Talk Nation Radio: Nicolas Davies on War Profiteers

Nicolas J. S. Davies writes about U.S. foreign policy, war and militarism for Consortium News and other outlets. He has been working as a researcher with CODEPINK, and co-authored its report on “War Profiteers: the U.S. War Machine and the Arming of Repressive Regimes.” He is also the author of the excellent book, Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.

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Classical Conditioning for Peace

According to the analysis of police-murder-instigator Dave Grossman, the reason that only a minority of soldiers attempted to kill in World War II and earlier wars was a general aversion to committing murder. And the reason that the vast majority of U.S. soldiers (marines, sailors, etc.) have attempted to kill in recent decades is “classical conditioning.” A fireman rushes into a fire without thinking, if he or she has been conditioned through drill repetition to do so. Soldiers kill without thinking, if they have been trained to do so through the repetition of the realistic simulation of killing.

Of course, afterwards, you can hardly stop people from thinking about what they’ve done. The top cause of death in the U.S. military is suicide, and the top indicator of a risk of suicide is combat guilt.

I’m wondering what would happen if a government were to invest heavily in advertising and recruitment, and then pay hundreds of thousands of young people good salaries to be conditioned for peace. I strongly suspect that one thing that would not happen would be regret and guilt leading to suicide. But what would such conditioning even look like, and what side-effects might it have?

I’ve never thought of this before, primarily, I think, because I don’t want to trick anybody into being peaceful, and don’t believe it’s necessary. When I talk with people who believe that war can be justified, and who are open to talking about it, more often than not I persuade them through straightforward respectful discussion that in fact war can never be justified. If I just had 7.6 billion hours with which to spend an hour with each person, I tell myself, I could talk most of them out of belief in war, and some of them into taking action to undo governmental preparations for war.

However, I just watched a Netflix show in which an attempt is made to condition someone for peace. At least that’s one way of looking at this show. It’s called Sacrifice by Derren Brown. I’m about to spoil any surprises in it for you.

Stop reading here to avoid spoilers.

It should be noted that The Guardian, Metro, and Decider didn’t much like this show, and generally objected to the ethical decision to manipulate the man who is the subject of the show’s experiment. To believe the show’s producer, however, the man was quite pleased with having been so experimented on. In any event, one would be very hard pressed to get a corporate publication to object to the manipulation of children through video games and war movies, and to the manipulation of military recruits to kill and to believe that they are likely to survive unharmed. If manipulating someone is objectionable — and I can certainly see why it would be — should we reserve those objections for the manipulation of someone for a good cause?

In fairness, similar publications have had somewhat similar objections when Derren Brown, in another Netflix show, manipulated people into doing what they believed was committing murder. But it was individual murder, not mass murder, and not with any uniforms or bombs or national anthems or any of the accouterments that make it OK.

If you watch the preview for Sacrifice, the conclusion won’t surprise you. It’s just the in-between parts you won’t be sure about. A show that attempts to get a man to put himself between a gun and a stranger wouldn’t be aired unless, in the end, the man did it. But how is he brought to the point of doing it?

What makes the show more interesting and valuable, is that the man, Phil, is a U.S. citizen highly prejudiced against “immigrants,” and Brown intends to get Phil to take a bullet to protect a Latino immigrant from a racist white American. So, there are two things that Brown claims to do to Phil: make him brave, and make him care about people he hasn’t cared about.

The make-him-brave part is done with Phil’s consent. The manipulative part is that Brown tells Phil he’s installing a “chip” in his body that will help to make him brave, which is of course not actually true. The rest of the bravery conditioning is done with Phil’s participation. He listens to audio recordings and thinks brave thoughts. He’s conditioned to associate a certain musical jingle and hand motion with finding great courage. Ethical complaints with this seem weaker than practical ones, specifically the likelihood that it wouldn’t work on everyone.

The caring part of the conditioning is in some ways more dishonest, but also less like conditioning. (Brown calls this “empathy,” rather than caring, but it’s not clear that it relates to the strict sense of empathy, meaning experiencing the world from someone else’s point of view.) Phil is shown DNA ancestry results that find him to have ancestors in Palestine and Mexico. He’s nudged in the direction of reconsidering his prejudices. He’s not told that that’s what’s happening. He’s not agreed to it. But he’s told what are presumably accurate facts. If the DNA results were fabricated, or would have to be fabricated in the case of many other people, that presents a certain weakness. But there’s no repetitive conditioning involved here.

There is another element in the preparation to care, however. Phil and a Latino-looking man are asked to sit and stare into each other’s eyes for four minutes. Phil becomes emotional and asks to give the man a hug. Hardly a word is said. This is not rational persuasion. But there’s also nothing dishonest about it. I can’t imagine what harm would be done by employing this technique on a mass scale.

The most dishonest and manipulative part of the experiment is the use of numerous actors to create a staged incident in which Phil is led to make a choice to get out of a truck and stand in front of a man being threated with a gun. The world cannot hire a hundred people to manipulate every one person into acting heroically. The math doesn’t work. The paranoia of everyone afraid they were in a show would be damaging, even if it might have some positive results as well. And one heroic act isn’t enough.

