The actions of the United States of America in the Middle East over the last four decades have revealed the effects of its ‘nation-building’ policies for just what they truly are. Ideals of ‘exporting freedom’, and, ‘bringing democracy to dictatorships’ (when it suits) are no more than propaganda slogans to cover the truth of global empire-building. America’s Middle Eastern foreign policies since Carter can best be described as fine examples of how things should NOT be done.
It’s hard to imagine that any wannabe U.S. president could conceive of a foreign policy even more inauspicious than those in play over the last forty years. Donald Trump has achieved it.
Trump’s supporters no doubt avidly anticipated his foreign policy speech in Ohio on Monday, hopeful of hearing a new way forward for America and the world, after the catastrophes of the last four decades.
From the first word, it was a speech designed to rouse the great unwashed and uneducated of America, and judging from the whoops of enthusiasm growing ever louder as the speaker progressed, it was an overwhelming success – at least in that one regard.
Sadly, for someone attempting to become ‘leader of the free world’, it turned out to be fifty minutes bereft of substance. The subject matter was clumsy: long tirades against Obama and Clinton, interspersed with bombastic notions of how he would send ISIS packing with it’s tail between it’s legs.
The audience loved to hear how, under Trump’s leadership, America would rapidly vanquish its enemies, end the curse of radical Islam, and bring peace and harmony flooding back into the nation, along with economic prosperity and the occasional Garden of Eden thrown in for good measure.
Unfortunately, though aspiring to mend ties with Russia and side with Assad until Syria was once more restored to order (both, incidentally, absolutely necessary for any chance of Middle Eastern stability), he then accused Iran of being the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism, a farcical notion that blew apart his whole Middle East policy, which was then compounded by the statement that it would all be achieved in partnership with America’s greatest friend and ally, Israel.
Obviously, Donald Trump doesn’t know his ‘Shia’ from his ‘Sunni’ if he believes it’s a plan that’ll work. He talked of help from “our friends and allies in the Middle East” by which one can only assume he meant Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia (presently negotiating a $1.5 billion arms purchase from the U.S.), probably a far greater sponsor of world terrorism than Shia Iran had ever been. Saudi Wahhabism is radical Islam that’s simply been honed a little to become the ideology of ISIS.
It’s unlikely Trump’s ever heard of Wahhabism. If he had he mightn’t be so keen to kiss the lips of the Saudi King Salman, as his Republican predecessor, George W Bush, was happy to do on camera with the late and unlamented, Abdullah…
…and that only shortly after the atrocity of 9/11, committed by a group of nineteen terrorists that included fifteen Saudi nationals.
Trump also spoke at length of al Qaeda being decimated in Iraq after the invasion of 2003, and only allowed to recoup by failures of the Obama/Clinton administration, post 2008. To those with no knowledge of recent history, it may have sounded plausible, but there was no al Qaeda in Iraq pre-2003. The Bush administration’s failure to secure Iraq’s borders, coupled with its cruel treatment of Sunnis already under attack by a Shia majority long suppressed by the Hussein regime, created the perfect opening for al Qaeda, and other radical Sunni groups, to infiltrate Iraq. It was from these factions, coupled with the brutal treatment by the U.S. military of thousands of Iraqi Sunnis housed in U.S. internment camps, that ISIS was born.
U.S. policy makers have long neglected to take account of Islamic history and its divisions. Most had never heard of ‘Sunni’ or ‘Shia’ until after the Iraq débâcle. Such gross lack of knowledge of the region and its people is the primary reason for the instability in the Middle East today.
Listening to Trump’s foreign policy speech one could only cringe at both the arrogance and ignorance of the man. Like so many powerful politicians and policy makers before him he believes that, as the only world superpower, America can dictate terms to all and sundry throughout the globe, and expect instant compliance. The last four decades of U.S. foreign policy blundering is surely proof of how wrong that attitude can be.
Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama…all six presidents have adopted similar policies, with disastrous consequences for the peace of the world and the safety of innocent people. Clinton ‘2’ will undoubtedly pursue a similar course if she’s elected to the White House. To date, the only alternative is Donald Trump, which doesn’t even bear consideration.
Trump’s speech was a fine example of skillful marketing practices. Had he been selling vacuum cleaners it’s likely everyone in the arena would have rushed to stump up the money and left clutching the “Trump Mk 2 SuperVac” under their arms.
Unfortunately, once they got home, they’d soon discover that it had no motor.
“Donald Trump Foreign Policy Speech” YouTube, August 15th 2016 (For those who can bear to watch it!)