Trump claims U.S. has killed ISIS leader

BREAKING NEWS — President Trump says Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the brutal ISIS “caliphate,” is dead. According to news sources, a U.S.-Kurdish operation cornered al-Baghdadi in a tunnel with dogs, and he then detonated a suicide vest, blowing up himself and his three children. Two women reportedly also died in the raid. (Photo: Associated Press)

In May 2011, when U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden after President Obama took a chance on intelligence pinpointing his whereabouts and okayed a U.S. military raid inside Pakistan without the knowledge or permission of the Pakistani government, rightwingers refused to give Obama any credit for the success of the operation, but you can be sure they would have been all over him if the operation had failed or led to a diplomatic crisis.

Obama’s decision was fraught with political as well as operational risks. Pakistan has been a dodgy U.S. ally. The U.S. sanctioned that country for its nuclear weapons program. Pakistan’s military and intelligence services almost certainly sheltered Bin Laden; his compound was just a short distance from a Pakistani Army base, and they certainly knew he was there. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the Pakistani government cooperated with CIA efforts to funnel U.S. weapons and aid to the Afghan resistance, but on their terms; the Pakis steered most of it to a group led by an Islamic cleric later allied with the Taliban, and in recent years the Pakistani government has helped the Taliban.

Thus, against this backdrop, Obama’s decision to approve the Bin Laden raid was risky in multiple ways, and recalling what happened to Jimmy Carter after the Desert One failure, the responsibility was fully on Obama’s shoulders. Yet America’s political right refused to acknowledge the crucial role that Obama played in terminating Bin Laden’s command.

So, how should Democrats react to Trump’s “Bin Laden Moment”? No SEAL bullet ended al-Baghdadi’s rule, but the operation clearly caused his death. What was Trump’s role in the operation? Should Democrats acknowledge this apparent success, or repay Trump in kind for his rightwing supporters’ treatment of Obama after the successful Bin Laden raid? I think Democrats should, and will, take the high road, if for no other reason than to prove they’re made of better stuff of than Trump and his rightwingers are.

As of mid-morning, Democrats haven’t reacted at all, probably because (as NBC reports) the Trump administration excluded Democrats from congressional briefings and kept them in the dark, claiming they feared “leaks.” As for Trump himself, he’s proclaiming that killing al-Baghdadi is a bigger deal and more creditworthy than killing Bin Laden, because al-Baghdadi was trying to establish a caliphate (whereas Bin Laden merely killed thousands of Americans on U.S. soil — ed.). One thing you can be sure of is that Trump will never miss an opportunity to beat his own drum and promote himself as the biggest success and “greatest genius” the world has ever seen.

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  1. Mark Adams #

    Now Congress has an impeachable offense as they did in the case of Obama’s raid. Both raids are acts of war, done on the soil of a sovereign nation. Both had the intent of murder rather than capture. Both actions at one time would have been un-American, but now are normal.

    Like the bombing of Cambodia by Nixon Congress has clear problems with its responsibilities under the Constitution preferring not to enforce the highest principles enshrined, and shirking at its own responsibilities. So if things go right they can cheerlead and if wrong they can gnash their teeth as of old. We will not be seeing Congress use its oversight on these matters any time soon, at least until some little mouse of a nation roars with a declaration of war, and actually makes war upon the United States to our surprise.

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