By Chris Hedges
Abridged by Lasha Darkmoon with brief commentary
November 11, 2019
“Trump committed political heresy when he dared to point out the folly of unchecked militarism. He will pay for it. The war between the deep state and Trump began the moment he was elected.” — Chris Hedges
Our democracy is not in peril. We do not live in a democracy. The image of our democracy is in peril.
Trump’s most unforgivable sin in the eyes of the deep state is his criticism of the empire’s endless wars, even though he lacks the intellectual and organizational skills to oversee a disengagement.
The deep state committed the greatest strategic blunder in American history when it invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq. Such fatal military fiascos, a feature of all late empires, are called acts of “micro-militarism.” Dying empires historically squander the last capital they have, economic, political and military, on futile, intractable and unwinnable conflicts until they collapse.
They seek in these acts of micro-militarism to recapture a former dominance and lost stature. Disaster piles on disaster. The architects of our imperial death spiral, however, are untouchable.
The clueless generals and politicians who propel the empire into expanding chaos and fiscal collapse are successful at one thing—perpetuating themselves. No one is held accountable. A servile press treats these mandarins with near-religious veneration. Generals and politicians, many of whom should have been cashiered or put on trial, are upon retirement given lucrative seats on the boards of the weapons manufacturers, for whom these wars are immensely profitable. They are called upon by a fawning press to provide analysis to the public of the mess they created. They are held up as exemplars of integrity, selfless service and patriotism.
LD: The trendy phrase “deep state” appears to be the latest euphemism for international Jewry and their elite non-Jewish collaborators in the big corporations and military-industrial complex. These include the generals, bankers, corporatists, lobbyists, intelligence chiefs, government bureaucrats, technocrats, evangelical Christians, and the fawning presstitutes of the main stream media. All these gentile sycophants of Big Jewry have one thing in common: they are all passionate Zionists for whom the state of Israel is sacrosanct. They would rather see America go up in flames than suffer the loss of a singe acre of stolen land in Occupied Palestine. [LD]
After nearly two decades, every purported objective used to justify our wars in the Middle East has been upended.
The invasion of Afghanistan was supposed to wipe out al-Qaida. Instead, al-Qaida migrated to fill the power vacuums the deep state created in the wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. The war in Afghanistan morphed into a war with the Taliban, which now controls most of the country and is threatening the corrupt regime we prop up in Kabul.
The deep state orchestrated the invasion of Iraq, which had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11. It confidently predicted it could build a Western-style democracy and weaken Iran’s power in the region. Instead, it destroyed Iraq as a unified country, setting warring ethnic and religious factions against each other. Iran, which is closely tied to the dominant Shiite government in Baghdad, emerged even stronger.
Then there is the fiasco in Syria. The deep state armed “moderate” rebels in Syria in an effort to topple President Bashar Assad, but when it realized it could not control the jihadists—to whom it had provide some $500 million in weapons and assistance—the deep state began to bomb them and arm Kurdish rebels to fight them. These Kurds would later be betrayed by Trump.
Next was Yemen. The “war on terror” spread like a plague from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya to Yemen, which after five years of war is suffering one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. The financial cost for this misery and death is between $5 trillion and $8 trillion. The human cost runs into hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded, shattered cities, towns and infrastructure and millions of refugees.
Trump committed political heresy when he dared to point out the folly of unchecked militarism. He will pay for it. The deep state intends to replace him with someone—perhaps Mike Pence, as morally and intellectually vacuous as Trump—who will do what he is told.
The removal of Trump from office would not threaten corporate power. It would not restore civil liberties, including our right to privacy and due process.
It would not demilitarize the police or champion the rights of the working class.
It would not impede the profits of the fossil fuel and banking industries.
It would not address the climate emergency.
It would not disrupt the warrantless surveillance of the public.
It would not end extraordinary renditions, the kidnapping of those around the globe considered to be enemies of the state.
It would not halt the assassinations by militarized drones.
It would not halt the separation of children from their parents and the warehousing of these children in filthy, overcrowded conditions.
It would not remedy the consolidation of wealth and power by the oligarchs and the further impoverishment of the citizenry.
The expansion of our prison system and of black sites throughout the world, sites where we torture, would continue, as would the gunning down of poor, unarmed citizens in urban wastelands.
Most importantly, the catastrophic foreign wars that have resulted in a series of failed states and wasted trillions of taxpayer dollars, would remain sacrosanct, enthusiastically embraced by the leaders of the two ruling parties, puppets of the deep state.
The impeachment of Trump, despite the enthusiasm of the liberal elite, is mostly cosmetic. The entire political and governmental system is corrupt. Corporate lobbyists write the laws. The courts enforce them. There is no way in the American political system to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, AT&T, Amazon, Microsoft, Walmart, Alphabet, Facebook, Apple, Exxon Mobil, Lockheed Martin, UnitedHealth Group or Northrop Grumman.
We, the American public, are spectators. An audience. Who will be seated when the game of musical chairs stops?
Will Trump be able to hold on to power?
Will Pence be the new president?
Or will the deep state elevate a political hack like Joe Biden . . . or, God forbid, Hillary Clinton?
And what if the deep state fails?
The war between the deep state and Trump began the moment he was elected. Former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper—both now paid news cable commentators—along with former FBI head James Comey soon would accuse Trump of being a tool of Moscow. Intelligence agencies leaked salacious stories about “pee tapes” and blackmail, plus reports of “repeated contacts” with Russian intelligence. Brennan, Clapper and Comey were quickly joined by other former intelligence officials. Their attacks were then amplified by former senior military leaders.
The Russia conspiracy, after the release of the Mueller report, proved to be a dud. The deep state actors, however, were re-energized by Trump’s decision to pressure the government of Ukraine to investigate Biden. Trump, this time, seems to have given his deep state enemies enough rope to hang him.
The impeachment of Trump marks a new and frightening chapter in American politics. The deep state has shown its face. It has made a public declaration that it will not tolerate dissent, although Trump’s dissent is rhetorical and ineffectual.
The effort to impeach Trump sends an ominous message to the American left. Its resources to destroy those on the left are nearly inexhaustible.
There are no internal or external checks on the deep state.
The deep state will further expand the social inequality that has thrust half of Americans into poverty or near poverty, strip us of our remaining civil liberties and feed the rapacious appetites of the military and the war industry.
The resources of the state will be squandered as the federal deficit balloons. The frustration and feelings of stagnation among a disempowered and neglected citizenry, which contributed to the election of Trump, will mount.
There will come a moment of reckoning, as there has during the last few days in Lebanon and Chile. Social unrest is inevitable. Any population can be pushed only so far.
Trump, in the end, is not the problem. We are.
And if the deep state fails to rid itself of Trump it will, however reluctantly, use him to carry out its dirty work.
“Trump, if he manages to survive, will get his military parades.
We will get, with or without Trump, tyranny.”
— Chris Hedges
Americans are the most over-entertained, uninformed citizens on planet earth — despite around 80% of US households having Internet access, making it easy to stay informed with minimal effort.
Manipulated by the power of state-sponsored and go-along establishment media propaganda, Americans are ignorant about geopolitical and other major issues affecting their lives and welfare.
It’s why both right wings of the US war party get away with ravaging one country after another — while the FBI and police nationwide operate with impunity as enforcers for powerful interests, grievously breaching the rights of ordinary people.
Reality is clear. The US already is a police state because of repressive laws overwhelmingly passed by Congress, supported by the executive and federal courts.
Based on events post-9/11 at home and abroad, things in the US are heading toward full-blown tyranny and ruin.
Perhaps it’s another major state-sponsored false flag away, wrongfully blamed on elements having nothing to do with it, followed by martial law and suspension of the Constitution on the phony pretext of sacrificing fundamental rights for greater security, losing both in the process.
Polls consistently show Americans are out-of-touch with reality.
Earlier polls showed most Americans favor war on North Korea if diplomacy fails. Other polls showed around half of Americans believe war on Iran is coming.
Both countries are viewed as threats to the US despite their nonbelligerent agendas. Iran hasn’t attacked another country in centuries.
Nor has North Korea throughout its entire post-WW II history — while the US wages forever wars against invented enemies, its ruling class hostile to world peace.
Annual Gallup polls since 1989 showed from 79 – 87% of Americans view Iran as “mostly (or) very unfavorabl(y).” Throughout this period, they viewed the Islamic Republic from 5 to 17% favorably.
North Korean nukes, ballistic missiles, and other weapons are solely for defense — to deter the legitimate threat of US aggression.
