There is massive opposition to Israeli actions in the United States today, particularly importantly in the Jewish community, where there’s been an enormous shift in that discourse.
So you still have organizations, right-wing organizations like AIPAC that include very wealthy donors, no doubt, but they no longer can even make the claim–which was probably never true, but it certainly is no longer true–that they speak for the majority, let alone all, of the Jewish community.
You now have an organization like J Street in the center. You have Jewish Voice for Peace on the left, which has over 200,000 supporters across the country. So you have a very different scenario now of where public opinion is.
— Phyllis Bennis, interviewed on The Real News Network, September 14, 2016
Massive opposition to Israeli actions in the United States? Within the Jewish community? Who does Phyllis Bennis thinks she’s kidding and, as importantly, why is she doing so? That there is no sign of any activity or combination of activities in the US opposing Israel’s actions that qualify as massive among the larger public and definitely not within the Jewish community should be patently as well as painfully obvious.
Her comment becomes even more mystifying since it came on the day that Barack Obama announced that the US would award Israel a record breaking $38 billion in arms over the decade beginning in 2018. What opposition there was to the deal on the part of the public, much less the Jewish community, was barely visible.
This had been reflected a month earlier in the Democratic Party’s decision to bar any reference to Israel’s occupation or illegal settlement construction in its platform which was then approved without so much as a whimper by the convention delegates. A week before, the Republicans, stepping back from their traditional lip service to the two-state illusion, discarded any notion that Israel would be obliged to surrender land to the Palestinians for their own state at any time in the future.
Bennis, speaking to The Real News Network’s Jaisal Noor, incredibly, portrayed the humiliating Democratic platform defeat as a victory:
I think he [Obama] is seriously misreading where the American people are at, where the Democratic Party is, where the public discourse on this question has shifted. I think he’s acting as if this was 20 years ago and no politician could do wrong by being more supportive than the other guy of Israel.
Now that’s not the case anymore. We saw that during the debate over the language on Israel and Palestine in the Democratic Party platform debate. (Emphasis added)
While it is true that there is less support for Israel among the youth and the Democratic Party’s base, what we learned from that debate was the degree to which the Congressional Black Caucus, including one of its most “liberal” members, Barbara Lee, is under the thumb of the Israel Lobby. Lee, appointed to the committee by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, cast the critical vote in the platform committee that eliminated any reference to Israel’s illegal occupation or the ongoing construction of Jewish settlements.
How Bennis could put a positive spin on that outcome should raise concerns not only about her judgment but also her agenda.
Despite the fact that it had been the subject of discussion in the US and Israeli media for more than a year, there was no attempt to mobilize opposition to the arms package for Israel, about which Bennis was being interviewed, by either Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) or the US Campaign to End Israel Occupation (USCEIO), the two largest organizations, ostensibly working for justice in Palestine over which Bennis appears to act as an éminence grise.
Bennis did not mention nor had either organization expressed support for or even note on their websites, the first of its kind lawsuit filed by the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy’s Grant Smith on August 8 that would block the announced arms deal on the basis of long standing US law that prohibits US aid to non-signatories of the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty known to have nuclear weapons.
That Bennis, moreover, presented J Street in a positive light at that moment strongly suggests that projecting a positive image of the Jewish community within the Left and in the eyes of the larger public is her primary motivation.
J Street, after all, is nothing more than a light beer version of AIPAC. It was created for Jewish liberals whose self-image requires the display of an occasional whiff of conscience, but nothing that would jeopardize Israel’s domination of Washington. It was in such full applause mode over the arms deal that it issued a statement, welcoming it, on September 13, the day before the White House officially announced it:
J Street warmly welcomes the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Israel that will ensure Israel’s security and its qualitative military advantage over any potential enemy for the next 10 years.
We congratulate President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as all those who worked hard to produce this agreement, which represents the biggest pledge of US military assistance made to any country in our nation’s history.
And Jewish Voice for Peace? In a statement on the group’s website, JVP director, Israel-American dual citizen Rebecca Vilkomerson, after acknowledging that the deal had been “in months of negotiation,” declared that, “As a result, the US is effectively underwriting Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies towards the Palestinians.”
True and well said, Rebecca, but what had JVP been doing to stop it during those months? And in the two weeks since, knowing that it is Congress that must ultimately approve the deal? Apparently nothing, judging from the constant stream of requests for money that arrive in my email box daily.
Rather ineffectively, if measured by the paucity of results, it has also been pushing for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) targeting companies doing business in the West Bank, giving it the appearance, if not the substance, of “doing something” for the Palestinian cause.
With steely determination, its leadership was also continuing a behind the scenes campaign to vilify and marginalize an individual and an organization, without the payroll and national outreach of JVP, that was attempting a nation-wide effort to alert the American people to the latest transfer of their earnings to Israel, namely Alison Weir and her organization, appropriately named “if Americans Knew.”
Through billboards, bus cards, bumper stickers, simulated checks, and postcards, carrying the slogan, “Stop the Blank Check for Israel,” Weir has made a tireless effort to inform all Americans, but particularly those without any vested interest in either Israel or Palestine, (who constitute the majority) about what is being done for Israel by the US government and members of Congress in their name. A useful exercise for readers would be to compare the If Americans Knew website with that of Jewish Voice for Peace.
Weir’s crime in the eyes of her critics is that she has ignored the Left choir and its gatekeepers and expressed a healthy willingness to speak to any group or media host that asks for her views on the largely hidden history of Israel’s domestic Zionist operations going back to World War One. Several of those talk show hosts, which amount to a tiny fraction of Weir’s overall efforts, her attackers find objectionable even though some of them have appeared on the same programs.
Weir also has had the temerity to make exposing the cover-up by Congress and the media of Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty off the coast of Egypt during the 1967 war a critical part of her work. The unprovoked assault on a clearly marked intelligence ship by Israel’s air force and navy left 34 US sailors dead and 171 wounded. The subject is as off-limits for Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation, as well as the entire American Left, as it has been for the Jewish establishment. (The implications of that are worthy of an entire article by itself.)
Weir’s slim but fact-packed, copiously foot noted paperback, “Against Our Better Judgment” detailing the obscured activities of the Zionist Lobby both before and after Israeli statehood, has sold more than 27,000 copies on Amazon and, apart from making them more than a trifle jealous, has, I suspect, been an irritant to JVP and USCEIO whose founder and current policy director, Josh Ruebner, is, like JVP’s Vilkomerson, an Israel-US dual citizen. (This apparently raises no questions as would, say, if white South Africans had played prominent roles in the American anti-apartheid movement.)
What JVP really appears to be about is establishing the acceptable parameters within which those who support justice for Palestine can criticize Israel or Jewish support for it without being labeled anti-Semitic.
The latest target of Vilkomerson is Miko Peled, the son of former Israeli major general, Matti Peled, the only representative of Israel’s top military echelon ever to advocate for Palestinian justice.
Living in San Diego and now a US citizen, Peled has become one of Israel’s most forthright critics and supporters of the BDS movement but fell afoul of Vilkomerson over a tweet that she considered to be anti-Semitic.
Responding to the announcement of the arms deal, Peled tweeted, “Then theyr surprised Jews have reputation 4being sleazy thieves #apartheidisrael doesn’t need or deserve these $$.” Vilkomerson, in turn, tweeted, “No place 4 antisemitism in our movement” and congratulated the Princeton Committee for Palestine for using her tweet as the basis for canceling a scheduled speaking engagement by Peled at the university, “to show our commitment towards educating our campus about Israel-Palestine issues.”
If justification for Peled’s tweet is needed, all one has to do is read the op-ed in the Washington Post (9/14) by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and the speech before the AIPAC spawn, Washington Inst. For Near East Policy, by former Israeli defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon (Times of Israel, 9/15) in which each of them expressed their fury at Netanyahu for not getting yet more than the record $38 billion. Seriously. There is no limit to their sense of entitlement.
The USCEIO which usually follows JVP’s lead has yet to weigh in on the Peled controversy, but there are dated references to the arms deal for Israel on its website, including a petition to President Obama launched in September, 2015, asking him not to approve it. The petition gathered more than 65,000 signatures but since it was still collecting them the day Obama announced the deal, there is no indication it was ever sent.
Now, two weeks after Obama’s announcement, there is no mention of it on its website nor was there any suggestion that people should go beyond signing a petition and confront the members of Congress in their home districts who will be voting on the $38 billion appropriation.
This is particularly noteworthy while USCEIO will be holding its national conference in Arlington, VA, October 14 to 17, there is no mention of it on its tentative agenda.
That campaigns to stop aid to Israel are missing from the agenda of both USCEIO and JVP, I would argue, is significant given that, in the early 80s, it was a nationwide campaign on the part of Nicaragua solidarity activists to have the public call members of Congress in their districts that produced the Boland Amendment, halting a $15 million appropriation for the Contras.
For reasons that I can only speculate such a grassroots campaign has never been undertaken by either organization over which, as noted above, Phyllis Bennis exerts an outsized influence.
The speculation centers on Bennis’s past history of minimizing the importance of both Congress and the pro-Israel Lobby, most notably AIPAC, in formulating US Middle East policy.
In 2002, at a three-day conference at the University of California in Berkeley, sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine, I took a seat with a friend in the back of a lecture hall where Bennis was speaking on a topic relating to the Israel-Palestine conflict. At one point in her presentation, having apparently seen me enter and looking directly at me, she interrupted her talk to loudly blurt out, “Congress is not Israeli Occupied Territory!”
I quickly assumed she was referring to an essay that I had written 10 years earlier that was published in the 1992 edition of the City Lights Review, entitled, “Occupied Territory: Congress, the Israel Lobby and Jewish Responsibility.” In the essay I had sharply criticized the Left and particularly the Jewish supporters of the Palestinian movement for their failure to deal with the issue of the Israel lobby.
I am not one to interrupt speakers with whom I don’t agree but since her outburst was clearly intended for me, I responded with an immediate “Yes, it is!”. “No it isn’t!” she shouted back, rather displeased, and went on to describe an effort that some members of the Congressional Black Caucus were making regarding the illegal use of US arms by the Israelis against Palestinian civilians (an effort that, of course, went nowhere).
During the question period she seemed anxious to keep me from getting the floor. In an unusually long-winded and virtually content-free response as to what people could do to help the Palestinian cause, she appeared to be hoping time would run out for the session.
What would she have activists do? Believe it or not: write letters to the editor once a week. That’s what she said. As far as calling their members of Congress objecting to their support for Israel, Bennis said nary a word.
Despite an obvious effort on her part to get the moderator who had promised me the next question, to choose someone else–I seized the moment and proceeded to describe four situations in which the Israel lobby had demonstrated its power over Congress. I explained how it had run members of the Black Caucus who criticized Israel out of office and was trying to do the same (and would later succeed) with CBC’s remaining critic of Israel at that time, Atlanta’s Cynthia McKinney.
