Recently the 45th President of the United States embarked on his inaugural international visits. He turned many heads for choosing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as his first destination especially considering his immense critique of the Kingdom and Islam at large. Many were quick to point out the hypocrisy of the President as his policies were at complete odds with the message he was sending with his visit. However, if we were to examine the policies of this administration with that of its predecessors’, we can see that they are not all that different. We must understand the inner workings of the American Political System is simply rhetoric only important for eloquent oration to be aired on prime time with political pundits from both sides to overanalyze. For those who are actually orchestrating every move of the government, it is business as usual.
The Foreign Policy of the United States has been shaped by the Truman Doctrine with the rise of the Red Scare. The general policy was to contain communism and socialism by supporting pro-capitalist dictatorial regimes. Saudi Arabia along with every other Middle Eastern nation signed on as it allows them to stay in power and receive handsome payout under USAID. In exchange the government would squash any resistance to foreign companies “investing” and anti-western imperialist protests. This policy was enacted across the globe from Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan, Cuba, and many other countries. The financing and supporting of anti-communist pro-Classical Economics despots had become the hallmark of American Foreign Policy. To those in charge, the growth of American Businesses was of greater importance than the flourishing of Democratic principles.
Starting with the Reagan administration the objective of containment was replaced with defeating Communism. This coincidentally was when the Soviet Union started its decade long invasion of Afghanistan. With the backing of the Reagan Administration the CIA working with the Saudis and Pakistan created the Mujahideens who, under the leadership of Saudi National Osama Bin Laden, fought against the Soviet Union eventually pushing them back and taking control of Afghanistan. It was also during this time that the long-time American ally, the Shah of Iran, was deposed during the Islamic Revolution under Ayatollah Khomeini. This forced the Americans to work even closer with the Saudi Regime as it rivaled Iran in leadership of the Islamic World.
As the support of the Saudis grew in Washington so did its campaign of projecting Wahhabism as the true image of Islam. The American Government turned a blind eye of the export and sponsorship of terrorism from by the Kingdom and instead focused on portraying Iran as the “real threat.” This culminated to the point that 19 terrorists, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals, hijacked 4 planes and carried out the worst attack on US soil since Pearl Harbor in 1941. The immediate response of the then Bush Administration was to send a private plan to evacuate all high-level Saudi Nationals safely out of the United States. Even though the evidence clearly showed Saudi involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the federal government ignored said evidence and instead engaged in two futile wars in the Middle East by invading Afghanistan in October of 2001 and less than a year and a half later invading Iraq. There was no official word on how involved the Saudi regime had been in the financing of the 9/11 attacks and subsequent terrorism globally. The Obama administration, towards the end of its term planned to release some 20 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report which implicated the Saudi government, but aside from that there was never any pursuit to hold the Saudis accountable for their terrorist activities.
This brings us to Donald J. Trump who spent a majority of his campaign demonizing Islam but also was the only mainstream candidate to call out the Saudi Government for its illicit activities. This fact of course did not go unnoticed which is why so many people were up in arms when he visited Saudi Arabia. However, a key point many missed is Trump’s Secretary of State and what was his previous role as a private citizen was. Rex Tillerson, Trump’s State Department Chief, was the Chief Execute Officer of ExxonMobil and had a great many deals with the Saudi Regime as well as many other oil producing nations. Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia is not about his bigoted policies against Muslims but rather about him taking care of his and his cronies’ financial and business interests. Many are frustrated by what they perceive to be a complete departure from “The American Way” as they have never truly witnessed what those at the top have been doing for the past 7 decades. The only real difference between Donald Trump and his predecessors is that he is blunt and open about his hypocrisy and transgressions while they pretended to care.
If we the people are appalled by the actions of this administration, we must then hold all previous administrations to the same standards and call out their injustices as well. Otherwise, it will continue to be business as usual as Mr. Trump goes from Riyadh to Mexico City all the while spreading his hateful and divisive narrative here at home.
View Sources ∨
“Shock Doctrine” By Naomi Klein
“Good Muslim Bad Muslim” By Mahmood Mamdani