President Trump today indicated that Muslim leaders he met with in Saudi Arabia earlier this week agreed to stop funding the ideologies that lead to to terrorism.
Trump said during remarks in Brussels:
This call for driving out terrorism is a message I took to a historic gathering of Arab and Muslim leaders across the region, hosted by Saudi Arabia. There, I spent much time with King Salman, a wise man who wants to see things get much better rapidly. The leaders of the Middle East have agreed at this unprecedented meeting to stop funding the radical ideology that leads to this horrible terrorism all over the globe.
My travels and meetings have given me renewed hope that nations of many faiths can unite to defeat terrorism, a common threat to all of humanity. Terrorism must be stopped in its tracks, or the horror you saw in Manchester and so many other places will continue forever. You have thousands and thousands of people pouring into our various countries and spreading throughout, and in many cases, we have no idea who they are. We must be tough. We must be strong. And we must be vigilant.
The Saudis, of course, have been particularly guilty of tolerating extremist ideology and spreading it throughout the world.
I doubt the funding is going to stop. But maybe some of it will. This is progress, and hopefully Trump will hold them accountable. His call for Arab leaders to cease supporting radicalism is based on an understanding that the Islamist threat is not just some extremist movement, but part of what is going on within Arab societies.
Nevertheless, Trump has backed off some of his campaign thinking on the topic, saying in his Saudi speech that, “Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death.” Unfortunately, that’s not correct. Thinkers from the activist moderate Muslim Hirsi Ali to Egyptian President Sisi understand that there is a problem within Islam that has to change. But it looks like National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster got to Trump with his insistence that the terrorism has nothing to do with Islam.
Or maybe not quite. Trump used the term “Islamic extremism,” which he was not supposed to do, during his address in Saudi Arabia. He was slated to say “Islamist,” which is a term held to be less intrinsic to the religion itself and more descriptive of radicalism that exists outside it.
“That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds,” he said. The prepared remarks called for him to say: “That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires.”
Anonymous White House advisors he was just tired. But I don’t think he’s as much of an idiot as some of his aides do. I think he knew what he was doing.
Nevertheless, frustrated that the president went off their carefully crafted script, the White House released Trump’s remarks as prepared for delivery. AFTER he gave the speech.
Normally the White House puts out the actual transcript of his remarks. In this case, as far as I can tell, they didn’t.
Hopefully Trump will continue to be Trump, despite voices within the administration trying to make him Jeb Bush.