When it comes to Syria, Trump has taken to arguing the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has been defeated. It is both a declaration of victory (a win!) and a justification for pulling out.
“We have won against ISIS,” Trump declared in a video tweeted out Wednesday night. He added in another tweet Wednesday: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump presidency.”
But then, less than a day later, Trump now says ISIS in fact remains a problem — but a problem for others to handle moving forward.
“Russia, Iran, Syria & others are the local enemy of ISIS,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “We were doing there [sic] work. Time to come home & rebuild.”
Then he added: “Russia, Iran, Syria & many others are not happy about the U.S. leaving, despite what the Fake News says, because now they will have to fight ISIS and others, who they hate, without us." He even warned ISIS, which again had supposedly already been defeated, not to attack the United States. “ISIS hits us they are doomed!”
....Russia, Iran, Syria & many others are not happy about the U.S. leaving, despite what the Fake News says, because now they will have to fight ISIS and others, who they hate, without us. I am building by far the most powerful military in the world. ISIS hits us they are doomed!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018
For what it is worth, Russian President Vladimir Putin himself has praised the U.S. pullout and clearly does not hate it — nor almost certainly does Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But that falsehood aside, Trump is now arguing other countries “will have to fight ISIS” and that ISIS is still capable of striking the United States — a day after assuring repeatedly it had already been defeated.
Which is it? Is the United States leaving because the ISIS is defeated, or does it remain a problem for other countries and possibly even the U.S. homeland?
Trump’s inconsistency and illogic on the border wall debate has played out over a much longer period of time. While he appears to be weighing a shutdown this weekend if he does not get his $5 billion in wall funding, he has also assured us both that the wall is in fact being built and that Mexico is in fact paying for it.
“Our Southern Border is now Secure and will remain that way,” Trump assured on Dec. 11, adding: “People do not yet realize how much of the Wall, including really effective renovation, has already been built.”
“Mexico is paying (indirectly) for the Wall through the new USMCA, the replacement for NAFTA!” he tweeted Wednesday, citing a proposed new trade agreement with Mexico that has not been approved by Congress. He added last week: “MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!”
Trump has even said the wall could be built by reshuffling money and priorities in the federal government: “If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall.”
So if Mexico is paying for it or you can just get the military to do it, why is it so imperative that Congress fund it? And if it is already being built (hint: it is not) and the border is fully secure (nope, illegal border crossings are actually rising), why are you also saying the border cannot be secured without a wall and decrying that it is not being built?
It is one thing to have unrealistic expectations and to do controversial things; it is another to confront these issues of import without any detectable consistency, logic or conviction. So many of the things Trump has said about these matters simply cannot coexist with one another. He is trying to have it both ways, at best, or does not really know what he is doing, at worst.