This article was written for the Unz Review.
Robert Fisk put it best: “Trump Is About To Really Mess Up In The Middle East”. Following his fantastically stupid decision to attack the Syrian military with cruise missiles Trump or, should I say, the people who take decisions for him, probably realized that it was “game over” for any US policy in the Middle-East so they did the only thing they could do: they ran towards those few who actually were happy with this aggression on Syria: the Saudis and the Israelis. Needless to say, with these two “allies” what currently passes for some type of “US foreign policy” in the Middle-East will only go from bad to worse.
There are many ways in which Saudi Arabia and Israel are truly unique: they are both prime sponsors of terrorism, they are both nations deeply steeped in ideologies which can only be described as uncivilized (Wahabism and Jewish supremacism) and they are both armed to the teeth. But they also have one other thing in common: in spite, or maybe because of, their immense military budgets, these two nations are also militarily very weak. Oh sure, they have lots of fancy military hardware and they like to throw their weight around and beat up some defenseless “enemy”, but once you set aside all the propaganda you realize that the Saudis can’t even deal with the Houtis in Yemen while the Israelis got comprehensively defeated by 2nd rate Hezbollah forces in 2006 (top of the line Hezbollah forces were concentrated along the Litani river and never saw direct combat): the entire Golani Brigade could not even take Bint Jbeil under control even thought that small town was only 1,5 miles away from the Israeli border. This is also the reason why the Saudis and the Israelis try to limit themselves to airstrikes: because on the ground they simply suck. Here again the similarity is striking: the Saudis have become “experts” at terrorizing defenseless Shia (in the KSA or in Bahrain) while the Israelis are the experts on how to terrorize Palestinian civilians.
With Trump now officially joining this ugly alliance, the USA will contribute the military “expertise” of a country which can’t even take Mosul, mostly because its forces are hiding, literally, behind the backs of Kurdish and Arab Iraqis. To think that these three want to take on Hezbollah, Iran and Russia would be almost comical if it wasn’t for the kind of appalling bloodshed that this will result in.
Alas, just look at what the Saudis are doing to Yemen, what the Israelis did to Gaza or Lebanon or what the USA did to Iraq and you will immediately get a sense of what the formation of this nefarious alliance will means for the people of Syria and the rest of the region. The record shows that a military does not need to be skilled at real warfare to be skilled at murdering people: even though the US occupation of Iraq was, in military terms, a total disaster, it did result in almost one and a half million dead people.
What is also clear is who the main target of this evil alliance will be: the only real democracy in the Middle-East, Iran. The pretext? Why – weapons of mass destruction, of course: the (non-existing) chemical weapons of the Syrians and the (non-existing) nuclear weapons of the Iranians. In Trump’s own words: “no civilized nation can tolerate the massacre of innocents with chemical weapons” and “The United States is firmly committed to keeping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and halting their support of terrorists and militias that are causing so much suffering and chaos throughout the Middle East”. Nothing new here. As for how this evil alliance will fight when it does not have any boots worth putting on the ground? Here, again, the solution as simple as it is old: to use the ISIS/al-Qaeda takfiri crazies as cannon fodder for the USA, Israel and the KSA. This is just a re-heated version of the “brilliant” Brzezinski plan on how to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Back to the future indeed. And should the “good terrorists” win, by some kind of miracle, in Syria, then turn them loose against against Hezbollah in Lebanon and against the Shias in Iraq and Iran. Who knows, with some (a lot) of luck, the Empire might even be able to re-kindle the “Caucasus Emirate” somewhere on the southern borders of Russia, right?
For one thing, the locals are not impressed. Here is what the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, had to say about this:
“The Israelis, are betting on Isis and all this takfiri project in the region… but in any case they know, the Israelis, the Americans, and all those who use the takfiris, that this is a project without any future. I tell you, and I also reassure everyone through this interview. This project has no future.”
