Because They Are Hard

Trump's appeal to Muslim rulers is a long shot, but worth a try.

From the days the first settlers departed Europe for the shores of the New World, the most distinguishing characteristic of Americans has always been their optimism.

This makes sense: Pessimistic people do not get onto a tiny wooden ship, travel for months through storm-infested seas, to get to a "howling wilderness."  Worrywarts do not pack all their belongings into Conestoga wagons and seek more elbow room thousands of miles to the west.  As the old saying goes,

The cowards never started, and the weak died along the way.

Even generally practical, hard-nosed sorts might think twice before leading thirteen small, struggling colonies into a war against the largest empire in all of human history.  As our Founders well knew, democracies and republics tended throughout history to fail miserably, but they were optimistic enough to try their own twist on the idea, with resoundingly successful results.

Time after time, this inherent American optimism has led to stunning and historic successes; our records are filled with firsts and couldn't-be-dones.  President John F. Kennedy perhaps put it best when announcing yet another couldn't-be-done as a national goal:

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

A Bridge Too Far?

And then there are those times where optimism smashes into reality.  Many of our Founders recognized slavery for the evil that it was, but thought we would grow out of it peacefully over time; unfortunately, it took a bloody civil war to end the practice, and we've not fully recovered as a nation to this day.

George W. Bush got us into a fantastically expensive war in the Middle East that has accomplished nothing good and a fair bit of bad because his optimism misled him: He believed that a Muslim, like anyone else, wants freedom, and will cling to it when given the opportunity.

Unfortunately, he was wrong: having been liberated from a murderous but generally modern and well-organized dictator, large groups of Iraqis now align with the bloodthirsty barbarians of ISIS and Iran, the likes of which have not been seen in centuries.  The plain fact is that Iraq, and the world, would have been better off if Saddam Hussein were still in power.  Barack Obama didn't learn the lesson either: Libya would be better off with Gadhaffi running the place, though at least Obama wasted less money getting rid of him.

The More Things Change...

There is a reason why the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus said in 1391:

Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.

Six hundred years later, Pope Benedict XVI quoted His Imperial Highness, and the words were every whit as true today as they were centuries ago.  The Byzantines, for their part, were wiped out by soldiers of Islam, the Ottoman Turks, less than a lifetime after the Emperor made his observations.  Turkey, which Europeans used to point to as a sign that moderate Muslim regimes could exist, is monolithically Muslim and becoming more repressive by the day, even on American soil.

As, indeed, is nearly all of the Middle East, but as recently as 1500 years ago, the Middle East was almost entirely Christian.  Almost since its founding, Islam has spread, not by missionary efforts as with Christianity, but at the point of a sword.

We believe this barbarism, violence, inhumanity, and opposition to every sort of human rights is inherent in the teachings of Islam, as amply illustrated both in the Koran and in the actions of Muslims on our front pages every day.  That is why we argue that Islam is not a religion under the American Constitution - it refuses to acknowledge the right of other religions, or their adherents, even to exist!  It's no more a religion than Stalinism or Hitlerism, it's a political movement which uses religion as a motivator and guiding principle.


President George Bush demonstrated once and for all that Islam cannot be changed simply by granting Muslims the opportunity to do better.  It's barely possible that Islam can be led into the modern world by some of its own leaders.  This has happened with other groups with blood on their hands: Spanish military dictator Gen. Franco killed plenty of people, but by the time of his successors, Spain was ready to become the modern, free country it is today.

Donald Trump rightly recognizes that he is not going to be able to change evil Muslim hearts and minds any more than Barack Obama could with all his pandering or plane loads of cash sent to them by night.  It might just be, though, that his audience of Saudi royals is not as wholly dedicated to mass slaughter as so many of their fellow-religionists.  If Mr. Trump can cut a deal with them, they have the money, power, and most of all, religious credibility to make a difference.

So he bluntly asked them to:

Terrorism has spread across the world. But the path to peace begins right here, on this ancient soil, in this sacred land.

America is prepared to stand with you -- in pursuit of shared interests and common security.

But the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children.

