Trump has called Obama the “father of ISIS” and the media are salivating over apparent red meat. Especially when doubling down:
“Last night you said that the president was the founder of ISIS,” said radio host Hugh Hewitt in a Thursday interview with Trump, the Republican presidential nominee. “I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum. He lost the peace.”
“No, I meant that he’s the founder of ISIS,” Trump replied. “He was the most valuable player. I gave him the most valuable player award.”
Trump went on to say that voters approve of his controversial remark.
“No, it’s not a mistake,” he said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.” “Everyone’s liking it. I think they’re liking it.
“I give him the most valuable player award,” Trump continued. “I mean, with his bad policies, that’s why ISIS came about. If he would have done things properly, you wouldn’t have had ISIS. Therefore, he was the founder of ISIS.”
Trump said that even though Obama is now fighting ISIS, he helped spawn the terrorist group.
“I don’t care,” he said. “He was the founder. The way he got out of Iraq, that was the founding of ISIS, OK?”
Trump also blamed Hillary Clinton, Obama’s first-term secretary of State and the Democratic presidential nominee.
“I gave the co-founder to Hillary,” Trump said.
Trump on Wednesday blamed Obama and Clinton for “founding” ISIS with their foreign policy decisions.
“ISIS is honoring President Obama,” he said during a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “He’s the founder of ISIS. He founded ISIS.
“I would say the co-founder would be Crooked Hillary Clinton,” Trump added.
Trump criticized Obama’s decision to withdraw troops from Iraq, saying it gave ISIS a foothold.
“We should never have gotten out the way we got out. We unleashed terrible fury all over the Middle East.”
I guess he’s done with criticizing the 2003 decision to invade as a cause (for now) for ISIS (even though he could attack Hillary for giving Bush her AUMF vote).
Back in July he leveled the ISIS-creation story at Clinton, during an interview on 60 Minutes with Lesley Stahl:
“Hillary Clinton invented ISIS with her stupid policies,” Trump said in an interview that aired July 17. “She is responsible for ISIS.”
Trump has made this claim repeatedly. It’s wrong, and we’ll explain why.
The roots of ISIS
Trump was referring to Clinton’s actions related to Iraq, Libya and Syria, said Trump spokesman Stephen Miller, who referred us to a previous Trump speech on the topic.
The sources of ISIS are complex and interconnected, said John Pike, an expert on defense and director of GlobalSecurity.org, a website that provides information on defense.
“She may ‘share some of the blame’ but there is more than enough share to go around. She was in no sense the singular author of the thing,” Pike said.
For starters, the terrorist group’s roots pre-date Obama’s presidency and Clinton’s role as secretary of state.
It has gone by several names since 2004, when long-time Sunni extremist Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi established al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and more recently the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), according to the National Counterterrorism Center.
I wouldn’t call President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Father and Co-Founder of ISIS. That distinction belongs to Zarqawi.
As I’ve written previously, Zarqawi’s group can be traced back before 2004 (AQI) to 1999 (Jamaat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad). This predates bush and Obama.
Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (1999–2004)
Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad
Mujahideen Shura Council (2006)
Islamic State of Iraq (2006–13)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (2013–14)
As “Islamic State” (June 2014–present)
The global and regional jihad movement(s) and al Qaeda network (different branches of “the same poisonous tree”) can find its inspiration traced back to sayyid Qutb, in the 40s.
AQI was effectively decimated by the time Bush left office at the end of 2008. The group re-emerged and gained power in Syria as it morphed into present day ISIS (Arab Spring, “red line”, etc.).
CIA director Brennan last December in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies:
“[ISIS] was, you know, pretty much decimated when US forces were there in Iraq. It had maybe 700-or-so adherents left. And then it grew quite a bit in the last several years, when it split then from al-Qaida in Syria, and set up its own organization.”
Former Baath officials may have been given positions of leadership; but they are controlled by the global jihadis who are at the heart of ISIS ideology and direction.
