Apparently, former President Barack Obama’s strategy to take out ISIS leaders is working so well that U.S. Special Forces are running out of targets to kill. And President Donald Trump, who claimed during the campaign to have a secret plan to defeat ISIS, still isn’t happy.
More on that in a moment.
The good news is that there fewer so-called high-value terrorists to kill now than in 2016. Some 50 ISIS operatives have been killed in the last six months, compared to 80 during the last six months of the Obama administration.
A U.S. coalition spokesperson told The Daily Beast their approach hasn’t changed under Trump, though the current White House has upped the number of air strikes. Under Obama, there were around 440 strikes per month. Under Trump, that number is around 800.
The issue for the White House now is that it doesn’t have a lot of high-value ISIS targets to kill—because Obama’s strategy is actually working. That’s a very good thing. And you’d think a sensible leader would think, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right?
Well, Trump is not a sensible person.
U.S. officials told The Daily Beast that Trump wants to “rebrand” his ISIS approach so that it doesn’t mirror Obama’s.
No, I am not joking:
The senior administration official described Trump’s plan as “relying even more” on special operations working together with local partner forces. “But that’s nuanced, like most of the suggested changes” and doesn’t easily translate to a talking point, he said. That could help explain why Trump has twice missed his own deadline for unveiling the new anti-ISIS strategy.
The Obama administration’s anti-ISIS plan included nine lines of effort, including using diplomatic and economic pressure to reduce ISIS’ ability to sustain its rule and spread its ideology. The Obama White House had already stepped up the number of advisers on the ground in Iraq and Syria, and established a special operations task force in Iraq with major outposts in Syria to help guide local forces, as part of the larger coalition effort. Small teams of U.S. forces have embedded with local units and Turkish troops inside Syria, and with Iraqi and Kurdish troops in Iraq to help make them more effective.
Why would Trump want to change a strategy that is actually working? Maybe it’s because, I don’t know, he never had a secret plan to defeat ISIS, and what we’re seeing now is the Trump Steaks version of foreign policy because sticking his name on shit is all the guy knows how to do?
Remember, the important thing isn’t that ISIS goes down. It’s that we get the branding right.