Trump in the Middle East 144


It is unlikely to become an opera like “Nixon in China” but the arrival of Trump in Saudi Arabia is pregnant with meaning.

The first and most obvious is the United States’ continuing identification with the Sunni side in an escalating Sunni/Shia conflict across the Middle East. The exception to this of course is Iraq, where US forces are helping Shia forces to pulverise the Sunni city of Mosul. The paradox is that the plunge of the United states firmly into the Sunni camp was precipitated by their realisation that, in removing Saddam Hussein, they had installed a Shia government in Iraq which was going to be highly susceptible to Iranian influence.

The paradox is that Europe, and most of the rest of the world, accepts that Iran is no longer a particular threat to world peace under the comparatively moderate President Rouhani, who was re-elected today. But the hatred for the Shia in the Gulf states is visceral. I was forcibly struck, when attending the Al Jazeera Forum in Doha last month, that the only contributions which evinced enthusiastic displays from the audience were attacks on Iran – and this was a largely academic audience. Even the session specifically on Palestine was dominated by attacks on Iran. One panel speaker mentioned Palestine only twice, and the very beginning and the very end of his 15 minute contribution.

There is nothing like genuine religious hatred to drive conflict, and doubtless it exists on both sides of the Sunni/Shia divide. What is appalling is the role of western powers, and their ally Israel, in seeking to exploit this hatred. This is not new. My latest book, Sikunder Burnes, details explicitly expressed British attempts to use Sunni/Shia conflict for divide and rule as early as the 1830’s.

But the modern form of this western practice explains directly some of the most appalling tragedies of our time. It explains the Western arming of the Saudis for their continuing and genocidal attacks on the Shia of Yemen. It explains British complicity in helping the dreadful Sunni Bahraini regime to enslave, torture and imprison its majority Shia population. Most crucially, it explains the complicity of western intelligence agencies with the Gulf states in founding, funding and arming Wahhabi terror groups under all their various names including Al Qaeda, ISIS and Al Nusra.

The concomitant of this is of course the de facto alliance of Saudi Arabia with Israel and the United States, against their “common enemies” of Hezbollah, Assad and Iran. The cementing of that alliance is the purpose of Trump’s trip. Which is extraordinary, because in campaigning he appeared to understand that the groups the US were supporting were themselves the source of the “terror threat” to the United States. It appears the arms industry have made plain to him that the terror threat and the destabilisation of the Middle East are both good for business.

As Trump has gone full neo-liberal at home and neo-conservative abroad, the question being asked is whether he ever believed any of his campaigning material, or whether he has just been captured by the establishment. My answer to which is, it makes no difference.

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144 thoughts on “Trump in the Middle East

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  • giyane

    Obviously the ‘neo-‘ prefix stands for ‘no-‘. Anyway Trump has handed military matters to Mattis who hates Iran. Kurdistan neighbours so under USUKIS proxy wars between Saddam and Iran both sides got a taste of rape pillage and destruction from eachother. But that never created theological tension between Iraq and Iran. That was created by direct false flag market-place and mosque bombings by Gen Petraeus in the Iraq war aka Northern Ireland.
    Saudi takfirism will take you to one corner of hell, Shi’ism to another.

    BTW is there any difference between the 2 neo-s? I thought they could be used interchangeably to mean the same thing, pretending to have nothing to do with foreign colonialism , while in fact directing it militarily from a NATO office in Adana, Turkey. Talking of turkeys they have blue and red on their faces like Erdogan, simultaneously presenting himself as western cosmopolitan and Daesh. All politics is lies. But yes we suckers all fall for the lies when they use them every time.

    • Alcyone

      “Saudi takfirism will take you to one corner of hell, Shi’ism to another.”

      This is very well worth highlighting. Only one flaw: There is no Heaven and there is no Hell. It is we who have made a Hell-hole of this natural wonder, our planet.

      Eradicate organised religions from this planet and we will be living in paradise, right here, right now. Religions are not benign, they are a scourge on our civilisation.

      • Ball

        Alcyone,
        ———
        Eradicate organised religions from this planet and we will be living in paradise, right here, right now. Religions are not benign, they are a scourge on our civilisation.
        ———

        That made me laugh. Someone should have informed Pol Pot.

      • glenn_uk

        A: “Religions are not benign, they are a scourge on our civilisation.

        Excellent point. Religions are chiefly about who to exclude, who to hate, and identifying “the other”.

        • Ball

          glenn_uk,
          ——–
          Excellent point. Religions are chiefly about who to exclude, who to hate, and identifying “the other”.
          ——-

          Wrong. The brain is responsible for that, human and otherwise.

  • Peter Beswick

    Saudi Arabia (SA) is the greatest non-nuclear military force on the planet with spending to match.

    This alarming fact came about, in part (a big part) from arms for oil / offset deals.

    Trump is first and foremost (ignoring his psychological status) a business man, he has agreed to a 10% hike in US military spending.

    If he doesn’t cause WW111 he will be looking to extend his business portfolio. This is both shocking and reassuring at the same time; the US and SA need to be forced by the UN (silent chuckle) to rein in military ambitions because it means more innocents will be killed worldwide but whilst trump is at the helm he will know that a volley of nuclear ICBM’s is going to inconvenience many including his plans to ramp up his greed.