But why couldn’t “empathy exercises,” DNA results, bravery practice (with or without placebos, but always respectful and consensual), be combined with rational, fact-based education about alternatives to war, nonviolent dispute resolution, the rule of law, restorative justice, anthropology, the actual history of wars and war propaganda, the environmental damage of militarism, the counterproductive results of bellicosity, and the need for courageous concerned actions to reform corrupt systems, to reverse destructive policies, and to mitigate the oncoming disaster of climate chaos?

What would be wrong with conditioning ourselves to work for peace?

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Mutiny, Class, Authority and Respect

I recently finished The Bounty: The True Story of the Mutiny on the Bounty, a painstakingly researched history of the mutiny, but with a focus on how the story was shaped by influential families after the fact to save the life of one mutineer, Peter Heywood, and salvage the reputation of the leader, Fletcher Christian, via a carefully orchestrated character assassination of Captain Bligh.

The author, Caroline Alexander, summarized the ambiguous incitement of mutiny by Christian thusly: “What caused the mutiny on the Bounty? The seductions of Tahiti, Bligh’s harsh tongue – perhaps. But more compellingly, a night of drinking and a proud man’s pride, a low moment on one grey dawn, a momentary and fatal slip in a gentleman’s code of discipline – and then the rush of consequences to be lived out for a lifetime.” (p. 407).

The full tale is a fascinating reflection of the dynamics of class, authority and respect, and thus to some degree humiliation and fear of loss of status. Though the mutiny illustrates the particulars of British society and naval culture in the 18th century (the mutiny occurred in 1789), it also offers lessons to us in the 21st century.

Until recent scholarship suggested otherwise, William Bligh has been remembered as a cruel tyrant whose excesses triggered a righteous mutiny. The truth is Bligh went to great pains to minimize punishment on board his ship, and was hoping to avoid any severe punishments over the 3 year year voyage. He also went the extra mile in keeping the ship clean and well-provisioned, foregoing the profit most captains made by procuring the lowest quality provisions for the crew and pocketing the difference.

Bligh had served as a junior officer (sailing master) on Captain Cook’s fatal voyage to Hawaii, and made every effort to apply what he’d learned on his own long voyage from England to Tahiti and back. He was if anything a perfectionist about navigation, shipboard preparation and the care of his crew.

His one flaw was an explosive temper, of the sort that arose quickly and receded just as quickly, leaving no ill-will on his part. (Captain Cook was also given to explosive fits of rage, a trait that appeared to strengthen on his 3rd and last voyage to the point that his junior officers felt he was “no longer himself.” This may explain his rash action in Hawaii that cost him his life.)

Bligh was neither high-born nor low-born, but solidly in the middle; his father was a customs official, and he entered the Navy as a “young gentleman,” soon becoming a midshipman, the entry rank of all future officers (as opposed to enlisted men, i.e. commoners, who could only rise to the rank of mate).

There were and are many gradients of class in Britain that may be unfamiliar to Americans, who tend to view social class as a permeable reflection of wealth (those who get rich also acquire “class”), under-estimating the lifelong impact of upper-class values and inherited wealth.

Bligh’s family was respectable but not wealthy, and he had to be careful with his meager income to support his family. He was well-educated and took copious notes on the cultures and ecosystems he visited.

The British Navy had a strict hierarchy, of course; the captain’s orders could not be questioned. The book does an excellent job revealing the difficulty of maintaining this authority and order on a small, crowded ship thousands of miles from home. There were limits on Bligh’s powers, even as captain; the ship’s doctor was a hopeless alcoholic who died mid-voyage, and Bligh, who avoided harsh punishment of his crew, was forced by a junior officer to order a flogging he himself would have avoided.

As befits a professional Navy officer, Bligh took a keen interest in mentoring two promising junior officers: Fletcher Christian and Peter Heywood, both from old, semi-aristocratic families that had fallen on hard financial times due to the profligacy and incompetence of their fathers/grandfathers.

Bligh’s interest was both professional–a worthy desire to aid the careers of promising young gentlemen–and political: as a powerful branch of government, the Navy attracted the “interest” of the wealthy and well-connected. Indeed, the entire voyage of the Bounty was the result of lobbying by West Indies planters and the wealthy naturalist Joseph Banks.

The wealthy/well-connected were critically important to Bligh’s career, and the “interest” expressed by powerful patrons in Fletcher Christian and Peter Heywood, coming as they did from prominent if impecunious families, explicitly motivated Bligh to mentor them and treat them more favorably than the other junior officers who were not high-born.

Serving in the Navy was a respectable profession for impoverished high-born males, as was the clergy, and so it was not unusual that the families of Christian and Heywood would use their influence to lobby for their sons being posted on what promised to be a career-boosting cruise.

Bligh befriended Christian, as they’d served together on merchant-marine vessels, and this personal bond complicates the mutiny. The other complication was the lack of Royal Marines on board the Bounty to enforce the captain’s will. Every capital ship in the Navy had a small contingent of Marines who acted as the ultimate source of authority on board. The Bounty’s small size and the minimal budget allotted by the Admiralty meant there were no Marines on board to protect the captain from insubordination. There is no doubt the mutiny would have failed had there been a half-dozen Marines on board.

If we boil all this down, we find a by-the-book, tactless perfectionist with an acid temper –Bligh–who made great efforts to be an ideal captain but who had a tin ear for his own impaired empathy and political skills.