Iran’s nuclear program has no military component, repeatedly confirmed by nuclear watchdog IAEA monitors.
Since joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) nearly half a century ago, Iran fully complied with its provisions.
According to Nukewatch co-director John LaForge,
“(t)he United States is perhaps the principle nuclear weapons proliferator in the world today, openly flouting binding provisions of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).”
Nuclear armed and dangerous Israel never signed NPT, the world community doing nothing to challenge its menace to regional and world peace.
According to a new Fox News poll, around 60% of Americans view Iran and North Korea as threats to US security — a questionable source, but here are the results anyway.
Asked if North Korea “pose(s) a real national security threat to the US, 60% of respondents said “yes,” only 27% saying “no.”
Results to the same question on Iran are identical, pollster Daron Shaw saying:
“Despite changes in the partisanship of the White House and shifts in geopolitics, the percentage of Americans who see Iran and North Korea as threats has been quite consistent.”
Over half of respondents (53%) support military action to prevent Iran from developing nukes its leadership abhors, doesn’t seek, never did, and wants eliminated everywhere to remove the threat these WMDs pose to planet earth and all its life forms if detonated in enough numbers.
A higher percentage (57%) favor attacking North Korea militarily to prevent expansion of its nuclear weapons program.
Most respondents also disapprove of how Trump is dealing with both nations.
Beacon Research and Shaw & Company conducted the poll on July 21 – 23 “with 1,004 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide who spoke with live interviewers on both landlines and cellphones.”
Like other polls on major geopolitical and other issues, results show an ignorant electorate.
Lincoln reportedly said: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time…”
Most Americans are easily fooled time and again — no matter how many times they were duped before, especially on issues of war and peace.
Notably, it’s true about nations threatening no one like Iran and North Korea.
Throughout the post-WW II era, no nations threatened US security.
All US post-WW II wars were and continue to be waged against nations threatening no one — threats invented to justify what’s illegal and unjustifiable.
Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
With permission from
December 7, 2018
Can I be the only one – apart from his own sycophants – to find the sight of America’s finest Republicans and Democrats condemning the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia for murdering Jamal Khashoggi a bit sickening? “Crazy”. “Dangerous”. A “wrecking ball”. A “smoking saw”. These guys are angry. CIA director Gina Haspel, who was happy to sign off on the torture of her Muslim captives in a secret American prison in Thailand, obviously knew what she was talking about when she testified about Mohammed bin Salman and the agony of Jamal Khashoggi.
US government leaks suggest that Haspel knew all about the shrieks of pain, the suffering of Arab men who believed they were drowning, the desperate pleading for life from America’s victims in these sanctuaries of torment in and after 2002. After all, the desperate screams of a man who believes he is drowning and the desperate screams of a man who believes he is suffocating can’t be very different. Except, of course, that the CIA’s victims lived to be tortured another day – indeed several more days – while Jamal Khashoggi’s asphyxiation was intended to end his life. Which it did.
A generation ago, the CIA’s “Operation Phoenix” torture and assassination programme in Vietnam went way beyond the imaginations of the Saudi intelligence service. In spook language, Khashoggi was merely “terminated with maximum prejudice”. If the CIA could sign off on mass murder in Vietnam, why shouldn’t an Arab dictator do the same on a far smaller scale? True, I can’t imagine the Americans went in for bone saws. Testimony suggests that mass rape followed by mass torture did for their enemies in Vietnam. Why play music through the earphones of the murderers?
But still it goes on. Here’s Democrat senator Bob Menendez this week. The US, he told us, must “send a clear and unequivocal message that such actions are not acceptable on the world’s stage”. The “action”, of course, is the murder of Khashoggi. And this from a man who constantly defended Israel after its slaughter of the innocents in Gaza.
So what on earth is going on here? Perhaps the “world’s stage” of which Menendez spoke was the White House – an appropriate phrase, when you come to think about it – where the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has been no stranger. Yet when at least one recent US presidential incumbent of that high office can be considered guilty of war crimes – in Iraq – and the deaths of tens of thousands of Arabs, how come American senators are huffing and puffing about just one man, Mohammed bin Salman, who (for a moment, let us set aside the Yemen war) is only being accused of ordering the murder and dismemberment of one single Arab?
After all, world leaders – and US presidents themselves – have always had rather a soft spot for mass murderers and those who should face war crimes indictments. Trump has infamously met Kim Jong-un and invited him to the White House. We are all waiting for Rodrigo Duterte to take up his own invitation.
Obama lavished hospitality at the White House on a host of bloody autocrats – from Gambia, Burkina Faso and Cameroon – before we even recall Suharto, whose death squads killed up to half a million people; and Hosni Mubarak, whose secret police sometimes raped their prisoners and who sanctioned the hanging of hundreds of Islamists without proper trials, and his ultimate successor, Field Marshal-President al-Sisi, who has around 60,000 political prisoners locked up in Egypt and whose cops appear to have tortured a young Italian student to death. But Giulio Regeni wasn’t murdered in an Egyptian consulate. This list does not even include Ariel Sharon, who as Israeli defence minister was accused by an Israeli inquiry of personal responsibility for the massacre of 1,700 Palestinian civilians at the Sabra and Chatila camps in Beirut in 1982.
So what is this “clear and unequivocal message” that senator Menendez is rambling on about? The message has been clear and unequivocal for decades. The US “national interest” always trumps (in both senses) morality or international crime. Why else did the United States support Saddam Hussein in his attempt to destroy Iran and his use of chemical warfare against Iran? Why else did Donald Rumsfeld plead with Saddam in December 1993 to allow the reopening of the US embassy in Baghdad when the Iraqi dictator (a “strongman” at the time, of course) had already used mustard gas against his opponents? By the time Rumsfeld arrived for his meeting, more than 3,000 victims had fallen amid Iraqi gas clouds. The figure would reach at least 50,000 dead. Which is, in mathematical terms, Jamal Khashoggi times 50,000.
Yet we are supposed to recoil with shock and horror when Haspel – who might herself have a few admissions to make to senators on other matters – suggests that America’s latest favourite Middle Eastern tyrant knew about the forthcoming murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Does Menendez think that Saddam hadn’t signed the death sentences of thousands of Iraqi men and women – which, as we know from his later “trial”, he did – before meeting Rumsfeld? Or that Duterte, who has compared himself to Hitler, doesn’t sign off on the killing of his murdered drug “suspects”? Or that Suharto had absolutely nothing to do with half a million murders in Indonesia?
It’s instructive, indeed, that the thousands of innocents killed in the Yemen war, an offensive undertaken by Mohammed bin Salman himself with logistical support from the US and UK – and it doesn’t need Haspel to tell us this – hasn’t exactly left US senators shocked. Just another bunch of Arabs killing each other, I suppose. Starvation didn’t get mentioned by the senators emerging from Haspel’s closed hearing. Yet the senators know all about the mosque bombings, wedding party bombings, hospital bombings and school bombings in Yemen. Why no tears for these innocents? Or is that a bit difficult when the US military – on every occasion by accident, of course – has bombed mosques, wedding parties, hospitals and schools in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria?
No, the shock and horror and the need for full disclosure about the Saudis is primarily about Trump, and the need to tie him in to the cruel murder of a Washington Post journalist and US resident whose gruesome demise has been blamed by the American president upon a “vicious world”.
But there is something more than this, the appalling fact – albeit only a folk memory, perhaps, for many with scarcely any institutional memory at all – that 15 of those 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, that Osama bin Laden was a Saudi, that George W Bush secretly flew bin Laden family members out of the US after 9/11, that the Saudis themselves are heir to a blighted, rural, cruel version of Sunni Islam – based on the pernicious teachings of the 18th century Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab – which has inspired the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Isis and all the other killer cults whom we have proclaimed to be the West’s Enemy No 1.
Nailing Mohammed Bin Salman to a crucifix – a method of execution favoured by the Wahhabis – is an easy kill for US senators, of course. You hit the president and smash those unhappy historical details all in one fell swoop.
But don’t bank on it. Oil and arms are a potent mix. Old Abd al-Wahhab’s home is protected in a new tourist haunt in the suburbs of Riyadh. Come to think of it, the national mosque of Qatar – hostile to rapacious Saudi Arabia but another recipient of US weapons and a supporter of Islamist forces in Syria and Iraq – has a capacity for 30,000 souls, was built only seven years ago and is named after Abd al-Wahhab himself.
