There was a time when I, like tens of thousands of my progressive partners, held Noam Chomsky and Amy Goodman in awe. After all, Amy informed us and Noam spoke for us, coherently explaining the issues. However, as I became more aware and more informed, I realized that there were great differences between their thinking and mine.
In many instances, our gurus spoke with forked tongue. Although Amy’s program Democracy Now! was informative, there were many areas of reporting that were out of bounds and were not reported on.
One could legitimately claim that reporters cannot report on everything and they would be right. But let us be honest. When 9/11 occurred, it was an historical event and an event that changed the course of history. Where was Amy? Relatively silent. She invited David Ray Griffin, who has written several books illustrating the lies and misdirections of the government’s narrative about that day, to Democracy Now! which one could claim was a significant journalistic move.
However, instead of interviewing him so that he could reveal to her listening audience the facts that he had accumulated that put into question the government’s explanations of that day, she paired him with a pro-government guest who spent the hour attacking Griffin personally and ignoring any of the data Griffin produced. It became a three-ring circus and helped sabotage any impetus the Truth Movement might have gained within the progressive community. Was that her goal? I’m not sure I can answer that but it was a successful strategy, progressives seemed reluctant to support the Truth Movement. The Movement was being portrayed as one in which there were marginal “conspiracy nuts” leading the charge and should be avoided.
Where was Noam Chomsky on this issue? Despite the significance of 9/11, Chomsky has remained relatively passive concerning this event.
During an interview on Democracy Now!, Noam Chomsky stated that he believes Osama bin Laden was probably behind the attacks of September 11, 2001. The statement was curious because in earlier interviews Chomsky described the evidence against bin Laden as thin to nonexistent, which was accurate and, no doubt, explains why the US Department of Justice never indicted bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks.
In two peer-reviewed papers published in 2008–2009, independent scientists reported finding residues of nanothermite, an incendiary, military level explosive which is capable of cutting through steel, in dust samples from the collapsed World Trade Center. The scientists also found tiny flakes of unexploded nanothermite.
How did this explosive material get into the dust at the WTC? Certainly, one could conclude that the explosives were used to bring down all three towers (WTC #7 collapsed later that day in free fall time despite the fact a plane never touched it).
This evidence of explosives coupled with the testimony of many New York City firemen, who claimed they heard a continuing series of explosions before the towers collapsed, and the testimony of Willie Rodriquez, a maintenance worker in the towers, who stated that there was an explosion in the sub-basement before any planes flew into the towers, make it clear that it was the explosives, not the planes that brought the towers down. The question now is, who planted these explosives in the three buildings that collapsed? It takes time to set up a controlled demolition which means the explosives had been placed in the buildings prior to 9/11. Does this sound like a conspiracy to anyone?
In response to a question at the University of Florida recently, Noam Chomsky claimed that there were only “a minuscule number of architects and engineers” who felt that the official account of WTC Building 7 should be treated with skepticism. Chomsky followed-up by saying, “a tiny number—a couple of them—are perfectly serious.” The reality is that close to 2,500 architects and engineers have expressed their doubts about the government’s explanation of how and why the towers fell. It doesn’t matter how many professionals or intellectuals are willing to admit it. The facts remain that the U.S. government’s account for the destruction of the WTC on 9/11 is purely false. There is no science behind the government’s explanation for WTC 7 or for the Twin Towers and everyone, including the government, admits that WTC Building 7 experienced free fall on 9/11. There is no explanation for that other than the use of explosives.
Also, Chomsky’s assumption that only a small number of architects and engineers have expressed support for the notion that the towers fell because of explosives planted in the buildings and that a much larger majority of architects and engineers have remained silent, is the argument of the absurd. It is equivalent to implying that if 10,000 New Yorkers claim the schools are substandard, because the rest of New Yorkers remain silent, the schools cannot be considered substandard.
Chomsky and Goodman are bright, knowledgeable, intelligent people. What has influenced them to avoid confronting the government regarding the events of 9/11?
The fact that 9/11 investigators had already presented substantial documented evidence for: prior warnings, Air Force stand-down, anomalous insider trading connected to the CIA, withdrawal of most of the U.S. fighter planes from the east coast to participate in military exercises on that particular day, cover-up of the domestic anthrax attacks, inconsistencies in identities and timelines of “hijackers” did not appear to influence either Amy or Noam.
Their influence on people who view themselves as progressive cannot be over estimated. When I began questioning the government’s role regarding 9/11, several of my friends responded to me negatively and said specifically that if my suspicions had any legitimacy, Chomsky and Goodman would be speaking out.
Ever since the events of 9/11, the American Left and even ultra-Left have been downright fanatical in combating notions that the U.S. government was complicit in the attacks or at least had foreknowledge of the events.
This kind of response from Chomsky regarding possible government conspiracies is not new. He still insists that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman in Dallas. Anyone who still supports the Warren Commission hoax after 50 years of countering proofs is either ill-informed, dumb, gullible, afraid to speak truths to power or a disinformation agent.
