Sissi’s use of the word “impossible” was understandable. The optics in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where Trump gave his principal address, might have seemed implausible even a few weeks ago. But it happened: The rulers of 50 Arab nations gathered in one place to applaud an American President’s exhortations against Islamist “extremism.”
Even Trump’s domestic critics sounded impressed, with news reports citing the President’s “measured tone” and CNN’s Fareed Zakaria extending his ultimate compliment: The Trump speech was one former President Barack Obama could have given. Except on that point, he couldn’t have been more wrong.
In fact, the starkness of the Obama-Trump contrast was one most commentators noticed. While Obama’s 2009 trip to the Mideast featured a Cairo speech famous for its accommodationism toward Iran and mea culpas about America’s role in the world, Trump’s text showed none of the same mewling rhetoric. In Riyadh, he opted instead for an extended treatment of Islamic extremism, the frequent use of the word “evil” in speaking to the terrorists’ ideology and motivations, and a laserlike focus on Iran as an outlaw regime and chief breeding ground of Mideast mayhem.
We should all appreciate the fact that we now have a President who is straightforward that he’s at war with radical Islamists, a fact he’s not going to soft-pedal.