John Bolton’s Absurd ‘Troika Tyranny’

The real tyrants are U.S. allies in the Middle East (not Venezuela, Cuba or Nicaragua), writes Danny Sjursen.

By Danny Sjursen

American foreign policy can be so retro, not to mention absurd. Despite being bogged down in more military interventions than it can reasonably handle, the Trump team recently picked a new fight — in Latin America. Uncle Sam kicked off a sequel to the Cold War with some of our southern neighbors, while resuscitating the boogeyman of socialism. In the process, National Security Advisor John Bolton treated us all to a new phrase, no less laughable than Bush-the-younger’s 2002 axis of evil (Iran, Iraq, and North Korea). He labeled Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua a troika of tyranny.”

Alliteration no less! The only problem is that the phrase ridiculously overestimates both the degree of collaboration among those three states and the dangers they pose to their hegemonic neighbor to the north. Bottom line: in no imaginable fashion do those little tin-pot tyrannies offer either an existential or even a serious threat to the United States. Evidently, however, the phrase was meant to conjure up enough ill will and fear to justify the Trump team’s desire for sweeping regime change in Latin America. Think of it as a micro-version of Cold War 2.0.

Bolton: Looking for tyranny in all the wrong places.

Odds are that Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both unrepentant neocons, are the ones driving this Latin American Cold War reboot, even as, halfway across the planet, they’ve been pushing for war with Iran. Meanwhile, it’s increasingly clear that President Donald Trump gets his own kick out of being a “war president” and the unique form of threat production that goes with it.

Since it’s a recipe for disaster, strap yourself in for a bumpy ride. After all, the demonization of Latin American “socialists” and an ill-advised war in the Persian Gulf have already been part of our lived experience. Under the circumstances, remember your Karl Marx: history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.

And add this irony to the grim farce to come: you need only look to the Middle East to see a genuine all-American troika of tyranny. I’m thinking about the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the military junta in Egypt, and the colonizing state of Israel — all countries that eschew real democracy and are working together to rain chaos on an already unstable region.

America’s Favorite Kingdom

The Saudi royals are among the worst despots around. Yet Washington has long given them a pass. Sure, they possess oodles of oil, black gold upon which the U.S. was once but no longer is heavily dependent. American support for those royals reaches back to World War II, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt took a detour after the Yalta Conference to meet King Ibn Saud and first struck the devilish deal that, in the decades to come, would keep the oil flowing. In return, Washington would provide ample backing to the kingdom and turn a blind eye to its extensive human rights abuses.

FDR: Making deal with Saudis that still governs the nations’ relations.

Ultimately, this bargain proved as counterproductive as it was immoral. Sometimes the Saudis didn’t even live up to their end of the bargain. For example, they shut the oil spigot during the 1973 Yom Kippur War to express collective Arab frustration with Washington’s favoritism toward Israel. The royals also used their continual oil windfall to build religious schools and mosques throughout the Muslim world in order to spread the regime’s intolerant Wahhabi faith. From there, it was a relatively short road to the 9/11 attacks in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals (and not one was an Iranian).

More recently, in the Syrian civil war, Saudi Arabia even backed the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda franchise. That’s right, an American partner funded an offshoot of the very organization that took down the twin towers and damaged the Pentagon. For this there have been no consequences.

In other words, Washington stands shoulder to shoulder with a truly abhorrent regime, while simultaneously complaining bitterly about the despotism and tyranny of nations of which it’s less fond. The hypocrisy should be (but generally isn’t) considered staggering here. We’re talking about a Saudi government that only recently allowed women to drive automobiles and still beheads them for “witchcraft and sorcery.” Indeed, mass execution is a staple of the regime. Recently, the kingdom executed 37 men in a single day. (One of them was even reportedly crucified.) Most were not the “terrorists” they were made out to be, but dissidents from Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority convicted, as Amnesty International put it, “after sham trials that… relied on confessions extracted through torture.”

