Donald Trump in the time of terror

Recent attacks may play well for Donald Trump—and he’s exactly who ISIS wants to see in the White House

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials mark the ground near the site of an explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 18, 2016. (Rashid Umar Abbasi/Reuters)

FBI  officials mark the ground near the site of an explosion in Manhattan. In the wake of the blasts, Donald Trump reiterated his plan for fighting terrorism. (Rashid Umar Abbasi/Reuters)

Donald Trump has a plan to defeat Islamic State that’s so simple it could fit on the back of a cocktail napkin. Or be slurred by the drunk on the next bar stool. “We’re going to have to do something extremely tough over there,” the Republican nominee told Fox News this week. “Like knock the hell out of them.”

His remarks came in the wake of explosions in New York and New Jersey, and a stabbing rampage at a Minnesota mall carried out by American devotees of the jihadist group, but they’re variations on an established theme. For more than a year now, the bellicose billionaire has been vowing to bomb both the “hell” and the “s–t” out of Islamic State, and promising that he knows a “foolproof” way to defeat them “quickly” if elected.

MORE: Scott Feschuk on Trump’s secret weapon against ISIS

The specifics, as with so many of his policy positions, are hard to come by. Initially, Trump said he didn’t want his Republican primary opponents to steal his ideas, then he worried aloud about forewarning the terrorists. Although recently, he told an audience in North Carolina that he’s going to give U.S. military leaders 30 days to come up with a better strategy—even though he’s certain he knows more than the generals. His preferred solution might well involve nukes. Trump has repeatedly refused to rule out using weapons of mass destruction against America’s enemies in the Middle East—or even its friends in Europe. “I’m not going to take it off the table for anybody,” he told both MSNBC and Fox last spring. “Europe is a big place.” Plan your 2017 vacation accordingly.

There’s no question that America and many of its allies, including Canada, are under threat from both foreign terrorists and homegrown “lone wolf” attackers. The proof has been delivered in bodies and blood in the streets of Paris, Brussels, Baghdad, Nice, Istanbul and Orlando. Twenty-nine people were wounded in the New York blast, and 10 more hurt in Minnesota; all will recover, thankfully. Many more plotters have failed or been thwarted—like Aaron Driver who was killed by police in Strathroy, Ont., in August, as he left his home with a pair of explosive devices. In the United States alone, 105 people have been charged with ISIS-related offences since March 2014. As Islamic State sees its self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq crumble, the frequency, desperation and deadly ambition of the attacks and attempts only increases.

MORE: The real-home grown extremist: Donald Trump 

Trump has accused President Barack Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton of being the “founders” of ISIS, suggesting their decision to withdraw American troops from Iraq in 2011 fuelled the group’s rise. He’s wrong: the Islamic State’s ideology was forged in the resistance to George W. Bush’s U.S. occupation, with its leadership and network built inside military jails. Its rapid expansion in 2013 had as much to do with the sectarian brutality of the regimes of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Iraq’s Nouri al-Maliki as America’s many past, bipartisan blunders.

But what should really concern U.S. voters is the present, and who Islamic State wishes to see in the White House come January. This week, Trump has been busy telling his audiences that it’s the “weak and ineffective” Clinton. “They want her so badly to be president, you have no idea,” he said at a Florida rally. “It will be a field day.” The evidence, however, suggests just the opposite. Jihadi websites and social media accounts are openly pulling for Trump, and clips from his speeches — like his repeated vow to ban Muslims from entering the United States — have been prominently featured in propaganda videos. The prevailing wisdom among political pundits is that terror attacks on U.S. soil strengthen Trump’s candidacy. And ISIS concurs.

MORE: “Why I’m voting for Trump”

Supporters of the terrorist organization believe President Trump would be good for business — alienating mainstream Muslims and driving further radicalization at home and abroad. They also anticipate that the Republican would fight differently than the Democrats, putting a substantial number of American troops on the ground in Syria and Iraq. Offering hope that a favourite ISIS prophecy of a “final battle” where the caliphate triumphs over the “forces of Rome” might be fulfilled, kickstarting the Apocalypse.

The U.S.-led, global struggle against jihadist terrorism has dragged on for more than 15 years now. Political instability throughout the Middle East, as well as raging civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan, suggest it’s unlikely to conclude anytime soon. While there are apparently votes to be had in promising bans on refugees and immigrants, racial profiling and loyalty tests, that doesn’t mean that they are wise or helpful proposals. “There is always an easy solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong,” the great American critic H.L. Mencken wrote 100 years ago. Just the kind of thing that fits on the back of a napkin.


Donald Trump in the time of terror

  1. Lol the leftist media is getting more desperate by the day.”If you vote for Trump you’re supporting ISIS! Please, please, please vote Clinton!” You guys realize we can’t vote for Hillary up here, right?

  2. What a load of Liberal B.S. Trying to sway people by creating a narrative that Trump is a recruiting tool for ISIS is absolute desperation. Clinton and Obama have created and watched without lifting a finger as ISIS has captured and held territory. The Obama/Clinton soothsayers are trying their best to deflect the obvious culpable accusations that they are to blame for Syria [red line crossed] and keeping the homeland safe. CNN/MSNBC doing their best to somehow point at Trump as being the cause. In desperation they try to remove the stain of the blood of these victims from Obama and Clinton. Obama has the levers of power to the strongest country in the world, yet he vacillates as he weakens the USA position by trying to talk instead of using the levers. He is responsible for this 8 year mess. And Clinton was there for the first 4. ISIS smells Obama/Clinton weakness like a carnivore to its staked prey.

    • I agree fully with both of the above. But, a couple of additional comments are worthwhile. Trump has clarified his position on Muslim immigrants-he wants additional, stronger vetting. Adopting a screening process like exists in Israel appears to be his current bent and that looks to be very sound. That will only offend the radical Muslims-not all. Secondly, the Iraqi leader who was a Shiite Obama left in charge was directed to be inclusive did not comply and incarcerated all senior Sunni leaders. Obama was prodded by his military leaders to take action but both he and Clinton declined. As the disenfranchised Sunnis fled towards Syria, they released Sunni prisoners from prisons they encountered and, with larger numbers, returned to Iraq and beat the weak Iraqi troops who fled and left the upscale American military behind for the Sunnis to take over, That was the genesis of ISIS and is factual. So, indeed Obama and Clinton could have nipped ISIS in the bud but didn’t.

      • Should have said “equipment” after “military” in my comment above,

        • While all that is true, Jerome, the real fault, I think, lies with the Republicans under George Bush II who went into Iraq when he didn’t need to. Visions of Haliburton contracts lubricated by oil went to his head. He really didn’t need to get rid of Saddam as long as the sanctions were keeping Iraq under control. Possibly the Sunni/Shia conflict would have erupted in some other way, but who knows before the fact? If Dubbya had stayed in Afghanistan looking for Osama maybe the Libs wouldn’t have started the Canadian participation, which in my opinion, was stupidity of the first water all the way through and despite my generally agreeing with Harper, he should have pulled our guys out when he came into power. History over the centuries shows that Afghanistan is a loser at any time.

  3. You’re wrong, MacLean’s. Hillary Clinton’s election would be good news for ISIS – just like Obama, she will tolerate frequent ISIS-sponsored or -motivated attacks in both Canada and the USA.