It is a choice between two futures -- and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you.

A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out.

DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship.

DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities.

DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and


Death Wish and Life Wish

The evil murderers of Hamas boast that “We love death like our enemies love life!"  It's very hard to deal with someone who wants to die when you don't, other than by turning their communities to glass by raining fire from above.

If there are any Muslims who have every reason to live, though, it's the rulers of Saudi Arabia: they don't have to wait to get to paradise to get their 72 virgins or anything else they desire.  Yet for a century, the Saudis have used their vast wealth to spread the extremist beliefs of Wahhabism, which largely drives the monsters of ISIS.  We may never again favorably quote infamous far-leftist Noam Chomsky, but he's on target here:

Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.

When President George W. Bush famously said in response to terrorism, "You are either with us or against us," the Saudis weren't listening.  Their support for Wahhabist missionary efforts has not stopped; intelligence reports constantly cite Saudi support for extremist mosques and madrassahs in the heart of the West and across the Third World.

Donald Trump knows the Arab princes perhaps better than any previous president: he's been doing business with them for years.  There is probably a level of personal acquaintance between them that we haven't seen before; previous Presidents Bush certainly knew the Saudis, but they'd dealt with them as high government officials on both sides.  Mr. Trump was until recently nothing more than a fairly wealthy and influential private citizen, which grants him and them a difference of perspective.

Will President Trump's exhortation to the leaders of Islam make any difference?  Who knows?  But it's worth a try, isn't it?  If nothing else, it's something new, low risk, and cheap.

Even the irredeemably biased media had a hard time portraying Mr. Trump as a clown in this case, so much so that CNN host John Berman rebuked veteran reporter Bob Schieffer for "normalizing the president."  Reality check, CNN: Donald Trump is the President, and that's going to be normal for the next four years if not longer.

We'd be more concerned about our treasonous media undermining the president's efforts abroad if we thought any of the major players paid them serious attention.  Clearly neither the Saudis nor the Israelis nor the Russians do, and with England and France reeling from ongoing terrorist attacks, the usual leftist assaults on our President emanating from across the pond may be subdued for awhile.

For the record, though, this is one time a little ridicule may be in order: The next time the Muslim world does what is civilized and sensible will be the first time in, oh, five hundred years or so.

But then, we probably would have been skeptical of planting our flag on the Moon by 1969 - and yet we did that, because a President inspired us to do it.  If Donald Trump can actually pull this off, he'll go down as the most optimistic American in all of history.

And if not?  Then perhaps five hundred years from now, some future pope will cite his words, and the history following, as yet more evidence that Islam is evil and inhuman.  Still, Donald, we appreciate your trying!  What a yuuuge and artful deal that would be!

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments

I was kind of surprised that President Trump made it his first foreign trip. The recently released " hidden pages" of the 9/11 report show that they came very close to aiding and abetting Mr Bin Laden. The fig leaf was that some minor officials did work with the bombers, but didn't know what they were really up to. If you work for an absolute monarch, career security dictates that you understand his preferences. It seemed that some of those officials thought killing innocent Americans was part of the Royal Agenda.
The Saudis are in a different place now. Oil scaricity has turned into an oil glut and they realize they will have to do more than drill holes in the ground to maintain their rule. They want to take Aramco public and they know they will need Wall Street to maximize value. Being known as they destroyers of the World Trade Center won't help. Agree that Trump took a worthwhile risk. And he may be better able to pull it off since the Saudis and the Gulf States need us more than ever.

May 27, 2017 6:13 PM

"When President George W. Bush famously said in response to terrorism, "You are either with us or against us," the Saudis weren't listening."

They were most certainly listening, and and they heard their well-meaning but entirely clueless rented puppet make sounds most pleasing to them.

"DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship."

That's no use when the place of worship keeps driving in the War On Infidel strategy, instruction and motivational manual, sometimes called the Koran.
The command to infiltrate, confuse and crush the non-muslim is the core purpose of the Koran and the example of Mohammad. The two roots that define Islam are the Koran and Mohammad.

May 29, 2017 10:11 PM
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