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Monday, May 22, 2017

President Trump's Riyadh Speech

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The comment below appeared to the opinion piece "This Wasn't a Speech About Islam" by Mustafa Akyol and Wajahat Ali (New York Times, May 21, 2017):
TDurk Rochester NY
I am not a supporter of Donald Trump. I find the man to be repugnant and his proposed domestic policies to be injurious to the interests of the American people.

That said, his speech focused on the responsibility of the Muslim people to stamp out Islamic terrorism. He correctly laid the issue at the feet of the states, the clergies and the money who have, either through benign neglect or quiet support, allowed barbarians to use religious fervor as an excuse to commit barbarous acts upon innocents. He correctly stated that the problem is not the problem of the US or of Europe to solve, although the west may need to eradicate the terrorist structures, root and branch.

In this instance, Donald Trump is right.
In the opinion piece, Mustafa Akyol, a contributing opinion writer, is a visiting fellow at the Freedom Project at Wellesley College and the author of The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims, whined:
A “speech on Islam” could have included some references to the faith, an acknowledgment that Islam is a great religion with values in common with Judeo-Christianity, and with a history of pluralism and tolerance. A “speech on Muslims” could have also been richer, with perhaps examples of how Muslims have contributed to the world, including to American society. This was a more modest, narrow and pragmatic speech, mostly appealing to Muslim leaders — in fact, only Sunni ones — for more cooperation against terrorism. But given Mr. Trump’s earlier views on Islam, it could have been worse!
Mr. Akyol is correct: President Trump's Riyadh speech wasn't nearly as sycophantic as the 2009 Cairo Speech spewed by Apologist-In-Chief Barack Hussein Obama.

My take:

The Riyadh Speech was as daring a speech that an American President could give on Arabian soil to an assembly of Arab nations.

As Kid mentioned at Infidel Bloggers Alliance, there was much nuanced threat.

Yes, indeed! Note this portion about condemned souls:
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.
A deliberate salvo directed at the Wahhabist imams, many of them from Saudi.

President Trump also called out Hamas.

I also note that President Trump at one point said, "Islamic extremism." Apparently, the original script said "Islamist extremism." An accident on Trump's part?

Additional reading...Tale of the Tape: How Trump's First Middle East Speech Compares to Obama's: Half as many self-references, zero Koran quotes, more focus on Islamic extremism.


  1. I didn't have any real issues with his speech. It wasn't Churchill-ian....but it wasn't bad. For an alternative opinion, Daniel Larison at The American Conservative opines:

    Where Obama was shamefully supportive of the Saudis, as he was in Yemen, Trump insists on being even more so, and where Obama offered mildly critical (and empty) rhetoric about Saudi behavior Trump will offer nothing but praise. If the Saudis and their allies weren’t the authors of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and if our government wasn’t deepening its complicity in their war crimes in Yemen, the pathetic coddling of the Saudis might not be quite so obnoxious, but they are and it is.

    The display the president put on in Riyadh is what happens when the U.S. makes keeping “no daylight” with its clients the top priority. Not only is there no criticism of the client’s behavior, no matter how deserved such criticism might be, but there is excessive fawning and stroking of the client’s ego that creates the false impression that we need them far more than they need us. This goes beyond being merely diplomatic and becomes groveling and begging for the client’s affection. No doubt this “reassures” our clients–that our leaders are easy to manipulate and only too willing to do whatever the clients want. No important U.S. interests are served by doing this. The only ones to benefit are the despots on the receiving end of U.S. backing, and even then they are being indulged in their worst and most ruinous habits.

    - CI

    1. CI,
      I read the essay you mentioned. I have to disagree with this statement therein: No important U.S. interests are served by doing this.

      What would Mr. Larison rather that the United States have done? Have the West obliterate ISIS? So doing, would, IMO, give Muslims cause for grievance in that the West would invade the Middle East? Ignore ISIS?

      Frankly, I don't see ANY ideal solutions (positions to take)?

  2. Meanwhile he's selling them 100 billion in arms.

    That's quite a reprimand.

    1. It's tit for tat and delivered over a period of time.

      With that kind of arms, Saudi will have no excuse for not stepping up to deal with ISIS -- and Iran, if necessary.

    2. ISIS favors deposing the royal family.
      The Saudis (i.e. the royal family) is hardly offering ISIS material support.

      As I say below, our main reason for favoring Saudi Arabia/Israel against Iran is because Iran opposes American hegemony in the region.
      Iran is far from being an existential threat to the U.S. despite what Geller/Spencer and Breitfart may tell you.
      Wahabism on the other hand ...