It’s clear from first-hand accounts that Bligh would lash out at Christian despite their friendship, and then expect Christian to forget the abuse in the same way Bligh forgot his own temper tantrums.

Unfortunately for Bligh, Christian, being a gentleman of a higher class than Bligh, took his abuse personally, and felt it disrespectful of his person and class. This is of course implied rather than stated, but if read between the lines of the testimony of observes, this becomes clear.

One of the most interesting and largely unexplored dynamics of the mutiny revolves around the extremely significant class differences between the sailors (commoners), the middle-class junior officers, middle-class Bligh and the two high-born junior officers, Christian and Heywood.

In the initial confused moments of the mutiny, Bligh implored Christian to give up the mutiny and promised that he would forget the whole affair, on his sacred word as a gentleman. Christian replied that it had gone too far to turn back, but one can’t help wonder if he was more conflicted than he let on.

During the court-martial, the Admirals who acted as judges expressed astonishment that no loyal members of the crew resisted what was obviously a ragtag, impromptu mutiny of a handful of the small crew. It is clear that the slightest resistance, however poorly organized, might well have countered the mutiny, as many of the officers and men were hesitant and undecided about which side to join.

The key that seems to be missing in the conventional narrative is that the commoner sailors were fully cognizant of the high social status of Heywood and Christian, and the inferior social status of Bligh. In terms of social authority, it was natural for them to look up to Christian and follow his leadership over the leadership of the lower-status Bligh–even though by the strict authority of the Navy, they should have followed Bligh without any hesitation.

No doubt some sailors longed to return to their girlfriends (and in some cases, wives) on Tahiti, and this desire overrode the always-tenuous authority of the captain of a small ship thousands of miles from home. But if we seek an answer to why there was no active resistance to the mutiny, the answer lies not in the supposed cruelty of Bligh or the appeal of returning to Tahiti, but to the conflicting authority of class, which put Christian as the natural leader, and the naval hierarchy, which put Bligh as the leader.

There is little doubt that had Bligh been able to hold his tongue, or been sensitive to the damage he was wreaking on Christian’s sense of self-respect, and just as importantly, on what he viewed as his birthright in terms of deferential, respectful treatment by another officer of a lower class, even an officer who was his ranking superior, then the mutinous spark would never have ignited.

Humiliation and fear of a catastrophic decline in status foment mutiny and rebellion.

This essay was drawn from Musings Report 38. The Musings Reports are emailed weekly to subscribers and major contributors. 

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Nobody to Vote For

When I say there is nobody to vote for, I don’t just mean the familiar complaint that the candidates may be different shades of evil but are all too evil to support, that the earth’s climate does not recover one iota because some even worse policy has been averted, that sadistic bombings and humanitarian bombings actually look identical. I do mean all of that. But I also mean that candidates are campaigning as and being presented as nothing, as empty figures with no positions on anything.

What is the most common foreign policy position on the websites of Democratic candidates for U.S. Congress? Quick! It’s not hard! You got it? You’re wrong. It was a trick question. Most of their websites do not admit to the existence of 96% of humanity in any way shape or form — although one can infer that the world must exist, because so many of them express such deep love for veterans.

Numerous resources claim to fill the gap, but like private weather profiteers regurgitating federal data, they mostly just pick out bits of the almost nothing coming from the candidates and re-package it as Useful Voter Information. The Campus Election Engagement Project has nothing on Virginia’s Fifth District Congressional race, and on the Virginia race for U.S. Senate it has next to nothing.  In a nod to the existence of the earth, it tells us the candidates’ positions on the Iran nuclear agreement, plus three questions on the environment. But the fact that one of the two candidates’ whole schtick is hatred of immigrants, glorification of racism, and fascistic devotion to Trump doesn’t come up in the predictable policy questions. Nor does the duplicity of the other guy’s constant support for presidential war-making, while claiming to oppose it, make the cut.

The League of Women Voters is worse. They present seven predictable questions that they claim neither major-party candidate has answered, although they could have grabbed the answers to at least five of them from the candidates’ websites. None of the seven questions admit to the existence of a world outside the borders of the United States, apart from the fact that “immigrants” must come from somewhere. None of the questions addresses any sort of problem related to the habitability of the planet. When it comes to the Senate, the League presents answers to the same questions from three candidates. The League is, however, compelled to indirectly admit to the existence of the world and problems in it, because it explains two questions that will be on the ballot for public votes in Virginia, one related to taxes on flooded property, the other to taxes for spouses of disabled or killed participants in wars.

Then there’s BallotReady.org. This one claims a broader range of issues covered, including “Foreign Policy,” and also “Defense/Veterans.” How in the world “foreign policy” is separated from “defense” (taking the latter to be a euphemism for militarism) and how “defense” is paired with “veterans” is not explained. Each section contains a few sentence fragments, each one in quotes and linked to its source, which is usually the candidate’s website.

VoteSmart.org has 16 things it thinks you should know about a Congressional candidate. Two relate to foreign policy, and each asks — with a straight face — whether the U.S. government should commit the greatest crime imaginable: “Should the United States use military force in order to prevent governments hostile to the U.S. from possessing a nuclear weapon?” “Do you support increased American intervention in Middle Eastern conflicts beyond air support?” The answer that VoteSmart provides for each of the major-party candidates in Virginia’s Fifth is, for each question, “unknown.”

