When ISIS seized control of Mosul two years ago, it sent a chilling signal to much of the world. The fact that Iraqi forces have now effectively driven ISIS out of Iraq’s second largest city is therefore a major development.
Indeed, Donald Trump issued a statement late yesterday, celebrating the developments. It read in part:
"We have made tremendous progress against ISIS -- more in the past 6 months than in the years since ISIS became a major threat. The victory in Mosul, a city where ISIS once proclaimed its so-called 'caliphate,' signals that its days in Iraq and Syria are numbered. We will continue to seek the total destruction of ISIS."
What the White House statement neglected to mention is just how opposed Trump was to the mission from the outset.
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.