Jordan's King Abdullah II was in battle gear last week, quoting Clint Eastwood and bombing Islamic State targets in retaliation for the horrific burning-alive of a Jordanian pilot. Is this a sign that Jordan is entering the war against the insurgent group in earnest, or is it a temporary show for a stunned Jordanian public?

The complicated reality is that Jordan and Islamic State are enmeshed in an extended, dynamic, repeat-play game in which the rules are just now being set. In fact, Abdullah was signaling to Islamic State that if it engages in further public challenges to the Hashemite Kingdom, he's prepared to devote real resources to the war against the militants.

For its part, Islamic State was testing Abdullah by publicizing the video, trying to figure out how vulnerable Jordan's ever-cautious monarchy is, or thinks it is, to being undermined by an external threat that could easily become internal. The lesson of last week's exchange of messages between Jordan and Islamic State is that the struggle between them may just be getting started.