  3. I notice he gets a pass from the right, unlike Obama, for not using the phrase, "Islamic terrorism".
    We;ve heard the right complaining about that issue for so long that surely they must have noticed.

    1. Duck,
      1. I don't recall President Obama's having made such a strong speech in his first year of office. See the additional reading section of this blog post.

      2. In some circles, there has been much discussion of Trump's having recently dropped the usage of the term "Islamic terrorism." Most of these discussions have typically included McMaster's view of Islamic radicalism as the manifestation of hijacking the real Islam.

    2. Yes Ducky, for years we heard how important it was to use the exact phrase "Radical Islamic Terrorism" and yet when Trump has his first chance to drive that point home, he defers.

      It may be good policy, but the silence and deference from the right is telling.

      Obama and others argued for years it was offensive and not helpful to use that phrase, yet that logic was dismissed. Until now.

      I wonder why?

    3. Dave,
      Why? Well, I guess the reason is that there seems to be nobody who will go out on that limb. Realpolitik, I suppose.

  4. First, I will preface my comments in an attempt to prevent the Marxist Merganser from quacking and flailing his two left wings:

    * I don't like the Saudis
    * I believe the Saudis to be the root of islamic terror thanks to their multi-billion dollar support in spreading the Wahhabi poison

    President Trump's speech was firmly-grounded in realism given the following:

    * We will never eradicate islam or the islamic peoples. Indeed, doing so would constitute mass genocide
    * We cannot ignore the Muslim world. It's problems are spilling out all over and infecting the west

    The best we can do is urge reform from within. Al Sisi is attempting that with his ancient Islamic Academy in Egypt, although the Imams so far seem resistant to his urgings. President Trump's speech was a friendly urging to muslim leaders to clean up their act. I thought he struck a delicate balance and did it well. He obviously had much help crafting that speech, right down to the specific words, language and tone.

    The Saudis have to drop the double game of funding terror as protection money. They must know that at some point the contagion will metastasize and engulf them.

  5. I believe that in their zeal to topple Bashar-al-Assad in Syria that both Saudi Arabia and the United States of America have aided and abetted ISIS terrorist groups in Syria.Embracing Saudi Arabia in a war against Islamic terrorism is a charade and somebody is going to get screwed BIG TIME.

    The drive for a global central government will include Saudi Arabia and Israel which means there will be no Middle East peace in the offing. I'd expect more war. America being the arms supplier will benefit from the blood money in that conflagration.

    That's the art of that deal, I suppose.

    1. Waylon,
      Time will tell.

      Overall, anything that the West has attempted to do in that region of the world has been a disaster, a disaster often with unintended consequences.

    2. Some ore art.....just prior to Trump's visit, the House of Saudi blocked the Administrations intent to levy sanctions against the Saudi Wilayat [branch] of ISIS.

  6. The more you look at this the shallower it looks.

    1. We sign a huge arms sale with our proxy committing egregious crimes in Yemen (latest is a massive cholera epidemic after our proxy bombed most of the hospitals) and at the same time talk about terrorism.

    2. The American right pretends that muslims give two warm farts in hell about what Trump says about their salvation.

    3. We have chosen to side with Saudi Arabia and its Israeli ally against Iran. Why? Because Iran is the nation that opposes American hegemony in the region. The American right would rather go back to us being the cop in a region of dictators.

    4. Trump winks as Erdoğan orders his security staff to attack peaceful demonstrators on American soil reinforcing Trump's admiration for dictatorial tactics.

    1. Trump winks as Erdoğan orders his security staff to attack peaceful demonstrators on American soil reinforcing Trump's admiration for dictatorial tactics.

      Diplomatic immunity is a b*tch, ain't it!

    2. .....as Erdoğan orders his security staff to attack....

      I don't know if Trump "winked", but this action should not go unpunished.

    3. Don't worry, CI. I'm sure that when the Kurd's are done taking Raqqa, some of the weapons that they used to do it will make it back into Turkey.

  7. I don't trust the Saudis, but Peter Bergen has has pointed out that Saudi Arabia MIGHT now have a reason to change their terror-supporting and fundamentalist-Islam ways:

    ...For the first time in decades the Saudi monarchy can no longer rely on the revenues from oil to maintain its position as the leading Arab state and to buy off any aspirations that the Saudi population might have to play a real role in politics.

    That's because the days of $100-a-barrel oil are long gone and are unlikely to return anytime soon. And it is this reality that made President Trump's trip to Riyadh and his speech on Sunday so important to the Saudi monarchy.


    When oil wealth seemed an endless spigot of gold, the absolute Saudi monarchy created, somewhat paradoxically, a quasi-socialist state: an astonishing 90% of Saudis work for the government and have long enjoyed subsidies for water, electricity and gas. Health care and education are free.

