Trump Doesn’t Deserve Credit for Defeating the Islamic State

Barack Obama’s strategy — not Donald Trump’s bluster — is wiping out the Islamists.

Donald Trump Emmanuel Macron
Presidents Donald Trump of the United States and Emmanuel Macron of France inspect an honor guard in Paris, July 13 (Elysée/Soazig de la Moissonniere)

Donald Trump wants credit for defeating the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

In a radio interview, the American said he “totally changed the attitudes of the military” after taking over as president from Barack Obama in January.

“We weren’t fighting to win,” he said of the Obama era. “We were fighting to be politically correct.”

Asked why the caliphate is now giving up, the president said, “Because you didn’t have Trump as your president. I mean, it was a big difference.”


Trump’s bluster

The change in leadership has in fact been the only difference.

Trump’s self-congratulatory bluster notwithstanding, his administration’s strategy has been the same as Obama’s: bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria; supporting local allies, predominantly the Iraqi army and Kurdish militias; drying up the group’s sources of income; and stabilizing liberated areas.

It has been a far cry from Trump’s (silly) campaign promise to “bomb the hell” out of the caliphate.

Nor did he ever unveil his “secret plan” to defeat the Islamists. Because he never had one.

Obama’s strategy

“Political correctness” was’t holding the military back under Obama.

The Democrat and his military advisors felt the United States should play a supporting role in the conflict, given what caused the Islamic State to take root in Iraq: poor central governance and sectarian grievances.

They determined it was imperative that Iraq as a whole — Shia, Sunnis and Kurds — defeat the fanatics.

They were right — and it worked. The Islamic State can no longer sell oil, it can no longer pay salaries, it is barely recruiting jihadists in Europe anymore, its online propaganda is being disrupted and its territory has shrunk.

A year ago, the group controlled swathes of central and northern Iraq, including the major cities of Fallujah, Mosul and Ramadi. Now it only holds a few towns in the Iraqi-Syrian border region anymore.

If anyone deserves credit for this, it is Obama. He put a strategy in place that wiped out the caliphate with minimal loss of American life. The only good thing Trump did was not interfere.