How Has Use of the Words ‘Radical Islamic Terrorism’ Changed Things?

Republicans finally have what they wanted, a president who uses the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” Trump not only used them in his inaugural address, they now appear on the White House web site.

It has always been unclear whether or not the thinking was that simply uttering those words would magically defeat groups like ISIS or if Republicans thought that being willing to use them would alter our counterterrorism strategy. If we give them the benefit of the doubt and assume the latter, we can check in and see how that is working out.

First of all, there was the botched raid in Yemen. According to reports, the idea to pursue that one was decided at a dinner party. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the failure of that raid was affected by this:

There is the matter of Trump’s briefing materials, for example. The commander in chief doesn’t like to read long memos, a White House aide who asked to remain unnamed told The Huffington Post. So preferably they must be no more than a single page. They must have bullet points but not more than nine per page.

As a result, not only is the terrorist leader who was the target of that raid taunting the president, yesterday Yemen made this announcement.

Angry at the civilian casualties incurred last month in the first commando raid authorized by President Trump, Yemen has withdrawn permission for the United States to run Special Operations ground missions against suspected terrorist groups in the country, according to American officials.

Equally concerning is reporting like this:

The counterterrorism strategy getting the most attention these days is Trump’s executive order on immigrants and refugees. This morning Rukmini Callimachi, a NYT reporter in Mosul, tweeted that the ban is the overwhelming topic of conversation in Iraq right now. In addition to hearing about it from the people who live in Eastern Mosul (the area of the city that has been re-taken by the Iraqi military), one of her sources talked to connections in Western Mosul, which is still being controlled by ISIS.

Noting the people who are actually being affected by the ban, Callimachi says this:

So let’s sum up how using the words “radical Islamic terrorism” has affected Trump’s counterterrorism strategy. We have a botched raid that has gotten us kicked out of Yemen and caused our troops to question their commander-in-chief. We also have a travel ban that ISIS is celebrating as the “blessed ban” and is hurting the people in Iraq who have been helping us in the fight against ISIS.

How’s that working out for ya, Republicans?

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.