This is the dangerous world in which America and its allies now tread, disdainful of the thousands of Muslims who perish under our bombs and missiles and mortars – proxy-delivered by those we should distrust – ignorant of the religious currents which rumble on beneath our feet and beneath the House of Saud. Even the virtually useless information Haspel learned in the CIA’s “black centres” could have told senators this. If they had bothered to ask.
“Sadly, we live in a period in history in which some of the nations that once held the greatest promise for the world are well on their way to becoming the most tyrannical…”
Periodically, I’ll encounter someone who has read one of my essays and has decided not to pursue them further, stating, “You’re one of those ‘End of the world’ guys. I can’t be bothered reading the writings of someone who thinks we’re all doomed. I have a more positive outlook than that.”
In actual fact, I agree entirely with his latter two comments. I can’t be bothered reading the thoughts of a writer who says we’re all doomed, either. I, too, have a more positive outlook than that.
My one discrepancy with such comments is that I don’t by any means think that the present state of events will lead to the end of the world, as he assumes.
But then, neither am I naïve enough to think that if I just hope for the best, the powers that be will cease to be parasitical and predatory out of sympathy for me. They will not.
For any serious student of history, one of the great realizations that occurs at some point is that governments are inherently controlling by nature. The more control they have, the more they desire and the more they pursue. After all, governments actually produce nothing. They exist solely upon what they can extract from the people they rule over. Therefore, their personal success is not measured by how well they serve their people, it’s measured by how much they can extract from the people.
And so, it’s a given that all governments will pursue ever-greater levels of power over their minions up to and including the point of total dominance.
It should be said that, on rare occasions, a people will rise up and create a governmental system in which the rights of the individual are paramount. This was true in the creation of the Athenian Republic and the American Constitution, and even the British Magna Carta.
However, these events are quite rare in history and, worse, as soon as they take place, those who gain power do their best to diminish the newly-gained freedoms.
Such freedoms can almost never be destroyed quickly, but, over time and “by slow operations,” as Thomas Jefferson was fond of saying, governments can be counted on to eventually destroy all freedoms.
We’re passing through a period in history in which the process of removing freedoms is nearing completion in many of the world’s foremost jurisdictions. The EU and US, in particular, are leading the way in this effort.
Consequently, it shouldn’t be surprising that some predict “the end of the world.” But, they couldn’t be more incorrect.
Surely, in 1789, the more productive people of France may have felt that the developing French Revolution would culminate in Armageddon. Similarly, in 1917, those who created prosperity in Russia may well have wanted to throw up their hands as the Bolsheviks seized power from the Romanovs.
Whenever a deterioration in rule is underway, as it is once again now, the observer has three choices:
There are many people, worldwide, but particularly in the centres of the present deterioration – the EU and US – who feel that, since the situation in their home country is nearing collapse, the entire world must also be falling apart. This is not only a very myopic viewpoint, it’s also quite inaccurate. At any point in civilization in the past 2000 years or more, there have always been empires that were collapsing due to intolerable governmental dominance and there have always concurrently been alternative jurisdictions where the level of freedom was greater. In ancient Rome, when Diocletian devalued the currency, raised taxes, increased warfare and set price controls, those people who actually created the economy on a daily basis found themselves in the same boat as Europeans and Americans are finding themselves in, in the 21st century.
It may have seemed like the end of the world, but it was not. Enough producers left Rome and started over again in other locations. Those other locations eventually thrived as a result of the influx of productive people, while Rome atrophied.
The US is going to extend its “combat operations” – the sanctions war aimed at reshaping the world – to Latin America.
This is less dreary than the above approach, but it is nevertheless just as fruitless. It is, in fact, the most common of reactions – to just “hope for the best.”
It’s tempting to imagine that maybe the government will realize that they’re the only ones benefiting from the destruction of freedom and prosperity and they’ll feel bad and reverse the process. But this clearly will not happen.
It’s also tempting to imagine that maybe it won’t get a whole lot worse and that life, although not all that good at present, might remain tolerable. Again, this is wishful thinking and the odds of it playing out in a positive way are slim indeed.
This, of course, is the hard one. Begin by recognizing the truth. If that truth is not palatable, study the situation carefully and, when a reasonably clear understanding has been reached, create an alternative.
When governments enter the final decline stage, an alternative is not always easy to accept. It’s a bit like having a tooth pulled. You want to put it off, but the pain will only get worse if you delay. And so, you trundle off to the dentist unhappily, but, a few weeks after the extraction, you find yourself asking, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
To be sure, those who investigate and analyze the present socio-economic-political deterioration do indeed espouse a great deal of gloom, but this should not be confused with doom.
In actual fact, the whole point of shining a light into the gloom is to avoid having it end in doom.
It should be said here that remaining in a country that is tumbling downhill socially, economically and politically is also not the end of the world. It is, however, true that the end result will not exactly be a happy one. If history repeats once again, it’s likely to be quite a miserable one.
Those who undertake the study of the present deterioration must, admittedly, address some pretty depressing eventualities and it would be far easier to just curl up on the sofa with a six-pack and watch the game, but the fact remains: unless the coming problems are investigated and an alternative found, those who sit on the sofa will become the victims of their own lethargy.
Sadly, we live in a period in history in which some of the nations that once held the greatest promise for the world are well on their way to becoming the most tyrannical. If by recognizing that fact, we can pursue better alternatives elsewhere on the globe, as people have done in previous eras; we may actually find that the field of daisies in the image above is still very much in existence, it’s just a bit further afield than it was in years gone by.
And it is absolutely worthy of pursuit.
The death of famous journalist Saudita Jamal Khashoggi is likely to have important repercussions, revealing the hypocrisy of the mainstream media, tensions inside the Saudi regime, and the double standards of Western countries.
On October 2nd, 2018, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was allegedly killed inside Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Turkey. The sequence of events seems to show that the murder was premeditated. Two days before his death, Khashoggi went to the Saudi embassy in Istanbul to obtain documents pertaining to his divorce in preparation to remarry in the United States. The Saudi embassy instructed him to return on October 2nd to collect the documents, which he duly did. He entered the embassy around 1pm on October 2nd but never exited. Khashoggi’s fiancée, after waiting several hours, raised the alarm as Khashoggi had instructed her to do should he not reemerge after two hours.
It is from here that we should start to reconstruct this story that resembles a science-fiction novel even by Saudi standards, a country that does not hesitate to kidnap heads of state, as was the case with the Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, about a year ago.
Jamal Khashoggi is a controversial figure, a representative of the shadowy world of collaboration that sometimes exists between journalism and the intelligence agencies, in this case involving the intelligence agencies of Saudi Arabia and the United States. It has been virtually confirmed by official circles within the Al Saud family that Khashoggi was an agent in the employ of Riyadh and the CIA during the Soviet presence in Afghanistan.
From 1991 to 1999, he continued to serve in several countries like Afghanistan, Algeria, Sudan, Kuwait and other parts of the Middle East, often maintaining an ambiguous role in the service of his friend Turki Faisal Al-Saud, the future Saudi ambassador to Washington and London and later supreme head of Saudi intelligence for 24 years.
Khashoggi was named editor of the leading English-language magazine in Saudi Arabia, Arab News, from 1999 to 2003. In late 2003, he transferred to Al Watan, one of the most liberal, Western and pro-reform newspapers in the country. His job lasted only 52 days, with him being removed strongly criticizing the Wahhabi clerical extremist Ibn Taymiyyah. Khashoggi had turned into a critical voice of the Saudi regime following the internal struggles between King Abdullah and Turki Faisal Al-Saud.
One of the main criticisms of Khashoggi coming from factions loyal to Abdullah was that he had recruited and paid several journalists on behalf of the CIA during his time as an editor. Such an accusation would conform with the widespread practice of the CIA seeking to influence the media, and therefore public opinion, and to put pressure on leaders failing to do what Washington wants.
To fully understand what has led to the disappearance of Khashoggi, it is important to dissect the career of Turki bin Faisal Al-Saud, Khashoggi’s political protector.
During the reign of King Khalid (1975-1982), Turki bin Faisal Al-Saud was at the center of relations between Washington and Saudi Arabia, committed to inflicting as much damage as possible on the USSR while it was in Afghanistan, with the help of foreign fighters (those who later became known as Al Qaeda) armed by Pakistan and financed by the Saudis. Following the end of the war in Afghanistan in 1982, Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud became king until 2005. During this period, Faisal became a respected man within Saudi intelligence, leading to him becoming the undisputed leader. He was removed from his post on May 24, 2001, a few months before September 11, 2001. The connections he had with Osama bin Laden, following the attacks of September 11, 2001, continued to hound the Turki bin Faisal in subsequent years, even being sued by relatives of 9/11 victims in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit directed at him and other Saudi operatives. From 2003 to 2005, Turki bin Faisal served as ambassador to the UK, emphasizing his role as a leading Saudi in the international community, and came across Khashoggi, taking him under his wing as a personal advisor.