Michael Morrissey stated, in one of his articles, “Rethinking Chomsky,” in 1994, “we should be clear about the stand that ‘America’s leading intellectual dissident,’ as he is often called, has taken on the assassination. It is not significantly different from that of the Warren Commission or the majority of Establishment journalists and government apologists, and diametrically opposed to the view ‘widely held in the grassroots movements and among left intellectuals’ and in fact to the view of the majority of the population.”
Michael Parenti states, “Conspiracy is a legitimate concept in law: the collusion of two or more people pursuing illegal means to effect some illegal or immoral end. People go to jail for committing conspiratorial acts. Conspiracies are a matter of public record, and some are of real political significance. The Watergate break-in was a conspiracy, as was the Watergate cover-up, which led to Nixon’s downfall. Iran-contra was a conspiracy of immense scope, much of it still uncovered. The savings and loan scandal was described by the Justice Department as “a thousand conspiracies of fraud, theft, and bribery,” the greatest financial crime in history.”
However, the word conspiracy is often used by those in power, who have participated in a conspiracy to advance their own power and/or wealth, as a label to marginalize and neutralize those who seek to reveal the conspiracy. Thus we, as a society, have developed what Parenti calls conspiracy phobia.
The behavior of both Chomsky and Goodman have led me to conclude that they hesitate to see the conspiracies for fear that such acknowledgment would compromise their reputations. Either that or they are controlled by powerful people who censor their behavior. We cannot afford to accept what they say at face value.
Chomsky’s questionable political positioning is still evident today. On May 17, Chomsky appeared on Democracy Now! and was asked by Amy Goodman to speak on the Syrian crisis. Chomsky is a linguist and words are very meaningful to him. So what he said and how he said it is significant.
“It’s necessary to cut off the flow of arms, as much as possible, to everyone. That means to the vicious and brutal Assad regime, primarily Russia and Iran, to the monstrous ISIS, which has been getting support tacitly through Turkey, through—to the al-Nusra Front, which is hardly different, has just the—the al-Qaeda affiliate, technically broke from it, but actually the al-Qaeda affiliate, which is now planning its own—some sort of emirate, getting arms from our allies, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Our own—the CIA is arming them.”
I found it particularly informative that he describes Assad’s regime as vicious and brutal and places Russia and Iran right alongside ISIS.
If Assad’s government is really brutal and vicious, why did 86% of the Syrian people vote for him in the last election. Also, let it be clear that it was Russia’s entrance into the conflict last September that led to the retreat of ISIS from many cities and villages, a success that the U.S. had avoided for a year. Syrians who were freed from ISIS rule were openly happy to welcome Assad’s “brutal” army into their villages. Many Syrian refugees began returning to their homes.
Chomsky also managed to portray the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as terrorists in their conflict with Britain. He conveniently omitted the context for their behavior . . . the brutality of British rule against the Irish Catholics for hundreds of years.
Both Amy and Noam are extremely influential and have attained a degree of power amongst progressives. It is crucial that we remain aware of what they are telling us, how they are framing it, and what it is they are not telling us. Both seem to have provided, and continue to provide today, a cover from the left for the U.S.’s imperialist agenda.
Chomsky is called upon to address various issues periodically. Amy, on the other hand, is viewed every week, Monday through Friday. It is easy to identify her evolution into someone slightly to the left of MSNBC.
With the world collapsing around her, she offers relative silence on issues such as the U.S. supported takeover of the Ukrainian government by neo-Nazis, the surrounding of Russia by U.S. and NATO military forces, the threat of WW3 which would likely be a nuclear war, the Syrian crisis and the U.S. desire to overthrow Assad’s government, the humanitarian crisis in Libya, the coup to oust Dilma Rousseff from office in Brazil, the ongoing collapse of the Venezuelan economy and the threat to the Maduro government (please note: both Rousseff and Maduro are progressive thinkers—is the U.S. behind the collapse of their governments?). She does not address the continuous wars sponsored by the U.S. and NATO countries in their imperialistic ventures.
Instead, most of her time is spent covering the election and interviewing guests who have recently published books. Her program has mellowed. Most of her guests are establishment people, people MSNBC would not hesitate to have on. The radical view, the view that challenges the establishment, is no longer part of her coverage.
Amy’s audience expects to get the news coverage and the variety of views the MSM does not provide. Today’s Democracy Now! no longer provides that.
Dave Alpert has masters degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology.
Elizabeth May’s response to Green Party members voting to oppose Canadian support for Israeli colonialism has been wildly anti-democratic. She has not simply disagreed with a majority of members, which could reflect healthy internal processes, but publicly derided the party’s procedures and members’ clearly expressed opinions. After diluting a resolution about revoking the Jewish National Fund of Canada’s charitable status strongly endorsed by members in an online poll, May threatened to resign if the party didn’t organize another vote on a BDS resolution members strongly backed in a pre-convention online poll, convention caucus and full convention vote.
The possibility of the Green Party leader resigning over BDS has thrust the Israel boycott into the news and will turn into a highly fortuitous development for the Palestinian cause if members remain steadfast. But, May’s actions make little sense from a Green perspective.
