Militant Islamist fighters parade on military vehicles along the streets of northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014.
Photo by Reuters

Trump’s boasts about ISIS crumble under scrutiny

Updated

The Rachel Maddow Show, 10/17/17, 9:26 PM ET

ISIS suffers major setback in Raqqa, Syria

Rukmini Callimachi, who covers ISIS for the New York Times, talks with Rachel Maddow about reports that ISIS is on the verge of being driven from Raqqa, Syria, though it still boasts a considerable number of fighters in the region.
By any fair measure, ISIS is on a losing streak. As Rachel noted on last night’s show, ISIS militants have suffered a series of setbacks and defeats in places such as Dabiq, Mosul and Raqqa, offering hope that the network is on its heels.

Take a wild guess who wants credit.

President Trump gave himself a pat on the back during an interview Tuesday, taking credit for the Islamic State “giving up.” U.S.-backed forces liberated Raqqa, Syria, on Tuesday, seizing ISIS’s de facto capital, and Trump declared his strong leadership was the reason.

During the interview on The Chris Plante Show, a talk show hosted by Plante and broadcast in Washington, D.C., Trump claimed that the U.S. was losing the war on terror before his administration took charge. CNN notes that Trump has applauded himself before for efforts against ISIS, glossing over the fact that operations in Iraq and Syria began under former President Barack Obama.

Asked why ISIS is “giving up,” Trump immediately praised himself. “Because you didn’t have Trump as your president,” he replied.

To be sure, this isn’t surprising in the least – he’d take credit for the sunrise if he thought he could get away with it – but whether the White House likes it or not, reality keeps getting in the way.

The mission to retake Mosul, for example, was launched under the Obama administration, and Trump opposed it at the time. The mission to reclaim Raqqa was also initiated well before the Republican president took office.

What’s more, during the campaign, Trump claimed to have a secret plan to destroy ISIS, but earlier this year, it became clear that those promises were ridiculous. In fact, though he prefers not to talk about it, Trump’s plan is to simply do what Obama was doing.

The Daily Beast  reported in July that White House officials have made a deliberate effort to “help brand the Trump campaign [against ISIS] as different from its predecessor,” although they’re effectively the same thing.

The New York Times added in a newly published piece that there are no significant differences between Trump’s strategy and Obama’s.

Finally, maybe we can stop pretending that the broader conflict against ISIS is over? There’s reason for optimism following the ISIS’s recent defeats, but as the New York Times’ Rukmini Callimachi explained on the show last night, the terrorist network is far from dead.

Donald Trump and ISIS

Trump's boasts about ISIS crumble under scrutiny

Updated