In the ensuing years there was an explosive internal fracture within the Kingdom, accentuated by the death in 2005 of King Abdulaziz Al Saud, who was succeeded by King Abdullah until 2015.
In 2005, Turki bin Faisal was appointed Saudi ambassador to the US during the Bush administration, with Khashoggi accompanying him as a media advisor. During this period, Khashoggi became one of the strongest supporters of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, invoking diplomatic discussions between Riyadh and Tehran and travelling to over 37 American states to explain his point of view. While advancing the interests of the Saudi regime bent on Wahhabism, while at the same time being a friend to Israeli Zionism and the American neocons, Turki bin Faisal took a less extremist position, one more directed towards dialogue. For these reasons, he was not often received at the White House during his reign as ambassador, with the US administration openly preferring the extremist Bandar bin Sultan (a great friend of the Bush family) to the apparently moderate Turki bin Faisal.
The natural result was that King Abdullah excluded him more and more from the main meetings that occurred between the Saudis and the Americans. Finally, bin Faisal resigned in protest. He was succeeded by Bandar bin Sultan.
Back to Khashoggi. It is important to note that after his departure from Al Watan he moved to London and became a senior advisor in Turki bin Faisal’s team. During Turki bin Faisal’s ambassadorship in Washington, Khashoggi assumed the position of head of press relations, coming into direct contact with major national and international organs of US media.
In the years following Turki bin Faisal’s ambassadorship in Washington, Khashoggi became a new publisher of the liberal Saudi newspaper Al Watan, publishing an article that was highly critical of the Saudi clerics and of Salafism in general. A few days later, he was again forced to resign and left the newspaper. It was after this event that Khashoggi came into direct contact with Al-Waleed bin Talal, one of the richest men in Saudi Arabia, who had been appointed director of the Al Arab news channel based in Bahrain. The news channel sought to offer an impartial and objective view of events in the Middle East and in Saudi Arabia. As director of Al Arab, he often released statements and interviews for international organs like the BBC, ABC News, Al Jazeera and Dubai TV. In recent years, he became a recurring guest on Al Jazeera and had a weekly column in The Washington Post.
What happened to Khashoggi is the story not so much of a dissident as of a struggle within the highly complicated Zionist-Saudi-Neoconservative nexus that is intertwined with the struggle against the neoliberal component of US imperialism. It is a story that deserves to be fully explored to understand the behind-the-scenes struggles that afflict US politics, the hypocrisy of the media when it comes to the Saudi dictatorship, and the ambiguous role of Turkey.
Returning to Khashoggi, it was during the Obama presidency that the journalist played a primary role in encouraging important reforms in Saudi Arabia as being essential to the survival of the Kingdom. During this time, relations between Riyadh and Washington steadily worsened for many reasons, primarily in regard to diverging policies on Egypt and Syria as well as on human rights in Saudi Arabia.
Many in the Saudi royal family suspected that Obama was willing to use the Arab springs to get rid of the Al Saud family in Saudi Arabia. The relationship between Riyadh and Washington subsequently sunk to an all-time low. Khashoggi was the spearhead of this media and political strategy against Riyadh. An intimate friend of the royal family who ends up publicly criticizing them causes quite a stir, selling copies and drawing attention to what he writes.
Keep in mind that we are splitting the atom of the Saudi universe. But it should never be forgotten that we are talking about a regime that tortures and kills its fellow citizens as well foreigners. It is a regime that creates terrorism as a weapon used to further its own political goals. These are not people burdened by moral scruples.
Yet in spite of this, no country is monolithic in terms of those who hold the reigns of power, especially when it comes to foreign affairs. It is the competing views and internal struggles that determine the course of events, as with the case of Khashoggi’s death.
During the Obama administration, the former Saudi intelligence man and intimate of the royals continued to work as a house organ linked to the US world of soft power (color revolutions, Arab Spring), the form of power that was particularly favored by the Obama administration as a new strategy to extend US imperialist domination following the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan. The criticism of the Saudi royal family was constant, even though the journalist appreciated the role Riyadh played in the region, especially with regard to the aggression against Syria.
In the following years, with the rise to power of King Salman, and especially after the victory of Donald Trump, everything changed for the worse in the region and for the “dissident” journalist. Bin Salman became the strongman holding power in Saudi Arabia, triggering, with a nod from Trump, a near war with Qatar, especially over the role of Al Jazeera, which often hosted Khashoggi and was increasingly critical of bin Salman and his vision for the Kingdom’s future (Vision 2030).
During bin Salman’s campaign of repression, the King’s nephew took the opportunity to attack all his opponents, with many people close to Khashoggi being arrested, tortured and killed. His old acquaintance in particular, Al-Waleed bin Talal, was arrested and tortured, much to the displeasure of the West, given that he was one of the most famous Saudis abroad, being involved with companies like Twitter. In a climax of repression, even the Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, was kidnapped and spirited to Riyadh to be re-educated over a number of days. Khashoggi sensed the looming danger, and in 2017 escaped from Saudi Arabia to settle in the United States.
Khashoggi continued with his columns criticizing the Saudi regime, attacking its campaign in Yemen on Al Jazeera, and accusing bin Salman of being anything but a positive revolutionary for the Kingdom. Khashoggi’s criticism pointed to the lack of democracy as well as the sclerosis at the top in the Saudi kingdom, accusations that bin Salman chafed at, finally deciding to be rid of the journalist.
The events in Istanbul are the culmination of a grotesque situation whereby Donald Trump has granted a free hand to his two close allies in the region, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Analyzing the actions of these two countries over the last 24 months, the extent of Washington’s carte blanche has become clear.
We could venture into fanciful speculation about Khashoggi’s death, citing anonymous Saudi sources; or we could simply come to the most obvious conclusion. Khashoggi was arrested in the embassy before being tortured, killed and dismembered by about 15 Saudi operatives who arrived in Istanbul on a day flight from Riyadh and departed a few hours after Khashoggi’s killing. It is hard to believe that the Turkish services, which have always played the double- and triple-crossing game, did not know what was happening. Khashoggi himself had probably received assurances that the Saudi embassy in Istanbul was a safe place to collect the documents. He was obviously betrayed by someone in whom he had strong trust.
Turkey is a strong ally of Qatar and plays a major role in the region. Relations between Riyadh and Ankara have not been the best in recent years, but their common interests in the region are so high that it is not surprising that Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization has closed more than one eye to allow Khashoggi’s assassination and the exit of the 15 operatives. Besides, Erdogan was well aware of the problems that this story would have created between the United States and Saudi Arabia, especially within the ranks of the liberal media of the US establishment.
The problems flowing from this settling of internal accounts are manifold. They range from the indignation of such mainstream media as The Washington Post, CNN and ABC News that are beginning to reveal grisly details about Khashoggi’s death, even if they treat the news with detachment, not openly attributing blame to Riyadh. Saudi money from various lobbies dampens the effect of such media attention, succeeding in dissuading direct accusations of Saudi involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance. The more time that passes the more obvious it becomes how Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate on the orders of bin Salman as a critic of the Kingdom. At some point, the mainstream media will no longer be able to cover up for the Saudis. It all comes down to the possibility of plausible deniability or legitimate justification. Both these elements are difficult for the US to employ in this case.
The upshot is an explosive situation that threatens to further isolate Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States from the rest of the world. Thus the White House had to even express in an official note confusion and concern, asking the Saudis to provide real evidence of Khashoggi’s exit from the Saudi consulate. We must also consider that Riyadh planned to blame Turkey for the disappearance of the journalist, stating that, having come out from the embassy, the disappearance was the fault of Turkey.
It is not surprising, therefore, that Erdogan has insisted that “the burden of demonstrating how Khashoggi is still alive belongs to Saudi Arabia.” Even the tour of the consulate offered to foreign journalists has failed to silence what seems too obvious. Riyadh overreached following Trump’s wink and nod, eliminating an uncomfortable voice that was also very close to Riyadh’s geopolitical enemies like Qatar as well the US neoliberal faction (linked to Obama and to the faction close to the Muslim Brotherhood, outlawed in Saudi Arabia because it presents itself as a political alternative to the state religion of Wahhabism).
