Trump's Obama Moment boosts 2020 chances
He was describing the US forces' assault on Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi's hideout in northern Syria.
"He died like a dog. He died like a coward. He was screaming and whimpering," thundered US President Donald Trump who loves the political theatre and was quick to grab the attention and narrative from his foes on Sunday.
He was describing the US forces' assault on Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi's hideout in northern Syria. The president may have shot his mouth off describing the raid that neutralised the cold-blooded terror kingpin who has been on the run since 2014, but he can be forgiven for this standout ignorance.
The events of Saturday night are just what this president needs for a second term and he latched on to the opportunity provided to him by elite US troops who conducted a two-hour operation to corner Baghdadi, forcing him to press the button on his suicide vest.
The Daesh leader's death is, what I call, Trump's Obama Moment. He has done better than the former president who watched from the Situation Room of the White House when Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was taken out by US Navy Seals in a safe house in Abbottabad in Pakistan eight years ago.
But Trump has more kills than Obama with American forces bumping off Osama's son Hamza this June. In the spirit of these operations, I've tried to stay 'neutral' about Trump's achievements three years into his presidency, but Baghdadi's killing is the highlight, the political upper hand he badly needs after being hauled over the coals recently for withdrawing US troops from northeast Syria and setting up the loyal Kurds for a Turkish invasion (that has since been put on hold).
What riles me is that Trump failed to mention that Al Baghdadi was a despicable terrorist ('the world's number one terrorist' was what he said). He was a ruthless killer running an organisation whose murderous streak knew no bounds.
In the show that Trump presented, he crowned himself with glory (while dishing out a small portion to Iraq, Russia, and Turkey). I would think of Baghdadi's last moments as more like a rat, vermin, which he truly was. He was in a hole he had dug himself. Dogs sniffed him out and chased him into a tunnel that came to a dead-end (Trump's cinematic version). The pitiless suicide bomber took the lives of his three children in the encounter that ensued in the blood-stained darkness.
The killer had earned the sobriquet Phantom, who would disappear and reemerge from the shadows of death and destruction. Now that he has gone in the most gory way imaginable, it's time to tell the apologists of violence that their ideological time is up. There should be no doubt that terror will meet its fate, blown to bits like Baghdadi, the butcher of innocents, a criminal, who should be dismissed as scum.
Except for the blip when Trump put the killer on a loft by calling him the "number one terrorist", it was a virtuoso performance by the president on the finest night of his presidency. Take a look at these lines that should go a long way in burying the cult of terror. "The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him .. Baghdadi was vicious and violent. And he died in a vicious and violent way, as a coward, running and crying."
No doubt Daesh has been dealt a psychological blow with this strike. The caliphate of violence that rose in just 12 months in 2014, is in ruins, but the danger persists from lone wolves and sleeper cells inspired by the ideology of hate that Daesh promoted to a wider global audience through its online channels.
In this scenario it would be wise to introspect on the causes of terror which often begin with civil strife. Leaders must awake from their slumber and arise to liberate people from want. If they fail to reach out to hard-working people, they invite the likes of Baghdadi and Osama bin Laden to rule by terror.
But it wasn't these two men who started the modern hate-your-leader industry wrapped in suicide vests. It may have begun during the reign of Alexander II of Russia. A member of a group known as People's Will has been credited with the infamy of the first suicide bombing when he blew himself and the Tsar in 1881.
Closer to the present, 7,000 people were killed or injured by suicide bombers last year, down from 11,000 in 2017.
Meanwhile Trump, who was busy playing suicidal politics, now has the 2020 presidential elections firmly in his sights. The fog has lifted, thanks to Baghdadi who ignited himself. The trick is to make this Obama Moment last until next year.