Friday, December 11, 2020

The Trumpy Doctrine

Illustration via The Week, May 2019.

So another Arab country just made "peace" ad maioram gloriam Trumpii with Israel—Morocco, which, needless to say, was not at war with Israel in the first place. On the contrary! As Wikipedia dryly notes,

While Morocco did not recognize Israel as a state, the relationship between the two was secretly maintained after the establishment of Israel in 1948. For many years, Hassan II had facilitated the secret relationship with Israel, and it was considered as instrumental in stabilizing Morocco and beating possible anti-royal threats within the country.[1] The former secret relationship continues to play an important role in growing Israeli–Moroccan ties, despite the lack of formal relations. The Israeli passport is accepted entry to Morocco with a visa granted on arrival.[2]

Uh, Mr. President, they seem to have plenty of peace already!

The benefit for Israel isn't, of course, less war, but, as in all these cases, decreased support for the people of the occupied Palestinian territories, in whose name Arab countries have been refusing to recognize Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967, and at this point, as Israel has really abandoned pretending to back a two-state resolution, de facto support for Israel's annexation of the territories.

The quid pro quo for Morocco is US recognition for that country's dubious occupation of most of the former colony of Spanish Sahara, a big piece of Africa's Atlantic coast adjacent to the Canaries which attained independence from Spain in 1975, through the efforts of a national liberation movement called the Frente Polisario (with the help of some Moroccan irregular soldiers), and which Morocco has long claimed, in despite of the preferences of the population and the principle of self-determination, and the recognition of 84 UN member states (44 of them "frozen" in response to Moroccan bribery) including its neighbors Algeria and Mauritania, for the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and a 1979 UN resolution, as well as official backing of self-determination for the Sahrawi people from the African Union, European Union, Non-Aligned Movement, and United Nations.

Map by Kmusser via Wikipedia. The red line is the 1400-mile berm that divides the area of Moroccan control in the west from the area controlled by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

Benefits for the US, obviously, are nil, though it's possible it might have been planned as more campaign material for Trump that got done too late for the election, but it suddenly struck me there's a pattern here. Morocco has a disputed claim on some territory that doesn't want it; so does Israel. So does Sudan, which normalized relations with Israel in October, on bits of territory it lost in the secession of South Sudan; so do the United Arab Emirates (with Iran) and Bahrain (with Qatar), both of which announced a Trumpy deal with Israel in September.

Trump has also offered support to Russian claims on Ukraine since the 2016 campaign (same news conference, 27 July, where he invited Russians to "find the 30,000 emails that are missing"), later lecturing the G7 summit in Canada about how "everybody in Crimea speaks Russian" (not as completely false as it may sound, but not relevant to an illegal military conquest of sovereign territory). Trump has backed Saudi Arabian efforts to dominate its poor neighbor Yemen in a ferocious war (the Obama administration played a less than honorable role in that, as I complained at the time, but US diffident collusion has become brutally enthusiastic cooperation under Trump, and in defiance of Congress). Trump has devoted intense efforts to stopping one Chinese technology firm, but done nothing to protect the oppressed minority populations in Tibet, Inner Mongolia, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, or for that matter Hui Muslims and Christians all over the country, or from developing a military occupation of the entire South China Sea.

Trump has backed Turkish efforts to control the Kurdish population not only inside Turkey (home of the famous Trump Tower Istanbul, from which he's earned around $2 million since he became president), but also across the border in Syria and Iraq, famously withdrawing US troops from Syria to make way for Turkish forces. Trump gave Turkey's ally Azerbaijan $100 million in military aid over 2018-19, vs. $5.3 million for Azerbaijan's only enemy Armenia, helping to bankroll Azerbaijan's successful conquest (with the help of Turkish troops including Syrian helots taken from Turkish refugee camps and used as cannon fodder) of large parts of the Karabakh enclave this fall—in spite of Pompeo stepping in to negotiate a brief ceasefire; it took Putin to make an effective peace deal after Azerbaijan (home of the famous Trump Tower Baku debacle, from which he earned nothing) had effectively won the war.

White nationalism (from Russia to Britain and Hungary to Brazil) may be a feature of Trump's politics, or a personal fondness for dictatorial rulers and desire to cultivate them (eccentrically, in North Korea or the Philippines, as well as more geopolitically in Turkey and the Saudi kingdom and so on), but it's really as if there's another thing that's a regular principle of Trumpy foreign policy: the favoring of imperial projects wherever they exist, local imperialisms. That's the Trumpy Doctrine: wherever you look in the world, try to increase the violence you see, the oppression of the small by the big, a little bit here and a little bit there. Make the world safe for bullying.


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