Nine months after President Trump promised to defeat ISIS "quickly and effectively," U.S.-backed forces captured Raqqa, which until Tuesday had served as the ISIS capital. The battle now is over who deserves credit: Trump or President Obama.Turns out that to win a war you actually have to hate the enemy, and try to kill him, deny them land and materials.
Trump, not surprisingly, claims it for himself: "It had to do with the people I put in and it had to do with rules of engagement," Trump said in a radio interview.
Before dismissing this as typical Trump self-aggrandizement, consider that for several years Obama insisted that a quick and decisive victory against ISIS was all but impossible.
After belittling ISIS as a "JV" team and then being surprised by its advances, Obama finally got around to announcing a strategy to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the militant Islamic group.
As his strategy dragged on and seemed to go nowhere, Obama kept telling the country that this was just the nature of the beast. "It will take time to eradicate a cancer like (ISIS). It will take time to root them out."
"This is a long-term and extremely complex challenge."
"This will not be quick."
"There will be setbacks and there will be successes."
"We must be patient and flexible in our efforts; this is a multiyear fight and there will be challenges along the way."
And he kept insisting that winning the war against ISIS has as much to do with public relations as it did weapons. "This broader challenge of countering extremism is not simply a military effort. Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they are defeated by better ideas."
What Obama didn't say is that reason defeating ISIS was taking so long was of how he was fighting it.
A former senior military commander in the region told the Washington Examiner that the Obama White House was micromanaging the war "to the degree that it was just as bad, if not worse, than during the Johnson administration." Johnson, you will recall, once bragged that "they can't bomb an outhouse in Vietnam without my permission."
Contrast this with Trump. Rather than talk endlessly about how long and hard the fight would be, Trump said during his campaign that, if elected, he would convene his "top generals and give them a simple instruction. They will have 30 days to submit to the Oval Office a plan for soundly and quickly defeating ISIS." . . .
For as long as there have been men, there has been war, big or small, and the scheme is pretty simple. Attack and kill the enemy, take over their territory and their means of subsistence, until they give up.
Somewhere along the line progressives, as they usually do, decided that that was all wrong. Coddle the enemy, and give them safe space to flourish. It worked so well in Vietnam, they decided to use it a general principle.