As Maclean’s magazine pointed out, the party has more to gain by aligning with the growing number of Canadians critical of Ottawa’s support for Israeli colonialism. Only if one believes May could lose her seat in the House of Commons over the matter, which seems improbable, would embracing Palestine solidarity activism be bad electorally.
According to a poll conducted just before Israel killed 2,200 Palestinians in Gaza in 2014, 16% of Canadians sided with Palestine, while 17% sided with Israel. (The rest were undecided.) The percentage of Canadians who sided with Palestine is almost five times the 3.4% of Canadians who voted for the Greens last year. Additionally, the issue drives NDP activists to the party. The Greens have already gained a number of prominent NDP members disenchanted with that party’s support for Israeli violence.
But, even if you disagree with this electoral calculation, May’s reaction still makes little sense from the party’s perspective. Her actions have upset Palestinian sympathizers yet the media storm over the BDS vote makes it hard to imagine anyone mildly sympathetic to Israeli colonialism would vote, let alone campaign, for the Greens even if May succeeds in modifying the party’s support for BDS at a special convention.
Since her actions make little electoral sense, commentators have speculated May is driven by a combination of ego, fear of Jewish Zionist groups’ accusations of anti-Semitism, a desire to join the Liberal cabinet or her establishment foreign-policy outlook. But, the influence of Christian Zionism represents an unexplored variable in May’s position.
A practicing Anglican, May was studying to become a priest until a few years ago. She’s disparaged abortion and questioned whether Prime Minister Stephen Harper was a practicing Christian. “Being a Christian in politics is part of who I am as a person, so I don’t hide it”, May explained to the Anglican Journal in 2013.
In 2013 she praised the Jewish National Fund for “the great work that’s done in making the desert bloom.” While not explicitly Christian Zionist wording, this (anti-ecological) statement echoes its thinking.
While only May knows exactly what drives her thinking/positions, her church has a long history of Zionism, which began as a Christian movement. “Christian proto- Zionists [existed] in England 300 years before modern Jewish Zionism emerged,” notes Evangelics and Israel. Until the mid-1800s Zionism was an almost entirely non-Jewish movement. And yet it was quite active. Between 1796 and 1800 there were at least 50 books published in Europe about the Jews’ return to Palestine. The movement reflected the more literal readings of the Bible that flowed out of the Protestant Reformation.
One of May’s co-religionists Rev. William H. Hechler, chaplain to the British Embassy in Vienna, arranged for Jewish Zionist leader Theodore Herzl to meet Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Ottoman sultan, which then controlled Palestine. Another Anglican, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, came up with the infamous Zionist slogan “a land without people for a people without a land”. He wanted Jews to go to their “rightful home” (Palestine) under a British protectorate. According to a Canadian Jewish News review of Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism, “The Earl of Shaftesbury was the first millennariast, or restorationist, to blend the biblical interest in Jews and their ancient homeland with the cold realities of [British imperial] foreign policy.” He got Britain’s foreign secretary to appoint the first British consul to Jerusalem in 1839.
A speech in England by Anthony Ashley Cooper in 1839 or 1840 was the first encounter with Zionist thinking for Canada’s leading early proponent of the movement. At the time of Confederation Canada’s preeminent Zionist was Henry Wentworth Monk who briefly studied to become an Anglican minister. In A Coat of Many Colours: Two Centuries of Jewish Life in Canada Irving Abella explains: “Henry Wentworth Monk, an eccentric but respected businessman, spent much of his time and money crusading for a Jewish homeland. In the 1870s and 1880s — long before Theodore Herzl, the Austrian founder of [Jewish] Zionism, even thought of a Jewish state — Monk took up a campaign in Canada and England to raise funds to buy land in Palestine for European Jews. In 1881 Monk even proposed setting up a Jewish National Fund. He issued manifestoes, wrote long articles, spoke to assorted meetings and lobbied extensively in England and Canada to realize his dream.” Citing a mix of Christian and pro-British Empire rationale, Monk called on London to establish a “dominion of Israel” similar to the dominion of Canada.
Monk was not alone in Canada. Many public figures, including prime ministers Lester Pearson and Arthur Meighan, expressed Christian Zionist thinking in backing the formation of the Israeli state. The son of a minister, Pearson’s memoirs refer to Israel as “the land of my Sunday School lessons” where he learned that “the Jews belonged in Palestine.”
While Christian Zionism is now associated with right-wingers such as evangelist Charles McVety, who campaigns against sexual education in Ontario schools, Left Christian Zionism has a long history. Future CCF (the NDP’s predecessor) leaders Tommy Douglas and Stanley Knowles, as well as a number of labour leaders, were members of the Canadian Palestine Committee (CPC), a group of prominent non-Jewish Zionists formed in 1943. (Future external minister Paul Martin Sr. and the premier of Alberta, Ernest C. Manning, were also members). Many CPC members’ Zionism was partly motivated by biblical teachings. Both Knowles and Douglas were Protestant ministers and, as an indication of the extent to which religion shaped Douglas, his main biography is titled Tommy Douglas: The Road to Jerusalem. In 1975, Douglas, the “father of Medicare”, told the Histadrut labour federation: “The main enmity against Israel is that she has been an affront to those nations who do not treat their people and their workers as well as Israel has treated hers.” This speech was made eight years into Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and a quarter century after 800,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed in 1947/48.