In an series of reckless actions, the last 12 months have seen all sorts of provocations from Israel, the US and Saudi Arabia. There was the downing of a Russian Il-20 through the intentionally reckless maneuvers of Israeli pilots, the more than 200 bombings on the sovereign state of Syria, cooperation with Riyadh in the war in Yemen, the threats to Hezbollah and Iran that Netanyahu even proclaimed in front of the United Nations General Assembly. Saudi Arabia even managed to do worse, with the abduction of the Lebanese prime minister, the continued funding of extremists like Daesh and al Qaeda, the nefarious actions against Qatar and Iran, the bombing of Yemen, and recently the killing of a journalist in a Saudi embassy. For its part, the US in recent days has made two unthinkable declarations, namely, threatening a first strike against Moscow to eliminate some military weaponry, as well as a naval blockade to prevent energy exports.
With the Khashoggi incident and the ensuing media outcry, the ideological hatred of the mainstream media against Trump and the increasingly precarious situation of Netanyahu (accused of corruption, with his wife also being investigated), it should not be surprising if this latest incident only serves as ammunition in the political war amongst the elite that shows no signs of subsiding and is instead growing in intensity by the day.
One of the last alliances that the United States has available to influence events in the Middle East risks falling apart as a result of bin Salman’s ill-advised actions. Erdogan has already challenged the Saudis by asking them to prove that the journalist is alive. There is open speculation in the Kingdom about the implications of the clash between Ankara and Riyadh and between bin Salman and Erdogan. There are those who are willing to bet that this latest reckless action could prove fatal for the ruler who, after just a year and a half, seems to have exhausted his whole store of experience as the Kingdom’s young despot.
Sept 5, 2018
The question often arises in liberty movement circles as to how we get to the point of full-blown tyranny within a society. There are numerous factors that determine this outcome, but through all the various totalitarian systems in history there are common denominators – elements that must be there for tyrants to prevail. When we can identify these common elements in an objective manner, we make it far more difficult for despotic structures to stand.
This is a very complex issue, but I’ll break it down as best as I’m able…
The Psychology Of The Tyrant
To come to terms with how tyrants control society, we must first examine how the mind of a tyrant operates, because these people do not in most cases think the way average human beings think. It is one of the few cases in which I would encourage people to “otherize” another group. Tyrants are psychologically abnormal to such an extreme that is difficult to classify them as human.
I believe the key to understanding the motivations of tyrants and where these people come from rests on our understanding of narcissistic sociopathy. I wrote about this extensively in my article ‘Global Elitists Are Not Human,’ so I will only give a summary here.
Narcissistic and sociopathic traits, like many psychological traits, are inborn. They are present in about 5% to 10% of any society at any given time. In the vast majority of cases, these traits remain “latent” and do not affect a person’s actions or relationships to a great extent. In a minority of cases, however, narcissism and sociopathy become the defining factors of a person’s psyche. This occurs in less that 1% of a population.
To be clear, not all narcissists are sociopaths and not all sociopaths are narcissists. There are people who are low-level narcissists who excel in society and retain a conscience. There are low-level sociopaths in society that serve important functions in careers that empathetic people would find difficult, such as certain jobs in the military, or in the medical field. What I am referring to here are HIGH LEVEL narcissistic sociopaths – the kind of people who become murderers, rapists, pedophiles, and yes, tyrants.
A sociopathic narcissist is motivated by personal desire only. They are incapable of empathy for others and see people as a kind of food and fuel source rather than fellow travelers in life. They consider their lack of conscience as an evolutionary advantage; a tool that helps them to survive and thrive by trampling, stealing, manipulating and killing if necessary without guilt or regret.
You would think these creatures would be easy to pick out in a crowd, but it is not always so simple. They have the ability to mimic behaviors of those around them in order to appear more human. Sometimes this does give them away because they can’t help but parrot or steal behaviors and mannerisms from people they meet to the point of obviousness. For those inexperienced with narcissistic sociopaths, though, the tactic works for a time, because what people think they see is someone just like them; a reflection. Imagine it as a survival mechanism, like a chameleon.
For some tyrants, the ability makes them endearing to the public for a time. They can be many things to many groups, and their ability to lie convincingly is exceptional. They climb the ladder of success quickly, and build systems that allow them to prosper. They do have doubts and weaknesses, though.
They are in most cases cowardly. They prefer to get what they want through subversion and trickery, and they run from direct confrontation. They prefer to use other people (useful idiots) as weapons or shields rather than risk facing off with their ideological opponents. As parasites, they focus on the weak-minded or the fragile.
They desperately want admiration from the very people they victimize. Therefore, they are constantly forced to play roles in order to appear normal. They do not like this. They feel that it is below their station in life to pander, and they are convinced that they should be worshiped as they are, not worshiped for the fraudulent image they have constructed. They want to “come out of the closet,” in a sense, as a narcissistic sociopath, but if they do under a stable social climate they will be shunned or burned at the stake. They sometimes band together for protection, and are willing to work with each other as long as there is mutual benefit.
Thus, these “people” seek to create chaos, and then to reorder society to act more like they act, or think more like they think. When the masses have been convinced to abandon conscience, then the monsters can come out into the light of day without fear.
Here is how they achieve this goal, and how average people help them do it…
Almost all bad situations start with false assumptions based on bias rather than facts or evidence. The most dangerous assumption when it comes to tyranny is to say “we are in the right, therefore we are not supporting tyranny.” The question that needs to be asked, though, is are they really “right” according to the facts? If the answer is “no,” then they are probably fueling a tyrannical system.
First and foremost, many human beings want to be “right” more than they want to be correct. That is to say, they are happy to “win” arguments and conflicts regardless of whether or not the truth is on their side. This bias is the root of many catastrophes in history.
This is not to say that they don’t have a conscience. Most people in fact do have a conscience that tells them their assumptions are wrong, but they can still commit acts of stupidity and atrocity. This is where tyrannical manipulators tend to help them along.
Tyrants find great joy in creating all kinds of logical fallacies, mental gymnastics and morally relative sales pitches in order to convince a group of people that their wrong assumptions are right. The truth becomes foggy and evidence becomes unnecessary. In this state of mind, when individuals melt together into a mob, assumptions become cult dictates and “winning” becomes paramount. False assumptions and biases can be used to turn normal upstanding people into monsters, all because they refused to accept that their ideological position was flawed; all because they were afraid to feel embarrassed or admit they had been conned.
The taking of sides in political discourse is natural and normal. Even when people are entirely honest about the facts on hand and agree on basic principles of human decency and freedom, they will STILL disagree on what solutions should be used to deal with the problems in front of them. This creates a spectrum within society that is ever-present; it cannot be helped or avoided. Tyrants understand the basis of this spectrum and try to use it to their advantage to manipulate people away from thoughtful discourse and towards mindless conflict.
Tyrants exploit the masses more easily when people assume that corrupt political and social leaders are working for “their side” against the “other side.” Often these leaders can be bought or threatened into subservience. Tyrants then use them to drive the spectrum to the furthest opposites, until both sides adopt an attitude of zealotry.
This happens not only in politics, but in geopolitics, as entire nations are driven to war with each other by puppet presidents and governments over engineered conflicts that only ever benefit the cabal of tyrants behind the curtain.
Zealotry And False Narratives
I view zealotry as a kind of psychological disease that is actually communicable – it spreads like a virus through a culture until everyone is infected. Zealotry happens when a person embraces an ideology to the point that it overrides their personality and their soul, and they are no longer able to think clearly as an individual. This includes considering the possibility that they are on the wrong side of history and morality.
Zealotry on a mass scale depends on a number of dominoes set in succession. The threat of civil breakdown and economic suffering helps. Ideological opponents must be painted as an eminent and vile threat to the very fabric of society. In some cases they are a real and created threat (controlled opposition); in other cases they are a paper tiger meant to drive another group to support tyrannical measures.
Tyrants build false narratives. This is what they do best. They encourage people to unknowingly become villains, or they accuse innocent groups of villainy in order to sow division. They need all sides to see everyone else either as an ally or an enemy. There is no in-between. If a person does not conform to the views of the zealot, then he must be immediately treated as a threat. This causes an endless echo chamber which destroys all dissent or disagreement, no matter how rational.
Zealots operate primarily on fear, making them easy prey for tyrants. And as some nerd somewhere once said, “Fear is the mind killer; fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.”
