Only a couple of weeks ago, there was a parade in downtown Baghdad as Iraqis boisterously celebrated the ultimate defeat of ISIS in their country. Not so many months earlier, President Trump was triumphant in ISIS’s imminent demise in Raqqa, Syria. And just this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he was pulling his troops out of the region, with ISIS’s defeat finally secure. After terrorizing the Middle East for more than three years and battling back against Obama’s feckless attempts to contain them, ISIS is essentially no more.
So why is no one making a big deal about it?
It was not that long ago that ISIS looked like the embodiment of everything its predecessor, al Qaeda, wanted to be. Unlike that diseased organization, the Islamic State was not only inspiring and launching terrorist attacks in the West, they were taking actual territory for their so-called Caliphate. They had designs on toppling the Syrian government and ruling in Assad’s stead, forming the first true Islamic Republic under the painfully-oppressive rules of Sharia Law.
And now none of that is going to happen. And it’s not going to happen because President Donald Trump unleashed hellfire on them.
So…again we ask, why is no one making a big deal about Trump’s enormous victory?
Well, a columnist for no less than the New York Times has a theory about that, and we were as shocked to hear it as you will be. Ross Douhat wrote this weekend that there were a few reasons why the demise of ISIS had gone underreported. One, it’s because Trump is too busy getting mired in feud after newsmaking feud, leaving little time for the press to focus on hard news. Okay, that’s somewhat fair, we’ll admit. Two, because Americans are wary about celebrating this victory prematurely, certain that another terrorist organization will just pop up in ISIS’s wake. And yes, that’s definitely got some truth to it as well.
But try this one on for size:
This is also a press failure, a case where the media is not adequately reporting an important success because it does not fit into the narrative of Trumpian disaster in which our journalistic entities are all invested.
I include myself in this indictment. Foreign policy is the place where the risks of electing Trump seemed to me particularly unacceptable, and I’ve tended to focus on narratives that fit that fear, from the risk of regional war in Middle East to the perils in our North Korean brinksmanship.
Those fears are still reasonable. But all punditry is provisional, and for now, the Trump administration’s approach to the Middle East has been moderately successful, and indeed close to what I would have hoped for from a normal Republican president following a realist-internationalist course.
How about THAT?
We’re sure Douhat will be persona non grata around the New York Times office for a few weeks for daring to write even (very) faint praise for President Trump, but we’ll buy him a beer next time we’re in Manhattan. Could this be the beginning of a larger media thaw towards this president. Are people on the left finally starting to wake up and realize, Oh wait…it’s really not that bad?
Well, probably not. But it’s nice to see they can pop their head out of the bubble every once in a while and see the world for what it really is.
Even if it’s only for a moment or two.