Dira Square in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, used for execution punishment, 2014. (Luke Richard Thompson via Wikimedia Commons)

During the Arab Spring of 2011, the Saudi royals certainly proved anything but friends to the budding democratic movements brewing across the region. Indeed, its military even invaded a tiny neighbor to the east, Bahrain, to suppress civil-rights protests by that country’s embattled Shia majority. (A Sunni royal family runs the show there.) In Yemen, the Saudis continue to terror bomb civilians in its war against Houthi militias. Tens of thousands have died — the exact number isn’t known — under a brutal bombing campaign and at least 85,000 Yemeni children have already starved to death thanks to the war and a Saudi blockade of what was already the Arab world’s poorest country. The hell unleashed on Yemen has been dubbed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. It has already produced millions of refugees and, at present, the world’s worst cholera epidemic.

Yemen has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Through it all, Washington stood by its royals time and again, with The Donald far more gleefully pro-Saudi than his predecessors. His first foreign excursion, after all, was to that kingdom’s capital, Riyadh, where the president seemed to relish joining the martial pageantry of a Saudi “sword dance.” He also let it be known that the cash would keep flowing from the kingdom into military-industrial coffers in this country, announcing a supposedly record $110 billion set of arms deals (including a number closed by the Obama administration and ones that may never come to fruition). Son-in-law Jared Kushner even continues to maintain a bromance with the ambitious and brutal ruling Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

In other words, with full support from Washington, sophisticated American weapons, and a boatload of American cash, Saudi Arabia continues to unleash terror at home and abroad. This much is certain: if you’re looking for a troika of tyrants, that country should top your list.

America’s Favorite Military Autocracy

The U.S. also backs — and Trump seems to love — Egypt’s military ruler Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. At a press conference at the White House in September 2017, the president leaned toward the general and announced that he was “doing a great job.” Hardly anyone inside the Beltway, in the media, or even on Main Street batted an eye. Washington has, of course, long supported Egypt’s various tyrants, including the brutal Hosni Mubarak who was overthrown early in the Arab Spring. Cairo remains the second largest annual recipient of American military aid at $1.3 billion annually. In fact, 75 percent of such aid goes to just two countries, the other being Israel. In a sense, Washington simply bribes both states not to fight each other. Now, that’s diplomacy for you!

First Lady Melania Trump meets with el-Sisi and his wife Entissar el-Sisi, 2018, Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo. (White House/ Andrea Hanks)

So, how’s Egypt’s military using all the guns and butter the U.S. sends its way? Brutally, of course. After Mubarak was overthrown in 2011, Mohammed Morsi won a free and fair election. Less than two years later, the military, which abhors his Muslim Brotherhood organization, seized power in a coup. Enter General el-Sisi. And when Morsi supporters rallied to protest the putsch, the general, who had appointed himself president, promptly ordered his troops to open fire. At least 900 protesters were killed in what came to be known as the 2013 Rabaa Massacre. Since then, el-Sisi has ruled with an iron fist, extending his personal power, winning a sham reelection with 97.8 percent of the vote, and pushing through major constitutional changes that will allow the generalissimo to stay in power until at least 2030. Washington, of course, remained silent.

El-Sisi has run a veritable police state, replete with human rights abuses and mass incarceration. Last year, he even had a show trial of 739 Muslim Brotherhood-associated defendants, 75 of whom were sentenced to death in a single day. He also uses “emergency” counterterrorism laws to jail peaceful dissidents. Thousands of them have gone before military courts. In addition, in U.S.-backed Egypt most forms of independent organization and peaceful assembly remain banned. Cairo even collaborates with its old enemy Israel to maintain a stranglehold of a blockade on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which the United Nations has termed “inhumane.”

Yet Egypt gets a hall pass from the Trump administration. It matters not at all that few places on the planet suppress free speech as effectively as Egypt now does — not since it buys American weaponry and generally does as Washington wants in the region. In other words, a diplomatic state of marital (and martial) bliss protects the second member of the real troika of tyranny.

America’s Favorite Apartheid State

Some will be surprised, even offended, that I include Israel in this imaginary troika. Certainly, on the surface, Israel’s democracy bears no relation to the political worlds of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Still, scratch below the gilded surface of Israeli life and you’ll soon unearth staggering civil liberties abuses and a penchant for institutional oppression. After all, so extreme have been the abuses of ever more right-wing Israeli governments against the stateless Palestinians that even some mainstream foreign leaders and scholars now compare that country to apartheid South Africa.

