According to National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, President Trump will be giving an “inspiring yet direct” talk about Islam and the need to confront extremism during his trip to Saudi Arabia. McMaster said that more than fifty leaders of Muslim majority nations will be in attendance. He further stated that:
“The speech is intended to unite the broader Muslim world against common enemies of all civilization and to demonstrate America’s commitment to our Muslim partners.”
The following is the hypothetical speech that the author believes Donald Trump should be giving.
“Ladies and gentlemen, what better way to begin this than with the words Muslims all over the world use to greet each other: Peace be on you. For it is the quest for peace that brings us together here and on which our collective futures depend.
I understand that there is much awkwardness in this room right now and I wish to address it. During my campaign I made many remarks regarding Islam and Muslims that were both prejudicial and poorly worded. I wish to unconditionally apologize for those statements which encouraged xenophobia and have undoubtedly contributed to anti-Muslim animus in my country.
I feel ashamed of myself when I recall an interview in which I said: “I think Islam hates us”. I recognize it as both foolish and dangerous. I hope that you and Muslims across the world will find it in your hearts to forgive me.
I believe that the only way it is possible for us to succeed in our endeavor is if we proceed with complete honesty and disclosure. We must not omit or obfuscate actions on the part of any of us that have contributed to the problem of violent extremism. We have to accept past transgressions and validate grievances and traumas. Only than can we begin to heal and unite the schisms that extremism thrives on.
In that vein, let me start with some of you here. In regards to the policies of my hosts the Al Saud family and King Al Khalifa of Bahrain, I have some serious concerns.
Your majesties, the world is well aware of the state of human rights in your countries. The treatment of minorities, political prisoners and the incredibly disproportionate amount of wealth that a handful of elite families have usurped in your nations is tragic and unacceptable.
The anti-Shia obsession of your regimes is widely known. So much of sectarian hatred in the world is disseminated with the petrodollar and starts from your palaces and councils. How can we expect to curb entities like Daesh and Al Qaeda when their main recruiting slogan-the hatred and demonization of Shia Muslims-is your orthodoxy?
Religious schools funded by your money are teaching hate and intolerance from Mogadishu to Jakarta and Manchester to Karachi. You are contributing actively to terrorism worldwide. This cannot go on, it is unconscionable.
General Sisi, your massacres of civilian protesters in the summer of 2013 are one of the darkest chapters of Egyptian history. You are incarcerating and murdering political opponents and democracy is as good as dead an buried in your nation.
You are doing what your predecessors Gemal Nasser and Hosni Mubarak did: you are creating terrorism. Through kidnapping, torture and silencing your military has cultivated extremist off shoots of the Muslim Brotherhood and other religious organizations.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, you have failed abysmally in doing anything about the propagation and funding of extremism in your country.
India, Afghanistan, China and India have all complained repeatedly about the sanctuary and assistance that extremists seem to perpetually find within your borders.
Your military continues to patronize militants fighting in Kashmir and this self-defeating idiocy will always sabotage any measures taken to curb sectarian and other religiously themed violence.
Finally, I would be amiss if I did not talk about the role of my own nation in the genesis of violent extremism. We sabotaged democracy in Iran in 1953. We have consistently been selling arms to the most brutal and oppressive regimes in the Muslim world. We court kings and dictators who are slaughtering their own people and provide them the means to do so.
The very epicenter of modern religiously themed militancy is Afghanistan. We published elementary school textbooks for generations of Afghan children that contained calls for holy war. That had images of weapons corresponding to letters of the pashto alphabet. That glorified killing in the name of God.
In our obsession with destroying the USSR we played a central role in creating religious extremism and modern terrorism. And then we invaded Iraq under false pretenses in 2003 and poured gasoline on the fire we had already lit.
Ladies and gentleman I cannot even begin to describe the horrors we have unleashed with the Iraq invasion and the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya. Where there were no terrorist organizations prior to our intervention there are now enough to fill an encyclopedia.
Now, coming to the question of Daesh. This wild goose chase we have been embarking on that reduces everything to ideology and focuses on this quack remedy of “deradicalization” must be acknowledged to be the farce it is.
Daesh get weapons from somewhere. They get money, they get recruits. We cannot continue to insult the intelligence of the world by telling them one day Abu Bakr al Baghdadi dreamed all this up in a military prison. We must follow the money trail, the arms trail and the recruit trail.
We are dealing with individuals and groups and their enablers. What idiocy it is to chase the smoke trails of ideology while ignoring realpolitik, invasions and what is currently happening on the ground in Iraq and Syria.
Someone is aiding and abetting this criminal enterprise. It is imperative that we start to follow a logical and evidence-based methodology in fighting terrorism. It is time we abandoned the ill-conceived and perilous idiocy of the “clash of civilizations” narrative.
So there you have it fellow leaders. If you have been looking for the root cause of this violence, if you have been wondering from whence it came, look no further than this room.
We have created this monster together. It did not leap out of the pages of the Quran or the imagination of the mafias that pretend to be religious knights. It came from oppression, persecution, torture, murder, intrigue and war. It came from our greed, our apathy and our lust for power.
Let us begin the process of telling the truth and holding ourselves accountable. There lies the road to peace.”