I had a close call this morning. I found myself mostly defending Donald Trump. The subject was Obama and ISIS. While I think Trump let hyperbole get in the way of winning over voters, he was mainly correct.
ISIS is not al Qaeda nor is it al-Zarqawi’s al Qaeda in Iraq (known as AQIZ during the Iraq war). That organization is now, substantially, the al-Nusrah Front, a Russian client and quasi-US ally in the fight against ISIS in Syria. ISIS is the direct cause of two events overseen by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The deliberate torpedoing of the military status quo in Iraq by a precipitous withdrawal of American troops and setting off a regional war by trying to overthrow Syria’s Assad. In fact, earlier today Hugh Hewitt tried to steer him onto the correct formulation with sad, yet predictable, results:
HEWITT: I think you meant Obama created the vacuum that led to ISIS.
TRUMP: "No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS." pic.twitter.com/EMMlDXogl6
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) August 11, 2016
But, as I should have known, if you ever attempt to come to Trump’s defense you are doomed to be knocked to the ground and rolled about in his pig-ignorance. This from Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room in 2007, as The Surge was definitively changing the entire direction of the Iraq War:
BLITZER: How does the United States get out of this situation? Is there a way …
TRUMP: You know how they get out? They get out. That’s how they get out. Declare victory and leave, because I’ll tell you, this country is just going to get further bogged down. They’re in a civil war over there, Wolf. There’s nothing that we’re going to be able to do with a civil war. They are in a major civil war.
And it’s going to go to Iran, and it’s going to go to other countries. They are in the midst of a major civil war. And there’s nothing — by the way, we’re keeping the lid on a little bit but date we leave anyway it’s all going to blow up. And Saddam Hussein will be a nice person compared to the man and it will be a man, it will not a woman, that we understand. People say, oh, gee, you didn’t give a woman a chance. It will be a man.
Compared to the person that takes over for Saddam Hussein, he will be considered a nice person. This guy will be the meanest, the worst guy and he’ll have one thing, one thing, he will hate America, and he’ll use that to flame. So, I mean, this is a total catastrophe and you might as well get out now, because you just are wasting time.
Andrew Kaczynski of BuzzFeed finds this GQ interview from 2008:
“First, I’d get out of Iraq right now,” Trump said to British GQ in a 2008 interview. “And by the way, I am the greatest hawk who ever lived, a far greater hawk even than Bush. I am the most militant military human being who ever lived. I’d rebuild our military arsenal, and make sure we had the finest weapons in the world. Because countries such as Russia have no respect for us, they laugh at us. Look at what happened in Georgia, a place we were supposed to be protecting.”
If Obama created ISIS by withdrawing from Iraq, which I think is what Trump is saying… let me digress for a second… I put “I think” in bold italics because we have reached a point in which this tweet by NRO’s Dan Foster was assumed to be factual by a lot of people
These Hugh Hewitt transcripts are really something else. pic.twitter.com/4Q8ONH5H6K
— Daniel Foster (@DanFosterType) August 11, 2016
… then you have to conclude, a) that in 2007/2008 Donald Trump vociferously supported the policy that Obama put into action in 2009 and b) it is a lot less than honest for him to be criticizing that decision now.
So shame on me.