As I wrote shortly afterward, (Palestine Chronicle 3/26/07) neither Bennis nor her co-panelist, a Jewish professor, said a word when I finished, (although the latter later falsely circulated an email that he had). Since I had known Bennis for 20 years, had previously worked with her in the San Francisco Bay Area on Palestinian issues and, a year earlier had her as a guest on my first radio program on my current station, I went over to say hello and jokingly mentioned that she still had not yet understood the role of the Israel Lobby.
She was neither friendly nor amused. “The issue is dead and has been dead,” she replied. End of conversation and though our paths have crossed over the years we haven’t spoken since.
Though the issue isn’t dead for Jewish Voice for Peace or the US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation, by any measurable standards, it might as well be.
Informing their members or member organizations, in the case of USCEIO, of the extent and methodology of AIPAC’s control over Congress is noticeably missing from their agendas and websites.
There was an exception. In September, 2012, I participated in a workshop on AIPAC and the Israel Lobby at USCEIO’s annual organizing conference in St. Louis. It was the only workshop even remotely related to the subject and had been organized by the now purged Alison Weir, whose If Americans Knew was, at the time, one of USCEIO’s member organizations. With Weir and her organization now gone from the USCEIO, AIPAC has less to worry about.
This guarantees to a certainty that whatever approach it takes to members of Congress with the ostensible goal of changing US policy will continue to end in failure.
This is exemplified in a section on its website– “Building relationships with congressional staff and Members of Congress is critical to enacting policy change”—which links to a step by step process that should ordinarily be followed by anyone seeking an audience with a member of Congress, or her or his chief of staff or legislative aide on most issues. But the Israel-Palestine issue is not like any other.
The notion that politely presenting US legislators or their aides with evidence of Israel’s latest atrocities or the damage that US support for Israel has done to the US image globally will move any of them to change their positions, as if ignorance of the facts is the only obstacle, is naïve at best. Nevertheless, that’s what those attending the USA CEIO’s upcoming conference will do on their day of lobbying on Capitol Hill.
By Einstein’s definition of insanity–doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result–the approach advocated by USCEIO and practiced by JVP, qualifies as insane since nothing has changed with regard to US support for Israel.
A more productive tactic would be to impolitely challenge members of Congress in their home districts, ideally but not necessarily at public events, exposing to the utmost degree possible the amounts of money they have received from pro-Israel sources and circulating statements that they most likely have made expressing their affection for Israel which can usually be found on the internet.
Why hasn’t either the USCEIO, JVP, or for that matter, Phyllis Bennis encouraged such an activity? Well, we already know Bennis’s bold plan; write letters to the editor.
There was nary a word about Congress’s role from Bennis in her latest interview despite telling TRNN’s Paul Jay in December, 2013, that “We have massively changed the discourse in this country,” an exaggeration then as now. She did then acknowledge, “What has not changed is the policy, and that has far more to do“ at which point Jay interrupted, saying, “The policy and the politics, like, congressional politics,” and Bennis replying, “Yes, but that’s where the policy gets made. That hasn’t changed. And that’s the huge challenge that we face. (Emphasis added)
In that same interview, she offered a rare view of AIPAC and the Lobby:
It used to be that AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the other pro-Israel lobbies in the Jewish community, could meet with members of Congress and say, look, we’ve got money. We may give you some. Mostly we’re going to hold you hostage, that if you don’t toe the line, we’re going to fund an opponent that you don’t even expect yet.
But we’ll also bring you votes, because we have influence in the Jewish community and people will vote the way we tell them.
They can’t say that anymore. And that’s huge. They still have the money, but they don’t have the votes, because the Jewish community has changed.
Her comment is only partly true and overly simplified, revealing an ignorance that should be embarrassing for someone who has spent so many years in Washington analyzing US Middle East politics.
AIPAC would never promise a politician that it would deliver Jewish votes. It has been mostly about getting them money, expert technical assistance and assigning key, experienced AIPAC members from the legislator’s district to work in his or her campaigns and use their clout with the local media to gain its support.
Bennis then goes on to regurgitate an argument that Noam Chomsky has frequently made but with a twist that fails to make it any more valid. Whereas the professor compares the Lobby’s successful efforts to pushing through an open door, when what it advocates is already White House policy, she compares it to pushing a moving car:
The reason that the lobby often seems so powerful is that, yes, it does have a lot of influence. I don’t–I’m not denying that. But it has been historically pushing in the same direction as the majority of U.S. policymakers want to go.
So imagine if you’re running behind a car, and you start to push the car as it goes forward, and the car starts to go fast. You can claim, wow, I was really strong–I pushed that car 30 miles an hour. You know, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you were pushing it in the direction it wanted to go anyway.
Neither Chomsky nor Bennis have ever shown a willingness to debate their critics but this argument is more an example of “damage control” than fact on their part and can easily be refuted by examining what is nearest to hand, the origins of the Iraq war.
It is well documented that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was on the Israel Lobby’s agenda well before it became US policy. In fact, the first president George HW Bush was reamed by his Jewish critics in the mainstream media; Mortimer Zuckerman, owner of the US News & World Report and the NY Daily News, Abe Rosenthal and William Safire in the New York Times, and Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post, to cite four who come to mind, for not going all the way to Baghdad and taking out Saddam in 1991.
The reason Poppy Bush gave for not overthrowing Saddam was that it would destabilize the entire region, one whose stability was essential to America’s national security and would involve the US military in an endless quagmire That opinion was shared by his Secretary of State, James Baker, his National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who led the ouster of the Iraqi army from Kuwait But what did they know?
The election of his son, George W, did not change the senior Bush’s mind, nor that of his former aides, Baker, Scowcroft and Schwarzkopf. All of them opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a fact ignored by those who claimed it was “a war for oil,” and one that becomes more important when we consider that the war has left hundreds of thousands dead and wounded and millions displaced as refugees across the entire region.
When asked by the late Tim Russert on NBC’s Meet the Press about his father’s opposition to the war, Dubya responded that “I answer to a higher father.” Who or what, in fact, he was answering to was PNAC, the Project for a New American Century, three signatories of which, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser, had contributed to a paper for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996, entitled, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” which called for the overthrow of Saddam as did the PNAC screed that appeared the following year.
Subsequent to the election of George W Bush in 2000, the three of them were brought into the highest levels of the national security apparatus along with Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, fellow signatories to the PNAC declaration. They began immediately to plan the invasion of Iraq and create the false intelligence to justify it within days of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, ‘the Pearl Harbor event’ that the PNAC document said was necessary to put its plans of global conquest into action. This scenario is fairly well known and not contested.
It, like subsequent events in the Middle East, seemed consistent with a plan laid out by Oded Yinon, a former member of the Israeli government who, in 1982, wrote a proposal, ‘A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s,” which was published by the World Zionist Council. Yinon’s plan called for dissolution of Iraq and Syria into areas controlled by its respective religious communities. Sound familiar?
Clearly, the war on Iraq was not a case of the Israel Lobby, of which the neocons were and remain a major part, getting behind an already moving car or pushing through an open door but one in which they took over the entire premises.
I have given up expecting Phyllis Bennis to understand this but I assume there are those who read this who will appreciate and nod their heads when reading what Lenni Brenner, the foremost authority on Nazi-Zionist collaboration, told me in the late 90s when I interviewed him on San Francisco’s KPOO radio:
The left is the rear guard of the Israel Lobby.
After several years of arming and supporting Syrian rebel groups that often collaborated with Al Qaeda’s Nusra terror affiliate, the United States launched an illegal invasion of Syria two years ago with airstrikes supposedly aimed at Al Qaeda’s Islamic State spin-off, but on Saturday that air war killed scores of Syrian soldiers and aided an Islamic State victory.
Yet, the major American news outlets treat this extraordinary set of circumstances as barely newsworthy, operating with an imperial hubris that holds any U.S. invasion or subversion of another country as simply, ho-hum, the way things are supposed to work.
On Monday, The Washington Post dismissed the devastating airstrike at Deir al-Zour killing at least 62 Syrian soldiers as one of several “mishaps” that had occurred over the past week and jeopardized a limited ceasefire, arranged between Russia and the Obama administration.
But the fact that the U.S. and several allies have been routinely violating Syrian sovereign airspace to carry out attacks was not even an issue, nor is it a scandal that the U.S. military and CIA have been arming and training Syrian rebels. In the world of Official Washington, the United States has the right to intervene anywhere, anytime, for whatever reason it chooses.
President Barack Obama has even publicly talked about authorizing military strikes in seven different countries, including Syria, and yet he is deemed “weak” for not invading more countries, at least more decisively.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has vowed to engage in a larger invasion of Syria, albeit wrapping the aggression in pretty words like “safe zone” and “no-fly zone,” but it would mean bombing and killing more Syrian soldiers.
As Secretary of State, Clinton used similar language to justify invading Libya and implementing a “regime change” that killed the nation’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, and unleashed five years of violent political chaos.
If you were living in a truly democratic country with a truly professional news media, you would think that this evolution of the United States into a rogue superpower violating pretty much every international law and treaty of the post-World War II era would be a regular topic of debate and criticism.
Those crimes include horrendous acts against people, such as torture and other violations of the Geneva Conventions, as well as acts of aggression, which the Nuremberg Tribunals deemed “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
Justifying ‘Regime Change’
Yet, instead of insisting on accountability for American leaders who have committed these crimes, the mainstream U.S. news media spreads pro-war propaganda against any nation or leader that refuses to bend to America’s imperial demands. In other words, the U.S. news media creates the rationalizations and arranges the public acquiescence for U.S. invasions and subversions of other countries.
In particular, The New York Times now reeks of propaganda, especially aimed at two of the current targets, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin. With all pretenses of professionalism cast aside, the Times has descended into the status of a crude propaganda organ.
On Sunday, the Times described Assad’s visit to a town recently regained from the rebels this way: “Assad Smiles as Syria Burns, His Grip and Impunity Secure.” That was the headline. The article began:
“On the day after his 51st birthday, Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, took a victory lap through the dusty streets of a destroyed and empty rebel town that his forces had starved into submission.
“Smiling, with his shirt open at the collar, he led officials in dark suits past deserted shops and bombed-out buildings before telling a reporter that — despite a cease-fire announced by the United States and Russia — he was committed ‘to taking back all areas from the terrorists.’ When he says terrorists, he means all who oppose him.”
The story by Ben Hubbard continues in that vein, although oddly the accompanying photograph doesn’t show Assad smiling but rather assessing the scene with a rather grim visage.
