The retired commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe gave an impromptu lecture on Middle Eastern politics Friday morning to a Donald Trump surrogate — who responded with a pile-up of right-wing dog whistles.
Trump surrogate Jeffrey Lord appeared on CNN’s “New Day,” where he argued the Republican presidential nominee was both accurate — and sarcastic — when he identified President Barack Obama as the founder of the Islamic State militant group, reported Media Matters.
“Donald Trump is exactly right about this,” Lord said. “He was, to borrow from President Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs, Barack Obama was the responsible officer of the government. He was in charge. It was his decision to remove those troops. It was his decision that launched what is now ISIS. There is no question about it. He and Secretary Clinton were and are the responsible officers of the government for this decision.”
Host Chris Cuomo asked why Trump hadn’t just said that, instead of repeatedly insisting that he meant to credit the president — who he identified using his middle name, Hussein — with founding ISIS.
“That’s the president’s name,” Lord protested. “I mean, I don’t see anything wrong with it. But the point that he’s making here — and frankly, Chris, this is the American left in foreign policy since at least George McGovern. They assured us that if we got out of Vietnam, there would be peace. Instead, there was mass murder. I mean, on and on and on and on this goes. This is the stated position of the Democratic Party, the American left. They got to put this in practice, and now the world is a mess. It is a disaster. And Secretary Clinton, as secretary of state, is responsible for it.”
Cuomo reminded Lord that Trump had argued in 2007 for declaring victory and leaving Iraq immediately — and the real estate developer and reality TV star had blamed George W. Bush in the past for creating ISIS.
That’s when Cuomo’s second guest, retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, swooped in to issue a scathing correction to Lord’s claims.
“First of all, Mr. Trump is semantically incorrect in describing all this, and secondly, it shows he’s patently uninformed about the rift between the Shia and the Sunni, and the governments in the Middle East,” Hertling said. “He’s also shown repeatedly an inability to understand this as a complex issue. That’s part of the problem.”
The retired general reminded Lord that Trump had been given several opportunities to clarify his claims that Obama had created ISIS, he did not backtrack until claiming Friday morning on Twitter that his frequently repeated remarks were just “sarcasm.”
“Yes, have different politicians, to include President Obama, perhaps contributed to all of this by of their actions? Yes,” Hertling said. “If Mr. Trump would have said that it would have been a different story. And he was given that option by Hugh Hewitt, as you showed a little while ago, and he refused to take it. Instead, it’s a complete slash and disrespect to the president – another issue that I have with him in terms of his leadership qualities – but it also appeals to a bunch of people that don’t really understand how complex this issue is and the number of people like me who have fought against elements like ISIS.”
Lord sat quietly as the national security and military analyst debunked his and Trump’s claims, and responded by throwing out some anti-Muslim key words.
“This problem does go back centuries,” Lord said. “On Sept. 11, I believe, of 1683, Islamic forces were at the gates of Vienna, and saying they were going to behead people and rape the women, etc., etc. trying to take over what was then the gate of the Western world.”
Lord referred to both the Ottoman siege of Vienna and the Islamophobic website by the same name, which has helped bring European-style right-wing extremism and white nationalist theories into the American political mainstream.
“This has been going on for centuries, which is explicitly why the president’s refusal to call it radical Islam and deal with its roots is so troubling,” Lord said, again tying Obama to ISIS extremists.