In a 20 November statement that began by shouting “America First!“, Donald Trump basically lifted the veil on decades of phony US concern about human rights around the world.
A shameless love letter to Saudi Arabia
In what read like a propaganda statement right out of Riyadh (or Israel), Trump insisted:
The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.
And after rambling on about how Iran was apparently to blame for the destructive actions of the Saudi dictatorship in Yemen, Trump stressed:
last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money… Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors.
In short, the US would be “pursuing its national interests”. Forget that the Saudis are currently decimating Yemen, causing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and leading it towards the Earth’s worst famine in a hundred years. Don’t worry about their key role in the destructive escalation of the Syrian conflict. Ignore their human rights abuses and links to terrorism. And take no notice of the recent murder of a Saudi journalist – possibly on the orders of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Because there are billions of dollars in arms sales on the line and, you know, Iran. (For the record, the US once killed 290 civilians – including 66 children – in just one attack on Iran, which appears to be roughly 290 more than the number of US civilians that Iran has ever killed.)
Not that extraordinary
Mainstream media outlets pointed out the inaccuracies in Trump’s Saudi “love letter“. And they called it “extraordinary”, with the New York Times labelling it “remorselessly transactional” and “founded on a theory of moral equivalence”. But in reality, there was little extraordinary about it. Because it simply summed up how US foreign policy works, exposing elite self-interest in all its ugly glory where previous presidents would try to conceal it.
The establishment may think this just reflects badly on Trump. But it doesn’t. It reflects badly on the US, which for many, many decades has preached about human rights with one breath while ordering abuses with its next.
A long, bloody list of double standards and empty posturing on human rights
Washington’s firm record of hypocrisy on human rights includes:
- Countless CIA operations in the 20th century, supporting coups and brutal right-wing dictatorships.
- The International Court of Justice finding the US in violation of international law in the 1980s for a vicious campaign of destabilisation in Nicaragua.
- Numerous illegal US invasions; most recently in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.
- The murder of civilians via drone strikes in countries including Pakistan and Yemen.
And it also includes:
- Billion-dollar support for Israel; in spite of its apartheid system, brutal occupation of Palestine, massacring of civilians, and alleged war crimes and ethnic cleansing.
- Support for NATO ally Turkey; in spite of its alleged war crimes and ethnic cleansing, position as “the world’s biggest prison” for journalists, support for terrorists, alliance with neo-Nazis, fuelling of Syria’s civil war, looting, and lying.
- Sanctioning and attacking Latin American opponents like Venezuela while supporting highly problematic and repressive allies in Honduras, Colombia, and Mexico.
- Supporting and turning a blind eye to the actions of oppressive allies around the world; from Egypt to Bahrain, and from the Philippines to Rwanda.
In fact, most of the world’s worst countries for workers’ rights are US allies.
Washington’s ugly secrets out in the open
When it comes to foreign policy, Trump isn’t exceptional in US history. He just walks around naked where other presidents would dress up in their Sunday best to hide the ugliness beneath. And that’s a good thing; because the more global citizens wake up to just how hypocritical and profit-centred US foreign policy is, and how little it truly cares about human rights, the less likely they are to fall for its lies in the future.
Featured image via screenshot
Fund our Investigations Unit
You can help us investigate corruption, expose injustice and uncover the truth.
As one of the only independent investigations units in the country, we work for you – but we need your help to keep going. We need to raise £10,000 to continue our groundbreaking investigations. Can you chip in?