Blame is given to Bush for signing SoFA.
Yes, SoFA was signed by Bush Dec 2008 (for which Obama took credit by claiming he ended the war in Iraq and is responsible for bringing the troops home- until 2014, when ISIS began pouring back into Iraq and taking over cities; then it was back to “Bush blame”).
In 2010, we did not support the Iraqi election results and kept Maliki in power. No, we didn’t “install” him. The Da’wa Party Conference elected him to that PM position, and the US- under Bush- agreed to it.
Two months before the SoFA was set to expire, Obama finally sent a team to negotiate a new deal (as was always intended and expected since the first signing). Argument is: 1. Iraqis wanted us out. 2. Iraqi Parliament would never grant troop immunity
On the first issue, here’s what Leon Panetta (and he’s not alone in this) said in his book, “Worthy Fights” page 392:
“Privately, the various leadership factions in Iraq all confided that they wanted some U.S. forces to remain as a bulwark against sectarian violence. But none were willing to take that position publicly,”
On point 2,
Maliki offered to sign an executive order granting troop immunity but the Obama Administration didn’t want it (State Dept lawyers insisted on going through the Iraqi Council of Representatives). This is the same protection our current forces Obama resent into Iraq are currently operating under.
There were other means around the Troop Immunity issue, such as putting the remaining troops on the embassy’s diplomatic rolls, which would automatically give them immunity.
A number of officials and analysts believe that the Obama White House did not push hard enough for a renegotiation (HIllary Clinton at the time advocated for a sizable troop presence in Iraq and like Panetta, believed in renegotiating a new SoFA). That they were more interested in fulfilling a campaign promise and wanted nothing better than to wash their hands of Iraq.
In 2013, Iraq began showing concerns of a rising Sunni militancy (in the absence of the U.S. flexing its influence over moderating a sectarian Maliki- plus in 2010 not supporting Iraq election results that saw Maliki lose- Sunnis were once again being alienated) and asked the White House for airstrikes and military aid (Oct 2013). Obama refused. In 2014, Iraq asked again (by this time, Obama already dismissed ISIS as a JV team in January) and was once again denied. Then by mid-June, the al Muthanna chemical weapons factory was seized by ISIS; and cities began to fall. Finally, president Obama sends some troops back into Iraq in advisory/training roles along with some airstrikes.
Iraq was fragile but stabilized in 2009 (re: Troop Surge which Senator Obama opposed and Sunni Awakening). AQI decimated there. Biden called Iraq possibly the Obama Administration’s “greatest achievement” in 2010.
Is the Obama administration responsible for directly funding/creating ISIS in Syria (via Syrian rebels opposing Assad)? I don’t think so. PolitiFact is PolitiWrong on some analysis, imo; but I think this is fair (from mid-June):
Trump could have made a different point against the Obama administration’s Syria policy.
Gartenstein-Ross has written about the perils of the administration’s attempts to identify and support potential allies from the motley ranks of the opposition. The effort, he wrote, ended up “benefiting the very jihadist groups the U.S. has been fighting for the past 15 years.”
Specifically, the policy of arming and promoting Sunni rebel groups fighting the Assad regime ended up indirectly helping the al Nusra Front, an al-Qaida affiliate in Syria, Landis said.
Al Nusra was “allied with many of the leaders that the U.S. did arm or assist,” Landis said. And other rebel groups were overrun by al Nusra, he added, even having to surrender their U.S.-provided arms to the al-Qaida affiliate on occasion.
The difference with what Trump said is that these developments were unintended — and unwanted — side effects of the United States’ policy, not a goal of it.
“I think our policy has been both foolish and tragic, but it doesn’t make the argument from Breitbart true,” Gartenstein-Ross said.
Anti-Americans and Arab conspiracists critical of U.S. foreign policy regardless of the “R” or the “D” believe we, the United States via the CIA and Mossad, created and funded ISIS, the Taliban, al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and orchestrated 9/11.