Is Clinton right that Trump is Helping ISIL?

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

During Saturday night’s Democratic debate, Sec. Hillary Clinton at one point alleged,

“And we also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don’t fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists. So I want to explain why this is not in America’s interest to react with this kind of fear and respond to this sort of bigotry.”

Trump on Sunday denied that any such Daesh (ISIS, ISIL) video exists, and said of Clinton, “she lies like crazy.”

But Sec. Clinton did not say that Daesh had made videos featuring Trump. She said that they were simply showing people Islamophobic Trump videos.

That is, Sec. Clinton is maintaining that the Trump campaign videos or his appearances on television reproduced at YouTube are so offensive to Muslims that he has relieved Daesh of the labor involved in making recruiting videos.

I do not know if it is true that Daesh is showing people Trump videos. I’d say it is unnecessary. Trump’s message is being widely broadcast in the Muslim world, on television news shows, on radio, in newspapers, and on social media. Daesh wouldn’t have to lift a finger to make sure most Muslims heard that Trump wants to close mosques, considers Muslims terrorists until proven innocent, and wants to ban them from entering the United States. Most Americans have no idea how saturated Arab media is with US politics and culture. On Alarabiya in Arabic (Dubai) I just saw a news clip about the Clinton -Trump tiff over Islamophobia and Daesh, followed by a piece on Star Wars along with a review. Then the news veered off toward important subjects such as the carnage in Yemen and Syria on the ground.

Sec. Clinton’s overall point is correct. Daesh is attempting to convince mainstream Muslims to join a holy war against the United States on the grounds that the US hates Muslims and is persecuting them and wants to wipe them out. Most mainstream Muslims, however much they dislike US foreign policy on issues like keeping the Palestinians stateless and allowing Israel to steal their land and homes, know very well that most Americans have nothing against Muslims.

Daesh has to overcome Muslim insouciance toward the US. It has to convince Muslims that the US as a whole is satanic. So Trump does in fact feed into the Daesh narrative about the US, and so is inevitably useful to them for recruitment purposes.

So what Clinton said is on the mark:

“I worry greatly that the rhetoric coming from the Republicans, particularly Donald Trump, is sending a message to Muslims here in the United States and literally around the world that there is a “clash of civilizations,” that there is some kind of Western plot or even “war against Islam,” which then I believe fans the flames of radicalization.”

Daesh itself is not outraged by Trump’s comments, since they believe all Americans hate Sunni Muslims and want to commit genocide against them. Daesh is rooted in the Sunni resistance to the US military occupation of Iraq, during which 4 million Iraqis were made homeless and hundreds of thousands killed. Those statistics, of which the Americans who voted for the war appear to remain unaware — or maybe they have forgotten — are all the evidence Daesh needs of US intentions. Trump’s hatefulness and bluster is just icing on the cake.

Daesh is a low-budget affair that enlists other people to do its dirty work, in an effort to save money. It has called for ‘lone wolf’ attacks on the West. But that is actually a sign of extreme weakness and lack of resources. It is renouncing command and control, renouncing attacks on strategic or symbolic targets, renouncing effective guerrilla action in favor of random, mindless and largely ineffectual terrorism. It is just calling for random people to go postal.

In that regard, Trump is a perfect tool for Daesh, insofar as he enrages Muslims and makes it look as though America is at war with the religion in general instead of with a radical fringe. In effect, he is just himself a ‘lone wolf’ writ large, acting willy-nilly for Daesh purposes, repeatedly going postal with his big mouth.

Arabic newspapers tend to agree that Trump is a propaganda gift to Daesh. (Amusingly, they transliterate his name as “Tramp”).

However, most Muslims who publish newspaper articles or other writing are cosmopolitan and understand that Trump represents a small but vocal minority in American society.

And most Muslims, as a Pew poll demonstrated, deeply dislike Daesh and reject the idea that it speaks for them.


Related video:

US Democrats target Trump | DW News

20 Responses

  1. “Daesh is rooted in the Sunni resistance to the US military occupation of Iraq, during which 4 million Iraqis were made homeless and hundreds of thousands killed. Those statistics, of which the Americans who voted for the war appear to remain unaware — or maybe they have forgotten — are all the evidence Daesh needs of US intentions.”

    Could be some irony there. I’ve always seen the invasion and occupation as two different periods: the first extending from the start of the invasion until the capture of Saddam Hussein, the second covering the rest of the occupation. I’m not clear about when Clinton turned against the occupation or when the occupation spawned Daesh. I am clear about the fact that occupying Muslim countries doesn’t appear to be a good idea.

