ISIS has proved to be doubly inconvenient for the left and its media backers like the New York Times. Its rapid rise after President Obama called it “the jayvee” was enormously embarrassing (not to mention devastating for the Iraq and parts of Syria, and deleterious to the West). Now, its crushing defeat adds to the left’s embarrassment because it comes, in part, at the hands of America under President Trump.
The mainstream media has tried to mitigate the embarrassment of ISIS’ defeat by ignoring it. Ross Douthat is among those who have noticed.
Writing in the New York Times, Douthat explores this “press failure.” He calls it “a case where the media is not adequately reporting an important success because it does not fit into the narrative of Trumpian disaster in which our journalistic entities are all invested.”
Douthat notes that it’s in the realm of foreign policy where many, including Douthat himself, anticipated a “Trumpian disaster.” He concedes it hasn’t happened:
[F]or now, the Trump administration’s approach to the Middle East has been moderately successful, and indeed close to what I would have hoped for from a normal Republican president following a realist-internationalist course.
[T]he Trump strategy on Israel and the Palestinians, the butt of many Jared Kushner jokes, seems … not crazy? The relatively mild reaction to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital may be a case study in expert consensus falling behind the facts; the Arab world has different concerns than it did in 1995, and Trump’s move has helped clarify that change. . . .
The truth is that the specific two-state vision of the late 1990s was overtaken by events a while ago, and demonstrating that some Arab states are more amenable to accommodating Israel is a useful step toward diplomatic clarity.
The biggest success so far, though, is the defeat of ISIS. As Douthat says, it was accomplished “without massive infusions of ground troops, without accidentally getting into a war with Russia, and without inspiring a huge wave of terrorism in the West.”
In a future column, perhaps Douthat will tell us whether he thinks President Trump’s domestic policy is close to what he would have hoped for from a normal conservative Republican president. And if not, how it differs.