Winning the battle, losing the war? Trump’s strategy to fight ISIS

“So what if you win the battle against ISIS in Mosul, and lose the struggle to rebuild the Middle East?”

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump presented himself as relentless in the fight against the Islamic State. In his view, ISIS had been an insignificant group that “could have been wiped out quickly”, but instead flourished due to failed policies under Obama. He also contended that “when [Clinton] gets in, it will be massive and we won’t even have a country anymore. We’re gonna be afraid to walk outside.”

We asked Professor Fawaz Gerges (London School of Economics) to respond to the US presidential candidates’ stance on ISIS, and to share his analysis of the root causes of the Islamic State’s rise. Gerges continued with some insights on strategies to avoid in fighting ISIS or similar forms of Sunni jihadism. One key line of his inquiry: how do you give young people a stake in building a peaceful future?

We end on a somber note. During his presidential campaign, Trump also criticised the Obama administration for admitting refugees from Syria to the US. He said that “nobody knows who these people are. And a lot of these people are ISIS.” Now, one week after Trump’s inauguration, he has signed an executive order which includes “an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, a halt to all refugee admissions to the United States, and the temporary suspension of all visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya” (Politico).

The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on November 4th, 2016.

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