Though not yet manifest, the unexpected, astounding killing of ISIS “commander of the faithful” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi over the weekend by Delta Force, with Rangers and other Army support, supercedes the 2011 takeout of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden in its long-term magnitude.
In essence, ISIS is a sensationalist, media-savvy metastasis of Bin Laden’s al-Qaida, which conducted the 2001 attacks, but ISIS’ anti-American terrorism is of a different brand. Brookings Institution Mideast analyst Daniel Byman testified to Congress that “the primary target of the Islamic State has [unlike al-Qaida] not been the United States, but rather ‘apostate’ regimes in the Arab world” – but try telling the families of beheaded Americans James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and Peter Kassig that America, and its values and position in the world, are not squarely in ISIS’ sights.
As Radio France Internationale journalist David Thomson described it in 2017, “For ISIS supporters, Baghdadi is doing something concrete, controls territory, defies the entire world, unlike the old scholars of al-Qaida who appear behind the times.” As the trove of materials accompanying Baghdadi, retrieved by U.S. forces, are perused in the weeks ahead, the public will know in detail the importance of his leadership of the dislodged terrorist caliphate, and will learn of planned ISIS plots.
The carrying out of President Donald Trump’s order to eliminate Baghdadi will be paired with another big net minus for Democrats: U.S. attorney for Connecticut John Durham’s Russian election influence probe shifting into a criminal investigation. While some speculate that the criminal dimension may be in regard to peripheral matters, the speed with which Durham has come to this point, having only begun his work less than six months ago, strongly suggests otherwise. As does Democrats immediately – and groundlessly – accusing Attorney General William Barr of meddling in Durham’s probe. Highly unlikely since Durham has a Boy Scout-like reputation of integrity and thoroughness.
Democrat Miscalculations Ahead
The Democrats have repeatedly misplayed their hand against Trump, particularly regarding their attempts to exploit his tendency for vulgarity. Hillary Clinton did it in the campaign with her “deplorables” remark and her assumption that she could neglect battleground states. The misfire of the Access Hollywood October surprise, with audiotape of Trump making sexually explicit remarks, was another example during 2016. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi provided the economic version of “deplorables” when she led a Democrat attack on Trump’s tax cuts as a stealth middle-class tax increase, then, when employers provided pay raises and bonuses immediately after the tax cuts were enacted, sneered that they were “crumbs.”
The dubious charges against Barr and Durham are an indication that more overplaying from Democrats is ahead, as was the grousing Sunday morning on CBS from Michael Morell, who was acting CIA director under President Barack Obama, that Trump’s “locker room” talk in announcing the Bagdhadi raid might enflame rather than reduce terrorism.
What makes so many supposed experts on the United States’ enemies think Islamist savages are impressed by gentlemanliness in the waging of war?
Good luck to congressional Democrats and the party’s 2020 presidential candidates depicting Trump as vulgarizing what is effectively the decapitation of ISIS. Like enhanced interrogation by the George W. Bush administration in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the diplomatic elite may be soured, but ordinary Americans, from the cities to the suburbs to the country, want genuine toughness in a commander in chief in fighting terrorism, except for those on the furthest extremes of the left. And if Americans – and the world – have known one thing about Trump for decades now, it’s that the man is vulgar.
With support for impeachment, and even Senate conviction, increasing, the narrative may be about to turn Trump’s way. The president already brought attention to Democrats’ abuse of power by violating custom and keeping Pelosi and other leading Democrats in Congress out of the loop on the risky Baghdadi operation, on grounds that any leak could imperil U.S. personnel. Add to that petty complaints about Trump comparing the ISIS leader to a whimpering dog; the lopsided, secretive, unorthodox manner in which the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is being conducted; and then, finally, the possible criminal bombshells to come from Durham that will be difficult for Democrats to depict as tainted.
A president who engineers a landmark victory against the most terrifying terrorist enemy ever seen, who comes off as just as down-in-the-gutter tough as the terrorists, and whose political adversaries’ attacks ring hollow – it all may spell the best defense against impeachment.
— Written by Thomas McArdle
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