- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 21, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The president of the United States did America proud in addressing Islamic leaders from 50 countries Sunday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

It was truly a historic occasion. Not in my lifetime do I remember an American president simultaneously addressing so many leaders from predominantly Muslim nations in an extraordinary meeting that was internationally televised.

The good it did the United States is inestimable in the Arabic speaking world, the broader Islamic world and the rest of the world, for that matter.

He was focused, coherent, presidential throughout — and managed to project the United States as the mightiest military and economic power on the planet without a hint of hubris, arrogance or moralistic superiority. He complimented his hosts and the other assembled national leaders appropriately, realistically without a hint of the excessive praise that would roll the eyes of knowledgeable listeners.

Here’s how a conservative official in a Republican White House summed it up in a text message to me: “WOW!! Can Trump stay on this track? Speech and delivery were outstanding.”

His only dictum to the leaders: Drive the Islamic terrorists out of your countries.

A Trump critic complained that he did not acknowledge that the U.S. shares some blame for bad things originating in the Middle East and spreading worldwide and that he was therefore hypocritical.

The criticism is correct. The U.S. is not blameless. But there’s dubious merit in having the U.S president apologize for past presidents’ having launched regime-change wars to export democracy at gunpoint. The utility of doing that, in the Riyadh setting, would be as dubious as scolding the assembled foreign leaders for not being more democratic or feminist.

The common goal in Mr. Trump’s appearance in the birthplace of Islam was to unite leaders of disparate systems of governance in the cause of denying havens and financing for terrorists.

He did it with credibility and dignity.

Listen carefully and you might hear not just a grateful America but a hopeful world whisper: “Keep it up, Mr. President.”

• Ralph Z. Hallow, chief political writer at The Washington Times, has covered Washington since 1982.

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