Finally, a President's No-Apology Tour
Donald Trump wraps up his first foreign trip, having sought to unite Muslims, Jews and Christians in the fight against terrorism.
In a sharp and welcome diversion from Barack Obama’s global apology tours, Donald Trump just completed his first presidential visit to the Middle East with nary an apology, bow or mea culpa in sight.
Visiting Riyadh, Jerusalem and Rome — all in countries that are respective centers of the world’s three dominant religions, Islam, Judaism and Christianity — Trump carried a common theme throughout his trip: the need to unify against terrorism.
In Saudi Arabia, he met with King Salman and 55 Muslim and Arab leaders, calling on them to reject radical Islamic terrorism. Unlike Obama, who infamously claimed during a speech at Cairo University, “I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear,” Trump made it clear he feels no such calling. Instead, he cautioned, “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 fully condemned. Heroes don’t kill innocents. They save them.” So much for those 72 virgins.
What’s more, he took jihadists to task for their so-called faith, stating, “Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith. Terrorists do not worship God; they worship death.”
He also took aim at Iran, for which Saudi Arabia holds no love, denouncing its sponsorship of terror. “For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror,” Trump declared. “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.” Of course, for one of those decades, Iran enjoyed the friendship of Obama, who paved the way for the terrorist nation to build its nuclear program.
In a controversial move, Trump struck a $350-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia ($110 billion now and the rest over 10 years), purportedly to build up Saudi ammo against Iran. Israel is understandably skeptical, but Sunni Saudi Arabia is an important geopolitical counterweight to Shiite Iran.
Trump made clear during his time in Jerusalem just whose side the U.S. is on. During a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump asserted, “The United States and Israel can declare with one voice … that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon — never, ever — and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias, and it must cease immediately.”
What’s more, the White House pegged the press conference as happening in “Jerusalem, Israel,” a notable shift from the U.S. practice of not recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (despite congressional action calling for the U.S. to make such a recognition).
It’s hardly surprising, then, that at this same press conference, Netanyahu told Trump, “I want you to know how much we appreciate the change in American policy on Iran … and I want to tell you also how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East.” In fact, Netanyahu continued, “For the first time in my lifetime, I see a real hope for peace.” It doesn’t take a genius to recognize the not-so-subtle jab at the Obama administration — just like it didn’t take a genius to recognize Obama’s disdain for Israel despite his rhetoric.
Finally, Trump wrapped up his trip with a visit to the Vatican and a meeting with Pope Francis. The media is relishing highlighting points of contention between Trump and Francis, especially after the pope gifted the president his encyclical on man-made climate change. But the two share support for the sanctity of human life and concern over religious persecution — whether it be from Islamic jihadists or from coercive legislation that forces nuns to fund abortion. And the White House reportedly conveyed that in their meeting Trump and Francis discussed “how religious communities can combat suffering in ‘crisis regions,’ such as Syria, Libya and areas controlled by Islamic State terrorists.”
Trump’s Middle East tour has already drawn much analysis and will undoubtedly draw much more. But two things should be abundantly clear. First, terrorism has neither open friend nor hidden ally in the White House and second, Trump will never apologize for being an American.