By Saagar Enjeti, DCNF
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates contrasted President Donald Trump’s Sunday speech on Islam to the 2009 Cairo speech by former President Barack Obama, at a Foundation for Defense of Democracies conference Tuesday.
“It clearly set us on a different, and in my view better path, than President Obama’s Cairo speech,” Gates declared.
Gates characterized Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech as “basically … put the responsibility on the U.S. for things that had gone wrong.” He contrasted the speech to Trump’s who he thought “put the responsibility on the government’s of [Muslim] countries.”
Gates comments are particularly remarkable since he served as secretary of defense under Obama at the time of the speech. Obama sought to use the 2009 speech to redefine the U.S. relationship with the Muslim world. Trump sought to use his speech to mobilize action by Islamic governments against radical Islamic extremists.
Gates characterized Trump’s speech as “pretty good,” saying “this is good versus evil, you know who these people are, and drive them out.”
He continued, “one of the things I liked about the speech is the onus it placed on governments of Islamic countries” adding that these countries need to act against Islamic terrorist groups.
“They need to take steps internally and be more aggressive in rooting these people out,” Gates said of Islamic governments.
Trump’s speech emphasized to Muslim countries that “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.” He continued, “it is a choice between two futures—and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you.”
Obama’s speech conversely declared “I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition.”
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