A decade later Canadian Labour Congress president Dennis McDermott, who referred to himself as a “Catholic Zionist”, denounced a Canadian Senate report that rebuked Israel’s 1982 invasion/occupation of Lebanon and provided mild support for the Palestinian Liberation Organization. McDermott said the 1985 Senate report, which stopped short of calling the PLO the legitimate voice of Palestinians, was an “exercise in bad judgment and, even worse, bad taste.” (A portrait of McDermott hangs in a library named after him at the trade school of the Histadrut.)
Aggressive Christian Zionism still crops up in progressive circles. When I spoke about the Conservatives’ losing their bid for a seat on the UN Security Council to a Council of Canadians meeting in Delta BC, an older woman interrupted me to ask: “are you criticizing Harper’s support for Israel? Doesn’t the Bible say Israel is the Jewish homeland?”
May, of course, would never be so crass. But, she is associated with a religious tradition that has promoted this type of thinking. Recognizing their contribution to Palestinian dispossession, some Christian groups have sought to right a historical wrong by divesting from or boycotting companies enabling Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. Others have directly challenged Christian Zionism.
In 2013 the Anglican Church of Canada committed itself “to explore and challenge theologies and beliefs, such as Christian Zionism, which support the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.” Last year a number of groups organized an important multi-day conference in Vancouver titled “Seeking the Peace of Jerusalem: Overcoming Christian Zionism in the Quest for Justice.”
I can’t say for sure whether Christian Zionism has influenced Elizabeth May’s thinking. But, it’s clear she’s not supporting progressive Anglicans and other Christians reassessing their contribution to Palestinian dispossession.
Following numerous complaints and legal action concerning pain and injury caused by the use of single plastic hand ties by the Israeli military on detainees, including children, the office of the Military Advocate General announced the introduction of new procedures for the use of restraints in 2010. The nature of the complaints prior to the introduction of the new procedures relating to the use of plastic ties included swelling, ties cutting into wrists and severe pain.
Under the new procedures introduced in 2010, hands should be tied from the front, unless security considerations require tying from behind. Three plastic ties should be used; one around each wrist and one connecting the two; there should be the space of a finger between the ties and the wrist; and the restraints should avoid causing suffering as much as possible. The officer in charge is responsible for ensuring compliance.
According to international juvenile justice standards restraints should only be used if the child poses an imminent threat to him or herself, or to others and all other means have been exhausted. Restraints may be used as a precaution against escape during transfer but only for as long as is strictly necessary and must not cause unnecessary pain or suffering. According to UNICEF and a UK report, single plastic hand ties should be prohibited in all circumstances, as should blindfolds.
Approximately three years after the introduction of the new procedures, UNICEF reported that “the ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process”. In reaching this conclusion UNICEF found that children continued to be painfully hand tied and blindfolded on a routine basis contrary to international standards and Israeli military regulations.
In May 2013, the military authorities responded to UNICEF’s findings by issuing a letter to the heads of all Brigades, Divisions, Police and Military Police operating in the West Bank reminding all units of existing standard operating procedures and policies in relation to the arrest of minors. Existing standard operating procedures stipulate that: hand-tying should be done at the discretion of the head of forces and always with three plastic ties in accordance with the 2010 regulations.
According to evidence collected by Military Court watch (MCW) in 2016, 90 percent of children continue to be restrained upon arrest, generally with plastic hand ties, and 85 percent report being blindfolded. In situations where plastic hand ties are used, many children continue to report experiencing pain. In 67 percent of cases where restraints are used, the military regulations for their use continue to be disregarded.
Although UNICEF and the UK reports also recommended that children should never be restrained while attending court except in extreme and unusual circumstances, children continue to be shackled by the ankles during their appearances in the military courts. … Full article
Israel is not a normal state, but has craved to be treated as such ever since its creation in historic Palestine, against the will of the indigenous Palestinian people, in 1948. It sometimes claims its legitimacy from the UN partition plan, the terms of which bear no resemblance to the area currently controlled by the state; at other times Israelis refer to Biblical connections, which they claim to extend over the whole of Palestine. Exceptionally, proponents of Israel claim that only the followers of Judaism and no other faith are entitled to a state or homeland in the land of their choosing, regardless of who inhabited that land when they claimed it.
To this day, Israel remains a state without declared borders; it is the illegal occupier of another people’s land, whose rights under occupation it has flouted for the past 49 years. Israel claims to be a Western-style “democratic” state but only certain inhabitants of the land it has controlled since 1967 – basically all of historic Palestine – have a right to vote in its elections. It claims to want peace based on a two-state solution but has been implementing policies to ensure that there will only ever be one state, Israel, the borders of which are those of historic Palestine, and where people are defined by a sophisticated system of identity cards, driving cars with differently coloured number plates. It operates different laws for different people; civil law for Israelis but military law for Palestinians in the occupied territories. The law applied to Israeli citizens discriminates between Jews and non-Jews. This discrimination extends to land purchase, which gives Jews rights over non-Jews.
