Trump’s Simplistic Strategy on Jihadism


May 23, 2017

Trump’s Simplistic Strategy on Jihadism

by Robin Wright

http://www.newyorker.com

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Trying to appease Saudi Arabia and the Muslim World and isolate Iran

Six days after the 9/11 attacks, in 2001, President George W. Bush went to the Islamic Center in Washington to dampen fears of a clash of civilizations between the Islamic world and the West. “The face of terror is not the true face of Islam,” he said. “Islam is peace.” Three days later, at a joint session of Congress, Bush defined the challenge from Al Qaeda in political rather than religious or cultural terms. “This is the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom,” he told Congress. “This will not be an age of terror. This will be an age of liberty here and across the world.” A central theme of Bush’s Presidency was fostering democracy through nation-building.

President Barack Obama’s main speech to the Islamic world, in 2009, called for a “new beginning” between Muslim and Western nations, noting “civilization’s debt to Islam.” Declaring to Cairo University students that “we also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems,” he, too, envisioned political and economic solutions to countering extremism.

“All people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose,” Obama said. “Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.” He also outlined plans to spend billions in U.S. aid to build schools and hospitals, roads and businesses, and to help those displaced by conflicts in the Islamic world.

Donald Trump took a starkly different tack during the campaign. “I think Islam hates us,” Trump told Anderson Cooper, on CNN, fourteen months ago. He told both MSNBC and Fox News that he’d be willing to close mosques in the United States.  At the Presidential debate last October, in Las Vegas, he was particularly critical of Saudi Arabia. “These are people that push gays off buildings,” he said. “These are people that kill women and treat women horribly, and yet you take their money.” He continued the theme in his first days in office, with an executive order that banned travel from seven countries (later downgraded to six) with predominantly Muslim populations. It was ruled unlawful by U.S. courts, but the Trump Administration is still appealing the decision.

On Sunday(May 21), on his first trip abroad as President, Trump tried to hit the reset button in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam. He heralded Islam as “one of the world’s great faiths,” and his visit as the beginning of “a new chapter” between the United States and the Islamic world. In a palace of dazzling opulence, he spoke to dozens of leaders assembled by the Saudis from the Arab and Muslim world. In turn, the oil-rich kingdom, which is weathering its own political and military turmoil, treated him like royalty, with billboards across the Saudi capital covered with Trump’s face.

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Trump does not the know the difference between Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabish and Iran’s Shiaism

Trump’s main message was  that Muslims must do more—much more—to fight militants who have proliferated from North Africa to South Asia since 9/11. “The nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them,” he said. Reading slowly off a teleprompter, Trump urged, even demanded, “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!”

Some of Trump’s language about Islam was right out of the Bush-Obama playbook. “This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations,” he said. “This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people, all in the name of religion.” He declared it “a battle between good and evil.”

Trump notably did not use one of his favorite terms—“radical Islamic terrorism.” His national-security adviser, H. R. McMaster, has tried to get the President to avoid using the term, at least in public. During the campaign, Trump railed against Obama for not using it—and even charged that “anyone who cannot name our enemy is not fit to lead this country.” In Riyadh, Trump’s original speech called for him, instead, to talk about “Islamist extremism.” He veered off script, however, and talked about “confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.” Many Muslims are sensitive to the implication that Islam and extremism are synonymous.

Trump’s strategy differed most strikingly from Bush’s and Obama’s in its largely military approach to extremism. One of the top objectives of his maiden foreign tour is to create a coalition of Arab and Muslim countries to tackle extremism, confront Iran, and foster peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The coalition has been informally dubbed an “Arab NATO“.

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First Lady Melania Trump watches as President Donald Trump poses for photographs with leaders at Arab Islamic American Summit, at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The President seems to have largely abandoned notions of promoting political openings or addressing economic grievances that have fuelled so much of the dissent and militancy, especially among Arab youth. Even oil-rich Saudi Arabia has high youth unemployment, estimated to exceed thirty per cent. The kingdom has produced thousands of jihadis who have joined both ISIS and Al Qaeda.