  2. Helping ISIS is shoulder shrugging collateral damage. Trump’s principle motive is to promote keeping the US free of any more strange brown faced people, and there is nothing particularly unusual in that if this guy has his facts right. link to

  3. I disagree. Muslims in the Middle East might well be happy to have Trump. Trump says that our policy in the Middle East of bombings, invasions, and occupations is wrong. So he is sounding an anti-interventionist note. Wouldn’t a Middle Easterner like that as opposed to HiIllary’s militarism. Also, people in the Middle East know what Americans think of them. Would the Obama assist Saudi Arabia bombing Yemen, if instead of the Yemenese, the victims were Israelis? In other words, they know that Muslim lives don’t matter. So Hillary is more polite. Not worth much in my book.

    • No, Trump is saying that he will carry out this policy of controlling the Middle East better. Which may mean better bombings. But it definitely means banning Moslems from entering the USA. So stop pretending that Trump is no big deal.

  4. “and understand that Trump represents a small but vocal minority in American society”

    Judging by the past complacence of most of American society to the death and destruction of our vast Middle East military operations, e,g. the four million displaced by the Iraq war, I would liken the Trumps to sheep herders, leading us numerous, and willing, sheep to more alluring pastures.

  5. I’ll admit Trump is not helping things, but talking about videos, what about Secretary of State HR Clinton giggling over Gaddafi’s death? “We came, we saw, he died”! (Chuckle, chuckle) I thought at one point, that O’Malley was going to bring that up, but he stopped his rant, and let it go. Let’s face it gang, Clinton is going to be the one and only presidential candidate coming out of the Democrates campaigning. Her inauguration will reinforce the neocon influence, at a time we should be ousting the chicken hawk warmongers, who are destroying our world. And don’t believe for one minute, that this so called Democrate computer compromise by the Sanders campaign committee just happened…this was a deliberate attempt to sabotage, and degrade the Sanders campaign. There is no stopping Hillary this time.

    • I don’t see Clinton as a neocon by any means. Is she too hawkish? In my view, definitely. But a neocon who sees everything in black and white and who relies almost exclusively on military power? No. I fear that those on the left may adopt the view of many in 2000 who said there was no real difference between Gore and Bush. As a result, Ralph Nader got 90,000 votes in Florida. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the better.

      • Nothing like 2000 is going to happen. Do you really think a fractured, out-of-step Republican Party can defeat Clinton. “Liberal humanitarian interventist’ is what they call neocons who are still in the Democratic party.

        • A fractured, out of step Republican Party that believes it has a Divine Right to cheat in elections, that America “is a republic, not a democracy”, that passing laws to eliminate every kind of voting that African-Americans are statistically likely to engage in is not racist, that they have the right to secession and violent revolution if the country is not right-wing enough. You want to hate Hillary so much that you refuse to acknowledge a fascist movement in front of your eyes.

      • Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the better.

        It is highly unlikely there will be any “better” to choose. Picking the lesser evil will, as usual, very likely be the choice, and a difficult one at that. Considering Hillary’s resume from the time she was co-director at the White House Theater of the Absurd with hubby Bill, a case could be made Trump might be the lesser evil. Highlights of the Clinton era: Signing the end of Glass-Steagall, wars in the Balkans, sanctions on Iraq that cost an estimated half million Iraqi children their lives. Madeline Albright said, “We thought it was worth it.” “We” presumably included Hillary and Al Gore. Voting for the war on Iraq that Senator Robert Byrd said would be a violation of the Constitution and others forecast as causing chaos in the Middle East, etc.

      • I should have added Honduras to Hillary’s resume. She endorsed the overthrow of the elected President Zelaya by a right-wing government and now Honduras is a homicidal basket case.

  6. A previous Republican administration started a murderous U.S. policy in South Asia and Mesopotamia which has made these enemies. Recruiting into militant groups began well over a decade ago.

    Putin-endorsed, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is merely the most recent and greatly media amplified butt-trumpet of h8 riding on the emotion of recent isolated events.

    The largest of all ISIL recruiters remains the current Republican Party and their chckenhawk warmongering which threatens increased U.S. military actions into these regions.

    • Good point. Before Trump there was the invasion of Iraq, the torture regime, Abu Ghraib, and many other US actions that set the stage for ISIS.

  7. Trump may inadvertently be helping Daesh, but unlike Hillary he doesn’t appear to have had anything to do with its creation.

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