“The opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself,” wrote the celebrated Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu. As Americans go to the polls today, what does it say about Donald Trump that the country’s greatest enemies—including the Islamic State, Iran, Russia, and North Korea—have all endorsed him?
In his three decades as Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has never said anything positive about an American politician. Yet in a recent speech commemorating the anniversary of the taking of the U.S. embassy hostage in 1979, in which he called Americans “liars, deceitful, untrustworthy and back-stabbing,” Khamenei defended Trump against charges of populism, lauding him for being open and candid about America’s rampant poverty, racism, and moral depravity.
Khamenei has said for decades that Americans live in a rigged political system “under Zionist custody”; not only does Donald Trump regularly corroborate Khamenei’s conspiratorial worldview, his most vociferous supporters share Khamenei’s anti-Semitism. “When you say, “Death to America,” Khamenei assuredly concluded to his audience, “I agree with this and I do not have any objections to it.”
While Trump lacks bipartisan support at home, he has not only the support of the Shia Iran but the Sunni ISIS. In August, an article in Foreign Affairs noted that an ISIS spokesman wrote on an ISIS social media channel, “I ask Allah to deliver America to Trump.” ISIS’s logic is simple: It believes that Trump’s erratic leadership will weaken America, and his abrasive style will alienate the Muslim world, in turn bolstering its efforts to recruit jihadists worldwide. In the words of a recent ISIS defector, “We were happy when Trump said bad things about Muslims because he makes it very clear that there are two teams in this battle: The Islamic team and the anti-Islamic team.”