“We are not here to lecture,” Trump told the Muslim leaders, who were seated on throne-like leather chairs under enormous crystal chandeliers. “We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership—based on shared interests and values—to pursue a better future for us all.”

Trump framed his counterterrorism policy in Let’s-Make-a-Deal terms: Washington will sell weaponry to the Arabs, which will in turn create defense-industry jobs in the United States. In his speech, the President digressed from the main theme to claim that his Administration has created almost a million new jobs—adding that the kingdom’s pledge to invest billions more in the United States would create thousands more new jobs.

As a candidate, Trump repeatedly complained that the United States got very little from its relationship with the kingdom. “Tell Saudi Arabia and others that we want (demand!) free oil for the next ten years or we will not protect their private Boeing 747s. Pay up!” Trump tweeted, in 2014.

That year, he also tweeted, “I just want to know how much is Saudi Arabia and others who we are helping willing to pay for our saving from total extinction. Pay up now!” In 2015, he tweeted that Saudi Arabia “must pay dearly! NO FREEBIES.”

In Riyadh, however, he bragged about the low prices his Administration was offering the Saudis. “We will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defense companies.” His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, reportedly intervened personally with Lockheed to negotiate a better deal for the Saudis.

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Nepotism in 1600 Penn. Avenue, Washington DC

In one of his more astonishing comments, the President expressed optimism about the future of the Middle East, despite wars in Libya, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria that have killed hundreds of thousands; the greatest humanitarian and refugee crises since the Second World War; and the return of authoritarian rule—disasters which have dashed the hopes sparked by the Arab Spring.

“The potential of this region has never been greater,” Trump told the Muslim leaders assembled in Riyadh. Maybe it was the brilliant glare of the chandeliers that blinded his vision.

Robin Wright is a contributing writer for newyorker.com, and has written for the magazine since 1988. She is the author of “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World.”

15 thoughts on “Trump’s Simplistic Strategy on Jihadism

  1. Rouhani just came out of a fight for reform that can be turned anytime and the stupid white guy basically demanded more.

    Trump could kill us all.

  2. This is the antics of a stupid man,a seven year old baby in an seventy years old man’s body.A moron who thinks that the office of the presidency is a children’s playground.

    One day he said “Islam is our enemy” and will ban them from entering the USA.The next day he is an” Islamic convert”.No wonder this horndog is more popularly known as “Groper in Chief”.This horndog is more suited for the job of “grab them by the pu*sy”.

  3. Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia over the weekend was hypocritical and condescending, says award winning Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk. He said that Trump displayed a blatant anti-Iran bias which was intended to appease the Saudi’s with whom he’d just signed a multi-billion dollar… at the expense of the truth. He added that Saudi Arabia and not the Islamic Republic of Iran, is the “fountainhead” of terrorism in the Middle East.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-saudi-arabia-muslim-speech-a7747856.html

  4. Without conflict, there is no arms sales. The biggest reason the US does not want countries such as Iran and North Korea to modernise their weapons technology is they will pose a threat to the US as an arms supplier as they create more turmoil and conflicts in various parts of the world. On the pretext of helping to protect S. Korea they have imposed their weapon system and charged the Koreans USD1 Billion. The US have actively instigated the Japanese to militarise. The US have caused rajime change in Irag and Libya with the intention of controling their oil and selling arms to the various factions. Who betrayed the US with 9/11. The same people with whom Donald signed the USD110 B arms deal. He is the beast arms dealer. Who created the terrorist like IS?

