Trump Goes Through the Middle East with Blood Spilling Out of His Mouth

May 29, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


Donald Trump chose Saudi Arabia—a center of fundamentalist barbarism and medieval absolutism—for the first stop on his first trip outside the U.S. after taking power. For good reason.

Trump brought his fascist “AMERICA FIRST” gangsterism to the Middle East and the world. Nothing would stand in America’s way of dominating and plundering the region and the world, Trump made clear—not ISIS, not Iran, not global rivals, not any opposition to its butcher-allies, and certainly not “human rights” or “democratic rights.”

Think about the overall context that Trump’s trip was taking place in. Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. has rained an enormous amount of death and destruction on the greater Middle East. Its continuing war and occupation of Afghanistan, now in the 16th year, has left thousands dead and more than one million displaced. Its 2003 invasion of Iraq followed by years of occupation and now the ongoing intervention has shattered Iraq, led to more than a million deaths and millions of refugees, and created a cauldron ripe for reactionary Islamic fundamentalism. In 2011, the U.S. helped overthrow Muhammar Qaddafi in Libya, throwing the country into deadly chaos and opening a new battlefront for jihadism. That same year, the U.S. involved itself in and helped encourage the reactionary civil war in Syria, which to date has taken 500,000 lives and created some 10 million refugees. All of this has contributed to the largest refugee crisis at least since World War 2—65 million people fleeing for safety. And these are just some key examples.

But on May 21, speaking in Saudi Arabia to a rancid collection of tyrants and torturers, Trump did not back away from this litany of horrors, Trump doubled down.

In the name of fighting Islamist extremism and terrorism and a “battle between good and evil,” Trump laid out his approach to maintaining America’s imperialist stranglehold on this region: greatly escalating the already terrible repression, torture, starvation, and violence the U.S. and its allies are carrying out. Trump’s threats against Iran, his open support for Saudi Arabia’s war of mass starvation in Yemen, and his increased backing for brutal tyrannies threaten the lives of millions across the region.

Trump’s threats also promise to further escalate the deadly dynamic between U.S. imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism/jihadism. As Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has analyzed:

What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade [increasingly globalized western imperialism] on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these “outmodeds,” you end up strengthening both.

While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these “historically outmodeds” has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists.

The Empire Lashes Out

The Middle East sits at the intersection of Asia, Africa, and Europe. Key trade and navigation routes crisscross it. And it’s the world’s main oil spigot. For all these reasons, since World War 2 controlling the Middle East has been a key pillar of U.S. global power and dominance, a key link in the chain of exploitation and oppression U.S. imperialism has imposed on the world.

In 2001, the George W. Bush regime launched its “war on terror” in an attempt to crush opponents—from states like Iraq and Iran to Islamist forces like the Taliban and al-Qaeda—in order to reorder the whole region and solidify U.S. control. But this ongoing war has ended up helping destabilize the region and creating profound new problems for the empire.

Obama attempted to wind down this war in some theaters, continued it in others (with drones killing thousands), and struck a major nuclear deal with Iran’s reactionary Shi’a theocracy. But still, the problems and challenges facing the U.S. continued to mount. Russia has become more assertive in the region and globally, as has China. The 2011 Arab Spring uprisings shook pro-U.S. regimes like Egypt and Tunisia. Syria’s hellish five-year civil war has created humanitarian and refugee crises that have devastated the country and threaten to destabilize Europe. And this terrible carnage could end up strengthening Syria’s Assad and his backers Russia and Iran, who are battling the U.S. for regional influence.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to drag on without U.S. victories. In Iraq, Iran may be emerging with more leverage than the U.S. In Afghanistan, the U.S. has been fighting for more than 15 years—the longest war in U.S. history—and the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban is gaining ground. Meanwhile, U.S. wars, military assaults, and regional upheaval have helped propel the exponential growth of Islamic jihadism across the Middle East and beyond.

Trump and his ruling class backers feel Obama was hesitating, even retreating in the face of these difficulties. They’re determined to reverse what they see as a major drift, and forcefully reassert U.S. power and resolve—even as they still seem to be formulating their strategy, and even as this aggressive approach carries potentially great risks for the U.S. rulers.

Trump Embraces Beheadings, Torture, Ethnic Cleansing, Mass Famine

Islamic fundamentalism and jihadism are reactionary, oppressive forces, which have committed terrible crimes against the people, including the recent bombing in Manchester, England, and the May 26 massacre of 29 Coptic Christians in Egypt.

But during this trip, Trump made clear that his problem with these forces isn’t that they’re reactionary and oppressive. After all, he was being lavishly hosted by one of the most oppressive, Dark Ages states in the world—Saudi Arabia—in a region with the highest concentration of outmoded, absolute monarchies on the planet. Trump’s problem with Islamist jihadism is that some of these forces are getting in the way of America’s own reactionary, oppressive stranglehold on the Middle East—which Trump made clear he was there to defend with no holds barred.

Beheadings in Saudi Arabia? Mass starvation in Yemen? Martial law in Bahrain?1 Massive detention, beatings, disappearances, and torture in Egypt (see here and here)? Ethnic cleansing in Israel/Palestine?

