President Trump’s Riyadh Speech Challenges Muslim States To Lead the Way in Fight Against Islamist Terrorism
President Trump’s historic speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was a straightforward admonition to the leaders of the Muslim states gathered to lead the way in the fight against Islamist terrorism.
His speech signaled a great departure from the state craft of his predecessors. The President made it abundantly clear that he was there representing the American people and American interests, and to that end, to find where those interests aligned with the countries present.
I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope. That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic Faith.
In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America’s oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust.
This was not the extension of an olive branch, or an attempt to assuage fears that his agenda and policies, specifically his immigration ban from 7 predominantly Muslim countries. He made it abundantly clear during his talk that it was the mutual interest of peace that he was there to pursue and that he had no plans to change anything regarding his policies, or to apologize for them.
America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens.
But he also, wanted those gathered to know that if they shared his vision of a peaceful, and prosperous world, and specifically their region, then they were invited to come on board as strategic partners in the fight against Islamist terrorism.
On this point he made his most ardent plea, and addressed it directly to them.
Young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free from fear, safe from violence, and innocent of hatred. And young Muslim men and women should have the chance to build a new era of prosperity for themselves and their peoples.
With God’s help, this summit will mark the beginning of the end for those who practice terror and spread its vile creed. At the same time, we pray this special gathering may someday be remembered as the beginning of peace in the Middle East – and maybe, even all over the world.
The President minced no words in telling the leaders assembled that it was up to them, not the U.S., or anyone else to lead the fight in stamping out the threat of Islamist terrorism.
America is prepared to stand with you – in pursuit of shared interests and common security. But the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children.
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 was not your typical speech, and the President made that known. His talk laid out exactly the kind of practical approach to statecraft that he will be pursuing – one that looks for strategic partners willing to come on board in the pursuit of shared national interests.
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.
In this case the goal is the eradication of Islamist terrorism. On this point he put the ball squarely in the court of those Muslim nations and adherents who say they are against Islamic radicalism, but rarely speak out against it, and certainly haven’t taken the lead in eradicating 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.
Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear: Barbarism will deliver you no glory – piety to evil will bring you no dignity. If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and YOUR SOUL WILL BE CONDEMNED.
Donald Trump did what great leaders are supposed to do. He illustrated his commitment to leading the fight against global Islamist terrorism, explained why that was important to the security and prosperity of the world, then invited those who would be a part of that goal to not merely get on board figuratively, but actively engage themselves in seeing the shared goal of its eradication accomplished.
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