In early October, Donald Trump informed one of his red-neck rallies that he had recently reminded the ageing Saudi king Salman that he and his dynasty wouldn’t last two weeks if it were not for American support.
If his report of that conversation is true ( and unfortunately that is uncertain, given Trump’s panache for invention and exaggeration), Trump was reminding the elderly monarch that the US was propping up the House of Saud and that it would be overthrown if the US ceased to support it. People of Yemen, please note.
Even if the phone conversation was not that crude, he was sending the same crude, bullying message to King Salman, a vital ally, through the media.
Trump was signalling to his supporters that he, as President of the United States, held the fate of the House of Saud in his hand and could consign them to history if the Saudis refused to play ball with him on oil prices and arms purchases. Of course this went down well with the idiot audience he was addressing, attired as they were with “Make America Great Again” baseball caps.
Little did he know that his braggadocio claim to have “life or death” power over the Saudi regime would come back to bite him within days.
The king’s son, Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, had by that stage signalled to his own personal body-guard that he wanted the irritating critic and Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, silenced.
Within days, the Crown Prince’s thugs were sent to lure Khasogghi to a savage death in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. What was planned to be a completely deniable murder was, of course, completely denied by the Saudis. They had simulated Khasogghi departing safely from the consulate to attend at a nearby mosque using one of their thugs as double wearing the dead man’s clothes.
Then the truth began to filter out via the Turkish security services. Bit by bit, the truth emerged showing Khasogghi to have been deliberately murdered and dismembered “bit by bit”. Next the Saudis were forced to claim their victim had died in some form of violent scuffle.
Finally, the Saudis claimed that people close to the Crown Prince had indeed flown to Istanbul to kill their victim but that the Crown Prince knew nothing about their plan.
To lend credence to this grotesque lie, the Crown Prince had it announced that they had now identified (but would not name) the members of this maverick hit squad, had arrested them, and that it wass now proposed to seek the death penalty (beheading) for the perpetrators.
Well, how convenient! The only witnesses to the Crown Prince’s direct responsibility would be executed before they could talk! Or perhaps some others who knew the truth would be spared by the stratagem of producing a number of beheaded dupes.
As evidence and intelligence pointing towards the guilt of the Crown Prince accumulated, Trump’s claims to done a deal for the Saudis to spend up to $500 billion on US investments and US arms sales came into sharp focus.
The CIA found that it was probable that the Crown Prince directed the murder. But it pointed out that the evidence did not “conclusively” prove that probability.
So Trump was thus enabled to deny that the CIA had “concluded” that the Crown Prince was guilty. And once those heads are chopped off, all “conclusive” evidence will lie with them in a Saudi gutter.
In Sioux City, Trump famously boasted that he could go out into Fifth Avenue, New York, and shoot someone in the head and that it wouldn’t affect the loyalty of his supporters. Welcome to the club, Crown Prince Bin Salman!
Trump says none of this will affect his support for the Saudis. He condemned their lies as the “worst ever cover up”. But he won’t condemn the House of Saud or its savage Crown Prince for the murder of a columnist in an American newspaper. Nor would Trump listen to the sound recording of his murder because “it’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape”.
He should listen to the tape. He might just think twice about embracing the Prince.
You might think that Trump, if he really believed that he held the fate of the House of Saud in his hands, might have directed them to end their mass starvation of millions strategy in the Yemen and to call off the bombardment of Yemen’s major aid port, Hodeida.
But you would be wrong. The US is more concerned with countering the threat emanating from Houthi tribesmen than it is with saving the lives of millions of innocent people.
The Middle East has been turned into a slaughterhouse the whole way from the consulate in Istanbul to the tip of the Arabian peninsula, and many points in between, in pursuit of America’s insane policy of hitching as allies Israel and Saudi Arabia against a largely imaginary threat of Shia dominance.
There are similarities between the chief protagonists of this alliance – Trump, Netanyahu and Crown Prince Salman. Each of them is tainted by charges of corruption and cronyism. Each of them relies on close family members for political support. Each of them, in one way or another, has looted their respective economies for personal gain. Each of them has manufactured the myth that world peace depends on the three of them destroying the regime in Iran.
During the week, the Guardian newspaper carried accounts of Steve Bannon, the Irish American extremist provocateur, and his plans to destroy the European Union by financing the emergence of destructive, right-wing extremism in time to affect the outcome of the European Parliament elections.
Until they fell out, Bannon and his Breitbart friends were close allies of Donald Trump. Although Bannon was sacked from the court of King Donald, he continues to pursue his old destructive, nihilistic brand of subversive politics.
We would be very naïve to think that we have seen the worst of Donald Trump.
His self-absorption and self-idolatry was made clear in his video message to US forces for Thanksgiving. He has surrounded himself by slavish yes-men and by cowed members of his immediate family. When you think of it, their presence at the top table is more indicative of mediaeval absolutism than modern democracy.
Because America has become a fully blown plutocracy in which the citizens’ vote is almost bought and sold like a commodity, it is hard to be optimistic about the chances of the Democrats identifying and promoting a credible challenger to Trump in the 2020 elections.
There are darkening clouds on the horizon. An economic downturn seems inevitable –especially when the capacity of America to run trillion dollar deficits finally runs out of road. Do you remember when the Tea Party was pledged to end deficits?
What then? Escalating tensions and sponsoring war will become more and more attractive to Trump when all other options are exhausted.
Heaven forbid a second term for this monster.