January 29, 2018

Obama’s ISIS policy is working for Trump

By Nicholas Heras and Ilan Goldenberg

Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered a speech that after a year in office finally laid out a new strategy for Syria. The part that’s getting the most attention is his unequivocal declaration that the United States would maintain an indefinite military presence in Syria, stating, “The United States will maintain a military presence in Syria focused on ensuring ISIS cannot reemerge.”

It doesn’t square with President Trump’s “America first” posture, but it’s the right call.

It also represents an acknowledgment that in Syria, Trump is using President Barack Obama’s playbook. So far, it’s working out pretty well for him.

President George W. Bush deployed hundreds of thousands of troops during the Iraq War. It was costly, took years to bear fruit and was politically unsustainable. Early in his presidency, Obama sought to disengage militarily from Iraq altogether, which backfired by contributing to the governance vacuum that facilitated the rise of the Islamic State.

Trump campaigned against both in 2016, deriding Bush as too eager for war — “Iraq was a big, fat mistake” — and casting Obama as weak, and the “founder of ISIS.”

Read the full article in The Washington Post.