The old expression “jump the shark” relates to gimmicks used on a TV series to keep the viewers’ interest. It has quite reasonably been used to explain Donald Trump’s campaign. But by blaming President Obama and Hillary Clinton for “founding” ISIS, Trump hasn’t jumped the shark. He’s danced a jig on its head.
That has taken us to the point where even mainstream media hosts feel compelled to explain the facts (a novelty in itself), as CNN’s John Berman did Wednesday on Anderson Cooper 360. Serving as guest host, Berman was forced to explain to Kayleigh McEnany that, “You Know, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is the founder of ISIS, in fact, not President Obama.”
Watch the exchange courtesy of Media Matters for America:
JOHN BERMAN (GUEST HOST): Let’s talk about what Donald Trump said. Kayleigh McEnany, Donald Trump called President Obama “The founder of ISIS.”
KAYLEIGH MCENANY: Well, look, he opened up room for ISIS to grow, by not leaving a stay-behind force in Iraq, by invading Libya, invading Syria, allowing ISIS to grow from a small contingency to 40,000 strong. So, in that sense he is. And let’s not forget when Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump an ISIS propagandist. So, you know the other side isn’t completely innocent of throwing around ISIS accusations, but I think in this case, this accusation is far more accurate than Donald Trump being an ISIS propagandist.
BERMAN: ISIS was Al Qaeda in Iraq, which was founded after 2003, 2004, before Barack Obama was president. You know, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is the founder of ISIS, in fact, not President Obama.
Ouch. Yes, facts hurt. But hey, people who have no problem believing no terrorist attack occurred on US soil during the presidency of George W. Bush, who blame Obama for 9/11, or the response to Hurricane Katrina – well, those people have no problem blaming Obama for ISIS, however unhelpful the actual facts are.
In fact, the early days of ISIS (or ISIL as it is also known) are somewhat murky and though the mysterious al-Baghdadi was an early leader of the group that eventually become the Islamic State, there was another al-Baghdadi, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who, if he really existed, preceded him.
Another claim often made by conservatives is that al-Baghdadi was in US captivity in 2009 and was released by Obama to found ISIS in 2010.
Of course, it was during Bush’s presidency that al-Baghdadi was a ‘civilian internee’ held by U.S. Forces-Iraq at Camp Bucca from early February 2004 until early December 2004, when he was handed over to the Iraqis. It was the Iraqis, not the Americans, and certainly not Obama, who freed him.
That’s only four years before Obama was elected, which you could at least say is better than the seven years between 9/11 and Obama’s election.
The key fact is that while it has had many names and many leaders, who founded it is less important than when it was founded: the Islamic State existed before Obama became president, coming into being in October of 2006 in place of its predecessor, al Qaeda in Iraq.
McEnany also blames Obama for not leaving a “stay-behind force” in Iraq. In fact, President George W. Bush who signed the Status of Forces agreement in 2008, before Obama became president. The SOF called for all American troops to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. With the SOF, Bush effectively tied Obama’s hands. So no, Obama didn’t just pull out and leave Iraq to ISIS.
In fact, if Bush had not launched his ill-thought out and completely unnecessary invasion of Iraq in 2003, that country would not have come under the domination of al Qaeda or its successor group for the simple reason that Saddam Hussein was their enemy. The foundation of ISIS came about as a result of the Iraq War.
Needless to say, Barack Obama was an Illinois State senator at the time and had no ability to found or co-found ISIS. Hillary Clinton in 2003 (and in 2006) was a United States senator from New York.
McEnany and Trump can heap all the blame they want on the Obama/Clinton team in an effort to heap all the Bush administrations mistakes on Democrats, but as Berman pointed out, the facts do not support them.
In fact, George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” moment speaks more to the creation of ISIS than to any imagined American victory in Iraq, because if his goal was to completely screw up the Middle East, create ISIS, and saddle the US with endless war, he certainly accomplished that mission.
Photo: Iran Front Page
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.