Protest against Israel’s Gaza Blockade and attack on humanitarian flotilla, Melbourne, Australia, June 5, 2010. (Takver via flickr)

And the label is justified. Palestinians are essentially isolated in the equivalent of open-air prisons in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — not unlike the bantustans of South Africa in the years when that country was white-ruled. In the impoverished, refugee-camp atmosphere of these state-lets, Palestinians lack anything resembling civil rights. They can’t even vote for the Israeli prime ministers who lord it over them. What’s more, the Palestinian citizens of Israel (some 20 percent  of the population), despite technically possessing the franchise, are systematically repressed in a variety of ways.

Evidence of an apartheid-style state is everywhere apparent in the Palestinian territories. In violation of countless international norms and U.N. resolutions, Israel imposes its own version of a police state — functionally, a military occupation of land legally possessed by Arabs. It has begun a de facto annexation of Palestinian land by building a “security wall” through Palestinian villages. Its military constructs special “Jewish only” roads in the West Bank linking illegal Israeli settlements, while further fracturing the fiction of Palestinian contiguity. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not only refused to withdraw those settlements or halt the colonization of Palestinian territory by Jewish Israelis, but during the recent Israeli election promised to begin the actual annexation of the West Bank in his new term.

Israeli military actions are regularly direct violations of the principles of proportionality in warfare, which means that the ratio of Israeli to Palestinian casualties is invariably absurdly disproportionate. Since last spring, at least 175 Palestinians (almost all unarmed) have been shot to death by Israeli soldiers along the Gaza Strip fence line, while 5,884 others were wounded by live ammunition. Ninety-four of those had to have a limb amputated. A staggering 948 of the wounded were minors. In that period, just one Israeli died and 11 were wounded in those same clashes.

Life in blockaded Gaza is almost unimaginably awful. So stringent are the sanctions imposed that one prominent official in a leaked diplomatic cable admitted that Israeli policy was to “keep Gaza’s economy on the brink of collapse.” In fact, back in 2012, one of that country’s military spokesmen even indicated that food was being allowed into the blockaded strip on a 2,300 calories a day count per Gazan — just enough, that is, to avoid starvation.

President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem in 2017. (U.S. Embassy Jerusalem via Flckr)

Trump and Netanyahu, Jerusalem, 2017. (U.S. Embassy Jerusalem via Flckr)

Through it all, with Trump at the wheel, Netanyahu can feel utterly assured of the near limitless backing of the United States. The Trump team has essentially sanctioned all Israeli behavior, thereby legitimizing the present state of Palestinian life. Trump has moved the U.S. embassy to contested Jerusalem — admitting once and for all that Washington sees the holy city as the sole property of the Jewish state — recognized the illegal Israeli annexation of the conquered Syrian Golan Heights, and increased the flow of military aid and arms to Israel, already the number-one recipient of such American largesse.

Sometimes, in the age of Trump, it almost seems as if “Bibi” Netanyahu were the one guiding American policy throughout the Middle East. No wonder Israel rounds out that troika of tyranny.

Wag the Dog?

Beyond their wretched human rights records and undemocratic tendencies, that troika has another particularly relevant commonality as the U.S. reportedly prepares for a possible war with Iran. Two of those countries — Israel and Saudi Arabia — desperately desire that the American military take on their Iranian nemesis. The third, Egypt, will go along with just about anything as long as Uncle Sam keeps the military aid flowing to Cairo. Think of it as potentially the ultimate wag the dog scenario, with Washington taking on the role of the dog.

This alone should make Washington officials cautious. After all, war with Iran would surely prove disastrous (whatever damage was done to that country). If you don’t think so, you haven’t been living through the last 17-plus years of this country’s forever wars. Unfortunately, no one should count on such caution from John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, or even Donald Trump.

So settle into your seats folks and prepare to watch the empire swallow the republic whole.

Danny Sjursen, a TomDispatch regular, is a retired U.S. Army major and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir of the Iraq War, Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge.” He lives in Lawrence, Kansas. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his podcast Fortress on a Hill,” co-hosted with fellow vet Chris ‘Henri’ Henriksen.

This article first appeared on TomDispatch. 

40 comments for “John Bolton’s Absurd ‘Troika Tyranny’

  1. June 5, 2019 at 12:30

    Why do American right-wing politicians feel the need to keep coining such expressions?

    Troika of Tyranny?

    Axis of Evil?

    Evil Empire?

    Almost like slogans used to sell canned soup or household cleaner.

    Something elemental and unpleasant in their psychology is suggested by this practice.