Apathy And False Hope
More than anything else, tyrants desire an apathetic population. Apathy breeds complacency and inaction, and it also encourages delusional thinking. Apathetic people tend towards the philosophy of pacifism as a means to vindicate their own behavior, but this is merely a mask designed to hide their fear. They might fear suffering, they might fear loss, they might fear failure, but they certainly have fear, and it stops them from standing in the way of developments that they know are evil in nature and that require an aggressive response.
Apathy can also be bred into a society through the use of false hopes. Tyrants conjure scenarios in which the public is made to believe positive “change” is about to take place, usually through politics. But, there will be no change for the better beyond the cosmetic. Things only get worse. In this process of conditioning, tyrants raise up the hopes of the masses, and then dash them to the ground over and over, until the public gives up.
The problem is not that things cannot change for the better, but that the public keeps playing by the rules of a game fabricated by the very people who are causing their misery. Stepping outside the constraints of that game requires us to take matters into our own hands rather than waiting around for others to make changes for us. It requires risk. If the farce of tyranny is to ever end, all awake and aware people will have to take many risks.
I have heard it argued that tyranny is a natural and inevitable product of human society. That tyrants cannot be avoided, that they will always exist and any attempt to remove them will result in them only being replaced with other tyrants. This is the pinnacle of the pathetic mindset. It is the dark void of nihilism.
One could also argue that there is no point to washing ourselves because we are just going to get dirty again tomorrow. But these people would eventually die of disease. If tyranny is a human constant, then rebellion must also be a human constant, otherwise, humanity dies or is turned into something unrecognizable.
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Our “corporate coup d’état in slow motion,” as the writer John Ralston Saul calls it, has opened a Pandora’s box of evils that is transforming America into a failed state. The “unholy trinity of corruption, impunity and violence,” he said, can no longer be checked. The ruling elites abjectly serve corporate power to exploit and impoverish the citizenry. Democratic institutions, including the courts, are mechanisms of corporate repression. Financial fraud and corporate crime are carried out with impunity. The decay is exacerbated by the state’s indiscriminate use of violence abroad and at home, where rogue law enforcement agencies harass and arrest citizens and the undocumented and often kill the unarmed. A depressed and enraged population, trapped by chronic unemployment and underemployment, is overdosing on opioids and beset by rising suicide rates. It engages in acts of nihilistic violence, including mass shootings. Hate groups proliferate. The savagery, mayhem and grotesque distortions familiar to those on the outer reaches of empire increasingly characterize American existence. And presiding over it all is the American version of Ubu Roi, playwright Alfred Jarry’s gluttonous, idiotic, vulgar, narcissistic and infantile king, who turned politics into burlesque.
“Congress works through corruption,” Saul, the author of books such as “Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West” and “The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World,” said when we spoke in Toronto. “I look at Congress and I see the British Parliament in the late 18th century, the rotten boroughs. Did they have elections? Yes. Were the elections exciting? Yes. They were extremely exciting.”
Rotten boroughs were the 19th-century version of gerrymandering. The British oligarchs created electoral maps through which depopulated boroughs—50 of them had fewer than 50 voters—were easily dominated by the rich to maintain control of the House of Commons. In the United States, our ruling class has done much the same, creating districts where incumbents, who often run unchallenged, return to Congress election after election. Only about 40 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives are actually contested. And given the composition of the Supreme Court, especially with Donald Trump poised to install another justice, it will get worse.
The corruption of the British system was amended in what Saul called “a wave upwards.” The 1832 Reform Act abolished a practice in which oligarchs, such as Charles Howard, the 11th Duke of Norfolk, controlled the election results in 11 boroughs. The opening up of the British parliamentary system took nearly a century. In the United States, Saul said, the destruction of democracy is part of “a wave downwards.”
The two political parties are one party—the corporate party. They do not debate substantive issues. They each support the expansion of imperial wars, the bloated military budget, the dictates of global capitalism, the bailing out of Wall Street, punishing austerity measures, assaulting basic civil liberties through wholesale government surveillance and the abolition of due process, and an electoral process that has cemented into place a system of legalized bribery. They battle over cultural tropes such as abortion, gay rights and prayer in schools. We elect politicians based on how we are made to feel about them by the public relations industry. Politics is anti-politics.
The Republican Party built its political base in these culture wars around Christian fascists, nativists and white supremacists. The Democratic Party built its base around those who supported workers’ rights, multiculturalism, diversity and gender equality. The base of each party was used and manipulated by elites. The Republican Party elites had no intention of banning abortion or turning America into a “Christian nation.” The Democratic Party elites had no intention of protecting workers from predatory corporatism. Everyone was sold out. The ascendancy of a populist right, dominated by racists and bigots, is the inevitable product of the corporate coup d’état, Saul said. He warned we should not be complacent because of President Trump’s imbecility. Trump is immensely dangerous. “The insipid,” Thomas Mann wrote in “The Magic Mountain,” “is not synonymous with the harmless.”
“How could a civilization devoted to structure, expertise and answers evolve into other than a coalition of professional groups?” Saul asked in “Voltaire’s Bastards.” “How, then, could the individual citizen not be seen as a serious impediment to getting on with business? This has been obscured by the proposition of painfully simplified abstract notions which are divorced from any social reality and presented as values.”
“The rational elites, obsessed by structure, have become increasingly authoritarian in a modern, administrative way,” he wrote in another section of the book. “The citizens feel insulted and isolated. They look for someone to throw stones on their behalf. Any old stone will do. The cruder the better to crush the self-assurance of the obscure men and their obscure methods. The New Right, with its parody of democratic values, has been a crude but devastating stone with which to punish the modern elites.”
All despotic regimes, Saul said, carry out their final battle for control by contending against public officials and government bureaucrats, the so-called deep state, which views the rise to power of demagogues and their sleazy enablers with alarm. These traditional courtiers, often cynical, ambitious, amoral and subservient to corporate power, nevertheless engage in the decorum and language of democracy. A few with a conscience win minor skirmishes to slow the rise of tyranny. Despots see these courtiers and democratic institutions, no matter how anemic, as a threat. This explains the assaults on the State Department, the Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Education and the courts. Despots use their appointees to undermine and destroy these institutions, mocking their existence and questioning the loyalty of the professionals who staff them. The reviled and neutered public employee surrenders or walks away in despair. Last year, the entire senior level of management officials resigned at the State Department. Resignations continue to bleed the diplomatic core, as they do at other agencies and departments, and last week included James D. Melville Jr., the U.S. ambassador to Estonia, and Susan Thornton, the nominee to be assistant secretary for East Asian affairs.
“For the President to say the EU was ‘set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank,’ or that ‘NATO is as bad as NAFTA’ is not only factually wrong, but proves to me that it’s time to go,” Melville said in the post that announced his resignation.
Once a process of deconstruction is complete, the system calcifies into tyranny. There remain no internal mechanisms, even in name, to carry out reform. This corrosive process is being played out daily in Trump’s Twitter rages, lies, smears and the barrage of insults he levels against public servants, including some of his own appointees, such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as well as institutions such as the FBI.
Witnessing this, Saul berates the American press too, which he said willingly plays its part in the charade for ratings and advertising dollars.
“Trump gives these astonishingly Mussolini-ish press conferences,” he said. “He says to the press, ‘Shut up. Stop!’ The press screams at him like a mob, a bunch of cattle. How can they be taken seriously? It is like the end of the Roman Republic. Important political leaders from the Senate, along with their rivals, would move around Rome with 50 people to protect them. Scenes, exactly like Trump’s interactions with the press, defined the end of the Roman Republic. Nobody knew what was going on. There was no dignity. You can’t have a democracy without a level of respect and dignity. You only have chaos. This chaos eventually leads to a call for autocratic order. Trump benefits from the confusion, even though he resembles a cartoonish figure out of a funny novel, a character from Jean Genet’s ‘The Balcony,’ although without the self-awareness.”
Trump’s decision to launch a trade war—Canada will impose punitive measures on $12.63 billion worth of imported American goods in response—is an example of the damage a despot who has little understanding of the economy, politics, international relations or law can do. These self-inflicted wounds, Saul warned, see despots intensify attacks on the demonized and the vulnerable, such as Muslims and the undocumented. Despots frantically scapegoat others for their mess, often inciting violence among their supporters to placate an inchoate rage.
“I’ve always opposed trade deals not because I oppose trade,” Saul said, “or because I thought they were about getting a fair balance in the trade, but because the trade deals were about something else. They were about deregulation. They were about handing power to corporations and banks. They weren’t about trade. Trump has again and again attacked the Canadian dairy system. Nobody has stopped to ask him, ‘Why are you opposing this instead of adopting it for yourself?’ A lot of American dairy farmers would like to have the Canadian system.”
