WASHINGTON ― Donald Trump has been making waves this week ― great waves, terrific waves ― after accusing President Barack Obama of creating ISIS. But earlier this year, he was saying something different: that the U.S. invasion of Iraq created the terrorist group.
“Maybe don’t go into Iraq originally. We should have never, ever gone in,” Trump, who supported invading Iraq, said at a February town hall in Bluffton, S.C. “But we did. So we made a mistake. The country made a big mistake, and started all of this horrible thing that you see taking place, including ISIS.”
You can watch the clip here:
That was just a few months after he was blaming the Iraqi government for causing ISIS.
“They [the Iraqi Shiite-led government] deceived us because they didn’t take care of the Kurds, they didn’t take care, the whole thing,” Trump said at a November campaign event in Fort Dodge, Iowa. “ISIS formed because these people were not allowed to partake in, that’s where ISIS came from. It came out of Iraq.”
You can watch that clip here:
Trump also argued this week that it was U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq that created ISIS.
“The way [Obama] got out of Iraq was that, that was the founding of ISIS, OK?” Trump said on CNBC on Thursday. (BuzzFeed reported that Trump strongly advocated for the same kind of immediate troop withdrawal).
There’s a couple of takeaways here.
First, that Trump is aware of the things that actually did lead to ISIS. President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq destabilized the country and laid the groundwork for the terrorist group. The Shiite government that emerged after the invasion repressed the country’s Sunnis, which fueled the rise of al Qaeda, the predecessor to ISIS. The prolonged U.S. troop presence in Iraq gave credence to the group’s claims. At the same time, some argue the troop withdrawals were hastily executed and motivated more by political promises than a sense the Iraqi government could control territory and contain the extremist insurgents.
Secondly, Trump’s comments show he doesn’t seem to care what he says about ISIS. After insisting in seven interviews that Obama is “the founder of ISIS, absolutely,” Trump said Friday morning that he was just kidding.
By Friday afternoon, he was walking that back too.
Editor's note: Donald Trump