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Monday, May 22, 2017

The Daily Combover - May 22, 2017

In 1932, Ibn Saud completed his quest of reconquering his family's ancestral home of Riyadh. There he build a massive palace that has served as the capital of his Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the last 85 years.  Following his death one of his sons after the other assumed power with the most recent transition occurring two years ago when Crown Prince Salman replaced King Abdullah.  That line of succession ends with Salman and the next generation, the grandchildren of Ibn Saud take over.

Trump bows to King Salman as he receives a welcome gift.

Today the Saudi family has more than 15,000 members, but only about 10-15% have control over the power and wealth of the family. And for 300 years, they have used that wealth and power to shape the Arab World.

The legacy of the Saudi family goes back almost 300 years when they formed their first Emirate as they consolidated power in an independent Arab state separated from the Ottoman Empire.  As their power grew, they turned to a radical form of Islam in the 1800s, Wahhabism, which most scholars agree is the root of modern day Islamist terrorism.

An oversimplification of the Arab conflict is that the two largest sects of Islam: Sunni and Shiite (or Shia) have competed since the death of their prophet, Muhammad, more than 1300 years ago.  Today the two main faces of that conflict are Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and Iran (Shia).  Thus, it is in Saudi Arabia's interest to see Shia terrorists like Hizbullah be weakened while Sunni terrorists are largely ignored by the Saudis.

So as we turn to Trump's speech, remember that our vision of a terror-free world does not line up with theirs. For brevity's sake we won't address the entire speech, instead we'll focus on its two main themes: economic cooperation and terrorism.

In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America’s oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust.
Our vision is one of peace, security, and prosperity—in this region, and in the world.
Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God.
And so this historic and unprecedented gathering of leaders—unique in the history of nations—is a symbol to the world of our shared resolve and our mutual respect. To the leaders and citizens of every country assembled here today, I want you to know that the United States is eager to form closer bonds of friendship, security, culture and commerce.
For Americans, this is an exciting time. A new spirit of optimism is sweeping our country: in just a few months, we have created almost a million new jobs, added over 3 trillion dollars of new value, lifted the burdens on American industry, and made record investments in our military that will protect the safety of our people and enhance the security of our wonderful friends and allies – many of whom are here today.
Here are the net job creation totals during the Trump era:
February 2017 - 232K
March 2017 - 79K
April 2017 - 211K

Total =  522,000 -- but I guess that rounds up to a million.

And for those of you scratching your heads about $3T in "new value," he's talking about Wall Street gains.
Now, there is even more blessed news I am pleased to share with you. My meetings with King Salman, the Crown Prince, and the Deputy Crown Prince, have been filled with great warmth, good will, and tremendous cooperation.
Yesterday, we signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.
This landmark agreement includes the announcement of a $110 billion Saudi-funded defense purchase – and we will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defense companies. This agreement will help the Saudi military to take a greater role in security operations.
Any rich person can tell you that they didn't get rich by giving things away. Then again, Trump is a Fox News viewer's idea of a rich person, so go figure.
We have also started discussions with many of the countries present today on strengthening partnerships, and forming new ones, to advance security and stability across the Middle East and beyond.
Later today, we will make history again with the opening of a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology – located right here, in this central part of the Islamic World. This groundbreaking new center represents a clear declaration that Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combatting radicalization, and I want to express our gratitude to King Salman for this strong demonstration of leadership.
I have had the pleasure of welcoming several of the leaders present today to the White House, and I look forward to working with all of you.
America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens. We are not here to lecture—we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership – based on shared interests and values – to pursue a better future for us all.
Here at this summit we will discuss many interests we share together. But above all we must be united in pursuing the one goal that transcends every other consideration. That goal is to meet history’s great test—to conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism.  
 And here we go with the next theme: terrorism.
America has suffered repeated barbaric attacks – from the atrocities of September 11th to the devastation of the Boston Bombing, to the horrible killings in San Bernardino and Orlando.
The nations of Europe have also endured unspeakable horror. So too have the nations of Africa and even South America. India, Russia, China and Australia have been victims.
But, in sheer numbers, the deadliest toll has been exacted on the innocent people of Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern nations. They have borne the brunt of the killings and the worst of the destruction in this wave of fanatical violence.
Some estimates hold that more than 95 percent of the victims of terrorism are themselves Muslim.
The potential of this region has never been greater. 65 percent of its population is under the age of 30. Like all young men and women, they seek great futures to build, great national projects to join, and a place for their families to call home.
But this untapped potential, this tremendous cause for optimism, is held at bay by bloodshed and terror. There can be no coexistence with this violence.
There can be no tolerating it, no accepting it, no excusing it, and no ignoring it.
Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith.
Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death.
If we do not act against this organized terror, then we know what will happen. Terrorism’s devastation of life will continue to spread. Peaceful societies will become engulfed by violence. And the futures of many generations will be sadly squandered.
If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing—then not only will we be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God.
This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations.
This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.
This is a battle between Good and Evil.
When we see the scenes of destruction in the wake of terror, we see no signs that those murdered were Jewish or Christian, Shia or Sunni. When we look upon the streams of innocent blood soaked into the ancient ground, we cannot see the faith or sect or tribe of the victims – we see only that they were Children of God whose deaths are an insult to all that is holy.
I've clipped out a bit of the speech but Trump has made it very clear that he wants to see Christians, Jews, and Muslims come together to fight terrorism in the name of God. That's why his trip is taking him to the home of the holiest places in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.  And it also means his trademarked, "Radical Islamic Terrorism" spell that will defeat ISIS has been abandoned.
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 DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH.
For our part, America is committed to adjusting our strategies to meet evolving threats and new facts. We will discard those strategies that have not worked—and will apply new approaches informed by experience and judgment. We are adopting a Principled Realism, rooted in common values and shared interests.
Our friends will never question our support, and our enemies will never doubt our determination. Our partnerships will advance security through stability, not through radical disruption. We will make decisions based on real-world outcomes – not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking. And, wherever possible, we will seek gradual reforms – not sudden intervention.
We must seek partners, not perfection—and to make allies of all who share our goals.
I am proud to announce that the nations here today will be signing an agreement to prevent the financing of terrorism, called the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center – co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia, and joined by every member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. It is another historic step in a day that will be long remembered.
Let's compare that to his speech in Israel.
Did you see the guy on the right side? My feelings exactly.
This is a land filled with beauty, wonder, and the spirit of God.  I've been amazed by the glorious and beautiful monuments and holy sites, and the generosity of your incredible people.  Because it's all about the people.  I was deeply moved by my visit today to the Western Wall.  Words fail to capture the experience.  It will leave an impression on me forever. 
Today, we reaffirmed the unbreakable bond of friendship between Israel and the United States -- a friendship built on our shared love of freedom, our shared belief in human dignity, and our shared hope for an Israel at lasting peace.  We want Israel to have peace.
But we are more than friends.  We are great allies.  We have so many opportunities in front of us.  But we must seize them together.  We must take advantage of the situation, and there are many, many things that can happen now that would never have been able to happen before.  And we understand that very well.  That includes advancing prosperity, defeating the evils of terrorism, and facing the threat of an Iranian regime that is threatening the region and causing so much violence and suffering. 
Of interest here is that the greatest threat on a daily basis to Israelis is Hamas terrorism. Hamas is a Sunni group and was noticeably left out of his speech in Saudi Arabia.  In that one, he instead named the Shia Hezbullah terrorists.  But that's not a surprise given that Hamas receives direct support from Saudi Arabia.