So Israel is clearly not a normal state, because a normal state does not build homes and towns for one ethnic group, to the exclusion of others. Israel does this by building illegally Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Further, in some towns within its nominal border, it allows “admissions committees” to decide whether residents will allow other citizens to live there; it is usually Jewish citizens who make these decisions and non-Jewish citizens who are excluded.
A normal state does not regularly demolish the homes of the people it occupies, or evict their occupants so that it can move its ethnically-chosen citizens into them. Israel does this.
A normal state does not besiege an occupied area for over ten years. Israel has done this with Gaza, the most densely populated place on earth. It controls the entry and exit of goods and people.
A normal state does not then attack the people living under siege repeatedly with the most destructive weapons on earth, short of nuclear warheads. Israel does.
A normal state does not repeatedly attack neighbouring states with impunity. Israel has done this to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
A normal state does not exist in one continent but play its sport in another. Israel does; it is in Asia but plays football in Europe.
A normal state does not violate agreements it signs, as Israel has done with the Oslo agreement and repeated ceasefire agreements with the Palestinians in Gaza.
A normal state does not carry out extrajudicial killings against the people living under its military occupation. Again, Israel does this with impunity.
A normal state does not treat children in the territory it occupies with the cruelty that Israel displays; it abducts children in the night and takes them before military courts in shackles.
The list of abnormal acts that Israel carries out is endless and developing on an almost daily basis. It is therefore hypocritical of it and its leaders to claim that it should be treated as a normal state.
This expectation was tested recently in incidents at the Rio Olympic Games involving the Lebanese team and an Egyptian judo player. The games had not even started when what turned out to be a misguided decision by the organisers became a major incident as teams were making their way to the Maracanã Stadium for the opening ceremony. In this now well-documented incident the Lebanese team refused to share a bus with their Israeli counterparts. Israel saw this as discrimination. “How could they let something like this happen on the eve of the Olympic opening ceremony?” complained one Israeli official. “Isn’t this contrary to what the Olympics stand for? … I’m in shock from the incident.” Those not familiar with the Arab-Israeli conflict would see no problem in any two teams from either end of the globe, let alone neighbours, sharing a bus.
However, this almost paled into insignificance compared to the now famous shunning by Egyptian Judoka Islam El-Shehabi of the extended hand of his Israeli opponent Or Sasson, after his defeat in the qualifying rounds of the 100 kg competition. El-Shehabi himself, who had come under pressure at home not to compete, said: “I have no problem with Jewish people or any other religions or different beliefs but for personal reasons you can’t ask me to shake the hand of anyone from this state, especially in front of the world.” Although the Egyptian’s appearance for the bout was seen as progress by many, this was not the official line. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said El-Shehabi’s action was “contrary to the rules of fair play” and against the spirit of friendship exemplified by the games. He was reprimanded by the IOC and sent home by his team.
However, a normal state would not withhold the Olympic kit of the representatives of the people it occupies and ban their officials from travel, as Israel did. Furthermore, it would not restrict the movement of its sporting teams both within the occupied territories and to the outside world. Israel does this all the time. Its soldiers recently fired tear gas into a stadium where a Palestinian football match was taking place.
Away from the sporting arena, Israel claims that it faces discrimination in many ways, particularly from UN bodies. It insists that the UN Human Rights Council singles it out for special and disproportionate treatment. However, which other state violates so many aspects of international law and international humanitarian law, and has done so since its creation? The answer is simple: not one.
Israel is currently facing a campaign by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which was called for by Palestinian civil society to place pressure on the state to behave in a “normal” way by adhering to international law. The BDS campaign was launched because of the failure of the international community to pressure Israel to conform to “normal” behaviour. Its call for an end to the occupation, equal rights for all citizens and the right of return for Palestinian refugees is peaceful, legal and highly moral. However, Israel has once again cried wolf and claims that BDS is not only discriminatory but also “anti-Semitic” because it targets “the only Jewish state” in the world. The fact is that there would be no need for a BDS movement if Israel behaved like a “normal” state.
Hence, if Israel really does want to be treated like a normal state it must first behave like one. It is currently so far away from such a designation that it merits being seen as the pariah, the rogue state that it is. Its leaders choose this status by their decisions to act in the ways that it does, not its critics. Israel should begin the process of change or risk further isolation and condemnation as even its most loyal allies begin to see what an embarrassment it is to them.
When Bibi Netanyahu comes to New York next month for the UN General Assembly, the Hudson Institute will bestow its Herman Kahn award on him. Kahn was an early neocon intellectual who advocated U.S. first-use of nuclear weapons. He propounded this theory in his provocatively titled 1960s book, Thinking the Unthinkable.
The Institute is a leading neocon think-tank based in Washington DC. It is a wonky version of the American Enterprise Institute or the Heritage Foundation. It’s senior vice-president is Scooter Libby, a man who barely escaped spending time in a federal prison.