He is right, of course. And the newly re-elected President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, openly says that the Americans are clueless:
The problem is that the Americans do not know our region and those who advise US officials are misleading them
It is pretty clear who these ‘advisors’ are: the Saudis and the Israelis. Their intentions are also clear: to let the Americans to do their dirty work for them while remaining as far back as possible. You could say that the Saudis and Israelis are trying to get the Americans to do for them what the Americans are trying to get the Kurds to do for them in Iraq: be their cannon fodder. The big difference is that the Kurds at least clearly understand what is going on whereas the Americans are, indeed, clueless.
Not all Americans, of course. Many fully understand what is happening. A good example of this acute awareness is what b had to say on Moon of Alabama after reading the transcript of the press briefing of Secretary of Defense Mattis, General Dunford and Special Envoy McGurk on the Campaign to Defeat ISIS:
My first thought after reading its was: “These people live in a different world. They have no idea how the real word works on the ground. What real people think, say, and are likely to do.” There was no strategic thought visible. Presented were only some misguided tactical ideas.
A senior British reporter, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, the President of Iran and a US blogger all see to agree on one thing: there is no real US “policy” at work here, what we are seeing is a dangerous exercise in pretend-strategy which cannot result in anything but chaos and defeat.
So why is the Trump administration plowing ahead with this nonsense?
The reasons are most likely a combination of internal US politics and a case of “if all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail”. The anti-Trump color revolution cum coup d’état which the Neocons and the US deep state started even before Trump actually got into the White House has never stopped and all the signs are that the anti-Trump forces will only rest once Trump is impeached and, possibly, removed from office. In response to this onslaught, all that Trump initially could come up with was to sacrifice his closest allies and friends (Flynn, Bannon) in the vain hope that this would appease the Neocons. Then he began to mindlessly endorse their “policies”. Predictably this has not worked either. Then Trump even tried floating the idea of having Joe Lieberman for FBI director before getting ‘cold feet’ and chaning his position yet again. And all the while while Trump is desperately trying to appease them, the Neocons are doubling-down, doubling-down again and then doubling-down some more. It is pretty clear by now that Trump does not have what it takes in terms of allies or even personal courage to tackle the swamp he promised to drain. As a result what we are seeing now looks like a repeat of the last couple of years of the Obama administration: a total lack of vision or even a general policy, chaos in the Executive Branch and a foreign policy characterized by a multiple personality disorder which see the Pentagon, Foggy Bottom, the CIA and the White House all pursuing completley different policies in pursuit of completely different goals. In turn, each of these actors engages in what (they think) they do best: the Pentagon bombs, the State Department pretends to negotiate, the CIA engages in more or less covert operation in support of more or less “good terrorists” while the White House focuses its efforts on trying to make the President look good or, at least, in control of something.
Truth be told, Trump has nothing at all to show so far:
Russia: according to rumors spread by the US corporate Rex Tillerson was suppose to go to Moscow to deliver some kind of ultimatum. Thank God that did not happen. Instead Tillerson spent several hours talking to Lavrov and then a couple more talking to Putin. More recently, Lavrov was received by Tillerson in the USA and, following that meeting, he also met with Trump. Following all these meetings no tangible results were announced. What does that mean? Does that mean that nothing was achieved? Not at all, what was achieved is that the Russians clearly conveyed to the Americans two basic thing: first, that there were not impressed by their sabre-rattling and, second, that as long as the USA was acting as a braindead elephant in a porcelain store there was no point for Russian to work with the USA. To his credit, Trump apparently backed down and even tried to make a few conciliatory statements. Needless to say, the US Ziomedia crucified him for being “too friendly” with The Enemy. The outcome now is, of course, better than war with Russia, but neither is it some major breakthrough as Trump had promised (and, I believe, sincerely hoped for) during his campaign.
DPRK/PRC: what had to happen did, of course happen: all the sabre-rattling with three aircraft carriers strike groups ended up being a gigantic flop as neither the North Koreans nor the Chinese were very impressed. If anything, this big display of Cold War era hardware was correctly interpreted not as a sign of strength, but a sign of weakness. Trump wasted a lot of money and a lot of time, but he has absolutely nothing to show for it. The DPRK tested yet another intermediate range missile yesterday. Successfully, they say.