    • Peter Beswick

      Degrees of Bankruptcy … moral and otherwise

      The reason why the US can’t afford for peace to brake out and why the Middle East can expect more of the same;

      https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/Trends-world-military-expenditure-2016.pdf

      The US is the no.1 spender in the Global Military Spending League!

      Yes so what we all know that!

      But did you know how big? Well if you take the spending of the the top 10 spenders (excl the US) so from no. 2 to no.10 and add them together it comes to the same figure as the US all on their own. Take that out of the US economy and they would be more bankrupt than they are already.

    • Manda

      “Saudi Arabia (SA) is the greatest non-nuclear military force on the planet with spending to match.”

      Whoa. Saudi may be so rich it can afford billions and billions of military hardware to profit western military industrial complex but I don’t think it’s forces or strategy come anywhere near that bold description.

      • MJ

        No, apart from the spending bit. Problem is that it’s spent it all on NATO gear, which has been shown in recent months to have some issues.

  • nevermind

    Rouhani’s opponent is rather liked in Qom and he was talking about a proud and upstanding Iran.
    Thanks for outlining the possible frictions and very likely front line states, in a confrontation that has all the hall marks and capacities to go global.
    Turkey is another important factor, although a NATO country, it is also orientated towards the Sunni side and its reluctance to grant the Kurds an autonomous state will become part of this large confrontation, many feuds will be fought.

    This is what a NATO General has warned about when he spoke how important climate change is as an enemy, the destructive energies in war, the utter devastation and release of energies, chemicals and DU in all its variants, the millions of lives lost, wildlife decimated, food crops and soils contaminated or destroyed, as well as the subsequent slow re building of some infrastructure, more energy/resources needed at great costs to all that are left, if there is anyone left.

    but the sun is shining and I’m going in the garden.

  • Loony

    Whether Trump is a con man or whether he has been captured by the deep state makes all the difference in the world.

    If he is a con man then the people are able to elect someone who is not a con man. If he has been captured then all hope is crushed and the charade of voting is laid bare for all to see. In the UK this means that it makes no difference whether people vote for Corbyn or May or whether they vote for Scottish Independence – all policies will be the same and all meaning is removed from the political process.

    • bevin

      I would enter the caveat that if Trump has been outmanouevred by the deep state it is because there is nothing (and virtually nobody) behind him. There is no movement of the sort which, in 1876, indicated that if the republicans installed their own candidate, after the democrats seemed to have won the vote, it would be coming to Washington, armed and serious.
      I think that trump’s dropping of Bannon, who had ideas and a policy agenda designed to build popular support, was the beginning of the end for him. He reverted to type and listened to his crooked son in law, gave in to the ultra right Likud lobby and is now lapping up the flattery of some of the world’s most practised boot lickers, the kleptocrats in the gulf.
      Now if a candidate wins election with a mass movement, organised and immunised against sirens of the media, he can defy the civil servants, the spies and the propagandists. The trick is to be aware of what you want and who will attempt to prevent you from getting there. That involves thinking which trump is too lazy to do.

      • philw

        Trump is not being out-manoeuvered, he is being pulverised. He is up against forces massively more powerful than he is. I am sure he has had the meeting where he was told that he would be taken care of, either in a nice way like Reagan if he did what he was told, or an unpleasant way if he refused. He seems to have been too proud and stupid to concede. The question now is whether he will be removed, or whether he is regarded as a useful decoy to draw the fire for the most unpleasant moves the deep state is plotting.

        One thing is for certain, the autocrats who control the US will not put all their eggs in one (Hillary-shaped) basket again – they will make sure that both candidates are fully under control.

        • bevin

          I would simply caution you against falling for the well promoted fiction that the Deep State, like the US Military is unbeatable. Both are very vulnerable to, something that the US has not seen since the seventies, organised mass mobilisations around a programme challenging capitalism.
          Trump was a freak. His significance is simply that the system is crumbling, his competition in the Republican Primaries was largely from nuts of the religious right and idiots. Even there, though, he projected the image of an opponent of imperialism.
          We know what Obama did, we have a good idea of what he really was. But it should not be forgotten that he was elected as a representative of change and hope. The appetite for both has been sharpened since then.
          And the electorate is a lot wiser: it is no accident that the First Black President was not succeeded by the First Female President.

    • Alcyone

      Loony, I respect you as a logician–keep it up, we have too many lazy-minds here to straighten out.

  • Alcyone

    Excellent piece Craig. And very glad to see you step out of Scotland and indeed the UK.

    There are many aspects that come to mind to comment on politically. However, my first remark is to observe how all this stuff is about such deep-rooted, persistent, seemingly insoluble conflict. The stuff of religion, nations, borders, tribes so on and so forth. Type zero is what we are as a global ‘civilisation’. We are Planet Hell and we are medieval man. More discussion is required, indeed imperative, about the value of organised religions and their content which deceptively appears as if its cast in stone. This should be factored in to your moderation policy.

    Unfortunately religion is tied into politics. It therefore begs the fundamental question: What does it mean to be truly religious? Surely it’s nothing to do with a bunch of useless, rubbishy old books handed out for free?

