There’s spin. Then there’s shameless spin. And then there’s whatever this White House official’s statement to the media is.
While all accounts coming from the Saudi Arabia leg of “TrumpTour 2017” are mostly non-negative, none but the most partisan of observers would call the visit a success. Still, the White House spent the days and weeks leading up to this trip lowering expectations, so much so that the President making it back to Air Force One without peeing in his pants or launching a Tomahawk missile strike on Mecca was viewed by most observers as a victory. Trump for the win, right?
Had they simply taken the ‘W’ and moved-on to Israel in quiet dignity, there might not be a story here. But in typical Trump-White House fashion, they went a different way. Why take a win quietly when you can make a lot of noise bragging about touchdowns you never scored, highlights you never made, and the size and volume of the crowd that didn’t cheer for you?
In fact, right on cue, not long after the wheels lifted-off the tarmac in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, White House officials made their way to the press cabin for a post-game victory lap.
Multiple reports cite a ‘senior White House official’ telling correspondents :
“I think this trip was a big success because it was unexpected… I always say that the president is always at his best when he’s doing big things that are unexpected. …He was able to really go into Saudi Arabia, the custodian of the holy mosques, and then Donald Trump united the entire Muslim world in a way that it really hasn’t been in many years. So it really was historic in that regard.“
Interesting assessment from the White House, considering:
Many nations in the Muslim world are at war with each other and with themselves. Civil war and militant insurgencies rage in Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Afghanistan. Also, India and Pakistan, home to the world’s second and third-largest populations of Muslims, respectively, have been in an on-again, off-again war for over 60 years. Trump brokered no peace deal on this trip, and has no plan or interest in doing so, for any of these intra-Muslim conflicts. In fact, his lone tangible ‘accomplishment’ was a $110 billion arms deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – arms which will be used to slaughter innocent Muslim civilians in Syria and Yemen.
There’s a massive, ancient split within Islam between Sunni and Shia Muslims that is expressed geopolitically in the modern world. You have a nation like Iran, for example, which is majority-Shia, in a constant state of tension with its Sunni neighbors, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States. Trump made no attempt to unite those nations, not politically, not religiously, not even symbolically.
There are millions of Kurdish people living in Turkey, Iraq and Syria whose national aspirations have been repressed by those same nations for many decades. They’ve been the victims of attempted genocide by multiple groups, having suffered chemical attacks by Saddam Hussein, subjected to brutal military crackdowns and ethnic cleansing by Turkey, and more recently they’ve been a prime target of ISIS.
Attempts to arm and empower them to defend themselves, and advance U.S. interests in the process, have been continuously blocked by Turkey and other states worried that the Kurds will get crazy ideas about independence.
We’re going to go out on a limb and say that they don’t feel any more united with their Muslim brothers today than they did before Trump visited Saudi Arabia.
There are 1.8 billion Muslims around world. Saudi Arabia is home to 25 million of them, about 1.8% of the worldwide Muslim population and just enough to make it 15th largest Muslim nation. There are more Muslims across Europe than there are in Saudi Arabia.
And so, no matter what Trump was able to accomplish, it’s ridiculous under any circumstance to say that rubbing an orb in a country that’s home to 1.8% of the Muslim population united the other 98.2% of them.
And if uniting the Muslim world wasn’t a ridiculous enough of a zinger, the same White House official went even further before wrapping up his statement. Filed under “you can’t make this stuff up,” Trump’s own fanboy news network, Breitbart, reported this:
The official highlighted the administration’s goal of visiting three different faiths — Muslims, Jews, and Christians — to highlight shared values and their fight against terrorism.
“By putting everybody together you can really build a coalition and show that it’s not a Muslim problem, it’s not a Jewish problem, it’s not a Catholic problem, it’s not a Christian problem, it really is a world problem,” the official said.
So there you have it. 2 millennia of conflict should all be nicely concluded by the time Air Force One lands back at Andrews Air Force base.
Peter Mellado is a writer, producer, and a branding and messaging specialist with over 15 years experience. He studied history at San Jose State University, and resides in Los Angeles.