Was Donald Trump on to something when he said President Obama was either clueless or “had something else in mind” when it came to fighting Islamist terror? Trump’s obvious insinuation here—that the president was somehow disloyal or in some way sympathetic or cooperating with ISIS terrorists—prompted a firestorm. At first, Trump and his apologists denied the plain meaning of the line and kicked the Washington Post beat reporter off his campaign plane for having had the temerity to report it. But two days later, Trump was back on Twitter claiming he had been right all along.

Confused? Read on.

Trump was referring to a document trumpeted by Breitbart.com—a declassified cable written in 2012 by the Defense Intelligence Agency about the situation in Syria during the first year of the civil war there. As the Washington Post notes, it was “an initial intake of spot intelligence” that had not yet been vetted or verified. And it mistakenly lumped all the opposition groups fighting against the Assad regime together and suggested all of them —the more moderate groups as well as al Qaeda in Iraq—were backed by “Western countries.”

That was inaccurate. The minimal assistance the West was giving the moderate Syrian opposition groups at the time had literally nothing to do with al Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor organization to ISIS, which never had any Western backing. Breitbart’s piece misinterpreted the document to claim our own government said the West was backing ISIS. Which, in turn, allowed Trump to chirp on Twitter that he was somehow vindicated for saying something he had earlier denied having said!

But there is something to be said about even this flawed document from 2012—which is that it provides a chilling reminder how much of a disaster Obama’s Syria policy has been.

In the first two years of the conflict there, the president publicly called for the ouster of dictator Bashar Assad. But he did nothing to aid those non-Islamist forces that were seeking to accomplish that goal. While Assad massacred tens of thousands and drove millions into exile, the U.S. took no action. The president had determined that any sort of intervention or even stepped-up aid would involve the U.S. in another war while he was boasting of “ending” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But inaction in Syria then combined with Obama’s rush to pull out of Iraq to ensure not only that Assad would continue in power but also helped create the vacuum that allowed the Islamic State to arise and eventually takeover much of the territory of both those countries.

Those fateful decisions were the result of Obama’s delusions about the Arab Spring and his hubristic belief in the myth that he was selling the American people during his re-election campaign about having defeated terrorism by killing Osama bin Laden and ending all the wars in the Middle East. But the mess his policies created got only worse after the president failed to make good on his threat to take action against Assad once the latter crossed the “red line” of using chemical weapons on his own people in 2013.

And in his second term, Obama’s resolve to stay out of Syria was also influenced by a desire to create a new détente with Iran, which had heavily intervened in the civil war there on behalf of Assad. The subsequent campaign against ISIS has been notable mostly for its half-hearted nature, which has allowed a ragtag army of terrorists to continue to largely hold its own against the greatest military power in the world.

So, yes, the administration does bear some of the responsibility for the ability of the Islamic State to not only carry on a reign of terror in the Middle East but to project its power abroad (as was the case with the attacks in Paris last year) and to inspire loan wolves, like the shooters in the massacres in San Bernardino and most recently in Orlando.

Nothing, however, justifies the attempt of a former Obama “birther” like Trump to hint at a hidden agenda here. T But however severely we may condemn Trump for such trangressions, that doesn’t give Obama a pass for his foreign policy and security failures. To the extent that Hillary Clinton was part of that decision making process during her time as secretary of state, she also deserves some of the blame.

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