I understand that Code Pink is about to publish a voting guide that will list the dollar figures from OpenSecrets.org that incumbents have taken from weapons dealers, which is certainly useful as far as incumbents go. It will also draw on Peace Action’s scorecard for incumbents, although those have typically graded on a curve, avoiding any votes in Congress that were heavily slanted one way or the other, in order to pick out the votes most evenly split along partisan lines, and omitting anything not voted on.

The most likely place to find what scraps exist remains candidates’ own websites. In some cases, this can be augmented from speeches and interviews. Even after doing that research yourself, you will almost certainly still lack an answer to any of these 20 basic questions:

1. What would you like the U.S. discretionary budget to look like? With 60% now going to militarism, what percentage would you like that to be?
2. What program of economic conversion to peaceful enterprises would you support?
3. Would you end, continue, or escalate U.S. war making in: Afghanistan? Iraq? Syria? Yemen? Pakistan? Libya? Somalia?
4. Would you end the exemption for militarism in Kyoto, Paris, and other climate agreements?
5. Would you sign / ratify any of these treaties: Paris Climate Agreement? Convention on the Rights of the Child? International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights? International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights optional protocols? Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women? Convention Against Torure optional protocol? International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families? International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance? The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities? International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing, and Training of Mercenaries? Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court? Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity? Principles of International Cooperation in the Detection, Arrest, Extradition, and Punishment of Persons Guilty of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity? Convention on Cluster Munitions? Land Mines Convention? Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons? Proposed treaties banning the weaponization of space and banning cyber crimes?
6. Would you halt or continue expenditures on the production and so-called modernization of nuclear weapons?
7. Would you end weapons sales and the provision of military training to any governments? Which?
8. Would you close any foreign bases? Which?
9. Would you halt or continue the practice of murder by missiles from drones?
10. Do you recognize the ban on war, with exceptions, contained in the United Nations Charter? And the ban on threatening war?
11. Do you recognize the ban on war, without exceptions, contained in the Kellogg-Briand Pact?
12. Will you end discriminatory bans on immigrants?
13. Should actual, non-military, no-strings-attached foreign aid be eliminated, reduced, maintained, or increased? How much?
14. 84% of South Koreans want the war ended immediately. Should the United States block that?
15. Should NATO be maintained or abolished?
16. Should the CIA be maintained or abolished?
17. Should the ROTC be maintained or abolished?
18. Should domestic police forces be trained by, collaborate with, and be armed by militaries?
19. Should the U.S. military pay sports leagues, secretly or openly, to celebrate militarism?
20. How large should the U.S. military’s advertising budget be, and how much should the U.S. government spend promoting the concepts of nonviolent dispute resolution and the abolition of war?
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The Earthquake in International Alliances

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

(UPDATE about the Khashoggi case, posted at end.)

America’s international alliances are transforming in fundamental ways. The likelihood of World War III is increasing, and has been increasing ever since 2012 when the U.S. first slapped Russia with the Magnitsky Act sanctions. In fact, one matter driving these changing alliances now toward unprecedented realignments is that some nations’ leaders want to do whatever they can to prevent WW III.

On October 17th, America’s Military Times bannered “Why today’s troops fear a new war is coming soon” and reported, “About 46 percent of troops who responded to the anonymous survey of currently serving Military Times readers said they believe the U.S. will be drawn into a new war within the next year. That’s a jarring increase from only about 5 percent who said the same thing in a similar poll conducted in September 2017.” Their special fear is of war against Russia and/or China: “About 71 percent of troops said Russia was a significant threat, up 18 points from last year’s survey. And 69 percent of troops said China poses a significant threat, up 24 points from last year.” The U.S. spends around half of the entire world’s military budget; and, after 9/11, has invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, and perpetrated a bloody coup turning Ukraine into a rabidly anti-Russian government on Russia’s very doorstep and even an applicant for NATO membership though, in 2009, before Obama’s coup overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected Government, even U.S. media reported that “barely 25 percent of Ukrainians favor joining NATO.” After 1991 when Russia’s anti-American Warsaw Pact military alliance ended, America’s anti-Russian NATO military alliance expanded right up to Russia’s very borders. Nonetheless, these troops aren’t afraid that the U.S. is posing a threat to Russia and maybe to China, but that Russia and China are both posing threats against America; they trust their Government; it’s what they’re taught to believe. But the reality is very different. And it involves all of the “great power” relationships — not only U.S., Russia, and China.

The precipitating event for the breakup that’s now occurring in international alliances, happened on October 2nd, when Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the leader of Saudi Arabia, went into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul Turkey, and disappeared.