But let’s unpack the propaganda elements of this front-page story, which is clearly intended to paint Assad as a sadistic monster, rather than a leader fighting a foreign-funded-and-armed rebel movement that includes radical jihadists, including powerful groups linked to Al Qaeda and others forces operating under the banner of the brutal Islamic State.
The reader is supposed to recoil at Assad who “smiles as Syria burns” and who is rejoicing over his “impunity.” Then, there’s the apparent suggestion that his trip to Daraya was part of his birthday celebration so he could take “a victory lap” while “smiling, with his shirt open at the collar,” although why his collar is relevant is hard to understand. Next, there is the argumentative claim that when Assad refers to “terrorists” that “he means all who oppose him.”
As much as the U.S. news media likes to pride itself on its “objectivity,” it is hard to see how this article meets any such standard, especially when the Times takes a far different posture when explaining, excusing or ignoring U.S. forces slaughtering countless civilians in multiple countries for decades and at a rapid clip over the past 15 years. If anyone operates with “impunity,” it has been the leadership of the U.S. government.
On Sunday, the Times also asserted as flat fact the dubious charge against Assad that he has “hit civilians with gas attacks” when the most notorious case – the sarin attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013 – appears now to have been carried out by rebels trying to trick the United States into intervening more directly on their side.
A recent United Nations report blaming Syrian forces for two later attacks involving chlorine was based on slim evidence and produced under great political pressure to reach that conclusion – while ignoring the absence of any logical reason for the Syrian forces to have used such an ineffective weapon and brushing aside testimony about rebels staging other gas attacks.
More often than not, U.N. officials bend to the will of the American superpower, failing to challenge any of the U.S.-sponsored invasions over recent decades, including something as blatantly illegal as the Iraq War. After all, for an aspiring U.N. bureaucrat, it’s clear which side his career bread is buttered.
We find ourselves in a world in which propaganda has come to dominate the foreign policy debates and – despite the belated admissions of lies used to justify the invasions of Iraq and Libya – the U.S. media insists on labeling anyone who questions the latest round of propaganda as a “fill-in-the-blank apologist.”
So, Americans who want to maintain their mainstream status shy away from contesting what the U.S. government and its complicit media assert, despite their proven track record of deceit. This is not just a case of being fooled once; it is being fooled over and over with a seemingly endless willingness to accept dubious assertion after dubious assertion.
In the same Sunday edition which carried the creepy portrayal about Assad, the Times’ Neil MacFarquhar pre-disparaged Russia’s parliamentary elections because the Russian people were showing little support for the Times’ beloved “liberals,” the political descendants of the Russians who collaborated with the U.S.-driven “shock therapy” of the 1990s, a policy that impoverished a vast number of Russians and drastically reduced life expectancy.
Why those Russian “liberals” have such limited support from the populace is a dark mystery to the mainstream U.S. news media, which also can’t figure out why Putin is popular for significantly reversing the “shock therapy” policies and restoring Russian life expectancy to its previous levels. No, it can’t be that Putin delivered for the Russian people; the only answer must be Putin’s “totalitarianism.”
The New York Times and Washington Post have been particularly outraged over Russia’s crackdown on “grassroots” organizations that are funded by the U.S. government or by billionaire financial speculator George Soros, who has publicly urged the overthrow of Putin. So has Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which funnels U.S. government cash to political and media operations abroad.
The Post has decried a Russian legal requirement that political entities taking money from foreign sources must register as “foreign agents” and complains that such a designation discredits these organizations. What the Post doesn’t tell its readers is that the Russian law is modeled after the American “Foreign Agent Registration Act,” which likewise requires people trying to influence policy in favor of a foreign sponsor to register with the Justice Department.
Nor do the Times and Post acknowledge the long history of the U.S. government funding foreign groups, either overtly or covertly, to destabilize targeted regimes. These U.S.-financed groups often do act as “fifth columnists” spreading propaganda designed to undermine the credibility of the leaders, whether that’s Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 or Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
That’s not to say that these targeted leaders were or are perfect. They are often far from it. But the essence of propaganda is to apply selective outrage and exaggeration to the leader that is marked for removal. Similar treatment does not apply to U.S.-favored leaders.
The pattern of the Times and Post is also to engage in ridicule when someone in a targeted country actually perceives what is going on. The correct perception is then dismissed as some sort of paranoid conspiracy theory.
Take, for example, the Times’ MacFarquhar describing a pamphlet and speeches from Nikolai Merkushkin, the governor of Russian region of Samara, that MacFarquhar says “cast the blame for Russia’s economic woes not on economic mismanagement or Western sanctions after the annexation of Crimea but on a plot by President Obama and the C.I.A. to undermine Russia.”
The Times article continues: “Opposition candidates are a fifth column on the payroll of the State Department and part of the scheme, the pamphlet said, along with the collapse in oil prices and the emergence of the Islamic State. Mr. Putin is on the case, not least by rebuilding the military, the pamphlet said, noting that ‘our country forces others to take it seriously and this is something that American politicians don’t like very much.’”
Yet, despite the Times’ mocking tone, the pamphlet’s perceptions are largely accurate. There can be little doubt that the U.S. government through funding of anti-Putin groups inside Russia and organizing punishing sanctions against Russia, is trying to make the Russian economy scream, destabilize the Russian government and encourage a “regime change” in Moscow.
Further, President Obama has personally bristled at Russia’s attempts to reassert itself as an important world player, demeaning the former Cold War superpower as only a “regional power.” The U.S. government has even tread on that “regional” status by helping to orchestrate the 2014 putsch that overthrew Ukraine’s elected President Yanukovych on Russia’s border.
After quickly calling the coup regime “legitimate,” the U.S. government supported attempts to crush resistance in the south and east which were Yanukovych’s political strongholds. Crimea’s overwhelming decision to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia was deemed by The New York Times a Russian “invasion” although the Russian troops that helped protect Crimea’s referendum were already inside Crimea as part of the Sevastopol basing agreement.
The U.S.-backed Kiev regime’s attempt to annihilate resistance from ethnic Russians in the east – through what was called an “Anti-Terrorism Operation” that has slaughtered thousands of eastern Ukrainians – also had American backing. Russian assistance to these rebels is described in the mainstream U.S. media as Russian “aggression.”
Oddly, U.S. news outlets find nothing objectionable about the U.S. government launching military strikes in countries halfway around the world, including the recent massacre of scores of Syrian soldiers, but are outraged that Russia provided military help to ethnic Russians being faced with annihilation on Russia’s border.
Because of the Ukraine crisis, Hillary Clinton likened Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.
Seeing No Coup
For its part, The New York Times concluded that there had been no coup in Ukraine – by ignoring the evidence that there was one, including an intercepted pre-coup telephone call between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who should be made the new leaders of Ukraine.
The evidence of a coup was so clear that George Friedman, founder of the global intelligence firm Stratfor, said in an interview that the overthrow of Yanukovych “really was the most blatant coup in history.” But the Times put protecting the legitimacy of the post-coup regime ahead of its journalistic responsibilities to its readers, as it has done repeatedly regarding Ukraine.
Another stunning case of double standards has been the mainstream U.S. media’s apoplexy about alleged Russian hacking into emails of prominent Americans and then making them public. These blame-Russia articles have failed to present any solid evidence that the Russians were responsible and also fail to note that the United States leads the world in using electronic means to vacuum up personal secrets about foreign leaders as well as average citizens.
In a number of cases, these secrets appear to have been used to blackmail foreign leaders to get them to comply with U.S. demands, such as the case in 2002-03 of the George W. Bush administration spying on diplomats on the U.N. Security Council to coerce their votes on authorizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a ploy that failed.
U.S. intelligence also tapped the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose cooperation on Ukraine and other issues of the New Cold War is important to Washington. And then there’s the massive collection of data about virtually everybody on the planet, including U.S. citizens, over the past 15 years during the “war on terror.”
Earlier this year, the mainstream U.S. news media congratulated itself over its use of hacked private business data from a Panama-based law firm, material that was said to implicate Putin in some shady business dealings even though his name never showed up in the documents. No one in the mainstream media protested that leak or questioned who did the hacking.
Such mainstream media bias is pervasive. In the case of Sunday’s Russian elections, the Times seems determined to maintain the fiction that the Russian people don’t really support Putin, despite consistent opinion polls showing him with some 80 percent approval.
In the Times’ version of reality, Putin’s popularity must be some kind of trick, a case of totalitarian repression of the Russian people, which would be fixed if only the U.S.-backed “liberals” were allowed to keep getting money from NED and Soros without having to divulge where the funds were coming from.
The fact that Russians, like Americans, will rally around their national leader when they perceive the country to be under assault – think, George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks – is another reality that the Times can’t tolerate. No, the explanation must be mind control.
The troubling reality is that the Times, Post and other leading American news outlets have glibly applied one set of standards on “enemies” and another on the U.S. government. The Times may charge that Bashar al-Assad has “impunity” for his abuses, but what about the multitude of U.S. leaders – and, yes, journalists – who have their hands covered in the blood of Iraqis, Libyans, Afghans, Yemenis, Syrians, Somalis and other nationalities. Where is their accountability?
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says conflicts in the Middle East are not only devastating economies in countries such as Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, but they have also erased “development gains for a whole generation.”
The fund issued a report titled the Economic Impact of Conflicts and the Refugee Crisis in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) on Friday, where it said conflicts were killing economies in the countries gripped by war and sapping growth in neighboring countries and those hosting millions of refugees.
Middle Eastern and North African countries battered by fighting have suffered average losses of 6-15 percentage points in the gross domestic product (GDP) in three years, compared to a 4-9 percentage-point average worldwide, according to the report.
The IMF report showed that the drops in economic output in Syria, Libya and Yemen in recent years have far exceeded the worldwide average.
Syria’s gross domestic product level is currently less than half the level it was five years ago before the start of the conflict, the IMF stated.
The report showed Yemen lost 25-35 percent of its GDP in 2015 alone, in the wake of the deadly Saudi campaign.
Oil-dependent Libya saw its GDP fall 24 percent in 2014, the IMF said.
Physical infrastructure damage, now estimated at $137.8 billion in Syria and more than $20 billion in Yemen, has reduced trade and output in neighboring countries, according to the report.
Countries bordering high-intensity conflict zone showed an average annual GDP decline of 1.4 percentage points worldwide, with a bigger drop of 1.9 percentage points in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The fleeing of more than half of Syria’s 22 million population, 6.6 million internally and more than five million to other countries, has magnified economic losses, dramatically escalating poverty, unemployment and school dropouts in countries that were already struggling, the IMF said.
Many of the refugees seeking asylum in other countries are skilled workers and professionals forced by war and persecution to leave the conflict zones in hope of better lives.
However, according to the IMF, because refugees often have fewer rights than local populations, those landing in developing countries are often absorbed into already disadvantaged local communities forming a new underclass comprising refugees and the existing poor in the host country, which in turn leads to a detrimental effect on the host countries.
