President Donald Trump had an eventful week visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel and some European cities including the Vatican City where he met with the Pope. He was bestowed with the highest civilian/national award in the Kingdom. There, as brilliantly noted by the veteran journalist Robert Fisk, Trump said he was not in Saudi Arabia to “lecture” – but then told the world’s Islamic preachers what to say, condemned “Islamist terrorism” as if violence was a solely Muslim phenomenon and then announced like an Old Testament prophet that he was in “a battle between good and evil”. There were no words of empathy, none of sympathy, absolutely not a word of apology for his racist, anti-Muslim speeches of last year, let alone the ‘Muslim-ban.
As expected, the Saudi invitation of Muslim leaders/rulers did not include some of the Shi’ite majority countries, thus allowing Trump to blame Shi’ite Iran – rather than the Sunni extremist Daesh – for “fuelling sectarian violence”. He pitied the Iranian people for their “despair” a day after they had freely elected a liberal reformer – Dr. Hassan Rouhani – as their president, something that is unthinkable in his host country. He demanded further isolation of Iran, as if decades of failed policy and experience to isolate Iran had not taught any practical lesson to learn from. He painted the Iranian regime as being responsible for “so much instability” in that part of the world. The Shi’ite Hizbullah of Lebanon was condemned, and so were the Shi’ite Yemenis fighting the Saudis and their coalition.
There is no doubt that Iranian regime deserves blame for its support of the murderous Ba’athist Nusayri regime in Syria, but to blame it for the carnage in Yemen where according to human rights observers the Saudis are committing crimes against humanity is hogwash.
As I have repeatedly stated extremism of any kind is a threat to our entire humanity and our planet. Such must be defeated. But trying to defeat it without addressing the root causes behind such extremism is simply insane. Unfortunately, that insanity has become the norm in many parts of the world, including the UK, where a suicide bomber was able to attack and kill many music lovers in a crowded Manchester stadium when Trump was visiting the Zionist state of Israel. [Many analysts opine that the Manchester bombing was a classic “blowback” action. “The bomber is guilty, but so are those who endorsed the policies creating conditions for people like him to flourish, writes Daniel McAdams in the www.antiwar.com.]
Trump signed $110 billion arms deals with the kingdom, and declared future sale of “a lot of beautiful military equipment” to Qatar, promising jobs to many, esp. in the USA, which are, supposedly, to secure peace in that part of the world. What an illusion when the wrong priorities are set!
On the flip side, Trump prides himself as a deal maker, and he delivered on that promise to bring more jobs to the USA. Who cares who is killing whom in that ‘nasty’ part of the world using American weapons as long the USA can sell arms! Forgotten in those deals, however, was also the joint statement of the Sheikh of Al Azhar University and the Pope (whom Trump was to meet in just two days) in Cairo two weeks ago against the evil of arms dealers. When the stuffs that kill and maim innocent people are called ‘beautiful’ toys by the president of the most powerful state in our planet, we have something to worry about big!
In his maiden speech to other NATO leaders in Brussels he berated them on sharing the cost of keeping that alliance suggesting that many of them “owe massive amounts of money” to the alliance. “Over the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all other NATO countries combined,” he declared as the leaders of other NATO member countries looked on uncomfortably. If his European hosts were looking for public support of Article 5 and hoping for a change in their guest who had earlier called NATO obsolete they got a nasty jab and were surely embarrassed. He declined to confirm the U.S. commitment to Article 5 of the treaty, which guarantees the U.S. would back a treaty partner in the event of a conflict with a foreign power.
Trump said in a Twitter post on Saturday that “Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in- NATO will be much stronger.” Although there is no evidence that money has begun to “pour in” if Trump’s claim is true, he must be happy with the outcome of his tough talk.
In a separate tweet, Trump wrote that he would make a decision on whether to support a landmark international agreement on climate change next week. “I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!” he tweeted on the final day of a Group of Seven (G7), a group of some of the world’s wealthiest nations, summit in Sicily, Italy at which he refused to bow to pressure from allies to back the landmark 2015 agreement. [In a much earlier, 2012 tweet citizen Trump famously wrote, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”]
Trump’s surprise tweet on the final day of his lengthy international trip came after his decline to commit to staying in a sweeping climate deal, refusing to give into intense international pressure. Earlier Saturday, the other six members of the G7 voted to abide by the Paris climate agreement.
Trump will return to the White House under a cloud of scandal, bringing to an end a nine-day trip that started in Saudi Arabia and Israel before moving on to three European stops.
A newly-appointed special counsel is beginning his investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and close adviser, has become a focus of the probe, according to The Washington Post. the Washington Post has learned that Kushner reportedly discussed setting up a backchannel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin during his meeting in December with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. According to intelligence officials, during a meeting at Trump Tower that included Michael Flynn, Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities for a secret and secure channel with the Kremlin that would shield discussions between the two sides from U.S. monitoring.
The White House disclosed in March that this meeting had taken place, but only after media reports surfaced and has so far played down its significance. However, after the U.S. intercepted Russian intel discussing the meeting, eyebrows were raised.
James Comey, the former FBI director leading the Russian probe until Trump abruptly fired him, is still expected to testify before Congress about the memos he kept on conversations with the president that involved the investigation.
It is also reported by the CNN that Comey allegedly acted on information in the Hillary Clinton email probe he knew was false and had been created by the Russians. The issue at hand was that Russian intelligence officials reportedly made it look like former Attorney General Loretta Lynch had been compromised in the Clinton investigation.
Not only that, but the report suggests Comey feared the revelation would undermine the probe and the Justice Department. So instead of revealing the Russian disinformation, he announced the investigation was over and called Clinton “careless.”
The way in which Comey is said to have covered up this information shows how Russian influence has affected the highest levels of US officials.
U.S. officials have also told CNN that Russia is still attempting to spread false information to cloud ongoing investigations.
Before heading home, President Trump told the U.S troops stationed in Sicily, Italy that “It was a tremendously productive meeting where I strengthen American bonds,” said Trump. “We have great bonds with other countries and, with some of our closest allies, we concluded a truly historic week.”
Only the coming months would show how successful Trump’s trip was to strengthen U.S. position not just outside but his own position within the USA.