As far as Donald Trump is concerned, seven months into his presidency, he’s already implementing national security policies that are having a positive effect. This line from his speech last night on the war in Afghanistan was rather jarring:
“As we lift restrictions and expand authorities in the field, we are already seeing dramatic results in the campaign to defeat ISIS, including the liberation of Mosul in Iraq.”
In Trump’s mind, drawing connections between unrelated developments is a little too easy. Mosul has been freed of ISIS control, he’s “lifted restrictions” in the field, ergo Mosul has been liberated because of the changes he’s implemented.
Except that’s not how reality works. In this case, the mission in Mosul began before Trump was elected: Iraq’s second-largest city was liberated because of a mission launched by Barack Obama.
Indeed, what Trump didn’t mention – and may not remember – is that he opposed the mission he now wants credit for.
As regular readers may recall, a few weeks before Election Day in the U.S., Trump told a national audience that the military offensive in Mosul is part of an elaborate, international conspiracy to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
A week later, Trump went further, condemning the U.S.-backed offensive in Mosul as “a total disaster” that’s leaving the United States looking “dumb.” Soon after, the Republican kept complaining, insisting the campaign in Mosul should’ve been kept secret. “I’m telling you, folks, our leadership – I went to an Ivy League school, but there’s some words that you can’t describe any better: Our leadership is stupid,” Trump told a Florida audience. “These are stupid people.”
Three days before Election Day, Trump declared, “What a group of losers we have,” in apparent reference to the military and civilian commanders who have helped with the Mosul campaign. The same day, the Republican again whined that the military offensive was somehow intended to undermine his political campaign and help his opponent.
Even at the time, there was bipartisan agreement that Trump’s rhetoric was indefensibly foolish. And yet, now the president is celebrating the mission he opposed, hoping his rhetoric will disappear down the memory hole.