The Hudson Institute is the primary funder (see Didi Remez’s post for a fuller discussion of the funding and relationships) of the far-right Israeli NGO, Institute for Zionist Strategies, which advocate purging “post-Zionist” material from Israeli academic curriculum. They’ve been so successful at pressuring academia to “Zionize” the curriculum that Tel Aviv University President Joseph Klafter promised he would personally examine individual course syllabi for tainted content.
Hudson is also the primary backer of Uzi Arad’s Atlantic Forum, a shadowy Israeli think tank founded by the former Mossad officer. The NGO’s mission is to strengthen Israel’s security relationship with NATO. He’s reputed to have “run” Larry Franklin, the former Defense Department analyst caught with Steven Rosen passing U.S. secrets to the Israelis. Rosen too came within a whisker or two of landing in federal prison. Luckily for him, the Israel Lobby came to his defense and the Justice Department dropped the case against him. Arad worked with Kahn at Hudson in the 1970s.
Bush-era neocon analyst, Meyrav Wurmser, runs Hudson’s Center for Middle East Policy. That explains Hudson’s love affair with Netanyahu and the award he is to receive. In many ways it seems fitting for the Israeli leader to receive an award named for Kahn. Israel is, after all, one of the most dangerous of the nuclear states. One of those most likely to engage in first-use of nuclear weapons would the circumstances arise. One may argue whether that distinction should rather belong to North Korea or Pakistan. But the Koreans don’t yet have the capacity to destroy western Asia as Israel does the Middle East. And Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is child’s play compared to Israel’s estimated 200 nuclear warheads.
It may be worth hearing some words said about Kahn’s work. A reader summarized another of his books: “On Thermonuclear War, was ‘a moral tract on mass murder: how to plan it, how to commit it, how to get away with it, how to justify it.’” Some other words of wisdom from Kahn on nuclear deterrence:
“If it is not acceptable to risk the lives of the three billion inhabitants of the earth in order to protect ourselves from surprise attack, then how many people would we be willing to risk?”
Another critic said that the publication of that book “should properly have caused the sequestration of its author into psychiatric care.” A science reporter, reviewing Kahn’s book called him a contemporary version of the devil:
“Not the traditional devil, reeking of brimstone and tempting men to old-fashioned sins, but a slick, talcum-scented, contemporary Satan, rationalising hideous emotions by reference to strategic studies, electronic computers, contingency planning, and all the other gimmicks of paranoiac gamesmanship.”
The following comment by Kahn to a reporter surely served as the inspiration for Terry Southern’s screenplay for Dr. Strangelove: “I can be funny on the subject of thermonuclear war.” In fact, writing in the NY Times, Fred Kaplan says:
… The real model [for the Strangelove character] was almost certainly Herman Kahn, an eccentric, voluble nuclear strategist at the RAND Corporation, a prominent Air Force think tank. In 1960, Mr. Kahn published a 652-page tome called “On Thermonuclear War,” which sold 30,000 copies in hardcover.
… When Dr. Strangelove talks of sheltering people in mine shafts, President Muffley asks him, “Wouldn’t this nucleus of survivors be so grief-stricken and anguished that they’d, well, envy the dead?” Strangelove exclaims that, to the contrary, many would feel “a spirit of bold curiosity for the adventure ahead.”
Mr. Kahn’s book contains a long chapter on mine shafts. Its title: “Will the Survivors Envy the Dead?” One sentence reads: “We can imagine a renewed vigor among the population with a zealous, almost religious dedication to reconstruction.”
So it is altogether fitting that Bibi Netanyahu be enshrined along with Herman Kahn in a sort of Nuclear War Hall of Fame, as two men prepared to see their region (in Bibi’s case) or world (in Kahn’s) go up in flames in order to “save” their country.
It’s perfectly fitting that a past recipient of the award was Dick Cheney (especially considering his former protege, Scooter Libby works for Hudson).
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
So it’s settled, according to The New York Times: Israel was not at fault in a strike that killed 10 civilians near a United Nations school in the 2014 assault on Gaza, nor was it guilty of breaking the law in other instances that left innocent victims dead during that conflict.
This, at least, is what the Israeli military claims, and in a one-sided story in the Times this week, Isabel Kershner takes the Israeli military findings at face value, never questioning its conclusions or seeking commentary from outside sources.
She opens her piece with a summary of the military’s own account of the strike on the school, recounting it as established fact without attribution. Kershner goes on to say that the army also declared itself innocent of deliberately causing civilian deaths in two other attacks during the 51-day offensive: a strike on the Bureij refugee camp and the death of 12 members of one family in Rafah. The three cases were among seven closed without charges this week.
The school was hit, according to the army account, because militants targeted by an air-to-ground missile happened to pass by the site too late for the Israeli army to correct its aim; the Bureij bombing was “justified and legal” because the building hit was being used by Hamas as a control center; and the Rafah deaths were caused by “errant mortar fire” from Gaza militants.
