Have you seen the internet meme which suggests that Donald Trump’s ‘divisive’ rhetoric helps Isis gather support and grow in size? It’s been getting a lot of likes and shares, possibly because it contains an element of truth. Certainly Isis seems to buy into the idea, which is why they featured The Donald in their triumphant post-Brussels video. Trump and Isis feed each other. They both thrive on and exacerbate a sense of western decline.
But the politician who has done most to help Isis grow is not Donald Trump. It may well be Hillary Clinton.
At almost every stage of her career, Hillary has managed somehow to nurture and sustain the conditions for Isis to grow in. Just look at her foreign policy record. It’s widely known that Clinton supported the Iraq War and the deposition of Saddam Hussein. Then, as Secretary of State, she supported Nouri al-Maliki’s position in Iraq. As Ali Khedery wrote in the Washington Post, this support helped nurture ‘a divisive, despotic and sectarian government that would rip the country apart and devastate American interests.’
Then came Syria’s civil war, during which Clinton began to show her dovish side, even while Assad was butchering his own people, which Isis were able to capitalise on. Next, Libya. Clinton is still a strong defender of the Libyan invasion to oust Muammar Gaddafi from power. But there is no doubt that the situation right now in Libya is catastrophic; that what had been seen as a foreign policy triumph for Clinton is turning into a massive disaster. Her embarrassing incompetence during the Benghazi attack did nothing to bolster American credibility in the Middle East. Libya is now a free-for-all for numerous militias and a safe haven for Isis.
It’s difficult to assess Donald Trump’s political legacy so far, because he has never been an elected official. But we can assess Hillary Clinton’s. Look beyond her goody-goody rhetoric, and ask whether she did more than Trump or indeed anyone to create the ideal conditions for an organisation like Isis to flourish in. There’s no doubt about it — she did.