President Donald Trump delivered the first major foreign policy speech of his tenure Sunday evening in Riyadh, discussing his vision for how America should conduct its international affairs.
America will engage with the world through the lens of a “Principled Realism,” Trump explained, “rooted in common values and shared interests.”
The president delivered on a crucial campaign promise to identify the global jihadist movement as one of the key threats to world stability. Speaking in Saudi Arabia, in front of the leaders of dozens of Muslim nations, Trump called upon the world to “drive out” the “Islamic terror” movements that persist within their countries.
“The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams,” he proclaimed.
In labeling the enemies of world order as “Islamic” terrorists, he diverted from prepared remarks that referenced “Islamist” terrorists. The departure is significant. Defining the enemy as “Islamic” signals a call for reform within the religion, while labeling the enemy as “Islamist” refers to a violent supremacist political ideology.
The president demanded that leaders confront “the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamist and Islamic terror of all kinds.”
“And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians,” he added.
Delivering an impassioned plea to his counterparts in the Muslim world, he argued that “a better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists.”
“Drive. Them. Out!” the president exclaimed. “Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land, and drive them out of this earth.”
Marking a departure from the Obama administration’s coziness with Iran, Trump highlighted the threat posed by the Iranian regime and its proxies in Lebanese Hezbollah and the Houthis of Yemen. He called on American allies to isolate the Iranian regime and stop it in its quest for global dominance.
“From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror,” President Trump said. “It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.”
The president called upon “nations of conscience” to “work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.”
Trump will wrap up his visit to Saudi Arabia this evening and depart for Israel, where he will spend the next two days.
Editor’s note: This piece has been updated to correct typographical errors.