    At the very least, it’s indicative of a kind of childishness around large issues.

  2. Gerome Torribio
    June 4, 2019 at 06:37

    The ad hominem attacks on the author by some of the commenters–that “he is not a journalist” for various reasons–are evidence that he is speaking some unpopular truths which need to be heard and considered. Chiefly, that our “erstwhile allies” in the Middle East are, in varying degrees, repressive regimes. His criticism of John Bolton as an architect of U.S. policy is not unique, but in my view valuable–the more, the better in my opinion. Whether Bolton’s dangerous and provocative pronouncements are an exact reflection of the views of his boss, or the appointment of this modern Dr. Strangelove was foisted upon a hapless Trump by the Deep State, the guy needs to be removed from the White House.

  3. June 3, 2019 at 10:37

    I find it hard to take any “journalist” who describes Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua as “little tin-pot tyrannies” – in fact, I lost interest and stopped reading at that point. There is more “freedom and democracy” in those three countries than you will ever find in the US. Just ask Julian Assange.

    • June 3, 2019 at 12:24

      I wouldn’t call this guy a journalist at all. He’s ex-military who seems to have found a new lease on life by writing about the obvious criminality of the system that made him what he is. Seems like a phony to me; at best, he has a LOT to learn.

    • June 5, 2019 at 12:40

      It is very poor writing, whether by a journalist or not, to use an expression like “little tin-pot tyrannies”

      Using such old claptrap phrases reveals a lack of thought for sure and signals “this is not worth reading.”

  4. David Connor
    June 3, 2019 at 09:45

    Exceptional article!! A must read! Thank you!

  5. Anti_republocrat
    June 2, 2019 at 10:54

    “little tin-pot tyrannies” Why does the author go along with the propaganda? I don’t know about the other two, but Venezuela is clearly not a tyranny though the US wants to turn it into one.

  6. Garrett
    June 1, 2019 at 18:56

    Live by the gun, die by the gun.

  7. June 1, 2019 at 18:29

    I have read your article. Democracy can be a two edge sword!!!! Hitler was elected in 1932. How did that work out? Same for arab spring muslim brotherhood,hamas in gaza. What about venezuela or communist russia under stalin and Lenin. And last but not least Iran and syria all democractic.?

  8. robert e williamson jr
    June 1, 2019 at 15:06

    Sounds to me as though a few commentors here are suffering from the “sour grapes” syndrome! Or maybe it’s just a knee JERK reaction from those who read things that make them uncomfortable.

    • mike k
      June 1, 2019 at 15:51

      Your vague slur on unnamed commenters is troll talk.

  9. Leo Faber
    June 1, 2019 at 11:49

    Could not agree more.

  10. Lucius Patrick
    May 31, 2019 at 22:05

    Bottom line, Trump has gotten us into ZERO wars. When he won the Republican nomination he insisted that the Republican National Committee remove from its platform assistance to the coup government in their civil war with East Ukraine–so instead of further goading and pushing Russia, he acted like a mature adult, unlike HRC who wanted no-fly zones in Syria and who likened Putin to Hitler in a comparison that did not work. So Bolton and Pompeo are a couple of big mouth hammers–maybe Trump is using that to his advantage while avoiding wars… Bush/Cheney three wars, Obama/HRC six or seven; Obama dropped twice as many bombs as Bush; Obama restarted the Cold War with Russia when HRC appointed Robert Kagan’s wife to run European affairs and back the Ukraine coup; Obama/HRC destroyed Libya; Obama/HRC backed Jihadists to overthrow Russia’s ally, the legitimate government of Syria. Conclusion: Trump on course for zero war.

    • mike k
      June 1, 2019 at 15:49

      Your conclusion about Trump is premature and ill founded. The Trump administration has us already in several undeclared wars all over the world. Sanctions and sieges are acts of war. To characterize Trump as a peace president is absurd.

    • ML
      June 2, 2019 at 10:05

      Trump a “mature adult” ? Oh, that is rich! But I agree with you about HRC. But both parties are war parties and both vote for ever-increasing military budgets to the detriment of the citizens of this country. Trump supports our bloated military budget. Your praise for Trump is misplaced. And his choice to hire Bolton and Pompeo will lead to more destruction, possibly our own. But I guess you are a diehard supporter. Not a good look there, Lucius. Let the scales fall from you, sir. Awaken.

