CHARLOTTE, N.C., January 22, 2017 – Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address may have been short in length and short on eloquence, but it was vintage Trump and it was in no way vague. Opposition critics in the discredited media were quick to characterize the speech “dark” and “un-American.” Said one observer, “If he had gone any longer, he would have run out of vocabulary.”
Perhaps. But John F. Kennedy was eloquent. So, too, was Barack Obama, when he wanted to be, but as we so frequently saw under the previous president, words were his only weapon most of the time.
In his first fifteen minutes in office, Donald J. Trump called ISIS “evil” and boldly stated, “We will unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.”
Those three words “radical Islamic terrorism” must have made Barack Obama’s skin crawl because they were taboo for eight years under his leadership.
Chances are high that “eradicating terrorism from the face of the earth” is more likely a talking point than a reality. But, at least give Trump credit if he is willing to try.
Like so many Americans, Trump’s understanding of how Islam works and what motivates its true believers is lacking at this moment. Radical jihadists follow the words as written in the Koran. They are Muhammad’s guide book for Muslims to follow each and every day. Those ideas and ideals have been around for 1,400 years and. Since their “success” in 9/11/01, extremists the likes of ISIS, Boko Haram, what’s left of Al Qaeda and other murderous radicals have been emboldened as never before.
Trump may seek to eliminate extremist Islamic ideology from the map, but this will be virtually impossible, given the number of true believers that exist. What Trump can do however, is slow the relentless process of Islamic radicalization while simultaneously forcing the Western world think more clearly about dealing with the problem.
Everyone knows the cockroaches of terror strike when the lights are dim and when the world least expects it. If Trump can find new ways to expose terrorist plots and make them aware that we know as much about them as they know about us, there is a solid chance of reducing the threat even if it cannot be eliminated entirely.
In a foreign policy speech last April, Trump declared of ISIS, “Their days are numbered. I won’t tell them where and I won’t tell them how. We have to be unpredictable, and we have to be unpredictable starting now. But they’re going to be gone. ISIS will be gone if I’m elected president.”
The operative word is “unpredictable.” Trump is an American and yet he himself, is so “unpredictable” that even the mainstream media in his own country could not, and still hasn’t been able to “figure him out.”
How, then, can ISIS expect to know when, where and how the new president is going to respond?
Perhaps Trump’s rhetoric is hyperbolic and excessive. Most likely his bold promise cannot be completely fulfilled, at least in the short term. But how truly satisfying it is to, at long last, hear an American president inspire his fellow Americans to feel that we do not have to apologize for our existence?
Calling ISIS “evil” is not unlike Ronald Reagan calling Russia the “evil empire.” Sure, Communism still exists. But Reagan did tear down the Berlin wall slightly after his presidency ended, and the Communist threat is no longer the same as it was during the Cold War.
Trump can do something similar to radical Islam. In so-doing, he may even be able to sway some of the so-called “moderate Muslims” to rethink the approach to their faith.
If Donald Trump’s work ethic during the final days of the campaign, the transition to the presidency and his first days in office offer any indication of how hard he will work for the American people, then bring it on. Even his staff may have trouble competing with his seemingly boundless energy.
Like all great leaders in the clubhouse, if they can lead by example, others will follow them to the ends of the earth.
In 2017, what Americans really want most is for someone, anyone, to try to make things better for everyone. If Donald Trump can do that through his actions and deeds, his presidency will be a success. And who knows,? Terrorism might, at the very least, begin to seem like a thing of the past.
*Cartoon by Branco. Reproduced with permission and by arrangement with LegalInsurrection.
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Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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