For those refugees that land in Europe, where the influx of refugees has only had a small impact on economy, there have been some positive effects on the host countries, according to the report.
More funds needed
The IMF report has revealed the huge scale of the refugee crisis and the pressure it put on several United Nations institutions, especially the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme.
The two UN organizations have been playing a leading role in the provision of humanitarian assistance, both to internally displaced people and refugees.
However, the IMF report says funding has not kept up with the sharp increase in needs.
For instance, the World Food Programme and the UNHCR have had to cut their services to refugees in Jordan due to funding constraints, which may have contributed to the acceleration of refugee flows to Europe from late 2014, according to the report.
The IMF report urged policymakers to scale up humanitarian aid in conflict zones and neighboring countries hosting refugees and prioritize fiscal spending to protect human life and serve basic public needs.
The report comes as the UN General Assembly is preparing to host a summit on refugees in New York next week.
The UN plans to use the summit as a platform to urge governments, private donors, and humanitarian agencies to support the organization in its efforts to ease suffering of the victims of world conflicts.
Analysts believe the MENA conflicts and the following refugee crisis are the outcome of the West’s policies in the Middle East and North Africa.
The latest car bombing is most likely a personal vendetta, probably more of a gang problem inside Aden over who is going to take control, the rebels or Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), political commentator Marwa Osman told RT.
Up to 60 people have been killed in a car bomb attack in the Yemeni city of Aden with dozens more injured. Most of the dead were pro-government troops.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack.
RT: What is ISIS trying to achieve in this attack?
Marwa Osman: First, let’s tell people where ISIS targeted. They targeted a school compound which consists of the Popular Committee Forces who are allied with Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was the president who resigned twice before the war in Yemen. So, they targeted these people who are already in war with “Ansar Allah” also known as the Houthis in the mainstream media. So, they are now targeting supposedly their own allies. And that is because there is a personal vendetta, probably more of a gang problem inside Aden over who is going to take control now. Is it the rebels who are actually backed by Saudi Arabia, who is still bombing and killing people in Saada and Sana’a? Or is it going to be ISIS which is also backed by Saudi Arabia which has been funneling money and arms by Saudi Arabia for the past seven or eight years in Yemen. Who is going to take control? That is the fight that is going on there. It is not a fight of fighting ISIS or fighting people who are there to try and liberate Yemen. No, because the actual thing is that both groups, these popular movements which are Hadi’s supporters and ISIS – they are both fighting “Ansar Allah” which is also getting beaten by the Saudi-led coalition. So, this is more of who is going to control the area.
RT: With this Saudi Arabian involvement you mentioned, is it possible that Saudi Arabia is using ISIS as some sort of proxy army to achieve its desires in that part of the world?
MO: It is not only possible, it is the only fact on the ground because up until now, since March 25, 2015 when the US coalition led by the Saudis ran… all over Yemen, they have never – not even once – targeted all of the Al-Qaeda-ISIS wilayat. They have eight wilayat inside of Yemen and not once have they targeted them. Why? Because they are actually there to run the on-ground incursion for the Saudis. And up until now they have not been able to do that; they were not able to go to Sana’a or to Saada for that matter. They only have been targeting Aden as we just saw today. It is obviously very devastating: 60 people dead because of the explosion. But these two proxy warriors for the war of Al-Saud, both rebels that supposedly represent Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, the former president and also Al-Qaeda. It is the way it is going on in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and also Libya. So, when you talk about Saudi Arabia funding ISIS, it is the only way that it is going to gain any ground incursions on the Yemeni field. And yet this is not happening…
RT: Are you saying that ISIS is de facto a proxy army of mercenaries being used to achieve regime change?
MO: Yes, of course. And that what we have been saying since the beginning of 2010 and all 2011 when Al-Qaeda was changing into ISIS based on the ideology of Wahhabism, which is diffused and brought upon us by the monarchy of Al-Saud. Where they have got their weapons from, where they were funded from? It was obvious; we had all the reports and also the statements from both Qatar and Saudi Arabia. But then Qatar last year started to back off, but Saudi Arabia is still enraged by the incapability of their forces to take any control of Yemen. By God, Yemen is taking land inside of Saudi Arabia; it is that devastating for Al-Saud now. And when we talk about Iraq, Syria as well, it is also the same thing. They are still funding the same group that has the ideology of Al-Saud which is Wahhabism because they have no other choice. They are losing in Yemen; they obviously lost a lot in Syria and Iraq. There is no other place. The Iraqis are asking the Saudis to change their ambassador because he is the main person who is in contact with Al-Qaeda and ISIS inside of Iraq. So, when we talk about this, and talk about the role of Saudi Arabia, I don’t want to just demonize them. There are facts that demonize them. There are facts that Riyadh is still issuing a bloody campaign against Yemen. And there are US and UK so-called consultants inside of Riyadh in the control room of the war on Yemen. And we are still asking if they are funding ISIS or not. How did ISIS come to be if it were not for Al-Saud?
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.
Saudi Arabia on the American chessboard – Part 3
Read part 2: “The occupied mentality Syndrome“
Previously I argued whether Saudi Arabia’s repeated involvements in U.S. interventions and wars stem from free national will or in response to a specific condition. For starters, in Saudi Arabia there is no national will. In Saudi Arabia, the national will is the will of the Al Saud clan. Still, when a major Arab state allies itself with a superpower that committed unspeakable crimes against humanity in almost every Arab country, then something is wrong. This fact alone should compel us to examine the U.S.-Saudi relation for one exceptional reason. As a result of the U.S.-Saudi wars, hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia have lost their lives. Millions became displaced in their own homelands. And millions more rendered refugees.
Attributing the Saudi policies to the bonds of “partnership” with the U.S. is frivolous. There are no bonds between these two thugs except those of business, military deals, secret plots, and wars. Proving this point, bonds such as these have no space for the American and Saudi peoples to share significant cultural or societal exchanges. If partnership is not the reason for the Saudi contribution to the U.S. strategy of empire and imperialism, then another reason must exist.
This leads to three possibilities. (1) The Saudis are exercising their supreme national rights to do whatever they want. Or, (2), they are responding to inducement. Or, (3), they are complying with applied pressure. While the first possibility cannot be taken seriously, the remaining two possibilities are plausible. This means the Saudi participation in the U.S. wars—by proxy and directly—must have origins in factors other than the fluid concepts of alliance and partnership.
By the way, yielding to pressure is not new in international relations. In the age of today’s imperialism, the U.S. use of the UNSC to impose its policies is an example. If impositions fail, then the U.S. acts unilaterally. Examples: the imposition of the no-fly zone in Iraq 1991-2003 and the invasion in 2003. In the era of classical colonialism during 19th century, Britain’s gun boat diplomacy to force the opening of China to foreign trade is another example. Again, when a nation succumbs to another nation, that succumbence is never ordinary.
I also argued that succumbence to power is the result of protracted material, mental, and emotional processes performing as one element. From this premise I went on to coin the term: Occupied Mentality Syndrome (OMS) to describe such an element. Unlike other forms of mentalities (national, group, personal, and so on), the mentality I am debating is atypical. Driven by subjective factors but influenced by politically construed constraints—real or imagined—, this mentality has special traits. It competes with ideology, it conforms to pressure, it lays the blame on others, and it discards accountability.
Although such traits may not appear all at once, the presence of any one of them in a given situation is a reason to suspect that an OMS is lurking behind. Most interesting, those afflicted by this syndrome accept what comes next as a normal outcome of free deliberation. This is an anomaly. It is so because those who endorse it only calculate value versus detriment.
But calculations gutted from analysis, congruency of purpose, or the study of variables lead to contentious decisions. It is no mystery that decisions with far-reaching negative consequences impacting others could lead to tension or even open hostility. How does the Saudi regime get away from the impact of their decisions?
The usual act has been to reject any responsibility without discussion—as it happened with Iraq’s war against Iran. In doing so, the Saudi regime takes cues directly from Niccolò Machiavelli. Explanation: after converting the deliberation process into a justificatory procedure, the Saudi regime moves to the next phase: conferring legitimacy to already made decisions. Here is how they do it: make the decisions appear as if they were the result of (1) the collective national will—through the regime’s talking heads, preachers, and media,—and (2) purported adherence to the “Islamic Sharia”. The bogus legitimacy ruse that ensues is ludicrous. A tyrannical and obscurantist regime has now the authority to move forward with its decisions by calling on its citizens to observe a Quranic verse—taken out of context—calling on Muslims to obey their rulers.
To test the validity of the OMS concept, let me reprise my argument about how the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan shaped the mindset of the Saudi regime. Although the outcome of the 18-month long anti-Shah demonstrations was predictable, it, nevertheless, caught the U.S. and Saudi Arabia unprepared for his downfall. With the Shah gone, a psycho-political “drama” unfolded. The United States lost one of Nixon’s two pillars (the other is Saudi Arabia) in the Middle East; Israel lost its only ally in the Muslim world; Al Saud lost their inner confidence. The mere idea of a Khomeini-style revolution sweeping Saudi Arabia was enough to induce convulsive spasms in all those concerned with power, money, and oil.
Afghanistan was a different story. While the United States was mostly concerned with the Soviet power and on how to respond to the invasion, Saudi Arabia was literally terrified about the potential spread of “godless” Communism. . . . Thus was born the “special relationship” between U.S. ruling circles and a reactionary, absolutist clan.
What do we understand from the U.S.-Saudi relation?
Marked differences between the U.S. and Saudi polities make it intuitive that such a relation is no more than an opportunistic convergence between two regimes. Said differently, what we have here is a forum for massive business encounters and ideological boastings that both regimes struggle to call “alliance”. Generally, in the pre-9/11 period that relation had two sets of motives. While the American set is trite—empire-building, hegemony, oil, wars, and Israel—, the Saudi’s is issue-focused. (1) The clan must have the absolute primacy over Saudi life and society. (2) The clan defines its quest for security and survival in U.S. imperialistic context. That is, whatever the U.S. needs, the Saudi regime can supply in exchange for the clan’s needs.
It would be interesting to imagine the following scenario. The subject is Afghanistan. Was it ever possible for the Saudi regime to pursue a course independent from the objectives of the United States policy because they run against the legitimate interests of the Saudi people? To debate this point: was the spending of over $3.2 billion (indexed for that period) on the anti-Soviet Afghan war of any benefit to the Saudi society?
Let us make another supposition. Because Al Saud think of their clan as being the most powerful on earth, then a pressing question comes to mind. If they were that powerful, why did they not take alternative measures to counter U.S. pressure in the decades before 9/11? For instance, they could have purchased technology, weapons, and advanced commodities—and even “protection” from any industrial country other than the United States.  Or, with all the money they had, they could have started an autonomous national industrialization process like that of India, Iran, Turkey, China, South Korea, and others.
