Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trump vs. Iran in Saudi Arabia

The opening portion on Trump's current international tour show has not been encouraging.

Fred Kaplan writes of the President's speech on Islam while he was in Saudi Arabia (Trump’s Sunni Strategy Slate 05/22/2017):

... read closely, without a grading curve, the speech was by turns shallow, clichéd, and repellent. Even the few times when its authors approached a bold theme, they veered away, lest it soften the visit’s three main missions: to assure the region’s Sunni leaders that they can run their countries and oppress their critics with no finger-wagging from Washington; to wrap up a massive $110 billion sale of American weapons; and to declare war on Iran, or at least unabashed hostility toward its regime.
Haroon Moghul also has some harsh words for it in While Trump Ingratiates Himself With Saudi Extremists, U.S. Muslims Are Abandoned Haaretz 05/21/2017:

Trump praised Saudi Arabia while denouncing Iran, even as millions of Iranians participated in an election which makes that country more democratic, at least, than almost any of the countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council. A speech that began ostensibly with a message of peace and love ended by arguing for the isolation and demonization of Iran.
Far from actually fighting terrorism, Trump’s speech promises to make conditions in the Middle East worse for everyone.
Trump professed love, the common roots of the Abrahamic faiths, and called us the children of God. Unless, of course, you’re a refugee, in which case Trump wants to slam the door shut in your face. He made no mention of banning citizens of Muslim-majority nations from traveling to the United States, either.
Terrorism is not a cause of the Middle East’s backwardness. It is a symptom. Terrorism is a non-state response to overly centralized states, which leave no room for political, religious or social diversity.
That Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric was not merely campaign bluster is clear in the policies he’s proposed and supported: Islamophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic, anti-immigrant and anti-science.
... we are doubling down on an historic American-Saudi partnership that has not only prevented the rise of extremism, but has been unable to prevent the fracture of the Middle East.

This is where somebody says, "Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?"

Jaun Cole was also not impressed with the content of Trump's speech (Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi’ism 05/22/2017):

Trump seems to think that pumping $110 bn in new shiny weapons into a volatile Middle East will lead to peace! If there is any sure correlate of war, it is massive purchases by one regional power of new armaments. You have to use them while you have the advantage or your rivals also acquire them.

For Trump to attack Iran, which just had a popular election where the electorate bucked the choice of the Leader, from Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy where the populace have no rights, is weird.

The American Right is deeply implicated in radicalizing Muslims. Afghan Islam was radicalized by the Reagan jihad against the Soviet Union. Eisenhower and Reagan both attempted to enlist Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabism against Communism. Most Palestinians were secular or mainstream until the Israelis cultivated Hamas as an alternative to the PLO.

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