    “My answer to which is, it makes no difference.”

  • Sharp Ears

    Medea Benjamin is in a dream world if she thinks this might happen. Of course, it should happen.

    According to the BBC’s Sopel, Trump has been given a very warm welcome – ‘much warmer that the one given to Obama’, as Sopel who is embedded with Trump’s entourage told us.

    Trump’s Saudi Trip Should Not Be to Clinch Arms Deal But to End Yemen War
    by Medea Benjamin / May 19th, 2017

    President Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia is designed to highlight his “art of deal” by clinching a massive $100 billion arms deal. But instead of using his presidency to be a salesman for the arms industry, Trump should be a statesmen for the suffering Yemenis. He should use his visit to press for a ceasefire and negotiations to end the conflict in Yemen.

    This is not the first time American politicians have been pushing Saudi arms sales. U.S. weapons dealers have been selling weapons to the kingdom for decades. Sales reached a new climax under President Obama, as Saudi Arabia became the largest purchaser of U.S. weapons. The Obama administration bragged that it had sold $115 billion dollars worth of weapons during its eight years
    /..
    http://dissidentvoice.org/2017/05/trumps-saudi-trip-should-not-be-to-clinch-arms-deal-but-to-end-yemen-war/

  • Laguerre

    “There is nothing like genuine religious hatred to drive conflict, and doubtless it exists on both sides of the Sunni/Shia divide.”

    Actually it doesn’t exist on both sides. It’s a one-way street really. Iranians don’t hate Sunnis, in the way that Saudis and Gulfis hate Shi’a. Alawis and Isma’ilis in Syria don’t hate Sunnis. Iraqi Shi’a can be more “tribal” in the metaphorical sense, but then they’ve been under attack from the Sunnis for a long time. For example, when the Americans finally withdrew from Iraq, it was in the south in Basra that the first car-bombs slaughtering Shi’a coming out of the mosque occurred, conveniently close to the Saudi border.

    It is not simply genuine religious hatred of the Saudi/Gulfi Sunnis for the Shi’a (some Saudi princes like Bandar want to exterminate every Shi’a on the face of the earth). There is a very solid economic basis for the hatred. That is quite simply that the Eastern Province, which has 100% of Saudi oil, is majoritarily inhabited by the Shi’a. If the Shi’a were to revolt successfully, the Saudi royal family would be penniless (apart from what they managed to hang onto in their bank accounts, which, given their free-spending habits, would not last long). Wahhabism only adds on to the economic basis, and the fear is expressed as religious hatred. You can transpose this to the rest of the Gulf – Bahrain has a Shi’a majority, who live poorly. Qatar has little native population, but that which exists is Wahhabi. etc, etc.

    Iran is a genuine threat to the princes’ lifestyle, as it is seen, but Wahhabism has driven them over the edge into lunacy. At least I think it’s the religious motivation that has driven them into lunacy. Talking about exterminating the Shi’a (more than just genocide), and destroying the Houthis in Yemen is just nutty. It can’t be done, not even if the Yanks can be provoked into action for them.

    • bevin

      I agree. The rule of the Sunni, and the wahhabis at that, is something that Britain long cultivated. It was axiomatic among the British military in Aden, for example, and Jordan that the ‘desert arabs’ were ‘noble, trustworthy and reliable’ people, whereas the Arabs in the urban areas were corrupted, untrustworthy, degenerate and prone to communist ideas.
      The ‘desert’ Arabs of course were those that the British used as proxy rulers throughout the Gulf. In Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar etc, they were descended from the nomads who used to plunder the merchants, the ports and the cities. It is tempting to think that it was this proto-imperialistic behaviour that made them to attractive to the British who sustained them in power at every opportunity.
      The current fear of shi’ites is restricted largely to those rulers who know that the majority among their own populations hate them. they are distrusted to such an extent that they import not just labour from Pakistan and elsewhere but mercenaries: half of those fighting in the sunni militias are non Arabs. Because the issue isn Arabia is not a religious divide but a class war between those who exploit the resources and steal the wealth and those who eke out a living.

  • Republicofscotland

    If I recall Rouhani, is the more moderate of the two likely candidates, I also recall, that Rouhani studied at Glasgow’s Caledonian University in the 90’s.

    As for relgious hatred in the Middle East, the Saudi Wahabbist doctrine is in my opinion one of the most destructive. Yet Saudi’s hold important positions in the UN on a human rights board, and on a women’s panel as well. It would appear Saudi cash has more influence, than UN morals.

    Staying on morals, Israel, a private settler organistation is planning the most extensive expulsion scheme in East Jerusalem, in the Batan al-Hawa area of Silwan.

    The group called Ateret Cohanim, want to evict 45% of all Palestinian’s in the area. The UN has condemned the measure, but as usual no action is taken because the UN only removes brutal African and anti-Israeli regimes.

  • Republicofscotland

    On Trump, Peter Oborne, was on RT today, discussing Trump’s tweets. Oborne, said that Trump’s early tweets (campaign tweets) were horrible. He added that his later tweets were in nature a sign that he personally tweeted them himself.

    Compared to countless other politicians who have armies of analysts and PR staff mulling over and deliberating before tweeting for the politician – Oborne added on this, that it once took nine hours for a whole group of analysts to tweet back a response on a fairly basic matter for Hillary Clinton.

