* Trump’s tone was a refreshing change of pace from the Obama administration. Trump issued no apologies, and he didn’t bow to Islam rhetorically any more than he did in person to Saudi Arabia’s king.
* Trump referred obliquely to the tension in American foreign policy between what are conventionally called Realist and Idealist schools. He said his foreign policy will be one of “Principled Realism, rooted in common values and shared interests.” That is probably as good a formula as any, but it doesn’t mean much. Formulas are easy, decisions can be hard.
* Most notable was the uncompromising priority that Trump gave to terrorism as “the great question of our time.” Here is some of what he had to say about Islamic terrorism:
We now face a humanitarian and security disaster in this region that is spreading across the planet. It is a tragedy of epic proportions. No description of the suffering and depravity can begin to capture its full measure.
Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death.
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.
This is a battle between Good and Evil.
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.
There was more in this vein. Trump, to my knowledge, has not been known for religiosity, yet this speech was suffused with it. I assume it is sincere: being President, like being in a foxhole, seems to make men more religious. Maybe especially so if you are a president who feels like he is in a foxhole.
* It was nice to see that Trump was unequivocal in including Hezbollah and Hamas in his denunciation of terrorist groups. Did Obama do this? I am not sure:
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.
* Trump aggressively called on Islamic countries to do their critical part to deal with the scourge of Islamic terrorism. This is of a piece with his call for other NATO countries to pull their weight, but in a more problematic context:
[W]e can only overcome this evil if the forces of good are united and strong — and if everyone in this room does their fair share and fulfills their part of the burden.
Terrorism has spread across the world. But the path to peace begins right here, on this ancient soil, in this sacred land.
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.
Not a lot of ambiguity there–again, a refreshing change from the Obama administration’s “nuanced” view of terror-spawning organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood.
* Trump directed heavy fire against the mullahs of Iran, with whom Barack Obama quixotically sought an alliance:
[N]o discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three—safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran.
From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.
It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.
Among Iran’s most tragic and destabilizing interventions have been in Syria. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes, and the United States has taken firm action in response to the use of banned chemical weapons by the Assad Regime — launching 59 tomahawk missiles at the Syrian air base from where that murderous attack originated.
* President Trump took advantage of the opportunity to circumvent the CNN/New York Times filter by touting his brand-new administration’s achievements:
For Americans, this is an exciting time. A new spirit of optimism is sweeping our country: in just a few months, we have created almost a million new jobs, added over 3 trillion dollars of new value, lifted the burdens on American industry, and made record investments in our military….
What? I thought the only news of the last four months was the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate…something…no one can quite remember what.
* Finally, I suspect that Trump’s address to 50 or so leaders of Islamic states came as a great relief to them. Finally, a leader who makes sense! Finally, someone who speaks the lingua franca of international power!
What must they have made of a president who seemed determined to sell out his own people, who sucked up to his nation’s worst enemy, who apologized repeatedly for his own country’s non-existent sins, who assured another enemy that he would have more freedom to give the store away once he had been re-elected, who starved his own country’s military, who intervened in other countries’ elections, who systematically tried to undercut several of his country’s main allies, who arranged for the payment of $100 billion to his country’s worst enemy in exchange for empty promises, who catered to, and worked to increase the influence of, the extremist organization that has spawned most of the world’s Islamic terror groups?
My guess is that they thought he was crazy. For leaders of other countries, the Trump administration represents a return to sanity.