“In the wide-ranging phone interview (with CNBC), Trump insisted that President Barack Obama “absolutely” founded ISIS. He also discussed economic issues, including regulation and infrastructure spending.
Asked about them, he doubled down and said “[Obama] was the founder of ISIS absolutely, the way he removed our troops. … I call them co-founders,” he added, referring to his Democratic presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton.”
I know full well that correcting Trumpisms is like shoveling sand up hill, but at least we don’t have to reside in the land of utter stupidity and ignorance. Let’s focus on “the way he removed our troops.” Obama removed our forces based on the SOFA agreed to by George W. Bush.
December 14, 2008:
“It is true that Bush signed an agreement, known as the Status of Forces Agreement, on Dec. 14, 2008, that said: “All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.”
Condoleezza Rice, who served as Bush’s secretary of state, wrote in her 2011 book, “No Higher Honor,” that Bush did not want to set a deadline “in order to allow conditions on the ground to dictate our decisions.” She wrote that she met with Maliki in August 2008 and secured what she thought was an agreement for a residual force of 40,000 U.S. troops. But she said Maliki soon “reneged” and insisted on “the withdrawal of all U.S. forces by the end of 2011.” She said Bush “swallowed hard” and agreed to what she called “suitable language” to do just that.” [FactCheck.org] (emphasis added)
The remainder of the argument depends on a subjective opinion as to how “hard the Obama Administration tried to renegotiate the SOFA.” Critics of the withdrawal of combat forces charge that the Administration “didn’t try hard enough.” However, the insistence of the Maliki government that any agreement would have to be put to the Iraqi Parliament didn’t help matters. This also leaves open the argument that perhaps the Bush Administration didn’t press the Maliki government hard enough either.
Critics of the US policy in regard to Iraq, and the deployment of troops to that country, are caught arguing “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda,” when there are altogether too many variables in a complex situation to make blanket charges of any kind.
And, while Trump says he will continue to say Obama and Clinton are the “co-founders of ISIS” (I prefer Daesh) the timeline rebuts this presumption. A brief trip down memory land —
2004: Abu Musab Al Zarqawi establishes Al Qaeda in Iraq.
2006: Zarqawi, killed in a US air strike, is replaced by Abu Ayyub Amasri at the head of AQI. October 15, 2006: Al Masri announces the creation of the Islamic State in Iraq; Sunni tribes begin a campaign to kill AQI members, and AQI is rebranded the Islamic State in Iraq.
In reality, the formation of Daesh goes back a bit further, as is explained here:
“ISIS/IS has its origins in an obscure militant group, Jamaat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (JTJ), that was stood up in 2000 by a Jordanian one-time criminal-turned-Islamist named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (AMZ).1 His intent was to fight the Jordanian government, but he failed to gain traction.2 Zarqawi then traveled to Afghanistan to fight on the side of the mujahidin (resistance) in the jihad against the Soviets. Having arrived after their departure, he soon returned to his homeland to fight the well-entrenched Jordanian monarchy. His efforts came to naught, and he eventually returned to Afghanistan, where he ran an Islamic militant training camp near Herat.” [MEPC.org]
And now the plot thickens and becomes more nuanced:
“Following the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, al-Zarqawi moved into Iraq. There he developed extensive ties with Ansar al-Islam (Partisans of Islam), a Kurdish Islamist group. In March 2003, the United States invaded and occupied Iraq. A brilliant conventional campaign led to the erroneous belief on the part of the George W. Bush administration that Iraq would stabilize and progress towards democracy. By summer 2003, the disgruntled Sunni minority — toppled from power with the downfall of Saddam Hussein — launched a deadly insurgency. It consisted of five distinct groups, four composed largely of Iraqis from the former regime, nationalists, tribal elements and various Islamist fighters. The fifth group was AMZ’s JTJ, consisting of a smattering of Iraqis and many foreign fighters.” [MEPC.org]
Not that any of this matters to Donald J. Trump. However, what we do know is that the Trump pronouncements on foreign policy are as vapid and ill informed as his sloganeering on any other topic. ISIS (Daesh) morphed from a fifth element in the Iraqi insurgency into a major and deadly part of the conflict in the region, but they certainly didn’t find their origin in the Obama Administration.
Those wishing to get a longer, more historical look at the issues surrounding the current conflict in the Middle East may want to start with David Fromkin’s A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, and Margaret MacMillan’s Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed The World. Also recommended is Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Baghdad’s Green Zone, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. These are three notable books which will give a person something to do besides listen to Trump’s simplistic sloganeering and sloppy irrationality.