  5. If the Trump speech at Riyadh is followed through even at 30%, the world will be much safer than that of previous president. He treats leaders of Muslim-majorities nations (except Iran and its allies) as partners, but he stays firm with American ideas of government. He therefore abandons the effort to promote non-core American values such as democracy and human rights at foreign lands, and stand fast with real core American values such as liberty, In God/Truth We Trust, and nationalism – all of them can flourish within the boundary of the United States without promoting democracy and human rights at foreign lands. To appreciate such subtle line of discernment, it is better to hear the words directly from the source, instead of the above commentator:

    • Trump doesn’t understand Muslims and why organizations like Al Qaeda and ISIS exist and flourish. Trump is calling on the Middle East nations to combat ISIS. Isn’t that what they are doing right now? Who is fighting who in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen and Libya. The root problem is US involvement in the middle east in the first place and the propping up of repressive government such as in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen and Sudan. Apart from propping up these repressive government the US has for ages been actively involved on the ground and killing of Muslims much to the ire of groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS. Using the excuse of US involvement these groups have managed to recruit fighters and martyrs to their cause. Many of their leaders were educated or at some time have lived in the US or been part of the US covert operations. Calling on the Middle Eastern government to combat ISIS is not going to cut it. There’s already too many Muslims killing Muslims and in the case of Syria it has caused a massive refugee problems and Trump has clearly expressed his opposition to Muslims and refugees.

    • The notion of Middle East problem having its root cause on US involvement cannot pass the close scrutiny of history. Iran has a constitution calling for conquering the world so that all world is under its version of Islam; it is in compliance with Islamic law per Reliance of Traveler, the classic and authoritative interpretation of Sharia. Even a budding caliphate Islamic State has the aspiration to conquer the world because of the same Islamic law. Many non-Muslim majority nations such as China and India were in history under western and non-western powers, but being colonized did not make modern India and China have a constitution calling for making the whole world under a true religion.

      Islamic culture, in its current form, is not capable for producing non-autocratic leaders (So is China). Egypt under Al Sisi might be repressed somewhat, but is way better for its people than would be under Islamism-driven Morsi. So are Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and others. The repression such as on women and religious minorities within their countries is a part of their culture — US has no role in it. When there is such degree of repression exists, there is little reason the political leaders are not also repressive. Repression comes as a package of the culture and religion.

      Malaysia and Indonesia having a relatively democratic leaders are exception of Islamic nations. They are at the edge of Islamic world, and they were under more than 200 years of western colonization and centuries of other cultural influence before Islam comes to center stage. All nations in Middle East were under western colonization less than 60 years.

      Here is a short but insightful discussion on whether Sharia and freedom can coexist in Pakistan:

  6. ( with no apology ) – I loathe people who clown on stage, about things on religion if he does not understand , nor does he know on the substantive of words like ‘ Jihad ” etc…yes, a segment of the Muslims too have distorted it for evil purposes….

    ( too long to explain here ) , but the President has deliberately blemished it on the religion of Islam as a whole , just so as to demean it or malign it….

    @ page 51 of Tariq Ramadan’s book ‘ In the Footsteps of the PROPHET ‘ , it is not to be understood as urging Muslims to be on the OFFENSIVE , that’s sheer stupidity ! – the author explains well that Jihad concerns RESISTANCE : The House of God, the Ka’aba was dominated by the Quraysh community (Arabs themselves ) , who became very wealthy by exploiting the generally poor Arabs , for Centuries, & amassed great wealth by or through corrupt practices on the masses . ( this Resistance in Arabic is termed ‘ jahidhum ‘ , through aquisition of pristine ‘ knowledge ‘ of God (Allah ) for fairness , justice & equity in the world .

    The Prophet suffered much through persecution of the Quraysh tribes…. ( please read on @ Chapter Six of this Book….) – Man has to elevate himself from Ignorance all the time throughout History of Mankind ( how many Prophets ? )

  7. Fisk on Trump at Riyadah: “The fawning leaders of the Muslim world, needless to say, clapped away when the mad president of America had finished speaking. But did they understand what his words really portended?”
    Bet you Bolehland’s commander in thief was among the loudest clappers, having not much between his ears except for how to continue to loot his people. Followed closely by the Malaysian ministerial and diplomatic corps in attendance whose level of English probably has not evolved beyond 3rd grade.