    • June 3, 2019 at 10:46

      Congratulations, Jucius Patrick. You are one of the few Americans who can actually look past the organized “liberal” demonization of Donald Trump and look at the facts instead of the flood of vitriol and demonization. If HRC had won in 2016, I am not sure any of us would be around today to read or write comments, as she was committed to start nuclear WWIII which Trump has managed to avoid, against all the odds.

  11. Yahweh
    May 31, 2019 at 21:09

    Three things are needed to control the world financially ….#1 reserve status fiat currency….. control by ownership of the areas of the world that have the greatest oil and gas….. and a clear safe avenue guaranteed by military to implement the plan.

    Here are the major players and policymakers …..USA…Israel…Saudi Arabia….

    OPEC is on life support…..The new cartel is well on it’s way planning to take out all countries who resist. Hello Russia…Hello Syria (Russian pipeline/Golan heights)….Hello Venezuelan energy reserves along with central American resistance….

    The USA financially is on life support, unless this new plan is successful the great USA can say good bye to the good times….

    This is the future….make your plans accordingly

  12. KiwiAntz
    May 31, 2019 at 21:04

    “Everybody Knows”, the Leonard Cohen song should be the song that defines the true, sadistic Troika of Tyranny which is America, Saudi Arabia & the Modern State of Israel. All three Countries are lawless, Rogue & Criminal Countries who all despise International Law & UN Laws ,unless it benefits their own purposes? All three Nations are Warmongering despotic Countries run by lunatics, hellbent on chaos, destruction & War crimes against humanity? America supports the very Country, Saudi Arabia, which was directly responsible for supplying 15 out of 19, Saudi Arabian Plane Hyjackers that caused the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre! Saudi’s flew the Planes into the Towers which humiliated the “Exceptional US Empire”, exposing its utter vulnerability & weak underbelly! It wasn’t Iranians, Iraqi’s, Syrians or Libyans who did this, but got the blame for it anyway from a corrupt American Govt! Where was John Bolton, the angry moustache man, when that happened & why didn’t he condemn the true Terrorist behind the attacks, being the head chopping nutcases, Saudi Arabian’s? No, the Moustache blamed the Iraqi’s for the attacks so as to provide America with the excuse to invade Iraq & steal its Oil! Talk about supporting the Enemy(Saudi Arabia) of my enemy, is my friend? The entire Middle East chaos is caused by America, Israel & Saudi Arabia, the three, Terrorist tyrants of the World, united in this Troika of Death & destruction? The Multipolar World can’t come soon enough for a World thats desperate for peace & which has had a gutsful of America & it’s lackeys such as Israel & Saudi Arabia & are sick of the suicidal threats & bullying behaviour from these three demented Nations & the sooner the head into oblivion, the better off the World will be!

  13. Hornswaggler
    May 31, 2019 at 20:59

    Good article but it seems to willfully downplay Obama’s role in this sort of thing. For example:

    “Bottom line: in no imaginable fashion do those little tin-pot tyrannies offer either an existential or even a serious threat to the United States. Evidently, however, the phrase was meant to conjure up enough ill will and fear to justify the Trump team’s desire for sweeping regime change in Latin America.”

    It was “the Obama team” which declared Venezuela a national security threat; yet this isn’t mentioned.

    On the Egypt coup: “Washington, of course, remained silent.”

    Why not “The Obama team, of course, remained silent”? And not to mention they didn’t remain silent. As in Ukraine and Honduras they refused to recognize it as a coup and actively pressured allies to accept the new regimes, so that they could keep selling weapons to and other types of support. By US law they couldn’t have done some of this if these were recognized coups.

    The bias here, mostly by omission, some by selective word choice, is pretty easy to spot (imo).

    P.S. “In the process, National Security Advisor John Bolton treated us all to a new phrase, no less laughable than Bush-the-younger’s 2002 “axis of evil” (Iran, Iraq, and North Korea). He labeled Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua a “troika of tyranny.”

    The phrase is sort of new but this is nothing new for Bolton. In that same year of 2002 this same Bolton gave a speech about his new Axis of evil group: Libya, Cuba, and Syria.