  • Republicofscotland

    Whitehouse promotion video of Trump’s five ME visits omits the Golan Heights the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which the oppressive military apartheid regime of Israel, disputes as territories.

    Israeli justice minister Ayelet Shaked said, I hope the map in the video is just ignorance, and not policy, I bet he does.

    Still the world will watch Trump kowtow to Israel by kissing the Western wall. Meanwhile the oppressive apartheid Israeli regime, is touting Trump’s visit as a sign that the US Embassy will be moved to Jerusalem, in the hope that Israel will eventually name Jerusalem as its capital.

    Netanyahu said of the move of the US embassy, to Jerusalem and the possibility of the move affecting any peace process.

    “On the contrary, it would advance it by correcting an historical injustice and by shattering the Palestinian fantasy that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel.”

    However, The United Nations (UN) does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The UN Security Council Resolution 242 also calls for Israel to withdraw from all territories, the Jewish State captured in the Six Day War, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

  • giyane

    CM:
    ” the question being asked is whether he ever believed any of his campaigning material, or whether he has just been captured by the establishment. My answer to which is, it makes no difference.”
    Our RobG warned us incessantly about Trump during the US election and was ignored by all. Now he’s been virtually banned for declaring Macron to be more fascist than Le Pen. Truth=seekers are attracted to this space, but are not always made welcome here.

    IMHO Craig should give RobG credit where due for sticking out hand while the world was in freefall off a cliff to save himself from being totally conned. It makes a big difference to me if a commenter’s conscience can accurately predict an impending catastrophe. True, It may make no difference to the fate of the world.

    In my lifetime I have lived through Thatcher’s de-regulation, and its voter popularity, and its catastrophe of the 2007 banking crash, all completely predictable. Therefore I trust RobG when he tells us that an election success by a Rothschild candidate will never have any legitimacy in France, while Craig seems to consider that in that case an election seals all discussion permanently. No. Even if ultra far right UK conservatism wins on June 8, or Trump secures Damascus for the Saudis in order tap into their finance, which are both likely events, the popular rage of the defeated parties will re-ignite.

    The main events of my lifetime have been characterised by Zionists taking control of the political will of my country and launching wars on Muslim countries for the long-term benefit of Israel, and Macron will do the same as Thatcher, de-regulate and then engage France’s economy for Israel’s benefit. Germany, led by blondey house frau Merkel, is already running the war in Syria for the Greater Israel underneath.

    We have battled Craig for decades now on his liberal instincts not to name the elephant in the room, but the elephant is now so big I fear it may be triplets: USUKIS. The baby cuckoo has had the adoring attention of the owners of the nest. Saudi Arabia is dropping huge worms into its mouth and the fledgling bird is still hungry.
    Are we really going to say, this is our love-child and it’s our job to feed and clean it, even if it’s 5 times bigger than us, it makes no difference?

    • Habbabkuk

      “We have battled Craig for decades now on his liberal instincts not to name the elephant in the room,”
      ________________________

      “we” – who’s “we” ?

      • giyane

        Easy. Us “synchs” who understand that John MacDonnell is an intellectual powerhouse behind a good-hearted leader Jeremy Corbyn. You know, the one who said the UK had not fought a just war since 1945, all the rest were colonial wars for Zionist banking fraudsters like you.

        • Habbabkuk

          Giyane

          ” John MacDonnell is an intellectual powerhouse”
          ___________________

          You are a dreadful plonker but you do come out with the occasional good one ! 🙂

          Thanks, appreciated !

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Craig, At the moment, I can’t stop agreeing with nearly everything you write. Do not write such words as yours on a BBC website or you will be in big trouble.

    I personally do not watch TV and have never written anything on a BBC website. It seems now is the time to start.

    How about this –

    The BBC is one of the most corrupt media organizations in the World, and many of its current employees should be on trial for war crimes against humanity. The evidence is overwhelming that the BBC has been publishing lies, totally false propaganda, and even fabricating “news” events. The BBC does this is in order to deceive politicians and the general public to promote war against the totally innocent. The BBC is a Criminal Organization. The Police should take action against it, and its employees. The people in control of The BBC, and many employed by the BBC should stand Trial in a Court of Law.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4524810/BBC-threat-report-offensive-comments-users-BOSSES.html

    (The same applies to The Daily Mail as well)

    Tony

  • Tunde

    Those who endorsed Trump as the antithesis of HC are now rehearsing their mea culpas. What exactly is the difference ? She was accused of being someone whom would escalate conflict everywhere. (BTW, I’m not American and couldn’t care who won their election save for how the winner would interact with the rest of the world).
    I don’t buy this hypothesis of his “capture” by the deep state. That’s just an excuse to cover up a horrible misjudgement of his character.
    The pomp which accompanied his arrival to SA was significant in messaging the approval of the Saudi regime. His supporters constantly alluded or openly accused Obama of being a closet Muslim by his inaction in Syria. $100 billion worth of weaponry by a regime that cannot defeat a disorganised Houthi coalition whilst baulking at helping a genuine democracy like South Korea face down the military blackmail of North Korea tells you everything about his character, priorities and politics. Of course he’ll say that’s $100 billion worth of US jobs, but you can bet some of that weaponry will end up wounding American soldiers many years down the line. I guess this is what open trade unilateralism looks like.
    I’m. Not. At. All. Surprised.
    Keep up the good work, Craig. Went to Daunts to get a copy of Sikunder Burnes. They’re all out !

