Stewart Blames America, Capitalism For Foreign Policy Crises

April 16th, 2024 10:15 AM

Jon Stewart reacted to the recent developments in the Middle East on Monday’s installment of The Daily Show on Comedy Central by doing his standard bit where he, on one hand, pretended everything was too complicated for him to understand, but on the other, reduced all the world’s foreign policy crises to America’s love of capitalism.

Stewart’s attempt to play dumb began when he was recapping Saturday’s failed Iranian attack on Israel, and he seemed upset that the results upended his basic foreign policy worldview, “But kudos to the United States and to Israel! It shows just how effective a military defense system can be when you funnel American dollars away from health care and education.”



Yes, you can throw money at education to no effect, but if the United States and Israel had not invested in air defense, the Middle East would be in an extremely delicate situation right now, even more than it already is. Still, Stewart sarcastically continued, “It really helps to build -- and the best part is, we did it with no help! The two amigos, surrounded by hostile Arab nations, united in their zeal to destroy Israel.”

Stewart then played clips from MSNBC’s Jonathan Lemire and Fox’s Jennifer Griffin reporting on the roles Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates played in thwarting the attack. He reacted by claiming it is all so complicated, “What are the teams of these [bleep] wars? I don't even know the teams anymore? The Arab countries are helping Israel? I don't know what the teams are! We need to sort this out! With jerseys or something.”

Contrary to Stewart’s rantings, it isn’t that complicated. Arab countries do not pose a threat to Israel in the way that they used to and Israel has had a peace treaty with Jordan since 1994. The main threat to Israel comes from Iran and its non-state proxies, an assessment shared by many of the Sunni Arab states. It really isn’t that complicated.

Later in the show, Stewart welcomed the New York Times’s David Sanger to the show to promote his book, The New Cold Wars, about America’s rivalries with Russia and China. For Stewart, these rivalries have a simple explanation, “Haven't we sowed the seeds of that with our own arrogance and cavalier approach to a lot of these foreign policy conflicts? A, we always frame things as 'this is a battle between democracy and the free world and liberation and authoritarianism,' but the truth is, we're fighting for trade channels and resources.”

Stewart continued by attempting to shame the U.S., “Like, this is all a function of competing capitalist powers and aren't we the ones—I mean, we've invaded more countries than Russia and China combined. So, would it help us to not have to scold everybody for failing to live up to principles that we very clearly do not uphold?”

He further added, “But we say that, but, you know, ‘you can't invade a country.’ Well, what happened in Iraq? ... ‘You can't call for regime change.’ What did we do in Libya? Every time we say these things, we undercut our own position with – I mean, for god's sakes, Iran is an enemy because we overthrew their democratically elected government in 1953.”

Russia isn’t fighting for economic resources in Ukraine, Hamas isn’t fighting Israel for trade routes, China doesn’t threaten Taiwan because of capitalism. Meanwhile, Stewart is just wrong. Since 2008, Russia has invaded and sliced up two countries, China has taken territory from its neighbors, the United States hasn’t done any of those things.

Here is a transcript for the April 15 show:

Comedy Central The Daily Show


11:02 PM ET

JON STEWART: But kudos to the United States and to Israel! It shows just how effective a military defense system can be when you funnel American dollars away from health care and education. It really helps to build -- and the best part is, we did it with no help! The two amigos, surrounded by hostile Arab nations, united in their zeal to destroy Israel. 

JONATHAN LEMIRE: Jordan's air force also intercepted and shot down dozens of drones that violated its airspace and were on their way to Israel. 

JENNIFER GRIFFIN: And we've now learned that Saudi Arabia and the UAE provided real time intelligence that helped track the incoming missiles. 

STEWART: What are the teams of these [bleep] wars? I don't even know the teams anymore? The Arab countries are helping Israel? I don't know what the teams are! We need to sort this out! With jerseys or something. 

STEWART: Haven't we sowed the seeds of that with our own arrogance and cavalier approach to a lot of these foreign policy conflicts? A, we always frame things as “this is a battle between democracy and the free world and liberation and authoritarianism” but the truth is, we're fighting for trade channels and resources. Like, this is all a function of competing capitalist powers and aren't we the ones – I mean, we've invaded more countries than Russia and China combined. So, would it help us to not have to scold everybody for failing to live up to principles that we very clearly do not uphold? 

DAVID SANGER: Well, at least we have some principles, okay? That's the one thing – 

STEWART: But we say that, but, you know, "you can't invade a country." Well, what happened in Iraq? 

SANGER: That's right. 

STEWART: "You can't call for regime change." What did we do in Libya? Every time we say these things, we undercut our own position with – I mean, for god's sakes, Iran is an enemy because we overthrew their democratically elected government in 1953.