LONDON – Donald Trump’s recent claim that his opponent in the US presidential race, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama founded the Islamic State is vicious nonsense. But it is also an ironic charge for Trump to make: if anyone in the United States is helping ISIS, it is he.
In a recent speech on foreign policy, the Republican Party’s presidential nominee laid out a supposed plan for defeating ISIS that, in classic Trump fashion, overflowed with contradictions and inconsistencies, even as it failed to provide specifics and facts. While offering utterly unworkable recommendations – such as making immigrants from Muslim countries take an ideological screening test before entering the United States – he attempted to present himself as a realist, and the only person who can save US foreign policy.
Central to Trump’s “realistic” approach is the use of far more military force in Syria than the Obama administration has employed. Trump declares that this approach would “crush and destroy” ISIS. In fact, such a military intervention would amount to pouring gasoline on a raging fire.
Of course, Trump doesn’t understand that. Despite his self-satisfied declarations that he knows more about ISIS than America’s generals do, he is utterly oblivious to the complex dynamics of today’s institutional fragility, creeping sectarianism, and proxy wars in the Middle East, fueled by the rivalry among regional and global powers. And, as his claims about Clinton and Obama show, he has no idea how or from where ISIS emerged.