Setting the method to probe U.S.-Saudi wars
Saudi Arabia on the American chessboard – Part 4
Read part 3: How the occupied mentality syndrome works
Uncovering the extent and details of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the U.S. wars against selected Arab and non-Arab states is somewhat complicated, and the reason is shortage of reliable information. Even if such information were available, we may have to sieve through a huge amount of data searching for patterns, relations, and critical values. For instance, how to search for the methods the U.S. employs to enforce Saudi involvement in its plans and polices? What drives the Arab and regional policy (and wars) of the Saudi regime?
Suppose we search for the true reasons behind Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980. Can we extrapolate data to prove that the United States and Saudi Arabia were the godfathers for a war that lasted over eight years and killed over one million Iranians and Iraqis? Why did Iraq not invade Iran when the Shah was in power given that its basic problems with Iran were, more or less, the same? Was the “secret” meeting between Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and the Iraqi president Saddam Hussein around June 1980 a prelude to that war? Did the U.S.-Saudi-Iraqi plan to attack Iran materialize during the meeting between the Iraqi president, King Fahad, and the American Ambassador to Saudi Arabia in Jeddah, July 1980? Can we read the past in present terms to see what the U.S.-Saudi plans of the 1980s have done to the region in the successive 35 years?
We can answer these and other related questions by mixing facts with speculations. But to answer them rationally thus removing residual doubts on intents and plans, we need more than just incisive analysis. Specifically, we need to venture into the world of hypotheses when stubborn analytical situations require it. Yet, could a hypothesis answer the question whether Iran-Iraq war confirms U.S. plans for Iraq, other Arab states, the Palestinian Issue, and Iran? To be skeptic, where is the evidence that the United States had indeed prepared plans for Iran and the region after the collapse of the Shah’s regime?
In addition, seeing that the U.S. took no military actions against Iran (not even after the hostage crisis and subsequent failed military mission to liberate them), is our supposition of planning to undermine the newly established Islamic regime credible? In the same vein, can another hypothesis address the issue whether Al Saud pushed for and financed that war following an American script or in response to their own objectives? Again, where is the evidence?
When concrete situations are the subject of inquiry, hypotheses have narrow limits on what they can achieve. Generally, hypotheses are limited by own premises and type of background information. To debate this point, we may be able to construct hypothetical models to explain solar eruptions, but cannot depend on hypotheses to explain entities born out of deliberation such as wars. Regardless of purpose, war is a result of calculation and decision-making. Being so, rigorous, repeated examination is the valid way to probe its motives.
Take, for example, U.S. wars in Korea and Vietnam. It does not take hard work to establish a basic truth. These two wars had solid basis in the ideology, philosophy, and economy of American militarism and imperialism. Based on this sturdy fact, would we still need conjectural models to explain their origins? Informed students of the history of imperialism could answer as follows. If we start by negating the American pretexts to contain Communism and so-called Soviet expansionism, all rationales the United States used to prop these wars would fall by their own inertia and lurid justifications. To close, explaining international issues should never depend on hypothetical constructs leading to nowhere.
If hypotheses were of unsure validity, would analytical models work better?
Certainly, but such models are not guaranteed either. Questions on source validity and potential interference would cancel reached conclusions. Furthermore, political analytical models could be deceptive in that they are language- not fact-based; what is worse, they could be infected by predetermined ideology. In such case, both argument and conclusion are inconsequential. In addition, analysis based on deficient, insufficient, or manipulated data is of no use. More important, the identity of the analists can be the decisive factor to accept or reject a given statement or analysis. Would informed people accept an Israeli thesis as to why Zionists feel they have “historical rights” to Palestine? Equally, would informed minds accept Barack Obama’s rationalization as to why the United States bombed Libya and killed its leader Muammar al-Qaddafi? In these two examples, deceptive theses generate misleading results.
In order to make a rational assessment of issues, we need dedicated tools and supportive evidence. Granted that such tools are indispensable to conduct a comprehensive examination of a subject, what about evidence? Can presumed evidence vouch for the correctness of an analysis? That is, what happens when the result of a planned analysis is pre-established by design? Conversely, what happens when a new analysis denies earlier evidence? Here is another problem: if analysis were the logical way to go forward, what if it reaches an impasse and stops there because some elements needed for the conclusion are either unavailable or disputable to begin with?
Yet, can anyone tell us what does evidence mean? Is it material thus concrete, tangible thus acceptable, allusive thus negligible, or fake thus disposable? Curiously, how useful evidence is if the methodology used to produce it is controversial? Because the argument on verification is practically endless, then we have to establish congruency thresholds. Meaning, to avoid being stuck in our search for the optimal level of verification, we have to decide the point in which we either accept or discard an analysis.
