Trump Really Could Crush ISIS. But What Happens Next Could be Worse

Returning fighters and online radicals will pose a potent threat to the West

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Media Outlet: The Spectator

Paul Wood wrote for the Spectator about Trump's fight with ISIS:

These are the last days of the ‘caliphate’. The place Isis made their capital, Raqqa, in Syria, is encircled and cut off. They have already lost half of Mosul in Iraq, their largest city. Really, what did they expect? This was inevitable from the moment Isis declared war on everyone not in Isis. Defeat was even foreseen by one of the group’s leading thinkers, Abu al-Farouq al-Masri. ‘Announcing enmity to the world will strangle the caliphate in its cradle,’ he said last year. ‘This will bury our project alive.’ Al Masri (the ‘Egyptian’) is or was an elderly cleric and he was delivering a sermon in Raqqa meant as a warning to the leadership. Their strategy would achieve nothing but the ‘immolation’ of the Islamic State’s warriors. ‘Prison is more beloved to me than seeing them destroyed in battles of attrition we could avoid,’ he said. He may have been taken at his word. He later disappeared, probably into one of the Islamic State’s notorious jails.
Donald Trump would agree with al-Masri’s prediction. He came into office impatient to finish off the jihadis. As the country star Toby Keith sang at the inauguration, the new President nodding along: ‘You’ll be sorry that you messed with the US of A. Cos we‘ll put a boot in your ass. It’s the American way.’ During the primaries, Trump repeatedly claimed to have a secret, ‘absolutely foolproof’ plan to defeat Isis. This, it turns out, consists of telling the Pentagon to come up with something. The Department of Defense has been given 30 days to fill in the blank space under the heading ‘Secret Foolproof Plan’. The presidential order says: ‘The Plan shall include a comprehensive strategy and plans for the defeat of Isis.’

Author:

Paul Wood is an Eric & Wendy Schmidt Fellow at New America. He has covered a dozen conflicts in a 20 year career as a BBC foreign correspondent in: Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya, Darfur, Libya, Israel and the Palestinian territories, the Balkans, and Ukraine.