We certainly heard a lot about Trump and Saudi Arabia this weekend. Considering the content of this channel, it won’t surprise you to hear that I found it disappointing, and disturbing. But more than anything else it was distracting. This whole trip was a distraction from Trump’s woes back in Washington, DC. But Trump’s Saudi Arabia clown show was also a distraction from something we should have all been paying more attention to. It was good news for once!
It was all a tremendous distraction from Iran. After months of predictions that he would lose, Iran’s moderate president Hassan Rouhani triumphed in his re-election campaign. Iran chose openness, despite the repeated rejections and abuse hurled at them by the United States. This is a very big deal. The hardliners that have ruled Iran since the revolution continue to abuse power. It makes me believe that peace in the region might finally really (eventually) be possible.
But nobody paid any attention. Trump and Tillerson issued their customary condemnations of Iran this weekend, calling them out for supporting terror, even while being hosted by Saudi Arabia, Iran’s sworn enemy, and the main inspiration behind almost every terror attack of the past 17 years. Tragic stuff. It’s already causing problems for Rouhani back in Iran. This video lays out the details….
Video Transcript after the jump…
So, Donald Trump went to Saudi Arabia this week. It’s tremendously frustrating for me to watch this. I’ve spent the past month and a half producing videos, and the past two years researching the topic of the US-Saudi relationship. I’ve concluded that it’s a terrible thing, and that it has so many negative effects, from terrorism in multiple countries, to instability in the Middle East, to Islamophobia in the United States. The US-Saudi relationship makes me very, very angry, and seeing Donald Trump, a guy I don’t like very much, in Saudi Arabia, sort of trying to bring this relationship to a new level is just endlessly frustrating.
There’s a lot to be annoyed at about Trump’s weekend in Saudi Arabia. There’s the 110 Billion dollar arms deal. There’s a new center to combat radicalization in Saudi Arabia, which is pretty much the definition of getting the fox to guard the hen house.
There was the much publicized Trump speech on Islam which was seriously under-whelming, but I guess that’s a good thing. There was also the fact that the US and Saudi Arabia pulled together an incredible list of Muslim countries in Saudi Arabia. It’s a… It’s an endorsement by the United States of Saudi leadership of the Muslim world which is deeply, deeply troubling.
Now this is not going to be a video about Donald Trump, because as annoying as all the things that he did in Saudi Arabia were, and they were annoying and ridiculous, they weren’t really all that uncharacteristic. Sure there were particular infelicities and mistakes that could only have been made by Donald Trump and the Trump administration. If you want to look at some of those in detail, I direct you to my twitter feed @robbolaw where I sort of live-tweet his speech and high-light some of the many mistakes and blunders that were committed by Trump and his administration.
But, those are all details. When it comes to the broad strokes, there’s nothing here that Trump did, that Bush or Obama wouldn’t have done. Sure, things are on kind of a bigger scale. They not done as subtly or as intelligently as those president’s would have executed them, but it’s the same thing. The only slight variation in Trump’s approach here is the great honor of making Saudi Arabia his first foreign visit. And also putting together this summit thing, it was very flattering to the Saudi Arabians.
As I said, Trump isn’t very subtle, or very smart, but I think this actually makes a kind of sense in the context of US presidents approach to Saudi Arabia. Trump had a lot to make up for, he had some apologies to make. He actually said stuff about Saudi Arabia in the campaign, which I loved, and he certainly talked about Muslims a lot.
So this bit here if sort of his massive, massive, massive, brown-nosing of the Saudi Arabians to make up for all that stuff, and forget all the nasty stuff that he said. It’s back to business as usual.
As I’ve said before, I think we’re arriving at a moment where Donald Trump is just executing the same foreign policy that Hillary Clinton would have… but dumber. The most frustrating thing about Trump’s weekend in Saudi Arabia, and this oxygen stealing summit of Muslim leaders is the timing.
I don’t know if it was intentional, but it very effectively kept us from paying attention to something else that happened in the middle east that I believe is much, much more important. This weekend the results of Iran’s presidential elections were announced. For months now the US government and its allies in the US media have been gleefully telling us that the moderate president, Hassan Rouhani was going to lose.
Rouhani is the guy that worked with Obama to put together the nuclear deal. He’s no Mandela or anything, but in the context of Iran he’s a tremendously positive figure to have there. He’s a moderate, he wants openness, he wants more peace and engagement with the United States and the broader world.
This terrifies a lot of people in Washington, DC. They don’t want this to happen. So we’ve been hearing, at great length, about the hard-line resurgence in Iran. We’ve heard about how the Supreme leader was making it impossible for Rouhani to win.
Well. What happened?
This weekend the results were announced, and Rouhani won in a landslide. He got 57% of the popular vote and his closest competitor, the conservative, only got 37%. Iran is ready to engage. Yes, there are hard-line elements in the government. Yes, there is a supreme leader that definitely has instincts and approaches that are problematic and dangerous.
But Iran is also changing, and changing for the better. And they are doing it in the context of one of the closest things to democracy that you can find in the Muslim Middle East. This is amazing news! I’d argue that it’s even bigger news than the victory of Macron. Did I say that right? Whatever, the victory of the guy in France who managed to beat the French Trump.
This is fantastic. But nobody spent any time paying attention to this this weekend or this week. Instead we’re watching Trump fumble around with glowing orbs and making Lord of the Rings photoshop commentary on it. This is a real problem, because Iran is reaching out.
Trump, in service to the Washington, DC establishment, is doing everything possible to ignore that hand and slap it away. That’s what we should have been paying attention to this weekend, and that’s what I’d urge you to pay attention to now. We should not be paying attention to the Trump clown show in Saudi Arabia. We should be paying attention to the incredible changes that are happening in Iran right now, and the potential for peace in the region that they bring.
Two really cool things that I want to mention right now. Some fans of the channel, I think they are in the UK, set up a Reddit for this channel. It’s a Mo Freedom Foundation Reddit. I’d suggest you check it out. It’s sort of a forum discussion for the channel. I’m tremendously pleased and honored that some folks chose to put this together.
I don’t run the Reddit, but I’m certainly going to contribute. I’ve got an ask me anything set up there if you have any questions. If the Reddit gets active I’ll definitely incorporate elements of it in this channel, that’s very cool…
And the coolest thing. Maybe the coolest thing that has ever happened to this channel. On Thursday, May 25th, I will be interviewing Christopher Davidson, the Author of Shadow Wars. I was working on this broader, everybody’s lying about Islam project for years… trying to really sort it all out in my head, figure out how I wanted to put it out there, how I wanted to discuss things, and Christopher Davidson’s book, Shadow Wars, was tremendously useful. I found it about six months ago, read it. It’s a run-down of what has happened to the Middle East over the past 50 years, and it is tremendously useful, rigorously backed up and was a big part of this whole series.
So I tweeted him, just sort of randomly, last week, and he agreed to be interviewed on this channel. I am really pleased. It’s going to be a YouTube Live chat, I did one of these last week. You’ll be able to chime in with questions as we go. it would be awesome if you guys would show up and participate.
Thank you so much, thanks for watching, please subscribe, and I’ve got a fund-raising thing going on on my Patreon account right now, I’d also be very grateful if you’d consider taking a look at that. Thank you!