Now, if manipulation could fool some, what to make of the conduct of world governments when confronted with U.S. lies? Who would forget when Colin Powell presented— with gelid calmness and unflinching assuredness—his faked evidence to the United Nations (February 2003) to prove Iraq’s possession of WMD? Why did these governments remain silent in front of Powell’s patent lies and deception? Where did logical skepticism go? Or, maybe defying the empire of lies was out of question?
In the quest to find persuasive arguments, and when objective evidence does not find its way to the writing process, some opponents of imperialism (and wars) skip elementary verification altogether and rely on their version of it. As a result, dangling impressions keep flowing uninterrupted as if they were analysis onto themselves. In such cases, complacent assumptions supplant evidence.
The argument I just made leads me to address my own analysis of the occupied mentality syndrome with the following question. What methods must I adopt to support my narratives about Saudi Arabia’s actions and policies and relate them to the policy of the U.S. ruling circles? Inquisitively, must committed writers back up with material facts everything they say, observe, or analyze? Would strong inferences and reason-based deductions suffice?
To recap, no doubt that we need an organizational framework, but we also need tools to probe what these sources say and in what context. Consider this: is it rational or politically acceptable to examine the U.S. Arab policy without considering first the Jewish Zionist forces that move the United States? Since the logical answer should be no, then how to decide on the quality, depth, and accuracy of the debating materials?
For instance, to what extent did Western writers try to investigate the reasons behind the persistent American hostility toward Iran—specifically since the Islamic Revolution of Khomeini? Well, it should not be surprising to know that said hostility has nothing to do with the Islamic Revolution itself. Not only that, but it has nothing to do with Iran’s new theocratic order. . . . America’s anti-Iran enmity has nothing to do with the hostage crisis. And it has nothing to do with democracy—because the U.S. never resented Iran when it was under the Shah’s dictatorship. And above all, it has nothing to do with the Israeli propaganda claiming that former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened to annihilate Israel. In the end, it has nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear program.
A cogent explanation for the U.S. hostility toward Iran can be found in the broken rules of imperialist domination, which is Iran’s exit from the orbit of U.S. hegemony. Said differently, the Khomeini Revolution had accomplished something extraordinary: it ended the American control of Iran via Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Thus, after over 60 years of Western interference (from the end of WWI to the Islamic Revolution), Iran had become a truly independent state. Based on this argument, do we still need to prove that a true independence of nation-states is anathema to U.S. Zionists and imperialists?
Iran’s exit from the orbit of U.S. hegemony is the cogent explanation for the U.S. hostility toward Iran.
To sum it up, it is not a play of words to state that what we know about the history of American-Saudi relation pales in comparison with what we do not know. No one should expect, therefore, that the clandestine deals and scheming between U.S. ruling circles and the Al Saud regime are going to be available anytime soon. Nevertheless, because we do not want our question on the U.S.-Saudi relation to end up like the “endless quest” to uncover who was behind the assassination of John Kennedy, we need to find alternative ways to expose how this relation works and what it means for the Arab nations and the world.
For starters, the multilayered interaction between the United States and Saudi Arabia amounts to a closed system. It is a closed system because many of its sub-systems have pertinent identity, lexicon, operational controls, and rationales—all moving like clockwork. By dint of this assertion, our task is to find out how to open this system up and expose its working mechanism.
American Scientist and psychologist John Henry Holland provided me with the clue on how to deal with the issue of verifying events and relative meanings. In debating of what he called “complex adaptive systems” or “cas”, Holland proposed a framework to transform “Intuitions into deep understanding”. He writes,
“Theory is crucial. Without theory, we make endless forays into uncharted badlands. With theory, we can separate fundamental characteristics from fascinating idiosyncrasies and incidental features. Theory supplies landmarks and guideposts, and we begin to know what to observe and where to act. . . . Many cas have the property that a small input can produce major predictable, directed changes—an amplified effect. . . . The task of formulating theory for cas is more than usually difficult because the behavior of a whole cas is more than a simple sum of the behavior of the parts; cas abound in nonlinearities. Nonlinearities mean that our most useful tools for generalizing observations into theory, and so on—are badly blunted. The best way to compensate for this loss is to make cross-disciplinary comparisons of cas, in hopes for extracting characteristics. With patience and insight we can shape those characteristics into building blocks for a general theory.” 