    And in 2005 Condi Rice quipped: “To be sure, in our world there remain outposts of tyranny and America stands with oppressed people on every continent… in Cuba, and Burma, and North Korea, and Iran, and Belarus, and Zimbabwe”

    • michael
      June 1, 2019 at 17:40

      And we have a National Emergency for each of Condi Rice’s countries (although Burma’s (Myamnar’s) has ended, possibly because they slaughtered enough Rohingya to get back in America’s good graces).

  14. Brian James
    May 31, 2019 at 20:45

    May 19, 2019 Venezuela Exposes the Myth of John Bolton’s “Genius”

    In Venezuela, Bolton showed none of the ruthless, devious subtlety of a Dwight D. Eisenhower in masterminding a coup and fragrant breach of international law without appearing to have anything to do with it.

  15. ranney
    May 31, 2019 at 15:48

    Thank you Consortium for including Sjursen in your pantheon of writers. I have read his articles at another web site and had toyed with the idea of writing CN to ask that you include some of his essays. I think he has a clear voice backed by current experience with some of the areas we are currently dealing with.
    I read with dismay the caviling critiques of some other readers here who dispute his wording or feel his words are not as strong as they would like. I personally feel that it took courage to put Israel in his theoretical troika, and courage for Truthout and Common Dreams to publish it and now CN.
    I hope you include him here again. Bacevich and Astore are also two others I think its good to hear from. They too have Middle east military experience along with historical perspective – oddly, all three I believe have taught history at West Point or a University.

    • Gregory Herr
      May 31, 2019 at 23:19

      A good rule of thumb in expressing a point of contention with someone that is by-and-large “on the same page” is to make that agreement clear as well. Danny Sjursen has frequented Scott Horton’s podcast—which I generally catch—and I have appreciated and admired much of the thinking he courageously began formulating while still on active duty.

      Beyond agreeing with Drew that the “tinpot tyrannies” comment was off the mark, I wanted to emphasize that the war in Yemen is a case of what Obama once called “leading from behind”, a means of “cover” for operations that the U.S. doesn’t want to appear to be American-led. Simply put, as Poppy Bush exultantly stated: “What we say goes.” The premier protagonist in the aggression against Yemen and Syria is clearly not Saudi Arabia.

      Pushing back against the notion (or as you call “wording”) of a “civil war” in Syria certainly isn’t petty. That false propaganda ought to be called out at every turn.

    • Eddie S
      May 31, 2019 at 23:48

      Yes, I would definitely ‘second’ the inclusion of Astore — he makes excellent anti-militarism points, which are especially effective coming from a former USAF major and later college prof…

  16. Susan Leslie
    May 31, 2019 at 15:32

    Thanks again Danny for calling a spade a spade. Please keep it up – we need your voice of reason in this country of pure madness…

  17. Tedder
    May 31, 2019 at 15:28

    The major’s analysis of the real troika is spot on; however, by referring to Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela as “little tin-pot tyrannies” he falls into the Washington Consensus of belittling and disparaging socialism. The major still has a lot to learn.

    • May 31, 2019 at 21:56

      I stopped at “tin pot”; who does this bourgeois snit think he is?

  18. Abe
    May 31, 2019 at 14:43

    The article ventures beneath the surface of Israel’s so-called “democracy” and mention Saudi backing for Al-Qaeda in Syria, but avoids a full description of US-Saudi-Israeli Axis of Aggression.

    Major Sjursen coyly avers that “Sometimes, in the age of Trump, it almost seems as if ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu were the one guiding American policy throughout the Middle East”.

    A more honest analysis would address the abject obeisance to the pro-Israel Lobby repeatedly demonstrated by the US Congress and Trump administration.

    Trump’s efforts on behalf of Israel began immediately after the election, prior to his taking the oath of office. His administration has aggressively pursued the pro-Israel Lobby agenda of conflict with Iran.

    Bolton owes his job to the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) and Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, the biggest individual donors to the GOP in the 2018 election cycle and to the Trump campaign in 2016. The Adelsons had long promoted Bolton for a top foreign-policy position once they moved to support Trump’s presidential candidacy in the spring of 2016.

    Pompeo has worn his Christian evangelical faith on his sleeve with, among other things, his references to The Rapture. The ardent Zionism of Protestant evangelical leaders derives from a peculiar British 16th-century interpretation of the Book of Revelations. The Christian Zionist camp of the pro-Israel Lobby has consistently supported Netanyahu’s belligerence and threats against Iran.