    • giyane

      Trump is remorselessly corrupt and I mean that as a compliment. His business mind thinks if he fires three times on Saudi Arabia’s theological enemies, they will open their coffers for him to invest in the USA. With Hillary Clinton at least you knew she was a blood-thirsty butcher like Mrs May. I wonder what the night-time entertainment will be if Trump is wised up on the bedroom bugs in foreign hotels. A few films of ISIS beheadings maybe , to convince his hosts of his undying loyalty?

    • craig Post author

      That is sort of good but worrying at the same time Tunde! Had they not ordered any more in? (Sorry, authors are paranoid on this subject. Well, this one is!)

      • Tunde

        Craig,
        They said that other copies were on order as of expectant the week past. No sign yet. I’ll check on Monday and get back to you.

    • Courtenay Barnett

      Tunde,

      ” I don’t buy this hypothesis of his “capture” by the deep state. That’s just an excuse to cover up a horrible misjudgement of his character.”

      In saying that you fail to understand that there is state power being wielded well beyond anything that Trump commands as his ‘Executive power’ – and – do consider this:-

      FOR THOSE WHO GOT DUPED BY TRUMP’S PURPORTED ‘ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT’ CAMPAIGN RHETORIC – THERE IS ANOTHER SERIOUS SIDE TO THE STORY THAT SHOULD BE CONSIDERED:-

      1. THERE IS STRUCTURAL UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE US WHICH GIVES RISE TO DISGRUNTLEMENT AMONGST THOSE WHO ARE DIRECTLY AFFECTED.

      2. AN APPEAL TO OVERT AND THINLY DISGUISED RACISM BECAME TRUMP’S MANTRA. BLAME THE MEXICANS; BLAME THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS; MAKE SCAPEGOATS OF THE MUSLIMS AND ANY FOREIGN ENTITIES THAT CAN BE UTILSED IN THE POPULAR MIND TO ‘EXPLAIN’ ( I.E. WITHOUT ANALYSIS) THE QUITE OBVIOUS CHALLENGES THAT THE US ECONOMY FACES; A SOUTHERN BOUNDARY WALL BETWEEN THE US AND MEXICO WILL BE A SOLUTION ETC.)

      3. SPEAK GENERALLY WITHOUT FACTUAL, STATISTICAL AND/OR ANALYSED SPECIFICS BEING PROVIDED TO SUPPORT THE PROPOSITIONS AND ARGUMENTS POSITED.

      4. MAKE PROMISES THAT DO NOT BEAR ANY CONNECTIVITY TO THE REALITIES OF AN INCREASINGLY INTERDEPENDENT WORLD ( E.G. ‘CLIMATE CHANGE IS A MYTH’; THE CHINESE CURRENCY POLICIES PROVIDE AN EXPLANTION FOR AMERICA’S ECONOMIC WOES; RATCHET UP MILITARY EXPENDITURE AND BY EXTENSION US MILITARISM – BUT – DON’T WEIGH THE CONCOMMITANT IMPACT ON THE US DEFICIT AND RESPONSES FROM RUSSIA, CHINA AND EVEN NORH KOREA AND OTHER COUNTRIES WITH MILITARY MEANS OF GLOBAL SIGNIFICANCE).

      5. TRUTH – TRUMP GOT BAILED OUT OF HIS BUSINESS PROBLEMS WITH RUSSIAN MONEY. HE DOES NOT WANT OPEN CONFRONTATION WITH RUSSIA. HE IS CAUGHT IN A BIND WHERE HE INDIVIDUALLY CANNOT DIRECT THE US FOREIGN POLICY TRAJECTORY AND HE IS FAST LEARNING THAT THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX HAS GREAT SWAY

      • Tunde

        Courtenay B,
        Thanks for that. You’ve put it much better than I could.
        Love the picture of Trump being received by the Saudi monarch with Jared Kushner smiling behind in approval as a very visible apart of his entourage.

        • Sharp Ears

          Did you see Bannon scowling.

          The whole bang shoot will be grinning from ear to ear at the next destination.

          • Alcyone

            No, is Bannon on the trip? I wonder what Breitbart has to say about Trump getting laid in public. Can you pls link up the photo?