Holland’s method [Theory] to understand the hidden order of systems is invaluable tool. However, can we use it to uncover the basics, foundation, and structure of the U.S.-Saudi relation? Here is the barrier: even if we construct a general theory of such relation, some problems would remain unsolved. For instance, per se, theories do not encapsulate clues for how to provide proof. Instead, they prepare the ground to dig out a reasoned validation based on methodical analytical processes and dialectical examination of provided premises.
Writing on my MySCR chemistry blog, Ian Miller asks,
“Can you prove a theory to be true?” He answered, “Many/most scientists would probably say, no, you cannot; all you can do is to falsify a theory, while you believe a theory to be true because all evidence supports it.” This raises the problem, what happens when the evidence that contradicts the theory are suppressed? 
Miller debated the issue of falsifying theories in scientific settings. The same thing could happen though in non-scientific environments. Miller did mention the intent behind falsification. But such intent hides an agenda whereby the falsifier hope to achieve a favorable outcome. The keyword is the political decision to suppress evidence thus allowing that outcome to happen. In the history of Western imperialism, suppressing unfavorable evidence is the norm. To limit ourselves to the U.S. wars and interventions, suppressing evidence, manufacturing evidence, inventing pretexts, and theatrical stunts to present them go hand in hand. President James Polk’s war on Mexico in 1846; Lyndon Johnson’s deception to turn the Gulf of the Tonkin incident into war against North Vietnam; and Clinton-Gore’s manipulation of the Kosovo affair to bomb Serbia (1998) are examples.
Does that mean when supportive evidence is unavailable or missing, we cannot buttress verified events with the tool of reasoning?
Take the studies of economics as applied to capitalism. Where can we find uncontested evidence supporting the theory of value? Yet no theories on value from Adam Smith to Milton Friedman and others could compete with Marx’s surplus-value theory (taken from David Ricardo who took it from others). Marx persuasively corroborated his theory with logic, calculations, and common sense. With that, seeing the ongoing destructive effects brought up by insolvencies of financial institutions, by corporate bankruptcies, and by the ritualistic collapse of stock markets, where are the pundits who have been insisting that Marx’s theory on the cyclic crises of capitalism is erroneous?
Political analyses are invariably cause-centered. That is, the analyst writes to support his cause. Because of that, such analyses are also ideologically motivated. However, what is important for us here is to find the correct balance between ironclad political evidence and logically extracted evidence.
Miller offers a good lead in this sense. In the post just cited, he writes,
An observation can be used to prove a scientific statement, provided you can write it in the form: “If, and only if, theory X is true, then you will observe Y”. The observation of Y proves theory X is true, as stated. Of course it may be incomplete, but it will be true as far as it goes. The problem is to justify the”only if” part of the statement, because how can you know that there is not an alternative that has not been thought of yet.  [Italics are mine]
So, to overcome difficulties arising from the verification process, I propose, therefore, a dialectical remedy. Because we are not dealing with a scientific theory requiring repeated tests, we could use Miller’s models to make them work for us. This is how we can do it. We can form a solid theory of the U.S.-Saudi relation and its hidden order by combining facts and a large battery of deductive reasoning. With this approach, we can turn analogical evidence and prima facie evidence into primary evidence by reasoned equivalency.
Having established the method to examine the U.S.-Saudi relation, I shall discuss next Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the U.S. plans for the Arab states and the Middle East. My starting point is Iraq’s war against Iran (1980). Considering Iraq’s modest military power (by international standards) prior to the Islamic Revolution, it is imperative to pose the following question: could that war have lasted over eight years without Saudi and Kuwaiti financial backing? In particular, how can we read Iraq’s war in the context of the Saudi regime’s relation with the United States? Why did the United States extend credits to Iraq, sell it advanced weapons, and allow it to import American chemical weapons technology? Why did the U.S.—the most terrorist state in history—list Iraq as a “state sponsor of terrorism in 1979, remove the tag in 1982, and then list Iran as such as state in 1984? Why did U.S. vassals such as Jordan and Egypt provide logistical and intelligence support to Iraq? What was the purpose of giving military intelligence to Iraq?
Next: Part 5
- John H. Holland, Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity, Perseus Books, 1995, p. 4, 5, 6
- Ian Miller, Can you prove a theory to be true? 18 March, 2013
B. J. Sabri is an Iraqi American analyst of the history, politics, policies, militarism, driving forces, ideological structures, attitudes, terrorism, and wars of contemporary US and European imperialisms, and their interaction with Israel and Zionism. He has been writing articles and multi-part essays for internet readers since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
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