America’s foreign policy is often a subject of massive criticism in the world outside the United States. One of the biggest areas of criticism is the US set of policies for the Middle East, most notably Saudi Arabia and Israel. Not only are these policies severely criticized by non-Israel-aligned countries there, but the mainstream American media waxes hot and cold by turns on the matter.
So when news came that President Trump was standing by the alliance with Saudi Arabia, despite information that strongly suggests that the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (“MBS”) was involved in the assassination of dissedent Muslim Brotherhood member Ahmal Khashoggi in Istanbul on 2 October this year, the criticism directed against the President was fiercely expressed by the newsmedia in their questions.
When asked why the US was not dropping MBS like a hot potato, Mr. Trump’s answer was unequivocal:
“Because it’s America first for me. It’s all about America first. We are not going to give up hundreds of billions of dollars in orders, and let Russia and China and everybody else have them. It’s all about, for me, very simple; it’s America first.
Saudi Arabia, if we broke with them, I think your oil prices would go through the roof. I’ve kept them down; they have helped me keep them down; right now we have low oil prices or relatively – I’d like to see [them] go down even lower. But I think that it’s a very simple equation for me: I’m about – Make America Great Again, and I am about America first.”
What is refreshing about the President’s response is how unequivocally he stated every single thing that most politicians try to dodge when it comes to Saudi Arabia and the dirty alliance the United States has with that country – a nation that is one of the most oppressive in the world. Further, an official statement from the White House by the President drove his point of view home even more clearly, this time in print, with this excerpted, (emphasis added):
The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone. Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body.
Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!
That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!
I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction – and they are free to do so. I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America. After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels – so important for the world. As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!
The alliance with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan and Israel that the US holds is, as the president stated, directed to counter the “threat” from Iran, as well as to keep American power in a region that Russia and China would love to have as customers for military hardware, which is big money for the Americans.
Whether Iran is a threat or not, the clarity of position the President offered is very helpful to those aligned with his ideas and those who disagree.
However, the President also spoke a bit about Iran, noting that they are not quite “as bad as they were before”, and expressed again the hope of making a real well-negotiated deal with this country, which is still completely vilified by the American news media. Even the liberal media is not too interested in touting the peaceful nature of Iran and her people, showing that even when many people know this is not an accurate story, it is still a useful one to prop up the American position in the world.
That being said, an Iran that agrees to negotiate with the American president would likely benefit, as has been shown in the case of North Korea, whose progress towards denuclearization continues.
However, the alliance with Saudi Arabia is a source of concern. The Wahabism that dominates Saudi Islam produced the 9-11 attackers, and Osama bin Laden in particular. Mohammed bin Salman was trying to dismantle this severe Islamic worldview, but Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi was a Muslim Brotherhood-aligned critic of the crown prince, and was at odds with the prince’s reforms. Khashoggi favored the institution of Islam by a democratic process, and considered MBS to be instituting a “new radicalism” that was “just as intolerant of dissent” as the Wahabist institution currently in place in the nation.
Given the extremely turbulent history that the United States has had with militant Islam, it is bewildering as to why the US maintains its alliance with this country which has acted friendly with its money while aiding and abetting the means of the destruction of the US as well.
But President Trump cannot be faulted for lying about the explanation. For him, it is about America first, money and oil. And his stance about maintaining this alliance, though he tacitly admits it is a lousy kind of alliance to have, is that it is better for the United States to keep this relationship despite the risks it brings.
Fox News’ Sean Hannity commented on his program that the President is correct.
Using the models of history, Hannity pointed out the need for the Americans to strike an alliance with Josef Stalin during World War II, who is reputed to have put more of his own people in the Soviet Union to death than Adolf Hitler could have dreamed about. However, the alliance was needed because the American nation was under threat. Mr. Hannity’s explanation is detailed as one can learn from watching the video.
What this says is nothing new, but it is stated extremely clearly in this situation, which is possibly a step forward. President Trump acknowledged that the alliance is with a bad actor, but a needed one. That is quite significant. Hannity has been openly critical of Saudi Arabia, but the truth remains that Saudis would give their business to someone else if the US cut them off, and the end result would be worse without them.
While there is plenty of evidence – much of it printed here at The Duran to show that there are definitely more truthful geopolitical alliances that many people would prefer, this transparency on the part of the American president does a lot to clear away the “wall of denial” that the American government usually carries about this. Perhaps these statements by the US president will also put the Saudis on notice, because the open acknowledgement that something is wrong with the alliance may help spur some sort of correction, lest worldwide pressure be brought to bear in an effective manner. We can only wait and watch to see what happens.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.