A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature: over 400,000 monthly users
In a ghastly, self-serving, often incoherent press conference announcing the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, our valiant, humble Private Bone Spurs exhibited all the usual gravitas. Virtually wrapping himself in military flags to look way presidential, Trump said he’d been hunting al-Baghdadi, whose death was his main national security goal though he’d never mentioned him, “since the first day” in office; the guy who famously whined Obama deserved no credit for Bin Laden’s killing added that “Bin Laden was a big thing, but this is the biggest thing there is.” Relishing his own brilliant statesmanship, Trump gleefully, ghoulishly bragged like a kid seeing a bug get squashed that al-Baghdadi “screamed, cried, and whimpered,” “spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him,” and “died like a dog.” Reporting he watched the raid “like a movie” in the Situation Room, he also repeatedly, idiotically marveled troops blasted their way into the compound: “If you’re a normal person, you say ‘Knock, knock, may I come in?’…But they didn’t go through the door.”
Trump also claimed al-Baghdadi’s identify was instantly confirmed because special forces always carry DNA kits, said he’d written “a very successful” if imaginary book warning bin Laden was a bad guy, and posted a laughably staged photo of him and “his” medal-bedecked generals soberly “watching” the raid, except they’re looking at the camera, no computers are plugged in, and multiple sources – and the photo’s data – prove the picture was taken hours after the raid; during it, Trump was in fact golfing, because of course. In response to the photo, observers wondered if the photographer got Trump’s attention by waving a stuffed animal or Big Mac, if he asked to have his own (fake) medals, and if the photo was taken before or after Matt Gaetz brought pizza to the party. More substantively, and most alarmingly, Trump extravagantly, frequently thanked Russia, Turkey, Syria and Russia again for their help with the raid; he only mentioned the Kurds passingly in response to a question, though Kurdish leaders described the action as a long-planned “joint operation.” Trump also said he’d told Russia about the raid before the fact – it was something “they would like” – but failed to inform Congressional leadership as mandated, said the guy so generous to his Russian handlers, because “leaks.”
It gets worse, with evidence the victory lap may be short-lived. According to military officials, the apparent success of the raid was in spite of, not thanks to, Trump’s recent, ill-considered moves in Syria, which forced a long-planned operation to take place sooner and under cover of night; they hadn’t told Trump about it earlier because they worried he’d leak it. In his rambling self-promotion, Trump also said out loud the things he wasn’t supposed to say, reporting our imperial looting would soon be underway. Having long claimed the U.S. should have grabbed Iraq’s oil – evidently unaware international law forbids trading blood for oil – he declared we’d soon be getting Syrian oil “because we should be able to take some,” and Exxon for the win! “Maybe somebody else wants the oil,” he noted, and in that case, they have a hell of a fight.” Meanwhile, his Russian buddies seemed to throwhim under the proverbial bus by refuting pretty much everything he claimed: Media said the raid was “propaganda,” and officials said they not only didn’t provide air support, but they had “no reliable information” on “yet another” elimination of al-Baghdadi, who’s spozedly already been killed multiple times, including by Russia. Trump’s sketchy, changing details of the operation, they added, “raise reasonable questions and doubts about (the raid’s) veracity, not to mention success.”
Most frighteningly, they and other experts argue that even al-Baghdadi’s death would likely have little effect on an ever-more-unstable region; many cite the case of bin Laden and others to argue that historically, killing a figurehead of the movement has been helpful, but rarely decisive. Despite Bone Spurs’ multiple empty boasts he’s eliminated ISIS, a recent report suggests the terrorist group has grown stronger, thanks to fresh financial networks, new recruits in Syria and Iraq, and, now, America’s abandonment of the region – a heedless action that also facilitated the escape of somewhere between 100 and 800 ISIS fighters. The harsh reality is that up to 18,000 ISIS members remain active; the broad consensus is the battle against them will continue “for many years.” Also, the fact al-Baghdadi ultimately evaded capture by dying at his own hand – a fact determinedly glossed over in Trump’s medicine show – could be viewed as a “victory” by followers eager to avenge his martydom. Worse, Trump’s macabre, inflammatory, pointedly humiliating language – which one diplomatic expert conceded was “a bit disquieting” – appeared to many critics as “the perfect material for any number of ISIS recruitment videos.” All in all, said one observer, Trump’s bloodthirsty, much-touted triumph looks to be “all spaghetti, no hamberder.”
First published in Common Dreams.