Rex Tillerson told Chris Wallace on Fox’s Sunday morning show that the video of him seeming calm and experienced during a Saudi sword dance appeared the way it did because this recent sword dance was not his first sword dance. Indeed AmericanOil companies — like Tillerson’s former bailiwick of Exxon Mobil have plenty to do with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The oil industry has been an imperfect bridge of communications but it is a bridge and conduit for a great deal of communication between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Aramco, a Saudi oil giant tries to make its voice understandable abroad in communications such as this piece.
But it is not any less a fact that terrorist funding, Islamic teachings openly hostile to America and many other things besides oil have flowed from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and some of its neighbors for a long time.
Today, in Israel trump has his speech to the Sunni Arab nations behind him and will visit Christian and Jewish holy sites in Israel such as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Bethlehem and the Wailing Wall. But when one considers all that was being said about the anti-Islamic nature of our President’s views as President Donald John Trump was quietly preparing for a trip to Saudi Arabia it seems unlikely that the man who just closed this enormous arms deal which will strengthen Saudi defense and bolster the US defense industry is as rabidly anti-Moslem as some of his critics have suggested.. That relative success he enjoyed in Saudi Arabia will mark one leg of his trip to reach the sites near the center of the great Abrahamic religions. His visit to Israel and Vatican City will be well watched. But the trip to Saudi Arabia came as a chosen starting place. Much can be said about how this relates to positioning vis-a-vis Russia, Syria and Iran. But many American constituents have concerns about Saudi Arabian influence in the world as well. Concerns which are not going away any time soon.
Meanwhile, back in the United States social discord is widespread and it is not at all easy to measure where it is going or how intense it will become. I myself am fairly deeply alienated form many aspects of our society and that allows me to take in the fact that Confederate monuments in New Orleans are coming down in relation to one act of terrorism in South Carolina while we cuddle up to the country where 9-11 actually germinated and where Osama Bin-Laden has his roots and had many supporters. Of course terror in the deep south was not unknown before the South Carolina church shooting. But different terrors are overlooked and minimized at different times.
The President has confronted the issues of Islamic Terror but made peaceful gesture to the larger cultural networks around the terrorists — in distant Saudi Arabia.But meanwhile back here, nearer to my home, New Orleans is being transformed. There is no doubt that the removal of Confederate Monuments will remake the city’s image in some way. Not that there was not room for improvement, but this change has a distinct context. I believe that context will have a cost.
I am not blogging as much about politics as I once did. I am also preoccupied with other struggles and my success or lack thereof distinguishes me more from Tillerson and the Arab princes than our positions in geopolitics. Change keeps marching on and it is good for most of us to remember both the good of our country and our own self interest when we try to judge the significance of that change.