Allegedly, the dictator of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud, had Khashoggi murdered and chopped-up inside that Consulate, within no more than two hours of his entrance there. Russia announced exactly a week later, on October 9th, that Salman had just bought Russia’s world-leading S-400 anti-missile system, for $2 billion. U.S. President Donald Trump and the U.S. Congress will thus now need to determine whether to slap sanctions against Saudi Arabia for that purchase of Russian weaponry, just like the U.S. has already been threatening to do to fellow-NATO-member Turkey after its leader, President Tayyip Erdogan, likewise, recently purchased S-400s. (Trump and Congress also threatened India’s Modi this way, for its purchase of several S-400s.) But even without this Saudi S-400 purchase, some in Washington have been proposing cancellation of Saudi Arabia’s $404 billion purchase of U.S.-made weaponry, the largest armaments-sale in history, which Trump had negotiated with Salman in 2017 and which is the likeliest cause of today’s booming U.S. stock market. The news-media call it a $110 billion sale, but only the first-year of the ten-year commitment is $110 billion; the total deal is a 10-year commitment, at around $400 billion. (Though initially it had been 10 years at $350 billion, CNBC headlined nine months later, “Trump wants Saudi Arabia to buy more American-made weapons” and reported: “In the past nine months alone, the U.S. has secured $54 billion in foreign military sales to Saudi Arabia.” So, without seeing the actual signed deal, to confirm with certainty, one can assume that the total now is $404 billion.) Low-balling the amount is done in order to hide the national embarrassment of the military-industrial-complex’s now being the actual basis of America’s booming stock market.

Salman’s purchase of that $2 billion Russian S-400 could place the vastly larger $404 billion U.S. arms-sale to Saudi Arabia (and America’s consequent stock-boom and full employment) even more in jeopardy than it already is. America’s two most-core Middle Eastern allies, Saudi Arabia and Turkey (and Israel is only a distant third, and has no other option than to do whatever the U.S. Government requires it to do), could soon become no longer U.S. allies. America’s most important international alliances have never before been in such jeopardy. Turkey is likelier to re-align with Russia than Saudi Arabia is, but even if Turkey becomes the only one to switch, that would be an earthquake in international relations. If both Turkey and Saudi Arabia go, it would be an earthquake, not just in international relations, but in world history. It could happen; and, if it does, then the reality that we know today will be gone and will become replaced by arrangements that virtually no one today is even thinking about, at all.

Jamal Khashoggi, a member and champion of the Muslim Brotherhood (as is Tayyip Erdogan — which is another reason why Erdogan would be especially unlikely to relent on this matter), was a nephew of the recently deceased billionaire international-arms merchant Adnan Khashoggi; press adviser to the billionaire Saudi chief of intelligence and Ambassador to the United States Prince Turki al-Faisal al-Saud; and, more recently, a protégé of billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud (who also is a Muslim Brotherhood member). Of course, he was also a columnist for the Washington Post, which makes impossible his case being ignored in the U.S.

On 4 November 2017, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud, and many other Princes and billionaires, were seized by the forces of the billionaire Prince Salman, the heir-apparent to the thone of his father, King Salman al-Saud, who is the world’s only trillionaire. What’s essential to understand is that in order for any Saud Prince (such as this Crown Prince, Salman) to become King Saud (and thus to inherit his father’s trillion-dollar-plus fortune), he must first win the approval of the nation’s Wahhab clergy or “Ulema”, and so Saudi Arabia is both a monarchy and a theocracy. There has long been a global competition between two fundamentalist-Sunni groups: the Saud-funded Al Qaeda versus the Thani-funded Muslim Brotherhood. Ever since the Saud family and the Wahhab clergy agreed in 1744 to take control of all Arabs and to convert or kill all Shia, the Sauds have been (and are) anti-Shia and insist upon fundamentalist Sunni rule. Al Qaeda represents the Wahhabist and Saud view, which advocates elimination of Shiites and accepts hereditary monarchy as the power to impose Sunni Islamic law and rejects democracy; the Muslim Brotherhood represents instead the more tolerant Thani view, which accepts Shia and also accepts imposition of Islamic law by means of democracy, and not only by means of dynasty. Both Prince and King Salman hate the Shia-accepting Muslim Brotherhood, whose top funder is the competing Thani family, who own Qatar; the Thanis don’t hate democracy and Shiites and Iran enough to suit the Sauds and especially the Salmans. They’re not sufficiently anti-Iran and anti-Shiite and anti-democracy.

Khashoggi had explained why he shared the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideals: “We were hoping to establish an Islamic state anywhere. We believed that the first one would lead to another, and that would have a domino effect which could reverse the history of mankind.” He was out to save the world by making it a fundamentalist Sunni world, somehow without using terrorism to do it. Like him, the Thanis and Erdogan don’t share such extreme extremism as the Sauds demand.

Furthermore, On October 16th, Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair bannered “HOW JAMAL KHASHOGGI FELL OUT WITH BIN SALMAN”, and he wrote that Khashoggi had told him, back in March, that the reason he had turned against Prince Salman, and why the Washington Post had hired him, was what had happened on 4 November 2017: “‘When the arrests started happening, I flipped. I decided it was time to speak,’ he told me. Khashoggi subsequently landed a column in The Washington Post.” Furthermore, Khashoggi told Sherman, “The people M.B.S. arrested were not radicals. The majority were reformers for women’s rights and open society. He arrested them to spread fear. He is replacing religious intolerance with political closure.” This was the difference between Al Qaeda versus the Muslim Brotherhood.