Such murderous brutality doesn’t appall Trump—he embraces it as part of his fascist outlook and program. Remember, during his campaign Trump called for murdering relatives of accused jihadists, filling the U.S. dungeon at Guantánamo, and resuming tortures like waterboarding. And he called for and celebrated brutal assaults on protesters at his rallies.


In Saudi Arabia and Israel, Trump effusively embraced these butchers and told them they no longer had to even pretend to care about “freedom,” “democracy,” religious tolerance, or “human rights.”2 “We are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship,” Trump declared. “Instead, we are here to offer partnership—based on shared interests and values...” And he insisted they crack down even harder on “extremists” and other opponents. “DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH,” Trump bellowed.

(This open celebration and embrace of barbarity was also aimed at further welding a fascist base within the U.S. willing to tolerate any U.S. allies, no matter how barbarous, and any crimes, no matter how horrific—in the name of “protecting American lives” and making America, the world’s greatest exploiter and oppressor, “great.”)

Encircling and Threatening Iran

In Saudi Arabia and then in Israel, Trump pointedly declared it was impossible to talk of “stamping out” violent Islamist terrorism without targeting the Islamic Republic of Iran. “From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms and trains terrorists, militias and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region,” Trump declared.

Trump began hammering into place new military alliances—calling it “strengthening partnerships, and forming new ones”—to encircle Iran and roll back its influence in Syria, Lebanon, and other countries in the region.3

While Trump’s Iran strategy has not been fully articulated, he and others in the U.S. ruling class have condemned the nuclear deal Obama (and other world powers) struck with Iran in July 2015. They feel the deal could end up weakening the U.S. grip on the region by increasing Iranian influence while undercutting U.S. allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia. During his Middle East trip, Trump’s rhetoric and denunciations of Iran hearkened back to the Bush regime’s calls in 2003-2008 for “regime change” in Iran—overthrowing the Islamic Republic. During that period, there was a grave and growing danger that the U.S. and/or Israel would militarily attack Iran, which could have escalated into a major war with enormous death and destruction and unpredictable repercussions in Iran and beyond.

American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People’s Lives!

During his trip, Trump called for more violence and brutality to solidify America’s imperialist stranglehold on the Middle East. He is threatening millions across the region, fanning the deadly dynamic between imperialism and Islamist jihadism, and risking launching—or stumbling into—catastrophic wars, which could turn nuclear.

All this is totally opposed to the interests of humanity, including the vast majority of people living within the U.S. This poses enormous dangers, if the fascist Trump/Pence regime is not driven from power as soon as possible.

It’s urgent that many, many more people actively resist and defeat America’s military assaults and wars in the Middle East and elsewhere—and renounce the poisonous, immoral chauvinism of America First used to justify them.

Radically different terms are called for: putting humanity first, not America’s criminal empire.

1. Trump embraced Bahrain’s King Al-Khalifa, a Sunni Muslim who has viciously suppressed protest—particularly of Bahrain’s Shi’a Muslim majority. The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain. Trump told Al-Khalifa that it was “a great honor to be with you,” and assured him “there won’t be strain with this administration.” According to the New York Times, the Trump/Pence regime is lifting “all human rights conditions on a major sale of F-16 fighter jets and other arms to Bahrain.” Days after their meeting, Bahrain’s “security forces raided a sit-in near the home of a prominent Shia cleric, killing at least one protester and arresting over 200 more in the village of Diraz,” Democracy Now! reported. [back]

2, The U.S. imperialists have historically—and hypocritically—used the issues of “human rights” and “democracy”—some basic rights and protections for ordinary people living under the dictatorship of oppressive ruling classes—to discredit and attack rival powers like the former Soviet Union, and regimes standing in their way. For instance, the U.S. condemned the Afghan Taliban’s treatment of women and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein for his tyranny before invading and overthrowing them. The U.S. now condemns the Islamic Republic of Iran for various human rights violations.

During his tenure, former President Obama publicly raised and exerted some pressure around human rights issues with various U.S. client regimes, such as Egypt’s brutal military rulers. He didn’t do this to emancipate the Egyptian people. This was part of his efforts to legitimize U.S. intervention in the region and support for these bloody regimes—and to stabilize and strengthen the regimes themselves. In Egypt, for example, the U.S. quickly restored aid after the Egyptian military’s bloody coup and mass imprisonment of opponents. In contrast, at this fraught moment for the U.S. empire, Trump and his backers feel any criticism of the U.S.’s staunchest regional allies, or any crack between them, could create even greater problems for them. [back]

3. Trump concluded the largest arms sale in U.S. history with Saudi Arabia—$110 billion in tanks, bombs, helicopters, and other equipment immediately, growing to an estimated $350 billion within a decade. This was a bright green light and direct U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen’s people and its vicious crackdown against internal dissent. One main target is the country’s Shi’a Muslim minority. (For instance, the Shi’a town of Awamiyah is now under siege.) The arms deal was also aimed at strengthening Saudi Arabia against Iran as part of assembling an anti-Iran military coalition. [back]


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