On Friday morning, Donald Trump attempted to backtrack his wrongfully-stated remarks that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton founded the Islamic State terrorist group.
The off-kilter presidential candidate claimed he was being "sarcastic," but it's not clear that he really understands the meaning of sarcasm, or anything related to politics.
Ratings challenged @CNN reports so seriously that I call President Obama (and Clinton) "the founder" of ISIS, & MVP. THEY DON'T GET SARCASM?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2016
Accusing the president of the United States of being a terrorist is not something that a potential commander in chief should be saying lightly. His reaction to the decline in poll numbers might be too little, too late.
He said later on Thursday that he meant exactly what he said: “I meant that Obama founded ISIS, literally.” He told Hugh Hewitt, “He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.”
The conservative radio show host pressured Trump to restate what he had said, but Trump refused. Hewitt even attempted to counter Trump’s statement by saying that Obama is “trying to kill them” and is “not sympathetic” to them. Trump simply stated, “I don’t care… with his bad policies, that’s why ISIS came about.”
Well, that’s not exactly accurate. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the religious militant group was founded in the aftermath of the United States and its allies’ 2003 invasion of Iraq, during George W. Bush’s presidency.
Perhaps Trump was alluding to how, under Obama’s foreign policy, ISIS grew, seizing more territory than it previously had in Iraq and Syria, particularly in the summer of 2014.
Other sources such as RFE/RL explain that while the Iraq invasion certainly played a key role in pushing a top Jordanian militant to align his group with al Qaeda, the riff ISIS holds against the West dates back to the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. Sykes-Picot represented Western colonization of the region as it was responsible for establishing the Middle East’s present-day borders, thereby creating more feuds among different ethnic groups.
Quite literally, Trump is not only incorrect in his statement that Obama and Clinton “founded ISIS,” but his defiant attitude directly attacks the integrity of American leaders. Clinton tweeted, “It can be difficult to muster outrage as frequently as Donald Trump should cause it, but his smear campaign against President Obama requires it... No, Barack Obama is not the founder of ISIS.”
No, Barack Obama is not the founder of ISIS.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 11, 2016
As Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s senior policy adviser, said, Trump is dangerously echoing the rhetoric of anti-U.S. world leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin. By devaluing U.S. leadership efforts to fight ISIS, Trump is recklessly pitting himself against American security without offering any sound alternatives.
Photo credit: Reuters