Just a few months ago Saudi Arabia’s leader, Mohammed bin-Salman (MBS), was on the defensive. He had authorized the murder of an independent journalist, his domestic “reforms” had turned out to be fanciful, and the US Congress had moved to deprive him of the military support he had counted on continue his war crimes in Yemen. But MBS had crucial support from the Trump administration. Trump was unwilling to accept the CIA’s finding that MBS probably ordered the assassination of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, and Jared Kushner evidently persuaded Trump that continued support of his friend, the crown prince, was essential to US ideas about a Middle East peace.
As a result, US policy toward Saudi Arabia did not change one iota. And now, we see that far from distancing the US from Saudi Arabia, Trump has found a false reason to tighten it. Based on accusations of a new security threat from Iran, Trump has authorized the dispatch of 1500 additional troops to the Middle East and the sale of several billion dollars in “precision-guided” weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The arms sale is being made without Congressional authorization or consultation, on the argument (made by Pompeo) that an “extreme emergency” eliminates the legal requirement to make the case to Congress.
There is no emergency. No evidence has been presented to show that Iran is taking any action that threatens US or any other country’s interests. On the other hand, evidence is abundant that US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran, the sanctions imposed on Iran, and threats of regime change do present a security threat—to Iran. As for Saudi Arabia, selling arms to a murderous regime that consistently violates human rights and is committing war crimes in Yemen is simply unconscionable.
Trump’s latest moves are perfectly in line with the insidious way he conducts his office. He declares an emergency when none exists, as with the use of the US military for border security, now in litigation. And he ignores Congress when it suits his political purposes, as with his refusal to honor House of Representative committee subpoenas and requests for documents. Trump thus further cements his authoritarianism, and Congress members are left to ponder at what point they will draw the line and defend our form of government from an imperial president.
I have a friend, Jim Schmidt. Here are his remarks. It seems appropriate here:
Most of you know that I am a fan of Chuck Lorre and his vanity cards. This one was posted at the end of an episode of The Big Bang Theory. It is very appropriate to our Brave New World:
For as long as I can remember, I believed that the trajectory of humankind arced toward improvement. Yes, we may have begun in ignorance and brute force, but I fervently believed we were slowly and inexorably evolving into creatures of greater intelligence and compassion.
I was wrong.
It appears as if the only thing that’s inexorable is stupidity and violence. Sadly, Nature or God – take your pick – has designed an ecosystem in which intelligence and compassion are anomalies. (Martin Luther King Jr. said the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. He was right about most other stuff.)
Now if you’ve been reading my vanity cards over the years, you know I rarely end them with words of pessimism and despair. So let me leave you with what I hope is an uplifting sentiment:
While we all know that a person can go mad, so can a small group of people, or a town, or a state, or a nation, or a world. But the madness always begins with one, dark, deranged soul.
Make America Great Again!
Mel, Another very nice piece. Excellent. Best, Pete
Dear Mr. Gurtov,
in response to your excellent article, which rightly concludes that there is no evidence whatsoever of a so-called threat from Iran, I would take exception to the seemingly tragic irony in the following quotation from your essay:
“As for Saudi Arabia, selling arms to a murderous regime that consistently violates human rights and is committing war crimes in Yemen is simply unconscionable.”- MG: post No.233
Would you be so kind as to kindly inform me please, at what moment in US history has the government in Washington has been conscionable rather than a long succession of wantonly murderous regimes , consistently violating human rights both at home and abroad and persisting in committing the most brutal, horrific, murderous and unpardonable war crimes of terrifying and tragic consequences throughout its history? The ‘exceptional nation, built upon the extermination of indigenous peoples and the murderous traffic of slaves, has pursued the same ruthless policies in the expansion of global empire with a million deaths attributed to the US invasion of the Philippines in 1898-1902. Since the appallingly gratutious nuclear destruction wrought upon Japan in August 1945 and continuing US military adventurism throughout the last seventy-five years, there were well over 3 million victims of the US aggression against the Korean nation, followed by five to seven million mostly civilian lives brutally, viciously and violently destroyed in Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia, with the systematic use of torture and illegal chemical weapons including defoliant chemicals, white phosphorous and napalm. The murderous regime in Washington DC has continued uninterrupted throughout the 20th and 21st centuries with the military support and even creation of murderous regimes throughout the states of South and Central Americas, as well as in the Middle East marked by the CIA:US coup d’état against duly elected Prime Minister M. Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, with the subsequent interventions in Afghanistan beginning forty years ago in 1979, with millions of lives lost, followed by the military interventions in Iraq since early 1990’s again leaving millions of victims, as with the illegal bombing and total destruction of Libya by the Obama regime, with the so called ‘convert’ warfare against Syria, Somalia, Mali and elsewhere. Yes, selling arms to murderous regimes is as unconscionable as designing, producing and making them and selling them anywhere, for their purpose is murder, given that ‘war’ is merely murder on an industrial scale. Is there a moral conscience in Washington, DC now? Has there ever truly been one? It is to my mind, more myth than reality. The myth of so called ‘good Christians,’ the politicians who ‘pray’ for guidance from a mythical Supreme being: every twisted leader of the ‘exceptional nation’ ; the Obama, the Clinton, the Bush, the Carter, the Johnson, etc. has invariably invoked the name of ‘God’ and has been seen so conspicuously in so called ‘prayer’ and displayed to the public while attending church services in the ritualised pretence of devotion as they wage aggressive resource wars under the guise of having humanitarian values.. How could the present regime in Washington under DT possibly differentiate itself from a long line of historically violent and murderous regimes in Congress and the Whitehouse? In a nation that prides itself in possessing the largest military and the most obscenely bloated military budget in human history: a nation that has now pledged to spend one trillion (one thousand thousand millions $) to upgrade and improve ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons, where is the moral consciousness which would halt a weapons sale anywhere in the world where it might boost the incomes of criminal CEO’s of enterprises who actually control the US government such as Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, BAE, Raytheon,Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, etc.?
And please, to your respondent posting above as M.Peterson/Jim Schmidt, let’s NOT make America great again: it would serve humanity to make a concerted effort towards making the whole world (and all of humanity) better in some small way as we and all other life forms move inexorably towards what has been determined now to be the sixth mass extinction event.
Dear Mr. Parau’api:
The phrase “Make Amerika (pun intended) Great Again” was a not-so-obviously a pun mocking The Drumpf’s stockphrase.
And you obviously don’t know Mel’s background: he is a professor in political science, speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, formed the first chapters of what became later known as “The Pentagon Papers,” taught at U.C. Riverside and Portland State University. More to the point, he is quite “left-ish” and has a universal world-view.
On a personal level, I am a Vietnam combat veteran, but it was Mel, at U.C. Riverside, who taught me “the error of my ways” in that the Vietnam conflict was, basically, unwinnable; as is/was the Chinese Civil War, the Vietnam war, the wars in Central America, and the current “forever” wars.
Don’t you know that Mel is an ally to yourself?
I don’t really see this as a purely Trumpian maneuver. After all, the beginning of sanctions against Venezuela was undertaken by Barack Obama and required the utterly false pretext that Venezuela represented a security threat to the United States.
“Purely,” no; policy is always on a continuum. But Trump (or, really, Bolton and Pompeo) has added to sanctions with a crucial ideological dimension to the war against the three socialist countries: Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. That’s quite an escalation compared with Obama or other presidents.