    But, in late 2015, the IMF warned that, given falling oil prices, the Saudi government could run out of financial reserves in five years if it kept up its present rate of spending.

    With oil prices holding steady at around $50 a barrel, the Saudi government is now cutting government salaries and reducing subsidies. Trump's visit -- and deals -- therefore create a critical opportunity in the private sector for Saudis who can no longer exclusively depend on the government.

    King Salman -- who became King in 2015 and for almost five decades was the governor of Riyadh, overseeing its explosive growth from a city of a few hundred thousand in the mid-1960s to the massive city it is today -- has empowered his 31-year-old son, the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to also play a role in addressing Saudi's immediate demands. He is charged with modernizing Saudi society slowly and diversifying the Saudi economy quickly.

    The Saudi government calls it "Vision 2030."...

    Read the rest at the link.

  8. 5. The Saudi's large contribution to Melania's foundation smacks of their contribution to the Clinton foundation.


    I'm having intermittent issues with my wireless. I may be forced to call Verizon. **sigh**

  10. My eyes popped out at the "condemned souls" comment...that reaches home. Do the radicals care? No. Do thinking Muslims? Yes, probably many do...not that Trump's teaching them anything but that he notices...that he knows their holy book.
    OR, are leftwingers like Ducky WRONG that Muslims are peaceful and their holy book is not violent? :-)

    Ducky, can you link to wear Trump "winked" at Turkish thugs attacking American protestors, please? Would love to see that.

    SilverFiddle...interesting you'd mention WAHABIISM because that , to the best of my knowledge, was not only not mentioned but the news broadcasts mentioned Saudis being another brand of Islam , I don't remember which, but WAHABI was NOT mentioned. Perhaps it is because we know that IS the more violent of the doctrine and that of Arabia..?

    1. John McCain winked at them too... if condemnations are winks.

    2. ...diplomatic immunity, not withstanding.

    3. In '67, the Shah's security detail beat up a bunch of German protestors, one of whom was killed. That incident gave rise to the Red Army Faction, the Left's "justification" for turning away from peaceful protest to 10 years of active Resistance and violence. And the current DNC is ALL about "resistance" these days.

      "Protest is when I say this does not please me. Resistance is when I ensure what does not please me occurs no more." - Ulrike Meinhof

    4. History repeats itself. First as tragedy. Then as farce.

    5. Give "ordinary" Saudi's billions of $$$, and just how do you expect them to "spread their wealth"? Their sources of "education" and "jurisprudence" are almost entirely "religious". The Saudi Royals spread the wealth to their "citizens" and the citizens use it to spread the only education they have... Wahabism.

    6. Z,
      My eyes popped out at the "condemned souls" comment.

      Same here.

      Those words fly in the face of the teaching that jihadists have a special place in Paradise.

      Furthermore, those words condemn the Saudis for funneling money to the families of jihadists.

    7. Z, I'm sure you're aware of the attack during Erdoğan's diplomatic visit. If not, your new sources are woefully inadequate.

      Has there been any formal rebuke ?
      Any demand that the security staff be recalled?

      No, nothing. I'd call that a wink and I think it's instructive that Trump is a fan of Erdoğan.

    8. A fan of Erdogan is funding the Kurds (Turkey's sworn enemies)? Who knew? Wink-wink!

    9. RE: The Kurds, the larger issue for Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran has always been preventing a greater Kurdistan from uniting and wanting statehood, which would mean taking a bite of territory from each of those countries.

      But good business makes peace. Turkey is Iraqi Kurdistan's biggest trading partner, and their conduit to the larger world, causing that government to distance themselves from the PKK.

  11. @Farmer -- Give "ordinary" Saudi's billions of $$$, and just how do you expect them to "spread their wealth"?
    Well, there's this news:
    Saudi Arabia pledges $20 billion to Blackstone for American infrastructure.

    Now, what is Pete Peterson's crew doing taking twenty billion for infrastructure projects? They're just going to underwrite municipal bond issues, right?
    I don't think so. What they are planning to do is purchase hard assets and impose fees. Look for lots more toll roads.

    Maybe Blackstone will hire Chris Christie and he can deliver more successes like American Dream Meadowlands .

    Trump is over there negotiating "great deals" for the American people.

    1. Don't worry ducky, Democrat billionaires like Soros will get their cut by suing the Blackstone Group and preventing the project from being completed (citing "environmental concerns"). The American Bar Association is going to get "flush" again!

  12. Replies
    1. Aw, wook. Widdle butthurt boy is back!

    2. Pssst. Trump went to a country that financed the 9/11 attacks and beheads people for breaking sharia law... and told them we have "shared values."

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.


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