Ironically, even if the Saudi regime had the means to undertake that process, it would not have moved to implement it. Explanation: advanced statecraft mechanisms leading to independent decision making in any sector of the national life are unavailable because of the despotic nature of the regime. Not only that, but achieving sovereignty means also sovereignty for the people. This would surely curtail the power of the clan due to increased popular participation in the setting of national priorities.
Let us consider another point: the Saudis have always bragged that their “alliance” with the U.S. is unbreakable. This has an implication: the preventive imprisonment of their critical judgment and free will. Explanation: while the Saudis are unwilling to break with the U.S., the U.S. can discard them at will and play them at any given time—as happened recently with the story of the 28 pages never published from the 9/11 report. Tentative conclusion: from the clan’s perspective, it appears that whatever the U.S. wants can be addressed and accepted. Still, my earlier supposition that Saudi Arabia had the means and will to be independent from the United States has merit, It means, any U.S. pressure on the Saudis for burden sharing would be useless if the Saudis resist and go somewhere else for their needs.
If a counter-argument suggests that the Saudi spending in Afghanistan was worth it to deter a potential Russian aggression, then a reasoned rebuttal could be as follows. Fact 1: we know that the U.S.-Saudi relation revolves around deterring hypothetical “threats” against the kingdom. Fact 2: but we also know that neither the USSR, nor any other regional or international power has ever threatened to attack or invade Saudi Arabia. Amusingly, the only rumored threat of invasion came from Saudi Arabia’s “ally”, the United States (and from Britain) consequent to the Arab oil embargo in 1973. Conclusion: Al Saud had no impelling reasons to finance the U.S. imperialist enterprise in Afghanistan—even if they loathed the Soviets.
My argument: the Saudi regime has been concealing the primary motive feeding their “alliance” with the United States. Yet, it is not that difficult to guess what the clan thinks. Being a superpower with massive Zionist and Israeli influence, the United States offered the best guarantee for the survival of the regime on two fronts.
On the domestic front, the U.S. may help the regime survive if domestic unrest becomes unstoppable. The American-authorized French intervention to quell the Mecca uprising in 1979 is an example. As for The Zionist and Israeli component in American politics viewed from a Saudi angle, this is intuitive too. Like all Arab regimes, deluding themselves that the U.S. has a sovereign Arab policy, the Saudis thought of their U.S. relation as a buffer against America’s ally and protégée: Israel.
Furthermore, whereas Saudi motives are clan-based, those of the United States are system-based. This means, they are global, rationalized, and originate from how the ruling circles view the role of the United States in the world. Still, motives need forces to have effect. Consequently, the motives of a political state are the same motives of the ideological and material forces that drive it. For instance, in post-WWII United States, such forces worked as one construct to drive the purpose of U.S. hegemony. The economics, politics, and ideology of militarized capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, and Zionism are a few examples of such forces.
I mentioned colonialism as a force in the making of the United States. Does this apply to the United States of today? Here is how I see it. With military bases in over 160 countries, with bases count ranging from 761 to 900 plus, with military personnel in excess of 156,000, with a land mass of over 2,202,735 hectares (approx. 5,443,076 acres) occupied by the U.S. military, and with $150 billion annual budget, the United States is nothing but a global colonialist power whose bases are nothing less than outposts for a colonialist enterprise in progress. See deployment map in the article: These are all the countries where the US has a military presence. , , , ,  [Note: I included several links to the issue of bases because some data differ from one source to another. Besides, the cited articles could offer an integrated view of the subject.]
Three motives define the course of U.S. power. These are (1) the determination to expand the spheres of U.S. influence, (2) the relentless intent to dominate geostrategic regions, and (3) wars as economic enterprises. How does the United States implement its domination project? The U.S. has an impressive array of tools and gadgets. Limited sampling: planned hostility, military interventions against countries resisting U.S. demands, wars against independent-minded countries that U.S. rulers love to call “rogue states”, seizure of foreign assets in the U.S., economic sanctions against “disobedient” states, applying U.S. laws on foreign states, dubbing adversaries as terrorists, harassment of big rival powers . . .
If examined in the context of classical colonialism, the U.S. domination of Saudi Arabia has all the signs of a colonialist dependency model. In this model, the periphery depends on the center in a way designed to consecrate the primacy of the center. But Saudi Arabia has never been a U.S. colony. This is true but irrelevant. The changing nature of modern dependency uses revamped practices. In one such practice, Washington makes the decisions and Riyadh implements them as if they were its own. The examples of Libya, Syria, and Yemen are instructive.
Keeping this in mind, I contend that many facts of the U.S.-Saudi relation point into the direction of multiple forms of dependency. The U.S. as a “protector” of the clan, massive Saudi purchase of U.S. arms, financial deals, and U.S. military presence in the kingdom are just the most prominent forms. One crucial aspect of the relation deserves stringent analysis. The U.S.-Saudi “alliance” goes beyond dependency, beyond petrodollar deposits, beyond investments in the U.S. economy, beyond the purchase of weapons, and beyond buying of treasury bonds. I am referring to a subject often overlooked: Saudi Arabia as a destructive interventionist tool in the hands of U.S. imperialists and Zionists.
To recap, stating that the U.S.-Saudi coupling is an alliance makes no sense. The alliance notion has different requirements, defining clauses, and formal obligations. Not even the claim of partnership is valid. Partnership takes its name from concepts such as equal sharing of burden, profits, and losses. This is not the case between the United States and Saudi Arabia. What we have here is an opportunistic platform between two different regimes pursuing separate agendas.
Again, prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, U.S. aims included the opposition to Communism, containing Arab hostility to the U.S. and Israel, securing cheap oil, and providing basing rights for the U.S. military. On the Saudi side, preventing potential Iranian-style Islamic and progressive national revolutions in the region was the top concern. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, things changed. Generally, while the Saudis are obsessed with keeping the status quo in their regional milieu, the Americans are maneuvering their regional marionettes and intervening directly to alter the socio-structures and political assets of the entire region known as the Middle East.
Countless facts during the past 35 years attest that Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy coincided with or was in response to the U.S. world agenda. As a result, we can draw a preliminary conclusion. From 9/11 forward, the disoriented Saudi regime has been devotedly executing what the United States wants it to do in exchange for not complicating its life. With that, Saudi Arabia has become the material accessory and financing tool of the United States and Israel to remake (destroy) the Arab homeland according to the U.S. and Israeli plans. Iraq, Syria, and Libya are examples. , 
It is natural that an event such as 9/11 would have traumatized the clan and drove them to panic and despair. This is not only due to the nationality of some of the alleged attackers but also because Wahhabism, the creed of the Saudi state, has taken a post among the accused. For one, 9/11 worsened the socio-political instability of the clan and amplified their notorious arrogance. But 9/11 alone cannot explain the real reasons behind the intensified proclivity of the regime for violence toward the few remaining Arab states that still reject U.S. hegemony and Israeli settler colonialism.
However, in Saudi contest, the principal effect of 9/11 was “surgical”. It exposed the ugly face of Saudi barbarity by externalizing its warring enmity toward Iran and any Arab nation that opposes U.S. hegemony and the criminal practices of the Wahhabi state. That proclivity for violence and that foaming anti-Arab and anti-Iranian enmity were the means with which Al Saud thought they could placate post-9/11 United States and appease Israel in the process. Involving the Saudi ruling family in 9/11 was a master stroke of a strategy. With it, the United States has skillfully exploited the primal fear of the Saudi regime from losing power. And just like that, with one unsubstantiated accusation, the United States seized the grand moment—the prey was ready to be devoured.
It is beside the point to state that analyses meant to explain post-9/11 Saudi actions and policies must consider the determination of the Saudi regime to take whatever is needed to appease the United States. After 9/11 the Saudis thought they could silence the hyper-imperialist bully by withdrawing their recognition of Afghanistan under the Taliban rule. It did not work out. Then they moved, as requested by the United States, to cut off funding to religious organizations and Wahhabi-inspired schools in many countries. It did not work out either. Afterwards, they offered King Abdulla’s initiative to recognize Israel. Still, it did not work out. . . .
Here is what the crude mentality of Al Saud failed to comprehend. The appeasement the hyper-empire was thinking of was much wider, much deeper, and has no end—it is the unconditional Saudi willingness to play along with the U.S. plans and strategies.
I maintain, therefore, that explaining the Saudi post-9/11 wars and interventions against selected Arab states is ineffective without proper investigative tools. What we need are approaches that would enable us to see below, above, and around the appearances of events.
Another significant outcome of 9/11 was tangible: the transformation of Saudi Arabia from an American “ally” into a near hostage pliable for blackmail. For instance, the Saudi regime voiced concern and even some opposition to the planned U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Still, they were unable to stop the U.S. from using their territory, airports, ports, and military facilities for that purpose. But when the invasion took its course, they mightily supported it. This is duplicity, of course; but I do not have to debate that such behavior says more than it could hide. Simply, it indicates fear from opposing U.S. moves.
I hold, therefore, that the radical change in Saudi Arabia’s post-9/11 regional conduct (the war against Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iraq; the harassment of Lebanon; the anti-Iran bellicosity; the tryst with Israel) was not in response to pressing Saudi needs, or to sudden wakening of the regime’s dormant “democratic values”. By extracting meanings out of statements, and by reading deeply into the cumulative consequences of the Saudi actions and their purpose, the answer should dispense with theoretical uncertainties. That is, those radical changes were in response to U.S. pressure or other forms of hard persuasion including implicit blackmail.
In which way did Iraq’s war against Iran confirm the U.S. scheme for the Middle East? What role did Al Saud play in that war? How does all this relate to and corroborate the occupied mentality syndrome?
Next: Part 4
- I should mention that Saudi Arabia has purchased missiles from China, as well as advanced weapons from Germany, Italy, Britain, Japan and other countries. Still, none of these deals would have been completed without the United States approving them first. The U.S. approval is motivated. First, U.S. military industry licenses the making of its weapons abroad and has deals to manufactures other weapons in partnership with many countries. Second, by submitting the weapons sale to its preventive approval, the United States establishes equal control on buyers and sellers. And this is how hegemony works. (Read: Why Did Saudi Arabia Buy Chinese Missiles? This is an imperialist view by the Foreign Policy Magazine. Pay attention to how Jeffrey Lewis explains the conditions that made the purchase possible. He writes, “Apparently with the approval of the George W. Bush administration.” [Italics mine]. Needless to say, the word “apparently” should have been omitted. . . .
- Gilbert Achcar, Greater Middle East: the US plan, Le Monde Diplomatique
- Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Plans for Redrawing the Middle East, Uruknet, 18 November 2006.
