The following day Trump clarified that he meant exactly what he said and not that Obama’s foreign policy inadvertently led to the creation of ISIS. Did Obama and Clinton create ISIS, or is this more of Trump right-wing populist hyperbole intended to rise in polls where is far behind Clinton? Considering that Trump has neo-isolationist tendencies, do such comments about Obama and Clinton creating ISIS make sense, or is he indeed an ignorant wealthy right wing populist appealing to the fears and prejudice of many citizens bombarded by media foreign policy distortions on a daily basis?
In a number of articles, I have pointed out that the US goal of regime change in Syria led the US and its allies to back various rebel groups from which ISIS emerged in the last five years. The US plan was to gain greater leverage in the Middle East and deny Russia the geopolitical leverage it has historically enjoyed in Syria. This became important especially amid negotiations for a nuclear deal with Iran and the reality that Iran emerged as the dominant player in the Middle East largely because of US military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan where the results have been an unmitigated disaster measured by the criteria and goals that the US set out to accomplish.
The lesson here is not that the term terrorism is generic and meaningless. Now that the Republican presidential candidate has given legitimacy to the theme that the US creates terrorism, a theme that is hardly new among serious analysts of the war on terror, the argument takes center stage no matter how much both Republicans and Democrats try to dismiss it. Trump’s comments reflect a populist frustration with a wayward government pursuing destabilization policies filled with contradictions and lack of clarity both in terms of procedure and outcomes. The lesson here is not just the lengths to which a presidential candidate would go to secure more popular support using rhetoric one would associate with politicians in less developed countries where political opponents have no qualms suggesting it may not be a bad idea to eliminate the other. The lesson is that no matter the propaganda by the media, pundits, politicians, academics, and all who pretend that terrorism came like the blob from another planet are now unable to hide behind this enemy.