Tillerson Really Doesn’t Get It!

Dispatches from Deena Stryker

On February 9th, my Open Letter to Rex Tillerson in TGP concluded with this paragraph:

“Beyond theology, the crux of the Sunni-Shia divide is whether Iran or Saudi Arabia will be the preeminent power in the Middle East. Russian-Iranian relations have varied over time, but Western economic sanctions on Iran only strengthened it, making Iran the only country in Western Asia invited to join the Collective Security Treaty Organization, President Putin’s response to NATO’s encroachment.

As perhaps the world’s foremost petroleum executive, you know that relations between Russia and Iran go beyond their shared existence as oil producers. With so many urgent tasks ahead, I hope you can prevail upon the Trump Administration to pursue a seamless shift away from Saudi Arabia, that supports its number one enemy, ISIS, and recognize Iran as the leading Middle East power, whose efforts will be directed toward a vital process of healing.”

You’re a busy man, running an almost deserted State Department, so I guess you rely on the NYT for opinion, but your statement prior to landing in Moscow yesterday and your opening statement in talks with Russia’s foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today reveal that even in the face of dangerously deteriorating relations, you continue to follow a script that bears little relation to ‘realities on the ground’.

Since President Trump took his first foray into muscle-flexing as opposed to ‘cooperation’ with Russia, you’re phrasing the US position in slightly different language, inadvertently perhaps revealing what’s behind it.  You wonder why Russia would want to be allied with ‘the likes of’ Iran, Syria and North Korea rather than with ‘the West’.  Well, Mr. Secretary, ‘the West’s’ allies in the Middle East — which Americans could imagine as the equivalent to the US’s ‘backyard (pre-Castro Latin America) — are the Sunni countries led by Saudi Arabia that back ISIS — whidh the US claims to want to fight alongside Russia.

We finally can see where the trouble lies in the US’s failure to ‘understand’ why Russia would choose Iran over ‘the West’ — as well as the key to President Putin’s overall attitude toward Washington:

After the US saved Europe twice in the 20th century from its German trouble-maker, Washington assumed that its job for all time was to lead the world so that it would no longer be subject to terrible wars.  Unfortunately, that voluntarily assumed role of savior led to a seemingly unending series of US aggressions (The world was a dangerous place and only we (this long before the current ‘I only’) can ensure — not tranquillity, ‘right’, whatever the cost to tranquillity.

For seven decades after the end of WW II, no other country achieved a position of strength that enabled it to challenge US supremacy as stated in its foundational geo-political goal: “To ensure that no other power can challenge US hegemony”.  The US was free to gradually undermine the social-democratic foundations of the European Union through forced injections of neo-liberalism, while pursuing ‘regime change’ in a series of Middle Eastern countries to which treasure had not brought Enlightenment governance.

Nothing is forever.  The US slow, painful fall from grace has transformed the White House into a circus tent, where, very quickly, President Trump’s vision of international cooperation, starting with Russia, dissolved in the Syrian sands.  Today, his foreign minister, appropriately,  a Big Oil man, faces Russia’s foreign minister, who makes clear that Russia is not interested in becoming yet another US yes-man (following on Europe’s refusal to endorse more anti-Russian sanctions yesterday, as it timidly grows a spine after seventy-odd years of subordination to the US).  (Another US idea is that Russia should cosy up to that US-dominated Europe, instead of organizing the entire Eurasian continent in partnership with China…)

Secretary Tillerson’s reference, in Moscow, to the US’s ‘Middle Eastern allies’, starting with Saudi Arabia, as part of ‘the West’ was on the order of Sean Spicer comparing Assad (which he pronounced Ashad) to Hitler.  As a brilliant product of the US education system (and I have sincerely admired the White House Press Secretary’s command of current events and his ability to deal with the press corps in daily briefings), does not know a great deal about World War II, in which Hitler gassed 6 million people.  Secretary Tillerson, also a brilliant product of the US educational system, who worked his way up to head a major oil company, dealing primarily with the countries of the Middle East, appears oblivious to the fact that the Sunni-Shia divide has a major political component:  the Shia have since the death of the prophet, been the underdog, the Sunni representing the business elite.

I hate to repeat myself but this fact cannot be ignored when considering Russia’s alliance with Iran.  Not only do the two countries — almost neighbors — have a long history, but the country that carried out the first socialist revolution has been a natural ally of the one in which clerics carried out the Shia version of a socialist revolution.  As a result of that revolution, in tiny, faraway Lebanon, the Shia left achieved a significant voice by creating a highly disciplined armed wing known as Hezbollah, which has supported the Palestinians — and Bashar al-Assad, who belongs to a small Shiite sect known as the Alawites.  Assad’s father, known to history as a brutal dictator, was able to bring this small sect to power in a predominantly Sunni nation that had barely emerged from French oversight after World War II, Catholic France having played an important role in Syria since the Crusades.

