Trump's "Not Here to Lecture" Speech

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Peter Beinart of the Atlantic notes that President Trump outdid Barack Obama in terms of being "far more politically correct" during his speech in Riyadh than his bowing predecessor had been in a 2009 speech delivered in Cairo:

On the question of women's rights, it was much the same. Trump attacked jihadist terrorists for "the oppression of women." But he described King Salman's government as a virtual beacon of women's rights. "Saudi Arabia's Vision for 2030 is an important and encouraging statement of tolerance, respect, empowering women, and economic development," Trump declared. You would never have known that women in the Kingdom still can't drive.

Trump didn't even mention the words "democracy," "liberty," or "freedom." To the contrary, in a sentence that will bring grins to autocrats across the region, he declared that, "We are not here to lecture -- we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be."
Indeed, as Elan Journo of the Ayn Rand Institute recently argued, it would be far preferable for Trump to "disrupt" the "scandalous US-Saudi relationship":
For their own reasons, the Saudis hope for the defeat of Islamic State, and they oppose to the Middle East's other Islamic totalitarian regime, Iran. But it's perverse to ignore -- and effectively whitewash -- the Saudi regime's own malignant character, though that has been U.S. policy for years. After the attacks of 9/11 (in which 15 of the hijackers were Saudis), President George W. Bush embraced the Saudi regime, even hosting a member of the ruling family at his Texas ranch. President Obama, who bowed to the Saudi king, continued to afford the regime its undeserved standing as our ally.

America's policy toward Saudi Arabia betrays our values and enables a vicious regime. If President Trump cares about our founding ideal of individual rights, here's a chance for him to deliver by breaking up the perverse U.S.-Saudi relationship.
Do read the rest of the Journo piece for examples of this "malignant character," and reflect on the fact that Trump simply appearing there (as if this regime is a real ally) was bad enough whatever speech he might have given. The end of Beinart's piece is far from reassuring: If Trump wasn't being sincere with the Saudis, with whom has he ever been sincere?

-- CAV

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