Category Archives: Conflict with Islam

President Trump at the UN, September 19, 2017 – Annotated

President Trump’s statement to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 19, 2017, as prepared for delivery.

Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates: Welcome to New York. It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city, as a representative of the American people, to address the people of the world.

As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country , I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid. The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

The devastating hurricanes struck several small countries in the Caribbean but Trump does not even mention those countries. Did the US offer them special aid?

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th . The stock market is at an all-time high — a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before. Companies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time. And it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense.

Fortunately for the US but not necessarily for people in the rest of the world, and why should the rest of the world care?

Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been. For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements, and religions have stood before this assembly. Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed.

Our military has been by far the largest in the world for decades. This comes across as an implicit threat: “and we will not hesitate to use it against anyone who crosses us”.

We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity. Breakthroughs in science, technology, and medicine are curing illnesses and solving problems that prior generations thought impossible to solve.

But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value. Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet. Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.

Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.

International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders; and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.

To put it simply, we meet at a time of both of immense promise and great peril. It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights, or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.

We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.

This institution was founded in the aftermath of two world wars to help shape this better future. It was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security, and promote their prosperity.

It was in the same period, exactly 70 years ago, that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe. Those three beautiful pillars — they’re pillars of peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity.

Three beautiful pillars? I count four.

The Marshall Plan was built on the noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free. As President Truman said in his message to Congress at that time, “Our support of European recovery is in full accord with our support of the United Nations. The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members.

The success of the UN depends on ALL its members, not just European ones.

To overcome the perils of the present and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past. Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world.

We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government. But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation. This is the beautiful vision of this institution, and this is foundation for cooperation and success.

The UN vision and charter are about relationships AMONG countries, not about what happens inside countries other than for fundamental human rights, and most definitely not about commercial or power interests. Trump explicitly places self-interest before global interest and then claims implicitly in the last sentence that this prioritization is the UN’s “beautiful vision”. It is absolutely NOT. The word “strong” does not occur anywhere in the UN charter.

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Memorial Day, USA

Bernard,

I had planned to post on other topics this weekend – obsolete states’ rights, Krugman re Trump and economics – but this fiery Guardian article about Memorial Day has stopped me in my tracks. Here are two core paragraphs from it:

Trump has said he “will be so good at the military, your head will spin”. Sure, how hard can it be? This rich man’s son who was never in the military, who in fact used student deferments (four) and a case of heel spurs to avoid Vietnam. He did, however, attend a military-style prep school in his teens, and therefore “always felt that I was in the military”, while sleeping around during his bachelor days, risking venereal disease, was “scary, like Vietnam” and “my personal Vietnam”. Senator John McCain, former combat naval aviator who nearly died in service and was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for over five years, repeatedly refusing offers of early release in order to stay with his comrades, is not, according to Trump, much of a soldier, whereas he, Trump, according to Trump, is the “most militaristic man in the room” whose yet-unspecified plans for taking on Isis would draw the approval of such lions as General Douglas MacArthur and General George Patton. And so on.

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True Islam or hypocritical Islam?

Wayne,

In your informative description (on this blog here) of Jessica Stern’s talk about Isis, she asserts that the Isis leaders are not genuine Muslims. Rather, she says, they are criminals, indeed I’d say, psychopaths, who have chosen the trappings of Islam to gain supporters. She says that she differs in this from Graeme Wood, who wrote the excellent article in Atlantic that you reference.

I don’t claim to be an expert in this issue, either the question of who is a Muslim or who is any other particular religion. I tend to take people’s word as to what they are and what they believe. Many religious people consider who is or isn’t a genuine member of their own religion to be a serious issue, and history shows that they are willing to kill one another over this question. Indeed, the rise of ISIS involves just such a question, within Islam. The ISIS murderers assert that they are genuine Muslims and other people who live within their grasp who claim to be Muslims are false Muslims or apostates. Of course, those Muslims say the same about the ISIS thugs.

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Jessica Stern Regarding ISIS

Bernard,

Last evening I went to a talk by Jessica Stern at the Concord MA bookshop. She and J. M. Berger have a new book titled ISIS: The State of Terror. I bought a copy which she signed. Upwards of 50 people were there.

Jessica Stern grew up in Concord MA. She lectures at Harvard, has authored four books of which three are on Mideast terrorism, is an associate at the Hoover Institution, and advises the US State Department on what to do about terrorism.

She described how today’s ISIS was already present in Iraq 10 years ago, beheading people and filming it, but all of it done very crudely at the time. The precursor was run by a common street criminal who became a “born again” pure Muslim. Bin Laden couldn’t tolerate him at first.

She said the US State Department, middle-aged and with good intentions, hasn’t a clue about how to use social media to counteract ISIS’s highly skilled use of media; young knowledgeable people need to be enlisted for that. Further, the word needs to get back out about what ISIS is really like – for example, recruited “jihadi wives” are actually shuttled from man to man, not wed to one jihadi. She said that ISIS is very much like identity Christianity.

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What Friedman neglects to mention.

Wayne,

Thomas Friedman describes the bloody chaotic situation in the Middle East, but he neglects to mention some important matters.

One of these is that he has been a strong supporter of the policies that he says have led us and the locals to this mess. For example, he was a big supporter of Pres. George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq. There were plenty of people who opposed that invasion, such as Friedman’s colleague at the Times, Paul Krugman.

Another matter he omits to mention is that President Obama’s foreign policy in the region is similar to what Friedman urges. But why does he write as if he is proposing some new good idea? Why not credit President Obama, who is refusing to invade Iraq again to get rid of ISIS on the same grounds as Friedman urges: the locals have to want to defend their own societies in order that our, outside help can be effective.

Bernard

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Thomas Friedman on the Middle East

Bernard,

Thomas Friedman’s May 27 New York Times op-ed Contain and Amplify captures almost all of what I think about the Middle East.

My comments on it: The European nations, principally the UK, drew straight lines in the sand some 100 years ago to create, for their own benefit, most of these now-chaotic Middle Eastern “nations”. The US with help from the UK decapitated Iran in the early 1950s. Since then the US has unilaterally corrupted Saudi Arabia, invaded Afghanistan in revenge, invaded and decapitated Iraq, and decapitated Libya, all in blatant violation of our covenants with the United Nations (and all in disregard of Christian values). Not to say that other nations have been angels in the meantime; consider for example which among them are selling arms and ammunition to ISIS today.

In sum, much of what we fear and fight today was of our own predatory and lawless making starting decades ago. Who is the US then to condemn or dismiss the Middle Eastern people for lawlessness, chaos, and the desperate violence that we reflexively label “terrorism”? Could there be any more powerful statement of powerlessness and hopelessness than suicide bombing?

Wayne

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