Monday, May 22, 2017

Trump's Embrace of al-Saud Proof of a United States in Crisis

Almost nothing remains of candidate Trump after four months in office.

For those voters who thought Trump offered the rational choice with his promise to shelve regime change in Syria in favor of dealing first with Islamic State (which implied continued engagement with Iran), the orgiastic embrace over the weekend of POTUS 45 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia proves that Trump's campaign-trail rationality was merely rhetoric.

Trump completed a rhetorical somersault yesterday with his speech on Islam. He managed to criticize Iran for extremism and a lack of freedom at the very moment that Iranian voters reelected moderate president Hassan Rouhani (something subjects of al-Saud can only dream about).

For the moment mainstream press (see "In Saudi Arabia, Trump Reaches Out to Sunni Nations, at Iran’s Expense" by Ben Hubbard and Thomas Erdbrink) and alternate media (see Bill Van Auken's "Trump’s speech in Riyadh signals US escalation against Iran") are in agreement over Trump's hypocrisy. Of course, the alternate media tends to did a little deeper into why Trump is moving to scrap Obama's Iran nuclear deal legacy achievement. According to Van Auken,
Beyond the drive to militarily confront Iran, a principal regional rival of US imperialism in the Middle East, and the huge profits that Saudi arms purchases reap for the US military industrial complex, there are broader strategic considerations in the US turn toward a closer alliance with Riyadh.
Some of these issues were outlined on the eve of Trump’s trip in a piece published by the influential Washington think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies and authored by Anthony Cordesman, a longtime Pentagon adviser. First among them is, according to Cordesman, “the continued level of US dependence on Saudi help in securing the stable flow of Gulf oil.”
While US imports from the Gulf have fallen sharply over the past quarter-century, Cordesman cites “indirect dependence” in terms of the impact a disruption in oil exports would have on global energy prices and the world capitalist economy. In particular, he points to the dependence of Asian economies on Gulf petroleum exports.
If the United States failed in “providing power projection forces and arms” to the region, he writes, its principal global rival, China, might fill the void. “China may not yet be ready to try to assume the role, but the entire South China Sea crisis would pale to near insignificance if China became the de facto guarantor of Gulf stability.”
Cordesman continues: “The real-world nature of US influence and power in the Pacific would be cut massively, China’s leverage over other major Asian economies like Japan and South Korea would be sharply increased, and the potential rise in tension between China and India--and cut in India’s relative position--would have a massive impact on the balance of power in South Asia and the Indian Ocean.”
In other words, the turn toward closer relations with Saudi Arabia and the related Gulf oil sheikdoms is bound up with US imperialism’s mounting conflict with China, which it has identified as the principal challenge to the drive for American global hegemony. Washington is determined to dominate Asia, including China, by maintaining the military power to choke off the region’s energy imports.
The fact that the sclerotic House of Saud, one of the world’s last absolute monarchies, has become a lynchpin of Washington’s imperialist strategy, not only in the Middle East but globally, is a measure of the crisis of American and world capitalism.
Oil revenues, which account for fully 90 percent of the kingdom’s export earnings, have been cut nearly in half since 2014. Last month, the government was forced to reverse itself on austerity measures that hit the military and public employees over fear that declining living standards and rising unemployment are creating the conditions for social revolt.
In the predominantly Shia Eastern Province, the center of the kingdom’s oil production, security forces laid siege to the town of Awamiyah, a center of resistance to the regime, during the week preceding Trump’s visit. Combined with the failure of the Saudi bid to topple the Assad regime in Syria by supporting Al Qaeda-linked militias and the regime’s inability to retake Yemen from the Houthi rebels, the deepening domestic crisis is creating the conditions for revolutionary upheavals against Washington’s principal ally in the Arab world.
Obama's push for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was not because he was a fervent pacifist. It was because segments of the U.S. deep state realize that Iran cannot be conquered militarily. The U.S. cannot win that war. The fact that the U.S. is moving full steam in that direction is certainly proof of a crisis.

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