Analysis: why is Donald Trump cheerleading against US troops in the battle for Mosul?
‘The attack on Mosul is turning out to be a total disaster...US is looking so dumb. VOTE TRUMP and WIN AGAIN!’
For months, Donald Trump has been promising to be tough on the Islamic State and has criticized the Obama administration for not taking the fight to the terrorists. Now that the battle of Mosul is underway, Trump has become a cheerleader for the failure of the mission while promoting a conspiracy theory that it’s all about him.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted that the ongoing Iraqi-led offensive against the Islamic State’s stronghold in Mosul was failing:
“The attack on Mosul is turning out to be a total disaster. We gave them months of notice. US is looking so dumb. VOTE TRUMP and WIN AGAIN!”
Monday morning, in an interview with Pat Robertson on The 700 Club, Trump doubled down on his prediction that the US and allied coalition in Mosul will fail. He repeated his claim that tens of thousands of Iraqi, Kurdish and allied forces should have done a “sneak attack”, on Mosul, which is obviously impossible given the size of the mission and the nature of the battlefield there.
“You see what’s going on. You see how badly that fight is going,” Trump said. “If you want to go into Mosul, you don’t tell people for four months. Now they are having a hard time and they are really dug in, and the people that we wanted, the leaders of ISIS, are gone.”
Trump’s Sunday tweet and Monday comments follow a string of incorrect statements by the GOP candidate about what’s happening on the ground in Mosul, several of which were made at last week’s presidential debate.
On the campaign trail, Trump has said repeatedly that the Obama administration began the assault on Mosul “because Obama wanted to show what a tough guy he is before the election,” and because the administration wanted to help Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. That’s clearly erroneous because the mission is Iraqi-led and the Iraqi government controlled the timing.
But Trump’s latest claims, that the mission in Mosul “is a total disaster”, give the impression he is actually rooting for the failure of a battle where hundreds of US troops are in harm’s way and where a US soldier gave his life only days ago.
Clinton slammed Trump for the comments.
“He’s basically declaring defeat before the battle has even started,” Clinton said at a campaign event in New Hampshire. “He’s proving to the world what it means to have an unqualified commander in chief.”
The battle in Mosul is messy, progress is slow, and the fighting will continue for weeks at least, but is it a “total disaster”? Defence Secretary Ashton Carter visited the nearby city of Irbil over the weekend and spoke in support of the US soldiers participating in the mission.
“Let me begin by saying what magnificent work our troops are doing here. I had a chance to talk with them about their work, tell them of our support for their work here. I can’t describe all of that, but it was all done with the excellence you would expect of our forces and this is a mission that is necessary to protect our people,” Carter said. “So there are people out here taking risks every day, but they’re doing that because it’s necessary to defend our country.”
Vice-President Joe Biden, campaigning in Toledo for Clinton, said Trump’s assertion that the operation was timed to help her win the election is so offensive, he’s inclined to give the Republican presidential nominee a beating.
“Can you imagine any president of the United States, any one that we’ve ever had … saying that when a coalition has been planning for months to take out ISIL in the town of Mosul in Iraq, saying that they’re now attacking Mosul because of Hillary, to make her look strong?” Biden said.
“I’m not going to say any more,” he said, as the crowd shouted encouragement to say more. “I’ll get myself in trouble and say something like I’d like to take him behind the gym if I were in high school.
“All kidding aside, wouldn’t you?” he said.
Additional reporting by Associated Press and Reuters