  8. Teaming up with the House of Saud against Iran and Yemen while selling arms to the Kingdom is going to blind the eyes of those hopeful young people Trumpo was babbling on about. I will say it because nobody else will.

    If you believe anything this charlatan says you are an idiot.

  9. In his speech in Saudi Arabia, Trump appeased the Saudis by calling Islam “one of world’s great faiths,” a departure from his accusation, made just last year, that “Islam hates us.” He also sought to undercut terrorists’ arguments that they embody Islamic ideals. They worship death, not God, Trump said. They are “barbaric criminals,” not true believers. Instead, Trump said in Saudi Arabia: “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.” Trump clearly separated Islam from terrorism, unlike candidate Trump. Was it on the job learning, or duplicity?

    “There is still much work to be done,” Trump also said. “That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds.” Briefly, “Islamist” refers to political movements that attempt to implement Islamic law and theology. “Islamic” refers to the religion itself, and many Muslims take offense at associating their faith with violence. The White House official had, of course, tried to spin for him, that phrase “Islamic terror” was not in the President’s prepared remarks, they said; his mention of it was “an exhaustion-induced oversight.” But intentional or not, Trump’s language revealed his administration’s two minds on Islam.

    Yes, Trump had used the potent language of religious tolerance and interfaith unity when discussing Islam in his speech in Saudi Arabia to leaders of some 50 Muslim nations. But unlike previous presidents, he has not linked that rhetoric with recognition of the large, vibrant Muslim community at home. He presented Islam like it is something distinct from American society. The Saudi speech is void of any acknowledgment of the large Muslim population in the US or discussion of its contribution to American society. Can a message of tolerance to Islam abroad be persuasive without a corresponding affirmation of American Muslims at home? Speeches like this Saudi one will do little to change perceptions of his hypocrisy of speaking tolerance to Islam abroad but banning Muslims at home.

    If Trump’s Saudi speech is any indication, a debate about Islam still rages within his administration, and perhaps within himself. On Islam, Trump is consistently inconsistent.

  10. While treating 50 Muslim-majority nations leaders as partners, President Trump makes its focus on eradicating Islamic terrorism very clear. He was not tired when he said Islamic terrorism; he said what he meant. Only the cold-feet official and the die-hard leftists such as LaMoy would love to see ambiguity out of clarity, and kept delve on the ambiguity. Clarity is too painful to be confronted by leftists because it lacks Kumbaya feeling, which is the moral compass of leftists when promotion of socialism is suppressed.

    Here is a story about the clarity of Trump’s message:
    http://video.foxnews.com/v/5445834511001/?#sp=show-clips

    I observed Trump rally speeches and posted the following observation a few days before the Nov 8 election and what were observed are still valid and consistent:
    ———Beginning of old post——————————————-
    Trump’s presidency will influence the world (beside to USA) in this direction:
    1) Nations, taking the cue of Trump’s nationalism, will be acting for the good of their respective nations. Globalism will be considered good only for selected areas of world affair. Supra-national organizations such as UN and OIC will take a back seat. This will stabilize the world.
    2) Cultures that are antithetical to modern world norms (which is of image of western civilization) will be confronted, not cuddled. Beheading video will be stopped very soon. Caliphate will become a dirty word.
    3) Fundamental American values such as freedom of expression will be promoted again. We will no longer be seeing Clinton attending OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) supporting UN resolution 16/18 which undermines freedom of expression under the guise of Islamic blasphemy law.
    4) As Europe goes down and US goes up, the world will again re-affirm their belief in self-government, and will again reject good-looking socialism, a time-proven failed system of government.
    The above are good enough for the world while they start to learn straight-talking of Trump.
    —————–End of old post—————————————–

  11. Hooray, I’ve a new label! A trumpian who shows no basic understanding of the political spectrum is calling me a die-hard leftist. Thank you, troll. Please remain “poorly educated”, or Emperor Trump won’t love you anymore.

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