And just as Vladimir Putin did not throw the socialist baby out with the Communist bathwater, since 1968, when Hafez al-Assad took power in a country that had been under Catholic French mandate since 1946, Syria has been the only secular regime in the Middle East (including Israel…) with a French educational system and emancipated women — a basic premise in all socialist regimes.  When Secretary Tillerson wonders why Russia would spurn ‘the West’ — where it would be expected to fall in line — he is trying to make the public believe this is about ‘democracy’ and ‘rule of law’ as opposed to a variety of authoritarian regimes.  The only problem is that he expects the public to ignore that Saudi Arabia and its satrap regimes spread across the Middle East not only are far from being socialist — or social democratic — or governed by the rule of law — they constitute a US shield against the progressive regimes that could be expected to flourish were Iran — with Russia’s backing — to gain the upper hand in that region.  And that, Mr. Secretary, is one of the many enlightened reasons why Russia is not about to join ‘the West’.

Well, you might say, what about North Korea?  Nobody likes Kim Jung Un, but as long as he remains a thorn in the US side, neither Russia nor China — as Xi presumably told Trump at Mar a Lago —(and we can assume that he did because that much heralded visit was followed by a deafening press silence in ‘the West’) —is going to read him the riot act, even as the US sends a fleet of warships to Asia in preparation for taking on China after dispatching Russia — or maybe the other way around, depending on which side of the bed Trumps gets up on any given morning. Whichever it is, Russia under Vladimir Putin will not cooperate.

P.S. The South China Morning Post just headlined that Xi phoned Trump to inform Trump that ‘China Wants Peaceful Means To Resolve North Korean Issue’.



DEENA STRYKER, Senior Contributing Editor

Born in Philadelphia, Stryker spent most of her adolescent and adult years in Europe, resulting over time in several unique books, her latest being 

CUBA: Diary of a Revolution, Inside the Cuban Revolution with Fidel, Raul, Che, and Celia Sanchez

ALSO: Lunch with Fellini, Dinner with Fidel: An Illustrated Personal Journey from the Cold War to the Arab Spring

America Revealed to a Honey-Colored World

A Taoist Politics: The Case For Sacredness

She began her journalistic career at the French News Agency in Rome, spent two years in Cuba finding out whether the Barbados were Communists before they made the revolution (‘Cuba 1964: When the Revolution was Young’). After spending half a decade in Eastern Europe, and a decade in the U.S., studying Global Survival and writing speeches in the Carter State Department, she wrote the only book that foresaw the fall of the Berlin Wall AND the dissolution of the Soviet Union (“Une autre Europe, un autre Monde’). Her memoir, ‘Lunch with Fellini, Dinner with Fidel’, tells it all. ‘A Taoist Politics: The Case for Sacredness’, which examines the similarities between ancient wisdom and modern science and what this implies for political activism; and ‘America Revealed to a Honey-Colored World” is a pamphlet about how the U.S. came down from the City on a Hill’. 


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2 thoughts on “Tillerson Really Doesn’t Get It!

  1. It’s rather difficult to believe that Tillerson could be so dense as to believe Pompeo’s story of CW attack responsibility, since no one went to the scene, there was no forensic investigation of site, etc. But like many in Trump’s admin, including Trump, there is a dearth of intellect of how things operate in this Shakespearean theater of deep state
    and deep pocket interests. Had Tillerson thought to read William Blum’s books, or better, hire someone like Blum in the State Dept to serve as… well, the devil doesn’t need an advocate there, so maybe serve as Archangel for foreign policy — then he could not have been so ignorant as to believe the false flag, particularly after WMD 2003.
    Or otherwise, he’s a Bush real’ politik plant, who knows damn well it’s a false flag,
    and that America has never done anything militarily since the Spanish American war without employing that tactic.
    About the US saving Europe in two world wars — well we might qualify that. France and Germany were about to sign an armistice when johnny come lately US decided to enter war, the result being an unsatisfactory treaty at Versailles, coupled with US refusal to join the League of Nations, thus guaranteeing another war 20 years later
    to resolve what the first war didn’t.
    As for WWII, it’s dubious whether the US saved Europe, since they lost less than 300,000 combat deaths, while the Russians lost 27 million. Churchill played Hitler against Stalin, and both the US and UK hated Communism far worse than Facism, and likely would have entered the war on the side of the Nazis if Hitler hadn’t turned west.
    The Evian Conference in France in 1938 demonstrated how little the US and Western nations cared about the Jewish refugee problem; this was demonstrated again when the US spirited tens of thousands of Nazis out of Europe even before the concentration camps were liberated.
    Well back to Tillerson: a boy scout and Congregationalist, used to sitting on boards of directors. Intelligent, but that and intellect are not the same thing, and intellect, which comes from studying and reading from the ‘house of intellect’ or the collective knowledge of a civilization, is what is woefully lacking among the deep state bobbleheads of the Trump train on a collision course with a leveling, or so I think.


      The “perps” in all these crimes is the deep state—the network of power ministers and institutions (some hidden, like the CIA, some visible, like the corporate media and politicians)—and they are by definition incapable of introspection.

      Long vetting is one explanation. Careerism is another (willingness to prostitute yourself). And the fact that the mythology about this country’s superiority in just about everything, and its “goodness” has been going for so long that many of these people themselves have drunk the Kool Aid and are true believers. People have yet to understand that to be a functional idiot one does not have to have drool coming out of one’s mouth and that people who behave “normally” or even “intelligently” in their personal affairs can be extremely dense or outright stupid when analyzing political questions, everyone victim of the massive brainwash controlling thought in the West, and worst of all in America.

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