The Ukraine: apparently Trump simply does not care about the Ukraine and, frankly, I can’t blame him. Right now the situation there is so bad that no outside power can meaningfully influence the events there any more. I would argue that in this case, considering the objective circumstances, Trump did the right when he essentially “passed the baby” to Merkel and the EU: let them try to sort out this bloody mess as it is primarily their problem. Karma, you know.
So, all in all, Trump has nothing to show in the foreign policy realm. He made a lot of loud statements, followed by many threats, but at the end of the day somebody apparently told him “we can’t do that, Mr President” (and thank God for that anonymous hero!). Once this reality began to sink in all which was left is to create an illusion of foreign policy, a make-believe reality in which the USA is still a superpower which can determine the outcome of any conflict. Considering that the AngloZionst Empire is, first and foremost, what Chris Hedges calls an “Empire of Illusions” it only makes sense for its President to focus on creating spectacles and photo opportunities. Alas, the White House is so clueless that it manages to commit major blunders even when trying to ingratiate itself with a close ally. We saw that during the recent Trump trip to Saudi Arabia when both Melania and Ivanka Trump refused to cover their heads while in Rhiyad but did so when they visited the Pope in the Vatican. As the French say, this was “worse than a crime, it was a blunder” which speaks a million words about the contempt in which the American elites hold the Muslim world.
There is another sign that the USA is really scraping the bottom of the barrel: Rex Tillerson has now declared that “NATO should formally join the anti-Daesh coalition”. In military terms, NATO is worse than useless for the USA: the Americans are much better off fighting by themselves than involving a large number of “pretend armies” who could barely protect themselves in a real battlefield. Oh sure, you can probably scrape a halfway decent battalion here, maybe even a regiment there, but all in all NATO forces are useless, especially for ground operations. They, just like the Saudis and Israelis, prefer to strike from the air, preferably protected by USAF AWACS, and never to get involved in the kind of ugly infantry fighting which is taking place in Syria. For all their very real faults and problems, at least the Americans do have a number of truly combat capable units, such as the Marines and some Army units, which are experienced and capable of giving the Takfiris a run for their money. But the Europeans? Forget it!
It is really pathetic to observe the desperate efforts of the Trump Administration to create some kind of halfway credible anti-Daesh coalition while strenuously avoiding to look at the simple fact that the only parties which can field a large number of combat capable units to fight Daesh are the Iranians, Hezbollah and, potentially, the Russians. This is why Iranian Presiden Rouhani recently declared that
“Who fought against the terrorists? It was Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Russia. But who funded the terrorists? Those who fund terrorists cannot claim they are fighting against them” and “Who can say regional stability can be restored without Iran? Who can say the region will experience total stability without Iran?”
In truth, even the Turks and the Kurds don’t really have what it would take to defeat Daesh in Syria. But the worst mistake of the US generals is that they are still pretending as if a large and experienced infantry force like Daesh/ISIS/al-Qaeda/etc could be defeated without a major ground offensive. That won’t happen.
So Trump can dance with the Wahabis and stand in prayer at the wailing wall, but all his efforts to determine the outcome of the war in Syria are bound to fail: far from being a superpower, the USA has basically become irrelevant, especially in the Middle-East. This is why Russia, Iran and Turkey are now attempting to create a trilateral “USA free” framework to try to change the conditions on the ground. The very best the USA are still capable of is to sabotage those efforts and needlessly prolong the carnage in Syria and Iraq. That is both pathetic and deeply immoral.
When I saw Trump dancing with his Saudi pals I immediately thought of the movies “Dances with Wolves” and “Titanic”. Empires often end in violence and chaos, but Trump has apparently decided to add a good measure of ridicule to the mix. The tragedy is that neither the United States nor the rest of the planet can afford that kind of ridicule right now, especially not the kind of ridicule which can very rapidly escalate in an orgy of violence. With the European politicians paralyzed in a state subservient stupor to the Rothschild gang, Latin America ravaged by (mostly US-instigated) crises and the rest of the planet trying to stay clear from the stumbling ex-superpower, the burden to try to contain this slow-motion train wreck falls upon Russia and China.
As for Trump, he made a short speech before NATO leaders today. He spoke about the “threats from Russia and on NATO’s eastern and southern borders”. QED.