    • Tunde

      Bevin,
      Poorly constructed on my part admittedly. What I meant was the back and forth between the South Korean and American commentariat about the cost of the THAAD system and who should pay for it. The SoKo’s felt that US ramping of rhetoric towards the NoKos increased their vulnerability and consequently, the US should foot the bill for their deployment. Trump, in his usual undiplomatic manner, made it known that the bottom line was not NoKo per se but money. I found that cheap and unbecoming considering, and here I agree with you, that the NoKos are being incited to nuclearisation by the perceived threat from the US.
      I don’t need to read anything from LRB. My other half is from the region so I get a daily dose of their perspective thanks very much. My personal opinion is that the NoKos would have pursued the acquisition of nuclear arms regardless of US provocation. As much for the juche philosophy and the prestige factor. Moon’s neo-sunshine policy will go the way of others before it. No where. Unless the Kim crime family is gotten rid of, nothing will change.
      I defer to your Korean erudition, sir. (Rolls eyes)

    • Kerch'ee Kerch'ee Coup

      Bevin,
      Having observed the demonstrations(for and against) that led to the impeachment of Prsident Park Geun-Hye and the subsequent elections, I think you are off the mark in describing her presidency as anti-democratic. Nor would I agree that those siding with her and Hong Jun -Pyo , who won particular support in Kyeongsang-do, whereas Mooon Jae-In won overwhelming support in Jeolla do and Gwangju,traditional ( Yorkies and Lancs regional rivalry but deeper) constituted dupes of anti-democratic forces.In fact the election was well conducted and free from partisan rhetoric from TV and radio.In fact, the situations ,as I remenber at least,of the UK and South Korea forty years ago have been completely reversed.
      ‘National unity and fair shares in prosperity within South Korea’ rather than reunification with the North was a major issue in the election. The repressive National Security Law , penalizing left wing parties and’unauthorised’contacts withnthe North, has long remained on the books and defied many attempts to repeal it under the ‘left wing ‘ PresidentsKim Dae Jung and Roh Mu Hyon
      The installation of the THAAD system was more directed against China than North Korea and negotiations are underway with Beijing to resolve the situation.There is general agreement that it was forced through under pressure.
      The Sunshine policy or Nordpolitik under two former presidents , which opened up Gaeseong industrial zone, with jobs for some 50,000 North Koreans, was recognised as a threat to the rule of the Kim dynasty in the North abnd this was a factor in its closure. Additionaly, the rumoured demanrd for payment to play for Kim Dae Jung’s visit to Pyeongyang recalled the Guillaume affair thar brought down Willi Brandt.
      Back in the early 1970s , the Koreas came closer together helped by Mooin Sun Myeong(the Moonies) when Nixon and Kissinger were prepared to withdraw from the South as part payment for a breakthrough with Mao’s China. At that time too SouthKorea was working on a nuclear deterrent..As you will recall , dictators can also talk and make peace for their own purposes.The Moonies’ vast land holdings near those of the Bushes on the Paraguayan acquifers wouldstill be an ideal retirement home for the Kims.
      Lastly, while I greatly admire Bruce Cummings’ work, I would advise some other reading as he does tend to use the present to criticise the past.

  • Bobm

    The pictures said it all.
    Trump féted in palatial surroundings.
    Signed enormous arms sale contract.
    THIS is what being Mr President is supposed to mean!

    • Courtenay Barnett

      Bohm,

      Correct -for as I just said:-

      ” TRUTH – TRUMP GOT BAILED OUT OF HIS BUSINESS PROBLEMS WITH RUSSIAN MONEY. HE DOES NOT WANT OPEN CONFRONTATION WITH RUSSIA. HE IS CAUGHT IN A BIND WHERE HE INDIVIDUALLY CANNOT DIRECT THE US FOREIGN POLICY TRAJECTORY AND HE IS FAST LEARNING THAT THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX HAS GREAT SWAY”

  • kashmiri

    Good post, like it very much.

    Worth adding perhaps that some European powers are also playing cat-and-mouse game with Iran, especially as regards influence in Syria. Remember who paid for Syrian civil war. The upside of Le Pen’s victory in France would be precisely a real chance for French “divestment from Syria”.

    • giyane

      I think we probably paid for it with the money stolen from us in the 2007 crash. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson defended Al Qaida in Syria in parliament this year. A more important question is who pays for 0.25 % interest rates to the bailed out banks. Anyway Saudi Sheikhs like their UK sex slaves to have no teeth, and I’m sure Miss KinkyBoots May’s are real, don’t know about Trump’s.

      One key ideological question to ponder, if you had the financial resources the Saudis have, why would you support Western financial institutions and therefore cultural beliefs, rather than support Muslim countries and therefore cultural beliefs? Saudi Arabia has destroyed all the Muslim countries except for the ones under the wing of the former USSR, which are next. Who needs Mosul when you are being offered Samarkand?

      The Saudis must be very averse to the religion they took as their birthright, while the Christians, Jews, Shia, Hindus etc have modified their religions to their own taste. It’s not as though they like fighting, so why have they changed it to something they don’t like? Like a father who works away to support a wife and kids he doesn’t see or love. Is there some religious duty in Islam to destroy what you love?

      The answer is that Islam has forgotten the command not to spy, and the elites have swallowed the temptation to use modern technology to gain power over their own members. This power doesn’t satisfy their craving for control and leaves them to hate the religion itself.

  • Sharp Ears

    O/T but as Craig’s 2007 piece on Usmanonv has appeared in the list of currently popular posts, here goes.

    He was shown on Sky News today trying to shake the hand of someone else who was reluctant to do so.

    He is physically larger than ever as he tries to acquire Arsenal in its entirety.

