August 15, 2016

Just after the part of his foreign policy speech where Donald Trump spoke of his regrets that we didn't take the oil away from the Iraqi people, he promised his audience he could find common ground with Putin with regard to the fight against ISIS, a policy the Obama administration has already set in motion.

Trump said, "I also believe that we can find common ground with Russia in the fight against ISIS...They, too, have much at stake in the outcome in Syria and they have had their own battles with Islamic terrorism just as bad as ours."

"They have a big, big problem in Russia with ISIS," he added.

Russia's problem is less with ISIS and more with wanting to keep Syria in their orbit, as it was while Assad was allied with them. Putin likes to bluster about how President Obama created ISIS, but he hasn't been especially interested in going to battle with them.

Paul Manafort must have written that part of the speech, since he and Putin have common cause, and the whole "Obama created ISIS" talking point can be directly attributed to Vladimir Putin.

For all of his bluster, there's a pesky fact Trump omitted. This is already United States foreign policy. Secretary John Kerry has been working and negotiating with the Russians for awhile on this, and they've now agreed to cooperate with Turkey to conduct targeted airstrikes against ISIS targets.


This isn't an obviously bad idea. Which is, perhaps, why the United States and Russia have been coordinating attacks against ISIS forces in Syria since last November. The U.S.'s side of the coalition in this effort includes NATO countries such as Canada, France, and the U.K. as well as nearby nations including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Turkey (which is also a NATO member).

The alliance is far from being an ideal partnership: For one, the U.S. and Russia are actually supporting factions in the Syrian civil war that are also fighting against each other. And yet it is undeniably "some kind of a deal where we go and knock the hell out of ISIS along with NATO and along with countries that are in the area" except in the strict sense that NATO is not formally participating despite the involvement of several member nations.

"I believe I know far more about foreign policy than [Obama] knows," Trump says. What a world.

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