- David Vine, The United States has Probably More Foreign Military Bases than Any Other People, Nation, or Empire in History, The nation, 14 September, 2015
- David Vine, Where in the World Is the U.S. Military? Politico Magazine, July/August, 2015
- Julia Zorthian and Heather Jones, This Graphic Shows Where U.S. Troops Are Stationed Around the World, Time, 16 October 2015
- Tom Engelhardt, The US Has 761 Military Bases Across the Planet, and We Simply Never Talk About It, AlterNet, 7 September 2008
- Louis Jacobson, Ron Paul says U.S. has military personnel in 130 nations and 900 overseas bases, POLITIFACT, 14 September, 2011
It was about two years ago to the day I was blacklisted at CNN.
I don’t want to remind them they were sadly wrong, but they were. So write this off however you prefer, but understand that we were lied to again to drag us again into an open-ended war in Iraq-Syria. Last time it was Bush and those missing Weapons of Mass Destruction. This time it was Obama and saving the Yazidi people from genocide.
Wait, what? Who are the Yazidis? How did they get us back into Iraq?
Ah, how fast time flies.
Two years ago a group of Yazidis, a minority spread across Iran, Iraq and Turkey, were being threatened by a group called ISIS few American were focused on. Obama declared a genocide was about to happen, and the U.S. had to act. U.S. officials said they believed that some type of ground force would be necessary to secure the safety of the stranded members of the Yazidi group. The military drew up plans for limited airstrikes and the deployment of 150 ground troops.
No Congressional authorization was sought, no attempt was made to secure UN sanction, no effort was made to seek Iraqi military help to save their own people inside their own country. However, promises were made by the White House of having no American “boots on the ground” and that the airstrikes to kill people were for a humanitarian purpose.
Two years later the U.S. has some 6,000 troops on the ground, including artillery units and aircraft based inside Iraq and Syria. The limited airstrikes have expanded to a 24 month broad-based bombing campaign, which has spread into Syria, with the sideshows of complete collapse of democracy in Turkey, a Russian military presence in Syria, and an Iranian military presence in Iraq. For the record, the Yazidis are pretty much fine, as are ISIS and Syrian president Assad. The Yazadis do occasionally show up in fear-mongering, unsourced stories about ISIS sex slaves, usually spoon-fed to American media, and only American media, by pro-Yazidi ethnic groups safely in the west.
In fact, other than a massive regional death toll and no progress toward whatever the actual goal for the United States is (um, whatever, “destroy” ISIS), things are pretty much the same after two years, +chaos. And whomever is elected this November will be the fifth U.S. president to make war in Iraq.
Back to CNN.
As the Yazidi situation was unfolding, I was invited to tape a discussion there alongside the usual retired U.S. military colonel. I was asked a single question, explained in my answer that the U.S. was in fact using the Yazidi “humanitarian crisis/faux genocide” as an excuse to re-enter the Iraq quagmire, and equated it to George W. Bush’s flim-flam about weapons of mass destruction in 2003.
The host literally said I was wrong. I was not asked another question, though the colonel was given several minutes to explain the urgency of the situation, demand America act where no one else would, and assure the public that Obama planned only limited, surgical strikes and that was it, one and done.
My question was edited out, the colonel’s lengthy answer was played on air, and my very brief moment in the glow of CNN was ended even though I wore a nice suit and a tie. Oh well, we still have each other here, and hey, CNN, my number’s still the same if you wanna call.
ABC Television’s 20/20 will air a program on Friday called “The Girl Left Behind,” the main thrust of which is already apparent on ABC’s website.
The horribly tragic story is that of Kayla Mueller, an American held hostage and reportedly raped and tortured by ISIS before dying — it’s unclear how, possibly at the hands of ISIS, possibly killed by bombs dropped by U.S. ally Jordan.
Another hostage who was freed reported that ISIS blamed Kayla Mueller for U.S. actions in the Middle East. Among those actions, we learned this week, was imprisoning future ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at Abu Ghraib, not just at Camp Bucca as previously reported.
Mueller, like fellow ISIS victim James Foley, meant well and was in Syria to try to help people nonviolently. But U.S. policy has made it unsafe for Americans to travel to many places.
ABC will seek to pin blame for what happened to Mueller on Doctors Without Borders. She was kidnapped out of a Doctors Without Borders car, and that organization negotiated the freedom of its employees while refusing to help Mueller or even to trust her family enough to share with them information intended for them from ISIS.
But Doctors Without Borders was in Syria to help people and appears to have meant well. Blaming the doctors is easy to overdo here, and not just because the United States has been bombing its hospitals — acts that may not involve rape or torture, but do involve murder and maiming. The U.S. government could have helped Mueller by never having destroyed Iraq in the first place, never having sought to overthrow Syria, never having overthrown Libya, or never having flooded the region with weapons. Or the U.S. government could have negotiated with ISIS or allowed victims’ families to do so — something it now allows, too late for Kayla Mueller. Or the U.S. government could have announced new policies that ISIS would likely have accepted as ransom.
ISIS asked, in exchange for Mueller’s freedom, for the freedom of Aafia Siddiqui or $5 million Euros. If the U.S. government had, instead, offered an apology to the victims of its wars and prison camps, and massive reparations to the region, ISIS might very well have responded in kind. Instead, the U.S. government proceeded to bomb people, including many civilians, for a cost many times greater than $5 million Euros.
The telling of Mueller’s story is, in itself, worthwhile. But the focus on an American victim of a war that is victimizing all kinds of people fuels dangerous attitudes. Focusing on the crimes of ISIS, but not of Saudi Arabia or Bahrain or, for that matter, the United States, looks like propaganda for more war. When a New Yorker like Jeffrey Epstein rapes, nobody proposes to bomb New York, but when Baghdadi allegedly rapes, the appropriate response is widely understood to be bombing people.
I don’t think the suffering of Kayla Mueller or James Foley should be used to justify the infliction of more suffering. As 9/11 victims have been used as a justification to kill hundreds of times the number of people killed on 9/11, some of the victims’ relatives have pushed back. James Foley is pushing back from the grave. Posted online is a video of Foley talking about the lies that are needed to launch wars, including the manipulation of people into thinking of foreigners as less than human. Foley’s killers may have thought of him as less than human. He may not have viewed them the same way.
The video shows Foley in Chicago helping the late Haskell Wexler with his film Four Days in Chicago — a film about a protest of NATO. I was there in Chicago for the march and rally against NATO. And I met Wexler who tried unsuccessfully to find funding for a film version of my book War Is A Lie.
In the video you can watch Foley discussing the limitations of embedded reporting, the power of veteran resistance, veterans he met at Occupy, the absence of a good justification for the wars, the dehumanization needed before people can be killed, the shallowness of media coverage — watch all of that and then try to imagine James Foley accepting the use of his killing as propaganda for more fighting.
When Foley’s mother sought to ransom him, the U.S. government repeatedly threatened her with prosecution. So, instead of Foley’s mother paying a relatively small amount and possibly saving her son, ISIS goes on getting its funding from oil sales and supporters in the Gulf and free weapons from, among elsewhere, the United States and its allies. And we’re going to collectively spend millions, probably billions, and likely trillions of dollars furthering the cycle of violence that Foley risked his life to expose.
Saudi Arabia on the American chessboard – Part 2
Since the Korean War, but particularly since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 until today, the United States has been steadily escalating its military presence in the Persian Gulf. Taking advantage of many colossal events of the past 36 years,  the hyper-empire has institutionalized its massive presence on land and sea, and expanded its objectives to include the unambiguous physical control of the area, as well as the clear understanding that local Arab governments should abide by them. The pretext is always the same: in “defense” of the national interests and security of the United States. From observing how the United States has been interacting with the governments of the region, and by judging from the size of its expeditionary force, we could reach a basic conclusion. The United States is occupying, de facto, the entire Arabian Peninsula. (Yemen, devastated by Saudi and American jets is yet to be conquered. Oman? Britain returned not as colonial ruler but as a soft occupying power.)
Under this articulation, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates are virtually occupied countries. If we compare this type of occupation to the mandate and protectorate regimes of the past, the results might be identical—the nations affected by it lose sovereignty. When Arab governments comply with the objectives of a foreign power that station military forces on their national milieu, then that power controls them in multiple ways including how they react to policy deliberations and what decisions they intend to take on specific issues. A good method to verify the concept of effective occupation is this: take notice of what the United States says and wants, and then compare it to what the gulf rulers do in response. (I shall discuss this detail at some point in the upcoming parts.)
If the presence of US forces or other means of political pressure are a factor in Saudi Arabia’s interventionist Arab wars, then we need to debate this issue. However, from the history of resistance to colonialism, we learnt: if a powerful state imposes its order on a nation by military means or other forms of coercion, and if this nation does not resist that imposition, then a mental subordination to the powerful state will ensue. This is especially true in the case of Saudi Arabia. One single event, 9/11, has transformed it from a US “ally” into an instant political hostage of the American Empire.
Nine-eleven did not only change the status of Saudi Arabia in American context, it also brought radical changes that altered the character of the regime. It worsened its domestic instability, increased its belligerence, amplified its religious chauvinism, and turned its arrogance of power into an instrument of death and destruction—all at the service of the United States. The reasons for such situation are known. Among the alleged attackers of the still-suspicious event of 9/11, there were 15 Saudi nationals.
More important, Wahhabism, a deranged, dogmatic version of Islam and the creed of Saudi Arabia, is coming under attack by the United States. Charge: it promotes “terrorism”. (Read Obama’s interview with the Atlantic Magazine.) This is, of course, a heavy blow to the US “ally’. How cynical and preposterous! Who could forget that just 36 years ago Carter and Brzezinski promoted Wahhabism as the religion of “freedom fighters” and “holy warriors”, and made Saudi Arabia pay for proselytes and weapons to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan? Without debating what terrorism is, and whether Wahhabism is promoting it, the fact that a master-terrorist superpower is doing such an accusation just today and after Wahhabi militants have destroyed Syria (and parts of Iraq) with US support, is an odious insult to all those who were killed by US and Saudi barbarity through Wahhabi proxies.
Now, from studying the US-Saudi financial and military interactions in all years before 9/11, it is reasonable to conclude that the Saudi regime had become the financier of the American interventionist agenda. Did 9/11 change those interactions? Considering Saudi Arabia’s role in the US invasion of Iraq and their continuing efforts in the wars against Libya, Syria, and Yemen, it is equally reasonable to conclude that 9/11 did not alter the basic Saudi-American relation. However, ample evidence suggests that the United States will continue using the Saudi tool until it will no longer need it. Still, 9/11 did affect their relation—it brought changes to the US strategy for controlling Saudi Arabia and other gulf governments. In addition, the intricate relation between Saudi Arabia of post‑9/11 with the United States of pre-9/11 had also gone through some changes. Nevertheless, relations between the two kept evolving in cadence with the changing of rhythms of 9/11 and with its political interpretations and propagandistic use.