Her story makes no mention of other instances that raised international outrage, such as the mortar attack that killed four boys playing soccer on a beach, the massacre in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City and the excessive and deadly bombardment of eastern Rafah after Palestinians captured an Israeli soldier.
The article likewise fails to include any comments by outsiders on the military decision to close seven cases. Kershner did not seek responses from Gaza residents or from human rights groups that have also investigated and documented the Israeli attacks.
Other media outlets, however, included these outside perspectives: The Guardian, for instance, sought reactions from Gaza residents affected by the strikes, and the International Business Times quoted extensively from an Amnesty International staff person.
But the Times finds no reason to look for sources beyond the Israeli military, which happens to be the entity under investigation. At the same time, it shows little concern for what the people of Gaza experience.
This week’s story, for example, concludes with two paragraphs about Israeli air and tank strikes on the beleaguered strip this week. A total of 50 bombardments hit the enclave after militants fired a single rocket toward the town of Sderot.
Kershner’s story tells us only what “Israeli analysts” have to say about the strikes. The targeted sites were “empty,” she reports, and “no deaths were reported.” Other news sources, however, state that four people were injured.
The Times insists that it provides full and fair accounts, that it is neutral and balanced, but its editors and reporters fail to follow even minimal journalistic standards in reporting on Israel. Those accused of war crimes are allowed to speak for themselves without the annoyance of outside observers to challenge any aspect of their claims. Those who bear the brunt of these alleged crimes have no voice at all.
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A file photo of a group of Palestinian youth after being treated for gunshot injuries by Israeli forces (Photo: BADIL)
BETHLEHEM – Two Palestinian youths were injured with live fire during clashes with Israeli soldiers in al-Duheisha refugee camp in southern Bethlehem early Friday morning, as reports emerged of an Israeli army commander making repeated threats in recent weeks to make “all youth in the camp disabled.”
Local sources said that two youths were shot and injured in the legs during clashes that erupted after Israeli forces raided the camp in Friday’s predawn hours.
Sources added that Israeli soldiers raided and searched the house of the incarcerated Palestinian Muhammad al-Seifi, detaining his mother and sister by locking them inside their home to pressure Muhammad’s younger brother Naba to turn himself into Israeli authorities.
Israeli forces also blew off the door of the Ibdaa Cultural Center near the entrance to the camp and occupied the rooftop of the building, from where Israeli snipers fired live ammunition and tear-gas canisters at local youth.
Violent clashes in al-Duheisha are common and break out nearly every time Israeli army forces enter the camp, which is located in Area A and should be under full Palestinian Authority control according to the Oslo agreements.
In a response to a request for comment, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that the Israeli army was not involved, and claimed Israeli border police were behind it, despite the area being located outside of police jurisdiction in Area A of the occupied West Bank.
When contacted by Ma’an, Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said he was not aware of the raid, saying it “made no sense” that police would be involved, and confirmed that al-Duheisha fell under the Israeli army’s jurisdiction in terms of raids. When contacted a second time, an Israeli army spokesperson insisted again that the army was not behind the raid and could not say who had been.
‘I will make all the youth of the camp disabled’
The clashes come in the wake of reports documented by BADIL, the Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, of an Israeli army commander making repeated threats during and after raids, and during interrogations, to disable all Palestinian youth in al-Duheisha.
The commander is reportedly responsible for the al-Duheisha area, and known to locals as “Captain Nidal.”
Local youth in al-Duheisha told BADIL that Captain Nidal has made statements such as: “I will make all the youth of the camp disabled,” “I will have all of you walking with crutches and in wheelchairs,” “I will make half of you disabled, and let the other half push the wheelchairs,” and “I will make all of you stand in line at the ATM waiting for your disability subsidies and assistance.”
One of the injured youth told BADIL that Captain Nidal told him to tell his friends that “Nidal will make all of you disabled.”
According to BADIL, which is based in Bethlehem, 30 Palestinians have been shot with live ammunition in the camp since the beginning of the year, the majority in their legs and knees.
They added that al-Duheisha had been raided at least three times by Israeli forces between the end of July and mid-August, during which time 18 Palestinian youth between 14 and 27 years old were shot in their legs — eight of which shot directly in the knee and several more in both legs — causing both permanent and temporary disabilities.
An Israeli army spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment on the reports of the threats made by the commander.
“These threats indicate that these actions are not accidental or isolated incidents, but rather result from a systematic Israeli military policy aimed at suppressing resistance, terrorizing Palestinian youth, and permanently injuring them and/or causing significant damage to their physical and mental well-being,” BADIL said in their statement.
The reported threats come amid what BADIL called an intensification of the “systematic targeting” of Palestinian youth in the occupied Palestinian territory — particularly in refugee camps — since the beginning of 2016.
“This targeting has taken the form of injuries and arbitrary killings by the use of live ammunition by the Israeli army in the context of arrest campaigns, military raids, and random wide searches which usually trigger clashes,” the statement said.
BADIL’s statement also highlight a recent Israeli military incursion in the Hebron-area refugee camp al-Fawwar that lasted some 20-hours, during which an unarmed Palestinian teen was shot dead and dozens others were hospitalized.