    Trump, Bolton and Pompeo remain deep in the pockets of the pro-Israel Lobby. Basic reason, let alone “caution”, cannot be expected from the Trump administration.

  19. May 31, 2019 at 14:33

    “little tin-pot tyrannies”

    Try again Sjursen.

    They aren’t tryannies whatsoever. Are they perfect, obviously not. Do they offer a different socio-economic arrangement for 90% of their populations? Yes; one that’s better and more humane than the exploitation that’s gone on for over a century in most Latin American states at the hands of the Washington imperialist hegemon.

    • Gregory Herr
      May 31, 2019 at 17:14

      And to add to your corrective Drew, it should be emphasized that heinous air strikes targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure in Yemen was coordinated with U.S. “intelligence” and mid-air refueling.

      And the war in Syria should not be described as a “civil war”. It has been from the beginning a naked aggression against a civilized, peaceable people perpetrated and coordinated mainly by CIA/Mossad. The “backing” of al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, and other mercenaries with Saudi money was made “effective” because they were covered by U.S. air power and augmented with CIA ratlines of weaponry.

      • May 31, 2019 at 20:47

        Exactly Mr. Herr. Excellent points!

      • AnneR
        June 1, 2019 at 11:47

        Quite so. While the military looks to have skewed Mr Sjursen’s perspective considerably, perhaps also the historical writings he read and researched while he was working toward his degrees shaped his worldview which has a hint of Orientalism to it (albeit that Latin America is not Asia). Whatever tinted his perception, it definitely is condescending, and rather imperialist in tone.

        Syria, Iran, Iraq have been on the drawing board for destruction as states all the better for US corporate-capitalist exploitation of their resources and for Israel’s ever expansionist ambitions. There may have been, initially, rebellion among the Syrian agricultural communities on whom the long lasting droughts had serious economic and life-way effects, but that almost immediately became “infiltrated” by US/Israel supported jihadi groups (of course the initial anti-government rebellion might well have been fomented by the usual suspects). Whether initially fomented by the US/Israel or simply hi-jacked by them via proxies, a civil war it has not been.

    • Tiu
      May 31, 2019 at 21:56

      Yep. The big tin-pot tyrannies mostly live on Wall Street, and their “elite” controllers mostly operate from the parallel universe (e.g. the square mile in London, the BIS in Basel and a handful of other locations).

    • Jeff Harrison
      June 1, 2019 at 01:01

      Eh, verily, Mr. Sjursen. You clearly have been brainwashed by your masters who sent you to Iraq in the first place. You slander anyone whom the US doesn’t like. We usually don’t like them because they either kicked us out (Iran, Cuba, etc) or they won’t allow the US or our agents, the NGOs, like the National endowment for Democracy to control their government (Russia, India, Turkey), or they won’t allow US Corps to control their economy and not because there’s anything wrong with them. Jimmy Carter said that Venezuela had the best election system in S. America even as the US fomented coups against the country. They would be so lucky as to have us leave them alone.

  20. Tick Tock
    May 31, 2019 at 13:32

    Why do we love to eat the excrement of Middle Eastern Human Garbage. More directly the Saudi’s and Israeli’s. Why is it? It’s irrational, insane and not healthy! Our Grandparents did it, our parents did it, we do it and I guess our children and grandchildren will continue to do it with glee and satisfaction. Without question 2 of the most Evil countries and peoples on the Planet, Saudi Arabs and Israeli Jews who most certainly have been reserved as special place in Hell.

    • Rochelle
      June 2, 2019 at 02:07

      Just as soon as I thought it hard to not stop reading at the “little tin-pot tyrannies” remark, I scrolled down and was gladdened to see this addressed very early on in the comments. As usual, CN commenters are full of well-read, highly informed people. Sadly, this kind of remark (cf. “Assad regime,” “Putin’s Russia,” as well as “Soviet invasion of Afghanistan” or “Russian annexation of Crimea,” etc) seems to be par the course for many TomDispatch writers.

      • Rochelle
        June 2, 2019 at 02:08

        Oops, must have clicked the wrong button… This was meant to be a standalone comment…

  21. nmb
    May 31, 2019 at 13:19

    Trump’s new hawkish golden boy was pushing for war with Iran at least since 2003 through lies, dirty tricks, fabricated facts and propaganda

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