From observing the events from 9/11 forward, it can be said that the Saudi function on the American chessboard changed too. Nine-eleven has transformed Saudi Arabia from a financier and supplier of religiously driven mercenaries to become a powerful criminal organization with a plan to execute. As often discussed by US and Israeli think tanks, that plan cannot be clearer in its declared tenets. I am pointing to the imperialist planned remake of the geostrategic assets and political orders of current Arab states. As such, the US invasion of Iraq, US-NATO bombardment of Libya, US-Saudi-Qatari war in Syria, US-Saudi-UAE war in Yemen, US-Saudi-Kurdish war in Iraq and Syria, and US-ISIS war in Syria, Iraq, and Libya are but one seamless chapter in this plan. With that, 9/11 has become an emblematic alibi for US imperialist expansions. [Read: B. J. Sabri, Imperialist Expansions and 9/11) 
Of interest, the transformation of Saudi Arabia into a terrorist, and expansionist state at the service of the United States (and Israel) did not help alter the way with which the US intended to play the card of 9/11. We need not speculate on the fact that the Saudis are fully aware of the American ploy and its objectives. Yet, their pressing priority has been all too evident: decrease pressure and preempt any pretext for a potential intervention in exchange for bending to US demands. Despite many American voices calling for the nuclear incineration of Saudi Arabia under the pretext of its alleged role in 9/11, the US government— who knows the entire truth about 9/11—had different calculations. (Rich Lowry, now the editor of the National Review, called for the destruction of Mecca with nuclear bombs.  Statement: US nuclear lunatics have no right to incinerate Saudi Arabia—not even a grain of its desert sand. If Saudi Arabia is guilty of something, and the US can prove it through an unbiased team of international panelists, then let them take it to international courts and punish it with civil laws.)
Incidentally, would the United States attack Saudi Arabia if its culpability was proved in international courts? Speculations aside, the United States might not attack Saudi Arabia for one fundamental reason: Saudi Arabia, a US “partner”, had nothing to do with 9/11—and the US knows that very well. In addition, if there were a verifiable Saudi regime’s involvement in 9/11, why wait this long to take action? That is said, the central motive for which the United States does not want to touch Saudi Arabia has to do with the function it established for it. The Saudi regime is an open bank for US world operations, chief buyer of its weapons, oil price manipulator to strangle Russia and Iran, a potential ally of Israel, and controller of the so-called Arab league to gain spurious legitimacy for US policies in the region.
In short, the United States needs Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has all the qualifications the United States needs in a regional player willing to play by its rules. The Saudi regime fits this profile for a number of reasons. It is ideologically structured yet pliable to US views, politically conditioned by an archaic system of governance, socially obscurantist to control potential unrest inimical to Washington, aggressive against neighbors, ruthless against dissenters, but above all, it has a lot of money and is willing to spend it on the American cause.
It is logical to argue, that 9/11 presented the Saudi regime with hard choices regarding their relation with the United States. To save its neck from possible and ever-present American accusations involving it in 9/11, the regime had to re-invent itself. It went from being a willing executioner of the older American agenda (destabilizing Communism, etc.) to be the chief agent of destruction at the service of a re-energized US imperialism with a new agenda.
I am referring to the Zionist American plan to redraw the map of current Arab states and alter their historically developed socio-political and cultural realities. To be sure, 9/11 was also the factor that altered another Saudi reality. It broke Saudi Arabia’s long held assumption for being America’s enduring “partner”. Aside from that, 9/11 benefitted the United States in another way. It securely placed Saudi Arabia and all of its oil and money between the unyielding clutches of US imperialism.
My argument of the Saudi succumbence to the US power is threefold. First, the Saudi regime realizes it has no means, power, or courage to make the United States leave the Gulf or, at least, lessen its supremacy over the governments of the gulf. Second, consequent to this realization, submissiveness to it in the form of fear sets in and resistance to it disappears. Third, besides protracted psychological conditioning, other tangible factors turned the Saudi-American relation into a complex interplay.
On one side, we have the Saudi deference to the United States. I view this deference as follows: (1) confluence and reciprocal opportunism of two different but oppressive ideologies —Wahhabism and imperialism; (2) oil and petrodollars, and (3) a long history of secret deals—since the day Franklin D. Roosevelt met Abdul Aziz Al Saud in 1945. On the other, we have a supremacist superpower that views Al Saud as no more than a backward tribal bunch whose primary function is providing special services to the United States. These include cheap oil, buying US weapons, investing oil money in the US capitalistic system, supporting US hegemonic quest, buying US national debt, and bankrolling its covert operations and wars.
To drive the point, I argue that the combination between lack of means, lack of resistance, and other forms of dependence (US political and public relations support, for example) has created a situation of dependency. It incrementally forced the Saudi regime into a mental subordination to the United States similar to an occupied mentality. What is an occupied mentality?
As stated earlier, noticing the magnitude of US military forces stationed at sea, as well as in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, and Jordan there can be but one conclusion: all these countries are under virtual US occupation. In addition, if we consider US global and regional agenda and the objective of its forces in the region, stating that the material occupation of the Gulf is moving in unison with a parallel occupation of the mind of rulers is a valid statement. Let us take the example of Iraq and see if applies to Saudi Arabia. By all definitions, Iraq of today is a top example of an occupied mentality. Whereas the United States has been occupying Iraq from 2003 until now—through scattered military bases and by directives from the US “embassy”—, the American-appointed Iraqi government still pretends that Iraq is an independent state. This is not schizophrenia. It is a conscious mental adaptation to an existing reality named occupation.
To articulate the argument of occupied mentality, I argue that an array of psychological processes is behind the mental adaptation to imposed captivity. This means, accepting subjugation to a foreign power is not only a symptom of besieged mentality, but also a conscious effort to turn that subjugation into a feeling of normalcy. In turn, this feeling becomes the primary impulse for cohabitation between occupiers and occupied. Generally, the lack of resistance to subjugation is, by itself, acquiescence to it: as a process and as result. At this point, it does not matter whether this acquiescence is induced, taught, imposed or voluntary—the result is still subjugation.
Considering this argument, Saudi Arabia is no different from Iraq when the issue is the adaptation to US domination. For instance, the Saudi regime knows it is under US siege. And it knows that the United States is waiting for the appropriate occasion to strike it someway. Yet, the Saudi regime is busy these days dispensing threats left and right, even to the power that nurtured its monstrosities, with the hope that someone would buy its trivial performance of national strength. To conclude, rulers who live under any form of foreign occupation or diktat and rulers who have lost their basic national decision-making are neither sovereign nor free.
Mapping the transformation of Saudi Arabia in terms of events is an incisive tool to navigate through the mysteries of the Saudi-American relation. Take, for example, the role played by the Saudi regime in Soviet-invaded Afghanistan. With so much money and relative stability, Al Saud had neither national imperatives nor definite rationales to spend billions of dollars on that war. Did they participate in it as (A) an act of self-defense against adversaries who never attacked them, (B) opposition to Communism, or, (C) a response to US-prodding?
For one, the claim that Saudi Arabia intervened in Afghanistan to fight Communism is rubbish. Many regimes of that period opposed Communism. Yet, none took their opposition to the fanatical militant level taken by Al Saud. Moreover, fighting invaders does not translate automatically into fighting the ideology driving their politico-economic system. These are two different categories. Vietnam is an example. The Vietcong fought the American invading force (and the South-Vietnamese army). But nowhere could one read that Vietnam’s war of liberation was directed against US capitalism as a system.
Second, is there any truth to the other claim that the Saudi intervention was an act of solidarity with Muslim Afghanistan? If religious feelings were driving the regime’s animosity against the Soviet invaders, then these same feelings should have risen when the United States invaded a predominately Arab and Muslim Iraq. In that occasion, the Wahhabi regime (whose religious scholars, preachers, and countless imams consistently dub Westerners as heathens, infidels, and nonbelievers)not only did not release a whisper against the coming invasion, it blessed and supported it. (It is on record what Bandar bin Sultan, a high- ranking Saudi emir with a 20-year tenure as ambassador to Washington, with ties to AIPAC and US Zionism, and with intimate connections to the Bush family had said on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. “I will not shave my beard until the US occupies Iraq and kills Saddam Hussein,” then addressing the American public, he added, “I will pray for the life of every one of your soldiers . . .”)
For debate: in terms of semantic equivalency, words such as heathens, atheists, infidels, nonbelievers, etc. are conceptually compatible. A question to the Saudis: why fight the Soviet invaders of Muslim Afghanistan under the charge of atheism, but never fight the Americans invaders of Muslim Iraq under the same charge?
Next: Part 3
- Examples: the Iranian Revolution, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iraqi invasion of Iran, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the Gulf War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and US-NATO bombardment of Serbia.
- The Splendid Failure of Occupation: Imperialist expansions and 9/11 (http://www.uruknet.info/?p=10086), 2005
- CounterPunch Services, National Review Editor Suggests “Nuking Mecca”, March 13, 2003
Since September 2001, the Pentagon has listed $40 billion worth of contracts for small arms intended for Afghanistan and Iraq, supplying 1.45 million guns to both countries while only accounting for 3 percent of them, says a new report by a British NGO.
The London-based nonprofit Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) pored over 14 years’ worth of contracts issued by the US Department of Defense, documenting the purchases of small arms – defined as anything under 30mm in caliber – ammunition and attachments, such as sniper scopes or tripods. They found a massive amount of weapons supplied by the US to the primary theaters of the “War on Terror,” and remarkably little accounting of whose hands they ended up in.
“Our findings raise concerns about the DOD’s own transparency and accountability when it comes to issuing contracts,” Iain Overton, AOAV’s director of investigations, said when announcing the report’s publication Wednesday.
Not only has the Pentagon’s contract database listed only 3 percent of the approximately 1.45 million small arms sent to Iraq and Afghanistan over the years, “we also know the US government has acknowledged they don’t know where many of these weapons now are,” Overton added.
A team of AOAV researchers spent almost a year looking into every contract published by the Pentagon between September 11, 2001 and September 10, 2015, said the organization, whose mission is “research and advocacy in order to reduce the incidence and impact of global armed violence.”
What they found was just over $40 billion of solicitations for small arms, ammunition and attachments, with just under $20 billion actually paid out to contractors. Of the 412 published contracts, 137 – or 33 percent – contained errors and discrepancies.
Ten companies accounted for 65 percent of the total published contract values, the researchers found. The top five contractors were Alliant Techsystems – now split into OrbitalATK and Vista Outdoor – DRS Technologies, BAE Systems Inc., Knight’s Armament Co, and General Dynamics. The largest single contract was for the modernization of Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri, worth up to $8.48 billion.
