28 October 2019

The Raid

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader, was killed by United States special forces in a daring raid over the weekend in Syria. Kudos to all military and intelligence personnel responsible.

Not surprisingly, Donald Trump was arrogantly boastful about the action. What he didn't reveal, however, is that the whole mission was nearly scuttled because of his hasty decision withdraw all military personnel from Syria and thus allow the wholesale slaughter of America's Kurdish allies.

As the New York Times noted (link here) "al-Baghdadi’s death in the raid ... occurred largely in spite of, and not because of, Trump’s actions." In a companion piece (link here), the Times noted that while Trump is trying to claim the ISIS leader's death is a validation of his disengagement strategy, it succeeded because of the intelligence agencies he has defamed and the allies he has shafted.

Trump's boastful announcement about al-Baghdadi and subsequent press conference were nothing short of embarrassing and peppered with his trademark lies. He took what could have been a high point for his administration and instead made it all about himself, wandering into nonsensical topics about how many copies his ghostwritten books had sold as well as shameless self-aggrandizement when he claimed this raid was much more important than the one during President Obama's term in office when Osama bin Laden was killed.

The Pulitzer-winning Thomas Friedman wrote an excellent analysis (link here) of Trump's reaction to the raid. The deck title reads "Trump boasts of defeating the Islamic State. He’s only showing how ignorant he is."

He ends with this particularly withering conclusion: "Only Trump would boast of defeating ISIS and thinking that all that needs to be done now is to protect the Middle East’s oil wells and America’s favorite dictators — and not its wells of decency."

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