This Is The Real Face Of The US Empire

Caitlin Johnstone
4 min readNov 22, 2023


Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):

Someone uploaded one of those viral “help identify this racist jerk” clips featuring a man accosting a street vendor with awful Islamophobic vitriol, and it turned out he was the former US State Department Deputy Director in the Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs.

It sounds made up, but that’s exactly what just happened; Vice has a whole article out about it. The video was uploaded today, and within hours the man was identified as Stuart Seldowitz, who helped direct US diplomacy on Israel-Palestine from 1999 to 2003 and then served on the Obama administration’s National Security Council.

Seldowitz’s identity was confirmed by his former employer Gotham Government Relations, who released a statement denouncing him and saying they’ve ended all affiliation with him.

Seldowitz is seen hounding the New York City vendor or vendors in multiple different videos wearing multiple different outfits, showing a sustained campaign of harassment and abuse. He told them while fully aware he was being filmed that Israel killing thousands of Palestinian kids “wasn’t enough”, insulted their religion, threatened them, mocked their intelligence and their English, called them terrorists, and asked “Did you rape your daughter like Mohammed did?” From the videos he appears to be harassing them for no reason other than because they are Muslims selling halal food.

That such a horrible person could climb his way to the highest echelons of the world’s most powerful government — working on Palestinian affairs no less — illustrates an important point about the US empire and what it is. There are no barriers stopping such creatures from rising to the top of that power structure, just the opposite in fact — they get an express lane to the top. That’s why bloodthirsty swamp monsters like John Bolton, Lindsey Graham, Victoria Nuland and Elliott Abrams find themselves so intimately involved with US policymaking.

That’s the true face of the US empire, right there. That’s the empire at its most honest. Not dressed up in affable charm and slick PR work, but sneering and hurling racist invective at immigrants who are just trying to do their jobs in peace. Not performing carefully rehearsed faces of compassion for the Palestinians who are being “tragically” and “unintentionally” killed as “collateral damage” in Israel’s war of “defense” against Hamas, but staring right into the camera and saying “If we killed 4,000 Palestinian kids, you know what? It wasn’t enough.”

Too many people look at Israel as something separate from the US empire, seeing it as a small nation run by a historically mistreated ethnic group that everyone singles out and picks on unfairly. If you look at Israel separately from the US-centralized global power structure, it feels off to have any forceful animosity toward Israel and its government, because it feels like you’re picking on the little guy.

It’s only when you see clearly that Israel is just an arm of the same empire that’s been murdering people by the millions around the world with nonstop invasions, bombing campaigns, proxy conflicts, starvation sanctions and CIA coups that you understand that, yes, Israel really is exactly as evil as it appears to be, and its behavior in Gaza is exactly what it looks like.

The US empire backs Israel for the same reason it backs most of the world’s dictatorships: because a globe-spanning empire can only be held together by nonstop violence and tyranny. Israel and other US-aligned states in the middle east are like the chair and the whip of a lion tamer — weapons used to violently abuse the populations of a crucial geostrategic region into compliance. It suits the empire perfectly to have a nuclear-armed government which exists in a constant state of war in the middle east governed by officials who speak English with American accents and interests which are reliably in alignment with those of the United States.

Stuart Seldowitz is not an aberration but a perfect manifestation of all this. This is the sort of mind which keeps the empire marching along from administration to administration no matter who Americans elect. This is the sort of mind which keeps the weapons flowing, the blood pouring, the fossil fuels burning, and the terrified screams which power the imperial machine continually erupting into the night sky.


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