Tower of Jello: The Struggle of Russia and UAE over Tillerson’s helming of State Department

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The New Yorker reports that there was a further Steele memo, prepared by the same ex-MI6 intelligence officer who authored the notorious “golden shower” dossier, which reported Russian foreign ministry boasts that they had blocked Trump from appointing Mitt Romney as secretary of state.

Romney had been a fierce critic of Russia in his 2012 presidential bid. If the story is true, that stance, rather than his bashing of Trump himself, led to his sidelining as a candidate for the secretary of state position. We all remember the creepy picture of the dinner Trump and Romney had when the latter was under consideration, with Trump looking like the cat that just ate ten mice.

The point man on this sabotaging of Romney would have been Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Russia appears to have some sort of hold over Trump, possibly “kompromat” or compromising videos or other material.

The man who got the job, Rex Tillerson, is the former head of Exxon-Mobile. He had been involved in a proposed $500 bn. oil and gas deal with Russia before President Barack Obama slapped sanctions on the Russian Federation over the unilateral reclaiming of Crimea from Ukraine. Vladimir Putin and Lavrov may have lobbied against Romney and for Tillerson on the theory that Tillerson would have an interest in squelching the sanctions and reanimating the huge ExxonMobile deal, which would help the Russian economy. Tillerson had also had a personal investment jointly with a company working in Russia.

Russia may have gotten its way (it is only an allegation) on Tillerson, but he went on to disappoint Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates because he did not approve of their June 5, 2017 attempt to take over little Qatar, the Gulf gas giant. In the wake of that crisis, Qatar offered to increase its gas production by a third, and it is expected that ExxonMobile among others will profit handsomely.

Then the BBC says it has received copies of hacked emails from US businessman Elliott Broidy, whose weapons firm has contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars with the United Arab Emirates. The emails reveal that Broidy told Trump to drop Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last fall, apparently over Tillerson’s refusal to help gang up on Qatar on behalf of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates.

He called Tillerson a “tower of Jello”

Just raising a question, but wouldn’t this sort of lobbying of the president on behalf of a foreign power require Broidy to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act?

Broidy also, the emails show, lobbied Jared Kushner against Qatar, but Kushner, who had sought financing for one of his troubled Manhattan properties from a Qatari investor last year this time, appears to have remained noncommittal.

Although Broidy was representing UAE interests, especially those of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed (whom Broidy urged Trump to meet), he is also known as a backer of far right wing Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and may have in part been lobbying against Tillerson for the latter.

So it turns out that not only Kushner himself but the office of the secretary of state has been the site of a vicious international struggle between the UAE and Russia.

The Israel lobbies have often vetoed foreign policy appointees whom they felt to be less than sycophantic toward Tel Aviv, so this sort of thing is not entirely new. But I think the Russia-UAE maneuvering, if the reports are true, is unprecedented.


Bonus video

Wochit News: “Did Russia Block Trump on Romney Nomination?”

6 Responses

  1. The U.S. intelligence community violated via Pres. George H.W. Bush in 1991 laws requiring disclosure to U.S. Congress of covert operations being conducted between the Bush administration and Boris Yeltsin.

    Yeltsin was given access by U.S. intelligence to highly-classified information in an attempt to break the 1991 military coup against Gorbachev and elevate Yeltsin to the leadership of Russia.

    By December 25, 1991 the USSR was dissolved and America helped Yeltsin later hold onto power in the 1996 elections.

    The actions of the Bush administration were blatantly illicit, however no one cared given the positive results.

    The fact Russia may now be using similar tactics to control the Trump White House cannot be surprising.

    Mueller’s job will be to untangle the Gordian Knot and reveal the truth.

    • But, will the American people, if and when finally formally presented with conclusive evidence of Trump’s corruption, and perhaps outright criminally, just shrug: burned out by cynicism and fatigue? When the process drags out for years people may come to accept these things as the new normal.

      • Yes, I could see this. Frankly I’m running out of my capacity to be outraged.

      • “But will the American people……….just shrug?”

        They already have with respect to a prior president.

        In 1998, Bill Clinton was impeached, but in 1999 acquitted by U.S. Congress due helpful Democrats sitting in that legislative body despite having been charged with convincing proof of obstructing a judicial proceeding.

        However, a federal judge – Susan Webber Wright – later found that Clinton made intentionally false statements under oath in the Paula Jones sex harassment case – and she fined him $90,000.00 for contempt of court;

        Clinton also agreed to pay Paula Jones $850,000.00 to settle those sex harassment claims.

        The Arkansas State Bar – under a consent order – suspended Bill Clinton’s law license in that state for five years due to unethical conduct in 2001 shortly before he finished his final term.

        Bill Clinton’s lapses of judgment did not damage his standing among Americans – especially Democrats – to any great extent.

  2. Compared to the sorts of “world great-power rankings” we may have engaged in in the 1960’s. the 1970’s, the 80’s & 90’s and aught’s and even the early 20-tween’s, the whole United States structure of hard power has become a tower of Jello — or at least a tower of Trumpian emotional reactions and policy vacillations and just plain TRumpian ignorance — compared to what it once was before.

    In general I’m not a huge American nationalist. I certainly don’t believe in any form of “American exceptionalism” (from the ordinary faults of hatred and of attempted and accomplished genocide that many other modern nationalisms have fallen into), and while I am proud to say I am one who protested the official “Pledge of Allegiance” back in the ’60’s, I am still willing to pledge allegiance to any or all of the American lands and environment, the American people, or the American constitution. Our hard power is a huge historical accident, yet it probably has helped keep our globe of competing nationalisms more stable than it would have otherwise have been.

    Our hard power is a huge historical accident, and it has led our generally conservative and nationalist leaders into many instances of anti-democratic action in foreign lands and even a some cases that may definitely or arguably be genocide or attempted genocide, yet I do believe it also probably has helped keep our globe of competing nationalisms more stable than it would have otherwise have been.

    It’s sad to see it just being cast away by the ignorance and idiocies of an orange autocrat.

  3. Sadly, it is not just in the United States where the nefarious influence of Saudi, UAE and Israeli lobbies distort the results of the elections. They also play the same negative role in British and European policies, as can be seen from the following article link to
    When Western countries, especially the United States, allow money to play a big role in the elections they should not be surprised that big money influences the outcome of the elections. As the result of allowing tycoons and corporations to spend huge sums on US elections, it is now a truism that the American democracy is the best that money can buy.

Comments are closed.