Trump says fight against terrorism is “battle between good and evil”
No clash between West and Islam. This is a battle between good and evil, says US President
President Donald Trump described the fight against terrorism as a “battle between good and evil,” not a clash between the West and Islam in a speech delivered to Middle Eastern leaders last Sunday.
The address was the centerpiece of his two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, his first stop overseas as president. During a meeting of more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders, he sought to chart a new course for America’s role in the region, one aimed squarely on rooting out terrorism, with less focus on promoting human rights and democratic reforms.
Below is the full text of Trump’s prepared remarks, which was released by the White House.
I want to thank King Salman for his extraordinary words, and the magnificent Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting today’s summit. I am honored to be received by such gracious hosts. I have always heard about the splendor of your country and the kindness of your citizens, but words do not do justice to the grandeur of this remarkable place and the incredible hospitality you have shown us from the moment we arrived.
You also hosted me in the treasured home of King Abdulaziz, the founder of the Kingdom who united your great people. Working alongside another beloved leader – American President Franklin Roosevelt – King Abdulaziz began the enduring partnership between our two countries. King Salman: your father would be so proud to see that you are continuing his legacy – and just as he opened the first chapter in our partnership, today we begin a new chapter that will bring lasting benefits to our citizens.
Let me now also extend my deep and heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of the distinguished heads of state who made this journey here today. You greatly honor us with your presence, and I send the warmest regards from my country to yours. I know that our time together will bring many blessings to both your people and mine.
I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope. That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic Faith.
In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America’s oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust.
Our vision is one of peace, security, and prosperity—in this region, and in the world.
Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God.
And so this historic and unprecedented gathering of leaders—unique in the history of nations—is a symbol to the world of our shared resolve and our mutual respect. To the leaders and citizens of every country assembled here today, I want you to know that the United States is eager to form closer bonds of friendship, security, culture and commerce.
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 that will protect the safety of our people and enhance the security of our wonderful friends and allies – many of whom are here today.
Now, there is even more blessed news I am pleased to share with you. My meetings with King Salman, the Crown Prince, and the Deputy Crown Prince, have been filled with great warmth, good will, and tremendous cooperation. Yesterday, we signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.
This landmark agreement includes the announcement of a $110 billion Saudi-funded defense purchase – and we will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defense companies. This agreement will help the Saudi military to take a greater role in security operations.
We have also started discussions with many of the countries present today on strengthening partnerships, and forming new ones, to advance security and stability across the Middle East and beyond.
Later in the day Trump helped open a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology – located in the central part of the Islamic World.
Trump said the groundbreaking Center represented a clear declaration that Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combatting radicalization.
The US President called for conquering extremism in all its forms and vanquishing the forces of terrorism.
“Young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free from fear, safe from violence, and innocent of hatred. And young Muslim men and women should have the chance to build a new era of prosperity for themselves and their peoples.
“With God’s help, this summit will mark the beginning of the end for those who practice terror and spread its vile creed. At the same time, we pray this special gathering may someday be remembered as the beginning of peace in the Middle East – and maybe, even all over the world.”
Trump said this future can only be achieved through defeating terrorism and the ideology that drives it.
Few nations have been spared its violent reach.
“America has suffered repeated barbaric attacks – from the atrocities of September 11th to the devastation of the Boston Bombing, to the horrible killings in San Bernardino and Orlando.
“The nations of Europe have also endured unspeakable horror. So too have the nations of Africa and even South America. India, Russia, China and Australia have been victims.
“But, in sheer numbers, the deadliest toll has been exacted on the innocent people of Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern nations. They have borne the brunt of the killings and the worst of the destruction in this wave of fanatical violence.
“Some estimates hold that more than 95 percent of the victims of terrorism are themselves Muslim.
“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.
“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.
“The Middle East is rich with natural beauty, vibrant cultures, and massive amounts of historic treasures. It should increasingly become one of the great global centers of commerce and opportunity.
“This region should not be a place from which refugees flee, but to which newcomers flock.
“Saudi Arabia is home to the holiest sites in one of the world’s great faiths. Each year millions of Muslims come from around the world to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Hajj. In addition to ancient wonders, this country is also home to modern ones—including soaring achievements in architecture.
“Egypt was a thriving center of learning and achievement thousands of years before other parts of the world. The wonders of Giza, Luxor and Alexandria are proud monuments to that ancient heritage.
“All over the world, people dream of walking through the ruins of Petra in Jordan. Iraq was the cradle of civilization and is a land of natural beauty. And the United Arab Emirates has reached incredible heights with glass and steel, and turned earth and water into spectacular works of art.
“The entire region is at the center of the key shipping lanes of the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, and the Straits of Hormuz. The potential of this region has never been greater. 65 percent of its population is under the age of 30. Like all young men and women, they seek great futures to build, great national projects to join, and a place for their families to call home.
“But this untapped potential, this tremendous cause for optimism, is held at bay by bloodshed and terror. There can be no coexistence with this violence. There can be no tolerating it, no accepting it, no excusing it, and no ignoring it.
“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.
“If we do not act against this organized terror, then we know what will happen. Terrorism’s devastation of life will continue to spread. Peaceful societies will become engulfed by violence. And the futures of many generations will be sadly squandered.
“If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing—then not only will we be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God.
“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,” he said.
Some commentators were less than an enamored with Trump’s speech and noted the incongruity of an earlier statement when he said, “Islam hates us” and rebuked the House of Saud for spawning Wahhabism, fostering terrorism and abusing the human rights of thousands of its own citizens.
But President Trump did leave Riyadh with arms and defence contracts worth $350 billion which many will regard as good for his ‘America First’ economic policy.