Trump's Saudi Speech: Pretty Good - Daniel Pipes, PhD
Donald Trump gave a major speech on a wide range of topics – the Middle East, jihadi violence, Iran, an "Arab NATO," and Islam. It's a mixed performance, but overall positive.
[I]t's a good speech that signals a major shift in the right direction from the Obama years, particularly concerning Iran and Islam. Most important is Trump's willingness to point to the ideology of Islamism as the enemy. This matters exceedingly: just as a physician must first identify a medical problem before treating it, so a strategist must identify the enemy before defeating it. To talk about "evil doers," "terrorists," and "violent extremists" is to miss the enemy's Islamic core.
He confirmed this point several times in the speech: "Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combatting radicalization"; "Muslim nations must be willing to take on the burden, if we are going to defeat terrorism and send its wicked ideology into oblivion"; a mention of the human toll of "ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others"; and his call to stand together "against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians." No fuzziness here about the nature of the problem.
For Trump's speech to make a difference, it must be the start of a consistent approach to recognizing that Islamist ideology stands at the heart of the conflict – and that violence is only one of its manifestations, and perhaps not the most dangerous of them.
[National Review Online]
President Trump’s brazen speech in Saudi Arabia is being praised from (almost) all quarters. Its powerful moments will be remembered for years and will reverberate throughout the Middle East.
Here are moments from the speech, starting with what may be the closest President Trump may come to having his “Tear Down This Wall” moment:
"It is a choice between two futures – and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you. A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. 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."
This is strongest statement towards the Muslim world uttered by an American president since 9/11 and perhaps in history. These words—and the Trumpian delivery of them—will be remembered for years to come. While eloquent words favored by speechwriters and high-brow elites are usually forgotten, these won’t be.There are also two clear sub-messages: One, that the Muslim world is not adequately “driving them out,” meaning, the Islamists still thrive in mosques, holy lands (which would include Saudi Arabia) and Muslim communities. The enemy are not fringe, undetectable loners. Secondly, don’t outsource your responsibility for this to America.
We won’t let you scapegoat us and have us respond by apologizing for the grievances you use to excuse yourself from responsibility. This is your problem: Own it.
"That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews and the slaughter of Christians."
Most of the speech used vague, relative terms like “terrorism” and “extremism.” The focus was almost entirely on ISIS and Iran. But then came this paragraph. President Trump identified the enemy not just as Islamist terrorist groups, but the Islamist extremism foundation necessary for those groups to manifest.Of special note is the line about “persecution of Jews.” This was not stated with some moral equivalence about how Israel shares blame for stifling the nationalist aspirations of Palestinians. No, Trump identified anti-Semitism as a central problem outside of the context of Israel. That omission is powerful.
"Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve."
President Obama’s attitude towards Iran unnerved our Sunni Arab partners in the region. The heavy focus on Iran should help address that, but the fixation on the Iranian regime seemed to echo the Saudi line that Iran is responsible for practically all of the terrorism and extremism in the region. This let the Sunni side of radical Islam get off easy.
Fight Against Terror Is a "Battle between Good and Evil"
- Jonathan Lemire and Julie Pace
During a meeting with more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump recast the fight against terrorism as a "battle between good and evil" instead of a clash between the West and Islam. "We are not here to lecture - we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership - based on shared interests and values - to pursue a better future for us all."