President Trump addressed Arab leaders Sunday on his first foreign trip as President of the United States.
He issued a stiff warning to those who harbor terrorists, establishing his foreign policy doctrine as one of zero tolerance for supporters of radical Islamic terrorism.
“Barbarism will deliver you no glory – piety to evil will bring you no dignity,” Trump said. “If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and your soul will be condemned.”
This tone differed greatly from Barack Obama’s first presidential speech to the Arab world, which took place early in Obama’s first term in June of 2009. In it, Obama used a more conciliatory tone, touching on America’s troubled past in the Middle East and condemning anti-Muslim sentiment around the world.
“I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear,” Obama said at the time.
The contrast between the two speeches highlight the stark difference between Obama’s approach to foreign policy and Trump’s mentality. While Obama offered an olive branch to Muslim countries including Iran, Trump rebuked the Iranian regime and issued a stern warning to other Muslim leaders that, “there can be no tolerating it [terrorism], no accepting it, no excusing it, and no ignoring it”.
It would be nearly seven years after his speech in Cairo until Obama got his Iran deal, but it is clear that this speech set the tone for his foreign policy in the Middle East over the next two terms. Time will tell if Trump’s speech will manifest into action over the coming months.