“These cases of intentional wounding, when added to the comparable actions happening in refugee camps such as Aida, al-Arroub, Qalandia, Amari, and the West Bank at large, prove that these incidents amount to a systematic policy and an implementation of Captain Nidal’s threats.”
“These willful and grave breaches of international law trigger the obligations of third party states and other mandated agencies to put an end to this climate of impunity under which Israeli forces and its officials operate.”
BADIL’s collection of testimonies came as the latest report amid years of well documented cases of abuse and mistreatment of Palestinian children by Israeli forces in the occupied territory, including in East Jerusalem, which is under Israeli police jurisdiction.
UN agencies have urged an end to what they describe as the Gaza Strip’s “de-development spiral”, in a report marking the two-year anniversary of the ceasefire that ended ‘Operation Protective Edge’.
In a statement released Friday, 16 heads of United Nations agencies in Palestine call for the “uninterrupted and predictable flow of material and increased funding to address humanitarian needs and boost economic prospects for Gaza’s 1.9 million residents.”
In the report, UN agencies “document collective progress made in the last two years, as well as some of the remaining challenges in the recovery and reconstruction effort.” To date, “half of the homes which suffered partial damages and a third of destroyed homes have been rebuilt.”
Robert Piper, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, warned that “repairing the damages from the 51-day hostilities cannot be our only measure of success, given that humanitarian and socio-economic indicators were already so dire before 2014.”
Piper added: “We must reverse Gaza’s de-development trajectory and address the needs of a population that has gone through three rounds of conflict, nine years of an Israeli blockade and the consequences of the Palestinian internal divide.”
The senior UN official emphasised that “addressing economic recovery requires much greater financial investments and serious policy changes, including a lifting of [Israeli-imposed] restrictions on both imports and exports.”
On October 2014, donors pledged US$ 3.5 billion to support Gaza. According to the World Bank, only an estimated 40 percent had been disbursed by April this year.
Bilal Kayed’s strike ends with agreement for his freedom; continued mobilization critical for fellow prisoners
In a press conference held on Thursday morning, 25 August, Sahar Francis, the executive director of Addameer, confirmed that Bilal Kayed had ended his hunger strike after 71 days following the conclusion of an agreement with Israeli occupation prison administration that he will be released in December 2016, with no renewal of administrative detention.
In the press conference, joined by Kayed’s brother Mahmoud Kayed, as well as Prisoners’ Affairs Committee chair Issa Qaraqe and Osama al-Saadi of the Joint List, Francis noted that occupation security officials had earlier stated that they demanded Kayed be deported to Jordan for four years and noted their intention of keeping him in administrative detention for years. Kayed is held in the intensive care unit at Barzilai hospital and was moved there on 19 August as he refused to consume sugar or vitamin B1. He suffers from blurred vision, difficulty breathing and severe pain throughout his body. He will receive treatment until his condition improves considerably and he is returned to health.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Bilal Kayed for his victory and achievement in the defense of Palestinian rights from the constant attempts of the Israeli occupation to expand, enlarge and intensify the scope of the imprisonment of Palestinian leaders and struggles. We extend our warmest congratulations to Bilal, his struggling family who were at the forefront of his support campaign, his lawyers and advocates with Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and his fellow Palestinian prisoners who engaged in a series of collective hunger strikes within Israeli prisons. Kayed’s fellow prisoners of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were subject to isolation, the targeting of leaders Ahmad Sa’adat, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Wael Jaghoub and Kamil Abu Hanish among others, excessive daily fines, harassment and assaults, and denial of family and legal visits. We salute the Palestinian people throughout occupied Palestine and in exile, including in the refugee camps of Lebanon, who repeatedly took the streets and mobilized in support of Kayed’s battle for freedom, directly confronting the occupation as well as the international institutions and states that refused to stand for justice for Palestinian prisoners.
Furthermore, Samidoun salutes all of the international activists, organizations and movements that came together to stand beside Bilal Kayed and beside the Palestinian people in this battle of freedom. From the outstanding efforts of the Irish movement for freedom for Bilal Kayed, to the ongoing and constant actions in New York City and Berlin, to the honorary citizenship granted to Bilal in Naples, to the organizers of the Black liberation movement who expressed their solidarity, to the organizers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Turkey, the UK, Ireland, Scotland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Iceland, the Czech Republic, Finland, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, South Africa, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Bahrain and elsewhere who have mobilized in support of Bilal Kayed, international mobilization has escalated to new heights in support of the Palestinian prisoners in this struggle.
We urge the importance of continued mobilization and action in support of Palestinian prisoners, particularly the current hunger strikers, Mahmoud al-Balboul, on strike since 1 July; Mohammed al-Balboul, his brother, on strike since 4 July; and Ayed al-Herama and Malik al-Qadi, on strike since 14 July, all protesting administrative detention without charge or trial – and for continued mobilization in support of the action of all of the Palestinian prisoners, struggling for freedom from Israeli imprisonment, and for freedom and liberation for the Palestinian people throughout Palestine.