The competition between, on the one hand, the pro-Muslim-Brotherhood Thanis and Erdogan, versus the pro-Al-Qaeda Sauds, UAE and Kuwait, on the other; is forcing the U.S. to choose between those two sides, or else even possibly lose both of them and even to go instead with Shia Islam as America’s Muslim partners. The biggest U.S. Middle Eastern military bases in the Middle East are Al Udeid in the Thanis’ Qatar, and Incirlik in Turkey. Both of those are Muslim Brotherhood Sunni territory, not Al Qaeda Sunni territory. The U.S. under Trump has been more pro-Al-Qaeda (pro-Saud) than the U.S. had been under Obama, but doesn’t want to lose those bases. (President Obama had supported the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi in Egypt. But he also vetoed the congressional bill for investigating whether the Sauds had done 9/11. He wanted friends on both sides of the Sunni divide. But he killed Al Qaeda’s founding leader, bin Laden. And yet he continued being staunchly pro Al Qaeda against Russia.)

Turkey has been a U.S. ally through its membership (since 1952) in the NATO anti-Russia alliance. Saudi Arabia has been a U.S. ally since a major 1938 Rockefeller oil-discovery there, and especially since U.S. President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s switched gold for oil as the physical basis for the dollar’s value in international commerce. But for both of these till-now U.S. allies to be buying the world’s best anti-missile system from the very same country that the U.S. aristocracy has secretly been trying ultimately to conquer even after the U.S.S.R. and its Warsaw Pact military alliance and its communism all ended in 1991, is a shock, and an insult, to America’s aristocracy (the billionaires), coming from two of their most important former allies.

What is at stake now is not only the value-basis of the U.S. dollar and the continuance of America’s NATO alliance against Russia, but, more basically than either, is the full realization of the dream by Cecil Rhodes in 1877 and of George Soros today, for a unified and all-inclusive UK-U.S. empire to become ruler over the entire world — the first-ever all-encompassing global empire. Britain importantly bonded King Saud and his family to its Empire, at the time of World War I, against the Ottoman Empire. That was the Sauds’ alliance against Turkey’s empire. After World War II, U.S. became the leader of this joint UK-U.S. empire, as Rhodes had expected ultimately to happen. Ever since 2000, Erdogan has been scheming to restore Turkey’s role as the world’s primary Islamic empire, and so to squelch the Saud family’s aspirations to achieve dominance over global Islam. Ever since 1744, the Saud family has been trying to achieve that dominance as being the fundamentalist-Sunni champion against the fundamentalist-Shiite leadership since 1979 in Iran. But, now, the Sunni Sauds’ main competitor might no longer be Shiite Iran, but instead turn out to be Sunni Turkey, after all — which had been the Sauds’ main enemy at the very start of the 20th Century.

What will the U.S. do, as the collapse of its aristocracy’s dream of global conquest after the fall of communism, is now gathering force even to bring into question such key former allies of America’s aristocracy, as Turkey, and as the world’s richest family (by far), the Saud family (the owners of Saudi Arabia)?

Perhaps the Sauds are making this stunning weapons-purchase from Russia because the prominent critic of the Sauds, Saudi citizen (and nephew of the global arms-merchant Adnan Khashoggi) Jamal Khashoggi, was recorded by loads of hidden cameras and audio recording devices including the watch and cellphone of the victim Jamal Khashoggi himself, as he was being murdered and chopped-up inside the Saudi Embassy in Constantinople-Istanbul when seeking papers that were required in order for him to marry his Turkish fiancé — as the Turkish Government now claims. This is an incident that reverberates hugely against the more-than-a-century-long goal of the UK-U.S. aristocracies for those billionaires to take control over the entire world — including Russia.

Erdogan got shaken to resist the UK-U.S. alliance, when on 15 July 2016, there was a coup-attempt against Erdogan, which endangered his life. The UK-U.S.’s establishments kept the coup-attempt’s very existence almost hidden in their media for several days, because the attempt had failed and the ‘news’-media hadn’t received instructions on how to report what had just happened — the usual CIA-MI6 pipelines ‘informing’ them were probably silent, because those sources were prepared only for delivering the storyline for a successful coup, and it hadn’t been successful — it instead failed.

So, for example, UK’s Independent headlined on July 18th, “Turkey coup attempt: Rebel jets had Erdogan’s plane in their sights but did not fire, officials claim: ‘Why they didn’t fire is a mystery,’ former military officer says,” and they raised the question in their report, of whether this had actually been a coup-attempt or instead an event that had been planned by the Erdogan regime in order for him then to be enabled to impose martial law so as to eliminate his political opponents: “Conspiracy theorists are saying the attempted military coup was faked, comparing it to the Reichstag fire – the 1933 arson attack on the German parliament building used by Hitler as an excuse to suspend civil liberties and order mass arrests of his opponents.” If you then click onto that “attempted military coup was faked”, you will come to this same newspaper’s report, dated July 16th, which was headlined “Turkey coup: Conspiracy theorists claim power grab attempt was faked by Erdogan”. It’s unusual for an Establishment news-medium to provide any sort of credence to the possibility that a false-flag event has occurred, but if the empire’s intelligence services were providing no information, then even an Establishment ‘news’-medium can do such a thing — anything in order to pretend to have news that’s worthy of publishing about an important event.

