The world, to say nothing of two-thirds of the people in this country, deplores Donald Trump. It rejects his racist, sexist rhetoric, his wild and foolish pronouncements, his arrogance, his abundant manifestations of malignant narcissism. The world deplores his withdrawal from the Paris Accord, his rejection of the painstakingly negotiated Iran nuclear agreement, and now his decision–opposed by his leading advisors (except for his son-in-law Jared Kushner)–to recognize, as no other nation save the occupying power Israel ever has, occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The recent UN General Assembly vote implicitly condemning Trump’s decision – which so infuriated the clueless US UN ambassador, Nikki Haley – was a harsh rebuke to Trump. But did it not reflect a broader repudiation of the contemporary USA? A recent Pew poll, taken before the Jerusalem announcement, showed that only 49 percent of the world’s people now see the U.S. favorably.
Trump argues validly that he has simply made official what has been US policy since 1995, when Congress, pressured by the Israel Lobby, passed the ‘Jerusalem Embassy Act.’ The move was politically unproblematic within the US; at the time nearly 50 percent of US residents told pollsters they believed that “God gave Israel to the Jews.” The mix of Lobby influence, Christian Evangelical credence to biblical myth (Genesis 12:3), general historical ignorance and racist indifference to the plight of a cruelly oppressed and humiliated people produced that vote (of 374 to 37 in the House and 93 to 5 in the Senate).
That is to say: this preposterous recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem, including – as it necessarily does – an open attack on Palestinian rights, is not merely another eccentric work of Trump. It is a natural emanation of US imperialist culture.
The Obama presidency showed how a leader continuing and expanding on his predecessor’s assault on the Middle East could maintain high domestic ratings; enjoy the respect of the leaders of allied states, such as the UK, France and Germany; and if we can believe the polls even receive a generally positive reception from the world’s people.
But the Trump presidency shows how a leader staying his predecessors’ course on Afghanistan, Iraq and even to a considerable extent Syria (these involvements, and US knee-jerk support for Israel, being the key source of global hatred for the US) can only retain the support of one-third of the US population. This is due to his manifest ignorance, bigotry and general buffoonery. It shows too that there are limits to western allies’ deference. Angela Merkel, Theresa May and Emmanuel Marcon have all had harsh words for Trump on climate, Iran, trade, immigration, Islam, Korea threats, and now Jerusalem.
This is good. Fractures in the unholy alliance called NATO, the anti-Russian alliance which successive US administrations have sought to expand, and which under Trump’s watch has now included Montenegro, can only be positive.
Let Washington’s current imperialist partners conclude that the US cannot lead the world in a direction that advantages them. Let them conclude that the preposterous Jerusalem decision, which can only produce more violence, is the last straw. Let the European masses realize that Europe’s refugee crisis is the fruit of US interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya that made no sense. Let them realize that Washington’s drive to include Ukraine in NATO through the February 2014 putsch led to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and the US-mandated sanctions on Russia damaging European economies.
This article has been excerpted from: ‘Trump’s Jerusalem Decision and Ongoing US Decline’