, and thank heavens, Merkel understands this.

The economic (or our Good Neighbor Policy) takes over from the military in foreign policy. China saw this in 1989 after Tiananmen Square. The U.S. obtained a resolution in the United Nations in 1989 to investigate human rights in China.

China went to its economic friends in Africa and the Pacific and there has never been a hearing on the resolution.

Later, when Japan seized the Chinese ship captain, China withheld rare earth supplies for Japan’s computers and Japan promptly returned the captain.

President Obama’s pivot to Asia by deploying 2,500 Marines to Australia is ridiculous. Australia is not going to war with China.

The U.S. is not going to war with China, and we’ve got to stop leading our foreign policy with the military.

Ernest F. Hollings, a Democrat, served from 1959-63 as S.C. governor and from 1966-2005 in the U.S. Senate.