But also on July 18th, yet another Establishment ‘news’-medium, Newsweek, headlined “PUTIN CALLS ERDOGAN TO VOICE SUPPORT FOR ORDER IN TURKEY” and used this event as an opportunity to publicize a statement by an expelled Russian billionaire who had actually been expelled because he had cheated Russia on his tax-returns. Newsweek hid that fact. This supposed billionaire-champion of democracy was there approvingly quoted in a passage: “Many in Russia drew parallels between Erdogan and Putin, hinting Putin may fear mutiny in his own ranks. ‘Well done Turkey,’ Putin rival Mikhail Khodorkovsky tweeted as news of the coup broke on Friday.” (That’s “Putin rival,” instead of billionaire tax-crook. Brainwashing is done that way.) Every possible anti-Russian angle to this attempted coup was pursued: the angle here was, the failed coup had been attempted for the sake of ‘democracy’.

On July 21st, Al-Araby headlined “Russia ‘warned Erdogan about coup’ moments before assassination attempt”, and reported that,

Russian intelligence warned President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that factions within the army were planning a coup – possibly saving the Turkish leader’s life – Iranian state media has alleged.

Moscow reportedly received “highly sensitive army exchanges and encoded radio messages showing that the Turkish army was readying to stage a coup”, Fars News Agency said, citing Arab sources.

An unnamed Turkish diplomatic source confirmed that intelligence services “received intel from its Russian counterpart that warned of an impending coup”.

Russian spies … informed Ankara that several military helicopters were dispatched to Erdogan’s hotel to “arrest or kill him”.

The CIA edits, and on some matters, even writes, Wikipedia articles; and their article on the “2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt” says nothing at all about this advance-notice by Putin — the key fact about the event, if it’s true. They don’t even mention it as something that might have happened (and which would explain even much that Wikipedia’s article does report). Is this absence because the CIA thinks that it’s not true, or because the CIA knows that it is true and perhaps also that the CIA itself was involved in the coup-attempt and so wants to keep this fact out of their account and out of the public’s consciousness altogether?

Also on July 21st, Alexander Mercouris, who is deeply knowledgeable about international relations, headlined at his The Duran, “Why Reports of the Russian Tip Off to Erdogan May Be True”, and he presented a stunning case, which could more accurately have been headlined “Why Reports of the Russian Tip Off to Erdogan Are Almost Certainly True.”

I further have documented its extreme likelihood, headlining at Strategic Culture Foundation on August 18th, “What Was Behind the Turkish Coup-Attempt?” But, of course, Wikipedia doesn’t link to sites such as The Duran, or Strategic Culture Foundation, because a controlled news-and-information system-environment is essential to the effective functioning of any dictatorship (and also see this and this, with yet further documentation that the U.S. is no democracy, at all).

So: ever since 15 July 2016, Turkey has been veering away from the U.S. and toward Russia, in its national-security policies.

But the only major prior indication that the Sauds might do likewise was when the Sauds’ intelligence-chief, head of the National Intelligence Council, and former U.S. Ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud, secretly met with Putin in Moscow on 31 July 2013 in order to try to pry Russia away from protecting the Governments of both Syria and Iran — Bandar even told Putin “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the [upcoming Sochi Winter Olympic] games are controlled by us.” Bandar also promised to buy up to $15 billion of Russian-made weapons, if Putin would abandon protection of the sovereignty of the Syrian and Iranian Governments. Putin said no. Bandar was the long-time friend of Israel who had donated heavily to Al Qaeda prior to the 9/11 attacks, even out of his personal account. He was especially close to both U.S. President Bushes.

The Trump arms-deal with Saudi Arabia is enormous — $404 billion over ten years — and it very much is at stake now because of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. America’s ‘news’-media hide this reality.

For example, the 16 October 2018 NPR “Morning Edition” program headlined “Trump Says He Won’t Scrap Arms Deal Over Missing Saudi Journalist” and host Steve Inskeep diminished the importance of Trump’s enormous arms-deal with Saudi Arabia. Inskeep interviewed a supposed expert on international arms-sales. He asked her about Saudi Arabia, whether they are “a really lucrative market for weapons” and she said “Arms sales aren’t this lucrative big deal for the United States,” because “arms sales are a pretty inefficient employment mechanism,” which wasn’t even relevant to answering the question that had been asked. She went on to say they’re not lucrative because “sometimes weapons are given on grant or on favorable credit terms,” but that too was irrelevant but just pointed to the fact that the U.S. taxpayer is often subsidizing those extremely lucrative — for the weapons-firms — transactions. Her answer ignored that Lockheed Martin etc. benefit just the same; only taxpayers lose when it’s subsidized. Inskeep: “You’re saying that there aren’t actually many jobs at stake?” She answered: “That’s what we’ve seen in the past.” But she again falsified, because what the econometric studies actually show is that armaments-expenditures produce less economic growth than non-‘defense’ spending does. (In fact, in the U.S., military spending actually decreases long-term GDP-growth.) Yet still, adding $404 billion to U.S. manufacturing sales in any field (‘defense’ or otherwise) is an enormous short-term boost. (Inskeep and his guest never even mentioned the amount, $404 billion in this deal; the program was geared to idiots and to keeping them such. It was geared to deceive.) Both the questioner and the ‘expert’ were geared toward hiding the basic reality, certainly not to explaining it. Trump’s largest boost to U.S. GDP thus far has been that $404 billion arms-sale he made to Prince Salman in 2017. It caused stock-values of those armaments-firms to soar, and will (unless cancelled) produce an enormous number of new jobs in the U.S. making those weapons, once the specific contracts have become finalized. But the boosts to armaments-makers’ stock values are already evident. And yet not once in that segment was it mentioned that the Saudi deal was for $404 billion of U.S.-made weapons over a ten-year period. That sale dwarfs any previous weapons-sale in history. NPR simply lied; they deceived their audience. One might say it’s instead because of incompetence on their part, but those program-hosts and producers and guests are hired and engaged and retained because they possess this kind of ‘incompetence’. It’s no mistake, and it is systematic throughout the mainstream Western ‘news’-media. It is lying ‘news’-media. So, as a result, the American public cannot understand U.S.-Saudi relations and other matters that are basic understandings by and for the aristocracy. These are propaganda-media, not news-media.

