Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Why do we hear nothing about the main enemy? Saudi Arabia

With the appearance of the Islamic State, the Global War on Terror launched originally by GW Bush is now a miserable failure. A sworn enemy of the United States that delights of public brutality wields an effective military force, holds huge swaths of territory in the heart of the Middle East and openly defies its enemies. Perversely, its mystique is so potent that hundreds, perhaps thousands of Europeans including non-Muslims, flock to its banner.

Thus both the neocons’ “hard” and “soft” weapons, the vast array of firepower and the sustained ideological campaign against terrorism—whatever that has come to mean—are ineffective if not counterproductive. The only remaining question is whether the present failure will be turned in a catastrophe and from there into a debacle.

It is startling to see, even at this late date in the terrorism game, a Western TV reporter quizzing a member of this suddenly new player, the IS army, as to whether he endorses the terrorist killings of innocent women and children. She apparently sees no irony in asking that question of an individual who has seen nothing but such deaths in his immediate vicinity for well over a decade. But since 9/11 onward, any attempt at understanding what might be in the minds of the official bad guys is dismissed as disrespectful and subversive. We now see the results in our institutional and collective cluelessness about what to expect next.

It’s hard to know where to begin to untangle the mass of bad news emerging from those lands, but one good starting point is an important piece of collective amnesia that it goes back to 9/11 itself: the permanent collusion of the Saudis in everything that went wrong then and continues to do so today. Who even remembers that most of the Trade Center hijackers were Saudi citizens? Or that Bush’s team quickly whisked members of the bin Laden extended family out of the country before they could be lynched or even questioned about the activities of their famous relative?

Washington’s permanent wink-wink at the Saudis’ nefarious activities in the region, including their vast funding of Islamic zealots, has now resulted in the IS Frankenstein. As Patrick Cockburn outlines regularly, funds for the psycho bandits of IS have flowed in vast amounts from the oil-rich sheikdoms, but given the Saudis’ and Qataris’ ostensible position in Washington’s back pocket, no harm ever comes to them for doing it. Their role in bringing down the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was considered such a rousing success that our leadership cabal has decided to let them keep it up. If God is indeed great or even pretty okay, the caliph-worshippers eventually will sweep away the hateful Saudi royal family itself.

The attempt to exercise greater and more direct control over everybody in that part of the world has now collapsed to such a point that weakening one enemy only strengthens another. Does Obama blast Isis and give the loathsome Assad a free hand? Does the Turkish president press on to undermine Assad and generate the byproduct of a massacre of Syrian Kurds? Does that then restart his civil war with the Kurdish minority? Does the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government get help from the U.S. to recover territory, thus unleashing anew the Shiite death squads that pushed Sunnis into Isis’s hands? If the whole sorry scenario weren’t so horrifying, it would merit a Marx Brothers routine.

And of course then there is money, C5A-fulls of it transported to Afghan, Syrian, Pakistani or Iraqi collaborators in neat pallets of $100 bills straight from the U.S. mint that is supposedly so burdened by DEBT that research into the Ebola virus had to be sequestered and cut back. No sums shall be deemed too great to toss into the bottomless pit of the next military maneuver, weapons program, or booted mission, and ignominious failure of one sure-fire idea will lead directly to the next. Contractors will thrive, and congressional districts heavy with arms manufacturers will hum with activity. Legislators will sell themselves as brazenly as the seductresses of Amsterdam and for substantially less.

And what is the reward for this decades-long enabling of the Saudi meddlers sitting atop their pyramids of cash and propagating medieval phallic worship? They are now permitted to undermine the entire world economy by driving down the price of oil just when a little price inflation is what billions of people urgently need.

It’s remarkable that given the ease with which our propaganda apparatus cranks up enemies to suit the discourse of the moment, the Saudis remain untouched, almost beyond criticism. The Taliban and the Iranians are hateful to women, Isis publicly beheads people, enemies here and there fund terrorists and all get shellacked in our media. But the Saudis, who have been doing all these things for decades and much more effectively, remain completely off the hook.

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