I watched with interest the speech given by Donald Trump this morning as he began his tour of Saudi Arabia, Israel and Rome. I am no political scholar but I have followed with alarm the rise of (must I?) President….Trump and his extraordinary behavior during the early months of his administration. Before we get into deeper irony I must comment on what is being lightly called “headscarf-gate”. In the past some Western women of note have worn a headscarf in deference to the rules of the Saudis who require that women cover their heads. Notably First Lady Obama did not (and was criticized for this by Donald Trump). I applaud Melania Trump’s decision to follow the good example of Michelle Obama. However, it struck me as ironic that anyone with access to the internet can see a good deal more of the anatomy of Melania Trump than her head.
But to deeper ironies – A peace mission during which a 100Billion arms deal with the Saudis is hailed as a job-creating boon for the United States. A BBC commentator noted today that Saudi Arabia uses a greater percentage of its GNP on arms than any other country. Peace will be forged here? Ah, well, similar arms deal with Israel will balance things out.
A head-spinning switch in the characterization of the Islamic world was revealed today. Instead of the hateful murderers Trump evoked in his campaign, we heard this morning a laundry list of the triumphs of culture and technology and growth, culture and hospitality of the Saudis. How ironic that no mention was made of the millions of quasi-slaves who build the high rise towers, monuments to wealth that now rise in the Gulf States.
In a novel approach, Mr. Trump told us the west was not going to “lecture” other states on how to behave. In view of the military intervention and covert overthrow of legitimately elected governments over the 20th century, this is indeed a more subtle approach. What about human rights, a free press (blunt humor not irony here) emancipation of woman, religious freedom and a separation of church and state. Oh, sorry. I must have confused standing up for one’s principles with “lecturing”
Fifteen of the nineteen terrorists of the 9/11 tragedy were Saudis. Ironic that the first foreign visit by this president today is to Saudi Arabia. The phrase “radical Islamic terrorism” was notably absent from his speech. Well, these nice guys did make a huge contribution to Ivanka Trump’s foundation today. Ironic, isn’t it?
In spite of a lengthy US investigation no member of the Saudi royal family(the ruling class) was found directly funding terrorism but ….it is a commonly held view that over the years the Saudis have turned a blind eye to money laundering that permitted Al Quaida and ISSIS to operate. Ironic that the Saudis will now establish and run an institution to financially cut off terrorists.
Where irony gave way to despair and fear this morning was when Donald Trump demonized Iran. In a speech that until then advocated unity among Muslim states, this crude and clumsy attack was a cynical ploy to please both the Gulf States and Israel.
Some comparisons have been made between the speech given this morning and that of President Obama made in Cairo in 2014. Go on You Tube and take a look at it. Ironic how conviction can skew viewpoint. Obama talks about the role the US played in the overthrow of a legitimately elected government in Iran. Hmm….no mention of any of that from le grand orange this morning!
Like everything else in politics there was good and bad in today’s speech. World statesmanship is an infinitely complex multi-dimentional puzzle. Donald Trump is the leader of a great nation. He has good speech writers and he managed to read a speech – this already is good! The speech was made up of both good and catastrophic points. I know that this president of the United States does not have the capacity to do his job and it has been my observation that few in his administration have the capacity. This shoves gentle irony into the realm of terror. Is there anything gentle left in this world? I tremble for the world of my grandchildren.
Oh, the picture – a joker, a knave and a trump – just my two cent’s worth.