In fact, just the day earlier, on October 15th, NPR had even headlined “Fact Check: How Much Does Saudi Arabia Spend On Arms Deals With The U.S.?” The sub-head was “President Trump says he does not want to endanger what he describes as a $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. But the actual figure is considerably lower.” They reported that, “Since Donald Trump has been president, the United States and Saudi Arabia have concluded less than $4-billion-worth of arms agreements.” No mention was made of the $350 billion figure, much less of the $404 billion one. It’s as if the agreements didn’t exist. (At the time of the signing of the ten-year arms-deal, the video, which starts with Trump signing some documents, shows that the Saud Government stated at 3:03 that the deal was for “an investment of more than $480 billion dollars” some of which was non-military, and at 3:15 it says that the deal will “provide hundreds of thousands of jobs” to the United States. Specific congratulations were given there as contracts were being handed to CEOs and Chairmen of Raytheon, General Electric, Dow Chemical, and other corporations.) Of course, the U.S. Government could have been lying, and the deal could have been different from what the PR says. But that’s not the type of lie which NPR alleged here. Anyone nowadays who trusts what either the U.S. Government or its news-media say, is trusting demonstrably untrustworthy sources — and this too is not the type of lying (their own lying) that NPR says exists. They just lie.

Saudi Arabia’s purchase now of Russia’s S-400 does indicate that the U.S. aristocracy might lose their most important foreign ally, the Saud family, and that international relations could transform in transformative ways, not just superficially. It’s only a sign, but what it signals is enormously significant — and U.S. ‘news’-media are hiding it.

The General Manager of the Saud family’s Al Arabya international TV channel that was established in order to compete against the Thani family’s Al Jazeera international TV channel, issued stark warnings to the U.S., on Sunday, October 14th. Headlining “US sanctions on Riyadh would mean Washington is stabbing itself,” he closed: “If Washington imposes sanctions on Riyadh, it will stab its own economy to death, even though it thinks that it is stabbing only Riyadh!” In between those were: The Kingdom is considering “more than 30 potential measures to be taken against the imposition of sanctions on Riyadh.” Included among them are: the price of oil “jumping to $100, or $200, or even double that figure.” Also “a Russian military base in Tabuk, northwest of Saudi Arabia.” More realistically, however, he threatened: “An oil barrel may be priced in a different currency, Chinese yuan, perhaps, instead of the dollar. And oil is the most important commodity traded by the dollar today.” And, he did not miss this one, either:

It will not be strange that Riyadh would stop buying weapons from the US. Riyadh is the most important customer of US companies, as Saudi Arabia buys 10 percent of the total weapons that these US companies produce, and buys 85 percent from the US army which means what’s left for the rest of the world is only five percent; [and that’s] in addition to the end of Riyadh’s investments in the US government which reaches $800 billion.

For the very first time publicly, a mouthpiece for the Saud family has now said publicly that the U.S. doesn’t control the Saudi Government; the Saudi Government controls the U.S.

If the relationship between the Saud family and the U.S. is the relationship between a dog and its tail, which is which? Perhaps Cecil Rhodes, were he to return, would be so shocked, he’d have a heart-attack and die a second time.

UPDATE: As this is being written, on October 19th, there has been speculation that the Saudi Government is planning to admit that individual(s) in it had made bad errors, which tragically ended in a botched interrogation of Khashoggi at the Consulate in Istanbul. This response would not be credible in any case, because of the long history, going back decades, of prominent potential opponents of the Saud family being inexplicably disappeared and never heard from (or about) again. For one example, the headline from this past May 30th, six months ago, remains current news, as of even today: “NAWAF AL RASHEED, SON OF PRINCE TALAL BIN ABDULAZIZ AL RASHEED, DISAPPEARED SINCE MAY 12 DEPORTATION TO SAUDI ARABIA”. And, going back to before Crown Prince Salman, to the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing ‘suspects’, all of them simply disappeared, never to be heard from (or about) again — no public trial, nothing at all. There are many such cases, of many different kinds. This is normal Saudi practice — not abnormal at all. What is abnormal is that Jamal Khashoggi had just been hired by perhaps the world’s second-wealthiest person, Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post, to write articles against the Crown-Prince son, and future heir, of overwhelmingly the world’s wealthiest person, King Salman. That’s what is different from those such prior instances.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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