Regarding ISIS, Trump’s Success Overlooked

As pundits covered and graded the first year of the Trump presidency last month, his greatest accomplishment was overlooked. With the economic growth rebounding after eight years of stagnation under Obama, the stock market at an all-time high, and non-stop coverage of the government shutdown on the weekend in which Trump celebrated one year in office, coverage of Trump’s foreign policy went unnoticed. The greatest success of Trump’s presidency thus far is the destruction of ISIS.

Facts on ISIS from The Guardian (as noted by the Republican Security Council):

The Islamic State Caliphate (defined as an area ruled by a caliph, or chief Muslim ruler) was declared in June 2014 by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at Mosul’s Great Mosque. The Islamic State still controls a small part of Anbar Province but there is no longer a leadership structure. They no longer hold meetings.

The terrorist group has now lost 98% of its territory, and all but one member of its high command has been killed.

Baghdadi is literally the last man standing among the group’s founding members. Out of 43 main leaders, Baghdadi is the only one left.
In December 2017, Iraq declared the fight against ISIS over, as the terrorist group no longer controls significant portions of land in the country. At the height of its power, ISIS controlled 1/3 of the land in the country of Iraq.

In April, 2017, President Trump ordered the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (nicknamed the mother of all bombs) dropped on ISIS held caves in Afghanistan, killing 94 ISIS fighters. The message sent by President Trump to the world was clear: The United States no longer dismissed ISIS as the JV team of international terrorism (in a 2014 interview, Obama, just days after the Islamic State gained control over Fallujah, responding to a question on terrorism in Syria and Iraq, stated “I think the analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant”).

Liberal critics of the President claim his policy toward ISIS did not differ significantly from President Obama’s strategy. Thus, President Trump should not be given credit for the downfall of the Islamic State. A recent article in Vox stated regarding the fall of ISIS, “to be fair, Trump’s approach wasn’t 100 percent identical to Obama’s. He did relax regulations designed to prevent civilian casualties, which appears to have led to a larger number of strikes on ISIS targets per day. It is certainly possible that this led ISIS to lose territory at a faster rate, but experts say there’s no way to tell for sure — and that the group’s losses would have been inevitable without Trump’s changes.”

Trump’s critics claim he does not deserve credit for the fall of ISIS, yet they admit the number of strikes against ISIS targets increased under Trump and criticize him for an increase in causalities. Liberals cannot have it both ways on the downfall of ISIS, especially when the facts are clear. Under Obama, ISIS originated and quickly took control of 1/3 of the lands within the country of Iraq. Under Trump, the largest non-nuclear bomb in the history of American military was dropped on ISIS, coalition airstrikes against ISIS targets increased dramatically, and the caliphate established by ISIS under the Obama administration is now non-existent. Kudos, President Trump, Secretary Mattis, and coalition forces for defeating ISIS. To date, it is President Trump’s greatest triumph.

David L. House II, M.P.A., Ed.D.

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