Some 949,582 small arms were sent to Iraq, and another 503,328 to Afghanistan, amounting to 1,452,910 assault and sniper rifles, pistols, machine guns and other unspecified firearms. Yet the Department of Defense contract publications listed only 19,602 of these weapons, just over 1 percent of the total. When AOAV pressed for verification, the DOD provided itemized lists for 719,474 weapons provided through June 2016.
The numbers “tell the story of two wars that did not go as pitched,” veteran military correspondent CJ Chivers wrote in the New York Times Magazine, commenting on AOAV’s findings.
The retired Marine and author of The Gun also filled in a piece of the puzzle the researchers missed by not counting the grenade launchers and anti-tank weapons provided by the Pentagon.
“The data offer no insight into a startlingly risky aspect of the Pentagon’s arming of local forces with infantry arms: the wide distribution of anti-armor weapons, including RPG-7s,” Chivers wrote.
After the first few weeks of each war, the only armor on either battlefield was either American or allied, “which made the Pentagon’s practice of providing anti-armor weapons to Afghan and Iraqi security forces puzzling,” Chivers wrote. “Why would they need anti-armor weapons when they had no armor to fight? All the while rockets were somehow mysteriously being fired at American convoys and patrols in each war.”
With immaculate timing, Turkey unrolled its defiant ‘Plan B’ – billed as the Euphrates Shield operation – in northern Syria just as the US Vice President Joe Biden’s aircraft was about to land in Ankara’s Esenboga airport.
This must be one of the biggest diplomatic snubs that the US has suffered in a long while. And it is being administered by a NATO member country.
I had written yesterday in Asia Times that the US was making a monumental error of judgment by underestimating the grit of the Turkish mind to safeguard its supreme national interests at any cost. (See my article Turkey gets its act together on Syria.)
As I explained, the main purpose of the Euphrates Shield operation is to occupy the strategic border town of Jarablus in northern Syria and have a showdown with the Syrian Kurds (supported by US Special Forces and American air cover). The Kurdish militia had crossed the Euphrates river a few months ago and, contrary to American assurances, they are now moving westward to realise their dream of establishing a Kurdistan straddling Turkey’s border, stretching from Iraq to East Mediterranean coast. Turkey’s ‘red line’ has been breached.
A cat-and-mouse game has been going on between Turkey and the US. The latter was calculating that Turkey won’t act on the ground to confront the Syrian Kurds militarily, especially after the recent coup attempt of July 15, which weakened the military, plus the Russian presence in Syria.
President Recep Erdogan has decided to call the American bluff. In the early hours of the morning, Turkish artillery began pounding Jarablus (which is under the control of the Islamic State presently.) After about 2 hours of shelling, Special Forces crossed the border with F-16 jets providing air cover. The latest reports say a column of Turkish tanks is moving into Syrian territory. (Hurriyet )
The stunning part is that the Turkish incursion follows a tacit understanding with Iran (and Syria). Interestingly, Russian jets aren’t visible anywhere in the Syrian skies to stop the Turkish incursion, either. Surely, NATO is rocking, since it is highly improbable that Turkey took the US-led alliance into confidence over the Euphrates Shield operation, which, ironically, aims at destroying America’s best ally on the Syrian chessboard.
A team of Iranian intelligence officials had made a quick dash to Ankara yesterday morning to give the final touch to the concerted Euphrates Shield operation against the Syrian Kurds. The Iranian delegation presumably carried messages from Damascus for the Turkish side and returned to Tehran yesterday evening itself.
According to Iranian media reports, the deputy head of the Turkish intelligence had paid a secret visit to Damascus on Sunday. Prior to that, Turkish Foreign Minister Mavlut Cavusoglu had a stopover in Tehran on Thursday for 5 hours to personally coordinate with the Iranians – avoiding phone conversations that could have been tapped by the American electronic intelligence system. Clearly, we are witnessing the first tangible signs of a super-secret deal between Turkey and Iran to further their common agenda of preventing the emergence of a Syrian Kurdistan backed by the US and Israel connecting the Kurdish homelands between the Iraqi Kurdistan and Eastern Mediterranean. (Asharq Al-Awsat )
Turkey fears that a Syrian Kurdistan will inexorably boost the separatist Kurdish insurgency on its territory. Iran fears that Kurdistan may turn out to be the playpen of American and Israeli intelligence for undertaking subversive activities against it. Equally, Iraq and Syria also stand to lose since the creation of a Kurdistan will be at the cost of their own national unity and territorial integrity. A convergence on the Kurdish problem brings together Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Indeed, for the first time in the Syrian civil war, government forces have begun attacking Kurds. Last week the US warned Damascus not to launch aerial attacks on the Syrian Kurdish militia on the specious plea that its Special Forces are ‘embedded’ with the Kurds. (Telegraph )
If Biden had hoped for a trade-off with Erdogan over the Turkish concerns regarding Kurds, the latter is literally showing the middle finger. The Euphrates Shield is a stark message to the US that Ankara no longer depends on American goodwill or help.
Erdogan is literally signalling to Biden, ‘No more waffling, Buddy, just send Fetullah Gulen back to us’. Now, that is putting Washington in a fix. Erdogan has repeatedly warned that he will take Gulen’s extradition as the litmus test of US intentions toward Turkey and the raison d’etre of the Turkish-American alliance itself. On the other hand, how can the US possibly allow the extradition of Gulen, who has been the CIA’s longstanding ‘strategic asset’ in Muslim countries?
Biden enjoys a fabulous reputation within America’s political class as wheeler dealer par excellence. His reputation faces an acid test through the coming 12 hours. He’s just about sitting down with the Sultan at Ak Saray (White Palace) — Erdogan’s 1000-room palace in the dark and lovely woods outside Ankara — for a ‘frank’ conversation.
Read today’s column by a dear old friend Ilnur Cevik, a noted Turkish editor, in the pro-government daily Sabah, entitled Welcome to the land of the brave, Mr. Biden.
Casuistry, which one dictionary defines as “specious, deceptive, or oversubtle reasoning, especially in questions of morality” is, rightly or wrongly, inextricably linked to the history of Jesuit order of the Catholic Church. And the rise of the Jesuit order is deeply enmeshed with the Counter-Reformation, a set of measures designed to roll back the spread of Protestantism in Europe during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The control center of the movement was Spain, the world-striding superpower of that historical moment.
Rightfully fearful that Protestantism’s rejection of long-standing modes of clerical privilege and the Church’s “right” to collect vast sums of money from parishioners would undermine their ability to bully and bribe Italian, French, Dutch and German potentates into compliance with their political demands, the Spanish Monarchy undertook an endless series of military adventures against “heretics” across the Continent in the years between 1530 and 1648. This military thrust was accompanied by a well-organized propaganda campaign in which the highly educated Jesuits priests played a crucial role.
Appearing morally and intellectually reasonable while serving as a convinced advocate for the systematic subjugation of other people and their animating ideals is not a simple task. In the long run it is, in fact, an impossible one. No amount of argument can convince a person or group of persons who see them selves as suffering under the boot of another that their bondage is a good and necessary thing. What such a rhetorical posture can do, for a time at least, is convince the subjects of the hegemonic country of, if not the inherent nobility of their bloody mission, its generally benign nature.
A key, if generally unstated, goal of the 16th and 17th century Jesuits was to insure that the highly problematic matter of Rome’s corruption, and the brutal Imperial designs of the Spanish monarchy that lay behind it, never be allowed to occupy the center zone of what then passed for “public” discourse.
When confronted by the emergent Protestant movements about the clear violations of Christian morality practiced by the Church of Rome, they responded with complex disquisitions on the largely circumstantial nature of all moral reasoning. By constantly parsing the intricacies of how overarching moral rules should, or should not, be applied in each particular circumstance (and teaching others to do the same), they very effectively prevented the emergence within the Church, and by extension in the leadership class of the Spanish Empire, of a frank discussion of the quite real and deeply-felt grievances of their many enemies.
I am reminded of all this when I read or watch the news after every so-called “terrorist” attack against a US or European target. Within minutes of the violence, mainstream journalists, begin intense speculation about what particular ethnic group the assailant came from, how he or she became “radicalized” (as if the desire to kill was akin to some sort of contagious moral flu) and whether the “West’s” latest stand-in for PURE EVIL™ (e.g. Al-Qaeda, ISIS, ISIL) was behind the act.
What will almost never be talked about are the many very good reasons a person from the vast region stretching from Morrocco in the west, to Pakistan in the east, have to be very angry at, and to feel highly vengeful toward, the US, its strategic puppeteer Israel, and their slavishly loyal European compadres like France, Germany and Great Britain.
There is never any talk of that group of august “democracies” long-standing penchant for implanting, then staunchly supporting, ruthless and deeply corrupt regimes in that region.
No talk of the very long Algerian experience of French colonialism, nor the US and French- backed coup of that country’s government in 1992 which led to a civil war that left 200,000 people dead.
No talk of the coup against the legally elected president of Egypt in 2013, nor the cold-blooded massacres carried out by his US-backed successor upon hundreds of that same president’s followers.
No talk of the decision of the US to back elements of ISIS in order to cynically extend a Syrian Civil War that was on its way to peace—albeit an imperfect one—by means of a Syrian government victory by late 2013.
No talk of the planned destruction of Libya in 2011 and its enormous effects on the stability of life in that once wealthy country as well as all of northern Africa.
No talk of the US-Israeli nullification of the results of the Palestinian elections of 2006, Israel’s coldly planned siege of Gaza nor the “shoot-fish-in-a barrel” assaults on that benighted enclave by Israel in 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2014.
No talk of the ongoing Saudi—and therefore US-approved—war on Yemen, nor the ruthless Saudi march on Bahrain in 2011 in which several dozen people died and thousands of democracy activists were tortured and/or carted off to prison.
No talk of the 18-year Israeli—and therefore, US-backed—occupation of Southern Lebanon nor Israel’s 1993, 1996 and 2006 assaults upon that same country.
Oops, I almost forgot. There is no talk of the small matter the calculated US destruction of Iraq, pre-invasion Libya’s rival as the Arab world’s most wealthy and socially progressive state.
But hey, why talk about all that off-putting stuff when you can boil it all down to neat tales of personal ideological contamination, Svengali-like recruiters lurking in mosques, and that old standby, the development of an urgent need to bang virgins in the hereafter.
It seems the media believes that the delicate imperial mind must be left free from understanding the effects of the actions for which it regularly cheers and prays.
The best way to insure this? Casuistry, as the old saying goes, “Pure casuistry”.
Thomas S. Harrington is a professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently released Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies.