- - Monday, May 22, 2017


Donald Trump is the un-Obama. His predecessor set the tone for his presidency by making stops in the Middle East with head bowed in contrition for any and all offenses the United States had made, might have made, or could have made. The enemies of America were invited to fill in the blank. Barack Obama, mistaking humiliation for humility, promised to “lead from behind.”

Now a new president is making the rounds in the troubled region, this one with head held high. Mr. Obama bowed deeply to everyone with sword or title. President Trump, understanding that Americans bow only to God, met King Salman of Saudi Arabia with an open hand of friendship and a firm look straight in the eye.

Embattled at home, the president is making good on his vow to pursue “safety, opportunity, and stability in the war-ravaged Middle East, visiting Riyadh, Jerusalem and Rome, spiritual homes of the world’s three dominant religions. Beginning with a gathering of 55 Muslim and Arab leaders invited to Riyadh by King Salman, Mr. Trump challenged them to honor reverence for human life as evidence of a religion of peace, and urged them to instruct their like-minded to reject radical Islamic terrorism.

“This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations,” he told an audience in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. “This is a battle between those who seek to obliterate human life and those who seek to protect it. This is a battle between good and evil.”

He followed with a sobering warning: “Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear: Barbarism will deliver you no glory. Piety to evil will bring you no dignity. If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and your soul will be fully condemned. Heroes don’t kill innocents. They save them.”

Mr. Trump’s message could not have been more different from what the Islamic millions heard from an American president in Mr. Obama’s infamous apology speech at Cairo University on June 4, 2009. Proclaiming “A new beginning,” Mr. Obama described his idea of a bridge over the gulf between the West and Islam. “I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear,” he said.

Mr. Obama’s kowtow to the mullahs in Iran told the Islamic world that he endorsed the ascendance of the radical Islamic regime as the pre-eminent regional power. The Iran nuclear agreement, which Mr. Trump has called “the worst deal ever,” would soon follow, ensuring that the United States and the West would inevitably one day soon face a nuclear-armed enemy.

Mr. Trump has made it clear he intends to correct the imbalance Mr. Obama created in the region by favoring Iran over Saudi Arabia, despite the corrupt mullahs’ 40-year war on the United States. In dramatic contrast, the White House announced with Mr. Trump’s arrival a $350 billion, 10-year arms deal with Riyadh that includes warships for the Saudi navy, personnel carriers for its army, heavy munitions and missile-defense systems.

The muffling of American might that Mr. Obama called “leading from behind” has vanished and in its place stands an unapologetic approach to the Middle East, perhaps best summed up by the U.S. Marine motto offered by James Mattis, the new secretary of Defense: “No better friend; no worse enemy.”

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