Think of this as the reset button on Obama's New Beginning Cairo speech.
"America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the
safety and security of our citizens. 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," President Trump said in his speech.
sentiments are safely generic. But the location (Saudi Arabia) and the
message decisively reverses Obama's Arab Spring push. The message is
we're not interested in telling you how to live. We want to protect
ourselves from terrorism.
The speech mostly sticks to safe territory. And yet there are departures here from the usual dogma.
"Young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free from fear,
safe from violence, and innocent of hatred." Consider the meaning of
those last words.
"The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda,
Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the
number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished
dreams." The inclusion of Hamas and Hezbollah, terror groups that are
widely supported, Hamas in particular, is significant.
can be no coexistence with this violence. There can be no tolerating
it, no accepting it, no excusing it, and no ignoring it."
On the other hand, there is a disavowal of the clash of
civilizations. And of Islam as the problem. "This is not a battle
between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations.
This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate
human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it."
But the speech largely sets out a new foreign policy. One that tosses out the Arab Spring.
"For our part, America is committed to adjusting our strategies to
meet evolving threats and new facts. We will discard those strategies
that have not worked—and will apply new approaches informed by
experience and judgment. We are adopting a Principled Realism, rooted in
common values and shared interests.
"Our friends will never
question our support, and our enemies will never doubt our
determination. Our partnerships will advance security through stability,
not through radical disruption. We will make decisions based on
real-world outcomes – not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the
lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking. And, wherever
possible, we will seek gradual reforms – not sudden intervention."
Again the message is quite clear.
"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."
about as far as it goes. It's not a transformative speech when it comes
to Islamic terrorism. But it does represent a shift in foreign policy.