Sunday, May 21, 2017

President Trump Reverses Obama's Arab Spring in Saudi Arabia

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.
The 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.
"There 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."
That's 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.

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