“The free market approach to agriculture produces a surplus that drives prices down and destroys the income of farmers,” Saul said. “There are two ways of responding to this. One of them is subsidizing. Europe, following the old social democratic approach, subsidizes their agricultural sector. This drives down the income of farmers, so [the governments] subsidize [agriculture] more. They have enormous surpluses. Periodically, they’re throwing millions of tomatoes on the streets.”
“The United States claims it embraces the free market, but it does the same thing as the Europeans,” Saul said. “It too heavily subsidizes the agricultural industry. This leads to American dairy farmers producing too much milk. This economic argument says the way to win is to mass-produce cheap goods. This is the Walmart argument. You’re not selling your milk or cheese for enough to make a living. The end result is, even though you subsidize them, the farmers go bankrupt. They commit suicide. You have terrible unhappiness in the [U.S.] dairy community.”
“We have a very efficient management system in Canada that keeps the prices up, not so high that working-class people can’t buy milk and cheese, but it keeps the prices up high enough that farmers can make a proper living,” Saul said. “Because farmers can make a proper living they’re not committing suicide. What Trump is saying to Canadians is that they should give up a system that works so Canadian farmers can commit suicide with American farmers.”
“The problem with the Western world is surplus production,” Saul said. “We’re in surplus production in almost every area. But there is a terrible distribution system where people around the globe suffer and die from starvation. This is a distribution problem, not a production problem.”
Saul said the imposition of tariffs and the crude insults Trump uses against American allies—he called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “dishonest and weak”—are rapidly destroying America’s clout and standing in the global hierarchy. This behavior is having very negative political, economic and social consequences for the United States.
“The whole world, the Western world in particular, invested enormously in the idea that the United States is the leader,” Saul said. “The idea that the United States is to be admired. What’s sad about it is Americans take it for granted that the world loves them. They’ve never analyzed the responsibilities that come with being the leader. It’s what you expect from a good parent. You act in a certain way. People want to identify with the United States. It’s been that way since the Second World War. All this is being thrown away. Like or dislike Obama, he rebuilt a great part of the world’s admiration for the United States. I know what his failures were. But I also know his strengths. He was a president who was capable of acting and talking like the intelligent, civilized American that everyone wants to admire.”
“But there’s always a shadow to the bright tower,” Saul went on. “Trump’s feeding that shadow. ‘Americans are stupid. Americans are corrupt. Americans are not educated. Americans can’t be trusted.’ The whole list. The longer the chaos goes on, the worse it gets.”
The collapse of the legislative and executive branches of government has now been accompanied by the collapse of the judiciary. The loss of an independent judiciary, Saul warned, is especially ominous.
“The biggest problem in the United States is a very powerful and deeply corrupted Supreme Court,” Saul said. “This will set patterns for decades. It will be hard to undo the evil being put into place.”
Saul despaired, at the same time, over the Trump administration’s attack on public education, which he called “the most fundamental service of government when it comes to a democracy.”
“What holds democracy up?” Saul asked. “What makes democracy work? Public education is number one. A well-educated citizen. [Secretary of Education] Betsy DeVos is undoing that. There is a special place for her in hell.”
U.S. trading partners and allies such as Canada and European states will, he said, reduce their dependence on the American market. The traditional strategic and political ties to Washington will be steadily weakened. And when the next financial crash comes, and Saul expects one to come, the United States will be bereft of partners when it needs them most.
“If you treat your closest allies as a threat, who is going to stand with you?” he asked.
Featured image: Cinta in pink shirt
Her name is Cinta, which in Bahasa Indonesia means simply Love.
She lives in a tiny village near Sukadana town, in Indonesian West Kalimantan, otherwise known as Borneo – the biggest island in Asia, the second biggest in the world – now totally destroyed by unbridled logging, palm oil plantations and mining,perpetrated by countless,and due to corruption and savage capitalism, unregulated local and multi-national companies.
Nearby Sukadana there is a national park, Gunung Palung. It is vast and by Indonesian standards, well guarded, although even here, at its edges, several desperate local people are beginning to burn the ancient forest, while engaging in various other nature-destroying commercial activities.
I talked to them and soon I understood: they actually have no choice. Nothing is given to them by the state, and they have to live. They have to survive, somehow.
I talked to Cinta’s mother. She has no money, and no mobile phone. She has been to the nearby city only once in her entire life, and it was when a relative of hers got seriously ill. After talking for several minutes, mother begins to cry; desperate, humiliated and helpless.
I asked her whether the family realizes that the political and economic system in her country is thoroughly rotten. She nodded.
I asked whether she knows that in many other countries things are very different. She has no idea.She stared at me, blankly. This remote village was her entire universe. She never heard anything about socialism or communism or even about stuff like social democracy. After the great massacres of the leftists and intellectuals after the Western-orchestrated 1965 coup, even the word ‘Communism’ became illegal, as a prominent Indonesian historian Asvi Marvan Adam told me. Banned also were words like ‘class’, just in case anyone would like to ignite ‘class struggle’.
Cinta’s family thinks, and they say that they know, that Western multi-party ‘democracy’ is a total farce. With dozens of competing political parties (all owned by Indonesian businessmen and right-wingers), local poor people (the great majority of Indonesia’s inhabitants) have absolutely no power, no say in the way their country is being governed.
It is not only in Indonesia, of course, although Indonesia is an extreme, almost grotesque case. I was told several years earlier by a Cambodian peasant near the border with Vietnam:
“Vietnamese have only one political party – Communist – but their people participate in governing their nation much more than we, Cambodians do, despite the fact that we have several political parties. When we get sick, we have to cross the border to Vietnam and we get help. When we get hungry, we do the same. You see; you cannot eat political parties, no matter how many of them there are…”
The peasant at the Cambodia-Vietnam border knows intimately two totally distinct political systems, because he lived just 500 meters from the borderline. But even in the capital, Phnom Penh, where anti-Communism is something resembling a new religion and has been already converted into the best ‘prerequisite’ for getting a well-paid job at an international NGO or at a foreign embassy, the situation is thoroughly different. There, conveniently, nobody knows anything. The only way is the Western way, with its clichés and pre-fabricated simplistic slogans.
The West is manufacturing simplistic, uniformed and one-sided ‘pseudo reality’ for all of its colonies and client states. It is one-type-fits-all sort of ‘pseudo reality’, intended to sustain collaborators and their regimes and to make the voices of people who are tormented, completely irrelevant. In fact, those who are robbed of everything are not supposed to even realize that they are being bled.
Actually, the majority of people who live in the neo-colonies are fully aware of the fact that they are suffering, but do not understand why? They tend to blame themselves, or each other: for being too lazy, too irresponsible, for producing too many children, or simply for not knowing how to compete or to get ahead.
Moreover in some countries where the propaganda is too extreme (like in Indonesia), many do not even realize, anymore, into what deep shit they have been thrown.
A few years ago, when I was filming the documentary film “Surabaya – Eaten Alive By Capitalism” (for the Latin American network TeleSur), I literally stumbled over a woman who was living in a slum, washing her dishes just a few steps away downstream from a place where a child was naked and defecating into the same polluted waterway. She had no electricity, no clean water, and her ‘house’ was made from rusty metal sheets. I asked her how she felt about being so poor, while just few steps away rich people were burning money as if there was no tomorrow in a luxury mall. She looked at me for a few moments, then grabbed a broom and chased me down the gangway, screaming like possessed:
“How dare you insult me like that? You called me poor? I’m not poor!”
A few months later, in the enormous Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya, a gangster with the nickname Fire,literally cried in front of my camera:
“I’m 32 year old, but I feel so old… I had several friends but they are all dead; I’m the only one who is still alive.”
He wanted to ‘make it’, to ‘help his slum’, to change his life and the lives of his neighbors. But he was not aware of the fact that some great and fundamental change could come from a revolution, from a radical change. All his life he was told that the only way forward was some sort of personal ‘improvement’, because the system in which he had been living was essentially right and just.
In that system, of course, the great majority of people are living in misery – they are terribly abused, exploited and unprotected. The violence, terribly low life expectancy and hopelessness are just logical by-products of a brutal neo-colonialist and turbo-capitalist system; they are not the results of shortcomings of a specific group of people or of some individuals.
Fire was very intelligent. I told him then, personally, what I’m writing here now. He understood. He understood well. But when we were parting, he said:
“I agree with you, but people here were never told any of these things. Almost nobody comprehends what is going on in our slums. We are only taught how to blame each other. Nobody here would ever blame the UK or the US. We were all told that our misery is fully our own fault.”