    Alisher Usmanov makes bid for full control of Arsenal
    Alisher Usmanov has made a £1bn bid to buy out the majority shareholder at Arsenal, according to Sky sources.
    20 May 2017
    http://news.sky.com/story/alisher-usmanov-makes-bid-for-full-control-of-arsenal-10885094

    Nice cartoon.
    http://www.septicisle.info/uploaded_images/mr_usmanov_lores_220907-763483.jpg

    and mentions of Craig within here
    http://www.septicisle.info/labels/Alisher%20Usmanov.html

  • Alex Westlake

    If there genuinely is a boundary between antisemitism and “anti Zionism” then his post crosses it. Take away the contemporary references and it’s the same bullshit conspiracy theory as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

    • Kerch'ee Kerch'ee Coup

      Does this ‘bullshit conspiracy theory’apply to the “Dialogues in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu” that is seen by some as the origin of the Protocols?

      • giyane

        ” the de facto alliance of Saudi Arabia with Israel ” you might have upset certain chikin-spitting red-necks sensitivities in the republican party by drawing attention to the joint Israeli and Saudi ISIS training camps in Jordan, Israeli pilots flying Saudi jets in Yemen, and Saudi export licences on ISIS stolen Iraqi oil.

  • Hector

    “Europe, and most of the rest of the world, accepts that Iran is no longer a particular threat to world peace under the comparatively moderate President Rouhani”

    That might be so, if Iran were under the comparatively moderate President Rouhani. However, the function of the President of Iran seems to be mainly decorative and to give the people an illusion of choice while the Supreme Leader, the Assembly of Experts, the Revolutionary Guards and assorted other unelected representatives of the Shia establishment make the real decisions.

    • Laguerre

      “However, the function of the President of Iran seems to be mainly decorative”

      Your illusion. The president does most of the work. He just can’t go against Khamenei openly. So who organised the deal with the US?

      • Hector

        How far can the president go against Khameini or the Iranian establishment at all? Neither Mohammad Khatami nor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seemed to do very well in their disagreements with Khameini and the establishment.

        • Ball

          Hector,

          Replace Shia with Christian and you get the point (possibly…….).

          You state –
          ——–
          seems to be mainly decorative and to give the people an illusion of choice while the Supreme Leader, the Assembly of Experts, the Revolutionary Guards and assorted other unelected representatives of the Shia establishment make the real decisions
          ——–

          Replace the appropriate words with the UK equivalent (queen, Christian,House of Lords, MI5/the royal guard) and you start to appreciate you’re living in a country as democratic as Iran.

          Bar the Corbyn effect, the only choice the UK electorate seems to have is between establishment groomed candidate educated in Oxford or Cambridge. Right wing politics or righter wing politics.

          The HoLords still has bishops appointed to it by the CoE, no?

          The UK throne is still in 2017 a sectarian one (banning Catholics), no?

          Don’t think you’re so advanced.

          • Hector

            “seems to be mainly decorative and to give the people an illusion of choice while the queen, the House of Lords, MI5/the royal guard and assorted other unelected representatives of the Christian establishment make the real decisions”

            I see.

  • Laguerre

    Do you think the Saudis can really afford the $110 billion deals they’ve just signed with Trump? They’ve been running on big deficit for a while.

    Well, at least it’s investment, in theory. According to Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-usa-trump-deals-idUSKCN18G05P), they’re not so much arms deals, as deals to ramp up the Saudi economy according to the “2030 vision”, turning Saudi into an industrial exporting state. Well, good luck with that one. The 2030 vision plan was written by Americans, if I remember correctly. People who wouldn’t understand for a moment that Saudi survives, because a large proportion of its people are employed by the state to do very little. If the people were forced to work, there might be a revolt. I do not speak of the Shi’a here – they are already disaffected. Rather of people like the Hijazis, Sunni people of light allegiance to the Saudi state, people who find it easier to take the money than fight.

    Of course, it’s really bribes to Trump to keep the US onside. Which also satisfy Trump’s need to fulfil his election promises to bring back business to America. Saudi becoming an industrial nation by 2030, that’s a laugh. The present consultants have obviously never heard of the projects to make Saudi agriculturally self-sufficient. They ended up producing wheat at six times the world price.

    Saudi seem to be going from one desperate solution to another. I wonder whether it’s going to last much longer.

  • Alcyone

    Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia is simply put Pay Day Prostitution. The ‘deals’ signed represent ‘investments’ to be made over *ten* years. Pull your pants down, get taken from the back and pay later.

    The Swamp swallowed him in 120 days flat. I have no sympathy left. All comes back to my dear wise, old friend Habbabkuk, be careful of these fucking politicians–they are all whores. But who will pay to fuck Theresa May?

    • JOML

      I think you’ll pay but it will be Teresa doing the fucking…? you are completely right about the swamp only taking 120 days.

      • glenn

        It took a lot less than 120 days. Trump got his mates from Goldman Sachs as key financial advisors right away. He put a billionaire Republican donor (to the tune of $100M’s) in charge of the education department, who wants to voucher-ise education. He’s trying to get rid of Obamacare. A dodgy old oil executive is the VP. And so on.

        This took under 120 minutes, and was clearly the plan all along. I fear a lot of people got chumped by this vulgar con-man, even if they still don’t realise it.