It's possible that ISIS will eventually supplant Hamas -- especially given that Trump ruined the main source of Israeli intel on ISIS, and then made sure everyone knew that he didn't really care about what he did though Bibi's face tells the whole story:

During my travels, I have seen many hopeful signs that lead me to believe that we can truly achieve a more peaceful future for this region and for people of all faiths and all beliefs and, frankly, all over the world.
In my visit to Saudi Arabia, I met with many leaders of the Arab and Muslim world, including King Salman, who treated us so beautifully and really wants to see great things happen for the world.  He really does.  I got to know him well, and he really does.
These leaders voiced concerns we all share -- about ISIS, about Iran’s rising ambitions and rolling back its gains, and about the menace of extremism that has spread through too many parts of the Muslim world.  I’m encouraged that they pledge cooperation to confront terrorism and the hateful ideology that drives it so hard.  America welcomes the action and support of any nation willing to do the hard but vital work in eradicating the violent ideologies that have caused so much needless bloodshed and killing here and all over the world.
Again, nothing about Hamas or other Sunni terrorists. It all comes down to Iran. Saudi Arabia wants to see Iran's power wane.  And for his part, Netanyahu has stayed in power by building up the Iranian boogeyman as the stuff of nightmares.
We are willing to work together.  I believe that a new level of partnership is possible and will happen -- one that will bring greater safety to this region, greater security to the United States, and greater prosperity to the world.  This includes a renewed effort at peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I thank the Prime Minister for his commitment to pursuing the peace process.  He’s working very hard at it.  It’s not easy.  I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually, I hope.
I'm not sure Trump knows who he is talking to. The Two-State Solution had been the cornerstone of Israeli-Palestinian relations since the Madrid talks in 1991, but Bibi has walked away from all of that. Tomorrow I expect a statement from Trump saying something to the effect of, 'I had no idea it would be so difficult.'
I’m certain we will have very productive discussions.  And we’re going to have very productive discussions, in my opinion, with the leaders of other nations also.  And I feel strongly about that, because there’s a lot of love out there.  And people from all nations, even nations that you would be surprised to hear, they want to stop the killing.  They’ve had enough.  
America stands ready to assist in every way we can.  Our deep and lasting friendship will only grow deeper and stronger as we work together in the days ahead.  I thank you again for hosting us in this beautiful and ancient land.  Truly, it’s a land of wonders.  And it’s my honor to be here with you. 
Even if Trump somehow lasts a full term, or God help us, two terms, he is far too ignorant of the historical power struggles to be able to push for any resolution in the Middle East.

Catch you on the flip side.

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