In Northern Kenya, not that far from the border with war-torn Somalia, I once visited a neat wildlife preservation facility. There were cute orphaned rhinos being taken care of by well-trained staff, as well as other protected but endangered species. The facility was owned and administered by a British family, and there was very high fee charged at the gate.
After the visit, when I drove out, right outside the gate,which was manned by two robust dudes armed with submachine guns, I spotted two humble crosses. As I drove further down the dirt road, there were more and more crosses on both sides of my car. I stopped at a local deprived grocery store and asked about what I saw. A wrinkled woman explained to me in her broken English:
“There is a drought here… a famine… People die while they try to get away; they drop dead… Villagers have no strength to carry them back; they just bury them on the spot.”
Protecting animals is often very good business, an excellent commodity. Animals are cute, and they look (and often really are) defenseless. People who are starving are rough, unrefined, and scary-looking. Those who are dying from hunger or disease are far from enchanting. Saving their lives is often not such a good business.
I asked a food seller: “They feed, wash and shrink animals, but not people?”
She had no idea what ‘shrink’meant, but about the other things she was sure:
“We are worth nothing. We are poor.”
I asked her whether she was angry, whether she found this system insane, beastly, in short: absolutely repulsive?
Her big hands were rough, carved with deep wrinkles. The wrinkles looked like those dry rivers around Nairobi. Then I saw her eyes and I realized: she was most likely younger than me, perhaps in her early 30’s. She looked 60 or older. She looked like she will most likely not live much longer.
She looked back at me:
“Angry? Why? It is all in His hands”.
She looked up.
I looked down. ‘That’, I thought ‘is definitely not going help you’. Then I bought five cans of condensed milk that I didn’t need, and some crackers.
I drove away; angry like hell, going 100km/h on narrow dirt tracks, cloud a of dust behind me, rising towards the sky.
Later, my Ugandan friend, a leading left-wing politician Arthur Tewungwa, wrote to me:
“The animals roam on land that has fuck all to do with Kenyans per se. Madness! Lord Aberdare owns 300,000 acres, Cholmondely the same etc. Elephants, rhinos, hippos are pests to poor villagers and they can’t anyway afford to go and see them as they are shuffled across the border by “beaters” depending on which side tourists are. Comedy!”
But it is a comedy, which ruins tens of thousands of human lives, while nobody dares to protest.
It is often simply unbelievable, how people who have been robbed of everything, are fooled into believing that in this wide world there are absolutely no alternatives and no better arrangements for society. Or they were taught not to think at all along these lines.
Religions help to keep poor and plundered people in submission, of course, and the West has historically both been implanting and then supporting the most radical forms of religion, in virtually all of its colonies. Not just one sort of religion, but all of them, the more extreme and fundamentalist, the better.
For three full years I lived in the South Pacific, where I wrote a book, I believe the only one of its kind, describing the terrible plight of Micronesia, Melanesia and Micronesia – a part of the world which is being literally liquidated by the various cruel geopolitical and military interests of the US, Australia, New Zealand, UK, France and Taiwan. The book is called Oceania.
There, some island nations including Tuvalu, Kiribati and Marshall Islands, are literally disappearing from the face of the Earth, or more precisely becoming uninhabitable because of climate change and the rising of ocean levels.
People are forced to evacuate their countries. But are they blaming imperialism, unbridled capitalism, and Western selfishness? Far from it! All the newspapers and media outlets are to some extent controlled by the foreigners, through ‘foreign aid’ or through the ‘educating and training’ of local journalists abroad. The education system is dependent on foreign funding as well. Consequently, capitalism is never questioned. Western imperialism is hardly ever mentioned.
The streets of Apia, the capital of Samoa, or of any other capital in Oceania, are no strangers to tall, blond young men wearing white shirts and black nametags that read Jesus Christ. They are ‘ambassadors’; they belong to all sorts of extremist religious movements and fundamentalist Christian sects based in the United States, from Jehovah Witnesses to Mormons.
Churches in Oceania are brutally exploiting most of the poor and helpless citizens. They are literally blackmailing parishioners into paying unreasonably high dues. There is constant fear of sexual abuse and rape on their premises, but there is also the tremendous pressure of local ‘cultures’ to force all islanders into religious straightjackets. There is also absolutely no criticism of these practices from the West. Why? The answer is simple: extremist religious practices keep people in total ignorance and full obedience towards religion itself, towards the feudal family structures, but also towards the economic and political regimes. And all the political regimes of Oceania are corrupted and upheld by the Western powers and lately by Taiwan.
And so, the West (US, UK and France) have been blowing up their nukes in this part of the world, essentially experimenting on people, but there is hardly any ideological challenge that Europe, US and Australia have to face here, perhaps with the certain exception of France in its colonies.
The US shoots long-range missiles from California to the center of the largest atoll in the world – Kwajalein on the Marshall Islands – but no one is taught that it is all an absolute insanity. ‘Kwaj’ proper is off limits to almost all people (it is fully controlled by the US military) who are only allowed to work on the base as manual workers, commuting by filthy ferry from the horrid and overpopulated nearby island of Ebeye. Around 90% of the people on Ebeye are suffering from diabetes, because they are literally forced to eat shit, as the country, like most of Oceania,has become (already some decades ago) a dumping ground for the most unhealthy food produced in the US, Australia and New Zealand.
Both the former Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, Tony deBrum, as well as the Paramount Chief Mike Kabua, once told me how outraged they were, but do common people realize what has been and is being done to them?
First the monstrous nuclear experiments and destruction of Bikini Atoll, and now, these bizarre star wars in the middle of the once pristine atolls. And on top of it, the nation is facing global warming and almost inevitable demise.The Compact of Free Association with the United States” (in reality, an agreement which allows the US to colonize, ‘legally’,a great part of Micronesia) is never challenged and very rarely even questioned.
As elsewhere in the colonized world – the rich are profiting, while the poor (great majority) are plundered and destitute. While being looted, the have-nots are smiling or even dancing. They never heard from their TV sets or at school (if they ever went to one) that they are actually the victims. Living in misery is their karma or fate, or punishment for something they committed, by something supernatural. It is a truly great arrangement for the religious leaders, and especially for the Empire. For Washington, London and Paris it is simply: mission accomplished!
For hundreds of millions of girls like Cinta, it means: their lives will never change. It will be the same as the lives of their parents and grandparents, and it will consist of near slavery, of no security, of bad but unbreakable marriages, endless religious rituals and absolute ignorance about the fact that there are many alternatives and countless other ways how lives could be lived.
Not only that the Empire is spreading nihilism to all of its colonies; it is also censoring all people-oriented and revolutionary alternatives.
It is incredible how successful it is! It really is, so far. Only so far… It cannot continue like this, forever.
One day in the not so distant future, girls like Cinta may finally wake up; they will break their shackles and with newly discovered pride and hope, depart to the mountains to fight for their nation. Ciao Bella Ciao style!
How does one give them the impulse? How does one make them see, to realize their condition?
At night, in the city of Ketapang, I could not sleep. I was tossing and turning, thinking about the girl named Cinta. I had to go back before leaving Borneo. I had to talk to her and to her parents: to tell them it was all totally wrong, and that there is another life possible.
I went to a local shopping center. I bought her a green bear and few small gifts in a Japanese store. In the morning, instead of continuing my work in an area that had been destroyed by mining and palm oil plantations, I instructed my driver to go back to Cinta’s village.
But she was gone. Her entire family was gone. A neighbor informed me:
“They went to far away fields, to work on a durian plantation. They will not return for several weeks”.
I left the green bear in the village. I cursed imperialism and modern day slavery, and then I left.
Once again, the Empire had won. But we are not helpless either. Now my readers, on all continents, will learn about that little girl named Cinta. The stories of enslaved people are the same, all over the world. There are Cintas in Honduras, in Uganda, in Yemen, in Marshall Islands.
Imperialists should know: we are documenting, we are watching, day and night. We are connecting the stories of their victims, on all continents. We are connecting real people. And El Pueblo Unido, jamas sera vencido! ‘United, people will never be defeated!’
Alternative views can be censored, at least for some time. But the ability to dream, the capacity to hope, is eternal. And it is stuff consisting of dreams and hopes that is the most frightening enemy of the tyrants.
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are his tribute to “The Great October Socialist Revolution” a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his websiteand his Twitter.
All images in this article are from the author.