        • Ba'al Zevul

          I look forward to Wikileaks releasing something concrete on Trump playing footsie with Russia. Which if proved will leave the GOP looking pretty dumb for backing someone with a vocabulary of 20 words and no prior political experience.

          Something tells me I’ll be waiting a damn long time, though

          • Alcyone

            I think there is (much) more to come from The Deep State. You may not be waiting that long with Comey’s camp armed with a good few salvos. Nobody is clean and the gloves are off. Comey *is* political: he may even be a future candidate. Besides it’s taken an awful lot of time–there should be a reason for it. Trump’s stalling could be one of them.

          • Alcyone

            Assange rightly predicted a good amount of leaking and counter-leaking upon Comey’s departure.

          • Ba'al Zevul

            I based my last remark on the perception that Assange is definitely wanted by the US, that Trump is even more likely than Obama to insist on his presence in a US court (being a simple-minded populist), and that he is not yet clear of the UK justice system (which can extradite him directly, and under May, will). I don’t think Wikileaks will be rocking the boat vis-a-vis Trump, unless it is to trade on the damage it did to Clinton. Which is now safely done….

  • Tony_0pmoc

    The more I find out, the more shocked I am. However the more I find out the more….(I’m in shock) The more it rmakes me even more determined to bring these Criminals in The BBC to Trial. What someone just told me – well lets see the evidence…He has the evidence.

    You guys are just so evil. You are a Scourge across The face of Humanity

    How dare you call yourself British.

    https://off-guardian.org/category/media-watch/

    Tony

  • Geoffrey

    Craig, I see you are mentioned by name in the leader column of today’s Times in connection with Assange . It is not flattery !

      • Resident Dissident

        I noticed no mention in your interview with (the only slightly biased to Putin) RT of brave whistleblowers such as Navalny (who is currently under attack by Usmanov, no doubt with the blessing of Putin), Politkovskaya, Nemtsov, Kara-Murza, Litvinenko and Sergei Magnitsky, and many others, who have stood up to the corrupt regime in Russia. By any standards the treatment these whistleblowers have faced is objectively far worse than the treatment received by Assange – a large part of which, at least in my opinion is due to the manner in which he ahs mismanaged his own affairs.

          • giyane

            Oliver Kamm’s obsessive stalking must surely be the product of many hands. I know of at least ten paid hands in my own street stalking me. However in all due fairness they probably didn’t start off mad, but were driven mad by the pooling of knowledge on this blog of secrets Miss Stasi Boots former Home Secretary doesn’t want you to know.

  • mike

    Nice of the Houthis to fire over a little welcome yesterday ! Some of that $110 billion of new weapons will soon be heading their way, unfortunately.

    The real action is at al-Tanf, on the Iraq/Syria border. Eyes down for a Russian/US skirmish. Or will it be Russian v Norwegian? I kid you not.

    southfront.org has the detail.

  • Alcyone

    Religion is the sickest scam and joke being pulled off on humanity. And right now Saudi Arabia and it’s sickos are in the thick of it. Trump MUST be desperate to go a whorin’ after those cnuts. I will rejoice when their ‘King’ meets the fate that Gaddafi did. I know it’s a horrible thing to say. But I’m sure the gods will rejoice too.

    On the other hand, it is reassuring to see Christianity decline in the West, e.g. in this country where the churches are empty. Something is going right, beautiful as they are. They should be converted into concert and dance halls. Any offers for crowd-funding?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Atnk5ROeK9Q

  • Laguerre

    Religion is best understood as a human psychological need (which leads to the creation of human communities by its rules). There’s no point in railing against it. It’s not going to disappear. Some people need it, others don’t. Some people like living in a community defined by its rules. Others don’t. In today’s globalised world, you can leave a religion, and community, you don’t like, though it may imply leaving your community. I wasn’t thinking so much of Aya Hirsan Ali, the renegade from Islam, but of all those American actresses, like Marilyn Monroe, who left their closed communities in the Mid-West to pursue their careers. Having been in Arkansas, I sympathise with them.

  • mike

    If the gap between Tory and Labour continues to shrink expect a terror attack or similar diversion.

    • giyane

      If Trump attacking the Syrian Army three times in a row after Russia has put the NATO mercenaries on parole and driven them out of Alleppo , isn’t a terror attack, what is? When the nutter across the road from my house came round with a metal pipe to threaten me , two little police women came round to remind him of the conditions of his parole. Who’s going to remind Trump?

    • Habbabkuk

      No, I don’t think so. Mike. The security services and police continue their good work on nipping in the bud various terrorist conspiracies and keeping the public safe and there is therefore every reason to believe that there will not be any actual terrorist attacks before the general election.

  • Laguerre

    Of course Craig is a “loose cannon”. That is what he is there for. We read him for his views. Why would we read him if it were standard MSM crap?

    As to moderation, I find much of the alt-right stuff distasteful, but why ban it? Craig has set out his philosophy, and I agree with it: everyone can have their say.

    • Laguerre

      That should have been a reply to Alcyone. The software is not going too good, I deliberately clicked on ‘reply’.

    • Alcyone

      “Craig has set out his philosophy, and I agree with it: everyone can have their say.”

      You think? You can not be serious.

      • Laguerre

        If you don’t like the blog-owner’s philosophy, why do you bother to post comments?

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