Democrats who believe Hillary Clinton won the election and who remain dedicated to besmirching President’s Trump’s actions irrespective of facts need not read this column, since there is nothing this president can do that would win their approval.
For those still in touch with reality, please read on.
I was about to go the air on Sky News Arabia on Friday when Defense Secretary James Mattis began a live press conference, where he touted recent U.S. military success against ISIS.
You wouldn’t know about the on-the-record briefing, which also featured the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General James Dunford, and Obama-appointee roving ambassador Brett McGurk, from the U.S. news media.
In fact, even if you searched Google for it, you would find just a single mention of the press conference, which was just a preview from the Washington Examiner with the misleading headline, “Today’s Mattis briefing: Progress report, but no ISIS strategy.”
Think of that for just a moment: even Google, the world’s principal gatekeeper to information on the world wide web, is engaging in anti-Trump censorship.
Alternative web search engine Bing is slightly better. There, you would find seven relevant stories, led by a New York Times piece with the ominous headline, “Mattis says escalation against ISIS doesn’t imperil more civilians,” a reference to a charge from unnamed human rights organizations that an alleged change in U.S. rules of engagement has “jeopardized the safety of civilians” in countries of increased U.S. action.
Only in the ninth paragraph would you learn the news that U.S. military action, which vastly accelerated once President Trump took office, has pushed ISIS out of 55,000 square kilometers of territory it once occupied in Iraq and Syria, the core areas it is claiming as its caliphate.
Reporters at the press conference were so stunned — as I was — to hear such a statistic that they immediately tried to walk it back, and General Mattis obliged. “[We] were talking about the campaign since 2014,” Mattis said, when ISIS had the initiative and was “shattering every force in their path. “Since then it’s been reversed. We’ve accelerated…I was not saying it all started with us,” Mattis said.
Even more important than the numbers, however, is the momentum on the battlefield. ISIS is no longer winning. We are finally killing more of them than they are recruiting. And this was not happening under Obama.
Shortly after taking office, President Trump ordered a review of the war against ISIS. Two changes came from that review, as Mattis revealed, “Delegation of authority to lower command levels, and the president directed a tactical shift from shoving ISIS out of safe locations in an attrition fight to surrounding the enemy in their strongholds, so we can annihilate ISIS.”
Both changes were directed by the president with the goal of crushing ISIS. “The intent is to prevent the return home of escaped foreign fighters,” Mattis said.
This was welcome news to Saudi King Salman and the more than 50 Arab leaders he assembled in Riyadh over the weekend, who breathed a collective sigh of relief when President Trump arrived. And it wasn’t just because he and his cabinet took part in a traditional sword dance.
It was both Trump’s attitude and his reputation as a man of action — a reputation they could already changing the battlefields of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.
The president’s signature accomplishment was the speech on Sunday, where he outlined America’s new approach to defeating radical Islamic terrorism. “We are not here to lecture,” Trump said, a clear allusion to President Obama’s June 2009 speech in Cairo, which is credited with having helped to spark the Arab spring revolts that brought down the governments in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt and led to the rise of ISIS.
Instead, President Trump laid out a vision where the United States and its allies, including Israel, cooperate with Muslim countries to vanquish radicalism before it takes root in the heart. “This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations,” he said. “This is a battle between Good and Evil.”
Instead of blaming Muslim leaders for the rise of radicalism, he called on them as partners to “drive them out”:
“Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land, and Drive them out of this earth.”
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called Trump a “unique personality that is capable of doing the impossible.” With characteristic modesty, Trump replied, “I agree.” And everyone laughed — good-naturedly, not as the Washington insiders do, to conceal a snicker.
The Arab leaders gathered in Riyadh understood what they were witnessing: the strong horse has returned.
I say to the president’s critics, watch this president on the world stage and feel proud for your country. America is back.
RELATED VIDEO: President Trump’s Trip Abroad: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Hill.