Farcical Ceasefire in Yemen Collapsing

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Since agreed on last December, ceasefire existed in name only. Fighting never stopped. It just ebbed around the key port city of Hodeidah before escalating, where things stand now.

Yemen is Washington’s war, the Trump regime bearing most responsibility for what’s going on, wanting endless war, not resolution – if otherwise nearly two decades of war would end.

The Saudis and UAE share responsibility for partnering with US aggression. There’s nothing civil about war in the country, not in any countries Washington attacked.

Peace talks in Sweden last December achieved no breakthroughs, war raging without letup while going on.

The so-called agreement  reached between warring parties wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Saudi/UAE terror-bombing continued in parts of the country – with full US support, encouragement, and weapons supplied.

According to the New York-based International Rescue Committee (IRC), its board of directors stacked with monied interests, including Obama’s Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the former US president at war on Yemen throughout his eight years in office, no-ceasefire/ceasefire is collapsing, saying:

For days, fighting in and around Hodeidah escalate, both sides accusing each other of violations – the Saudis and UAE to blame, acting on orders from Washington, my comment, not the IRC’s.

The group saying last December’s ceasefire is imperiled ignored what existed all along in name only.

Last week, AMN News reported on “intense clashes” in Hodeidah after US/NATO/Saudi/UAE proxies attacked Houthi fighters, the casualty count on both sides unknown.

Violence initiated against the Houthis effectively rendered the so-called ceasefire null and void. Reporting on fighting in and around Hodeidah, Al Jazeera said things agreed on in Sweden were never implemented, including no prisoner exchange or meaningful ceasefire.

Efforts by UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths achieved nothing. Claiming momentum for peace in the country “is still there” was meaningless, deceptive rhetoric, adding:

“More than any time in the past, there is a political will demonstrated by all parties to put an end to this conflict. What we need to see now is the implementation of the provisions of the agreement, fully and rapidly.”

Reality on the ground is polar opposite his assessment  because the Trump regime, calling the shots, wants endless war, not resolution.

Conditions for millions in the country are worse than in any other US conflict theater, the daily death toll mounting exponentially from war, starvation, untreated diseases, and overall deprivation – hundreds of thousands of civilians perishing over the last two decades, mostly during the last four or five years.

Oxfam’s Awssan Kamal calls Yemen “a prison without walls” for its people, the country blockaded and terror-bombed daily. Millions of Yemenis have no safe havens.

They’re severely malnourished, especially young children, countless numbers in the country at risk of perishing from starvation.

The official UN death toll greatly understates the casualty count, mitigating one of the world’s greatest human calamities, courtesy of US imperial designs on the country and region. 

Under Republicans and Dems, Washington is responsible for killing a nation and its defenseless people, victims of its imperial viciousness.

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US Training Saudi and UAE Pilots for Combat in Yemen

By Stephen Lendman
Source

Yemen is one of many US forever wars – key NATO countries, Israel, Jordan, the Saudis and UAE partnering in them.

US special forces operate in Yemen. Pentagon drone war has been ongoing in the country without letup since launched by Bush/Cheney in October 2001, weeks after 9/11.

A no-ceasefire/ceasefire reflects conditions on the ground. War rages with no prospect for resolution because bipartisan US hardliners reject ending it. Claiming otherwise is political pretense.

Daily reports show endless conflict continues. US-backed Saudi/UAE forces keep battling Houthi fighters, including in areas around the strategic port city of Hodeidah, ceasefire agreed on more illusion than reality.

Saudi/UAE terror-bombing goes on daily – overnight against Sanaa, the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital. A Houthi statement said “(t)his escalation comes under the direction and supervision of the U.S…This escalation will be met with an escalation.”

Earlier calls by US officials for peaceful conflict resolution in Yemen were pure deception. Republicans and undemocratic Dems reject restoring peace and stability to war-ravaged countries.

According to Military Times last November, the Pentagon’s so-called Operation Yukon Journey involves US military operations in Africa and the Middle East – on the phony pretext of defeating ISIS and al-Qaeda Washington created and supports.

The Middle East operation is designated “Support to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Partner Nations in Yemen.” Along with providing weapons, munitions, intelligence, and logistics support, the Pentagon has been training Saudi and UAE pilots for combat in Yemen.

Federal procurement documents show the US air force has been using a private contractor to train Saudi pilots at its US facility.

A previous article discussed US and UK involvement in supplying the Saudis with billions of dollars worth of weapons and munitions annually, Pentagon contractors involved in training its military personnel in their use.

Under the so-called United States Military Training Mission to Saudi Arabia, USMTM trains, advises and assists the kingdom’s armed forces, including through military exercises and related activities.

USMTM is a joint US army, navy, air force and marine corps joint command, an extensive arrangement with the kingdom since the 1950s – under the 1951 Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement and later USMTM agreement.

An earlier London Daily Mail report said Britain is secretly training Saudi’s military, aiding its genocidal war in Yemen.

Documents obtained through an FOIA request show Pentagon personnel have been and likely still are actively involved in training UAE pilots for combat operations in Yemen.

According to an air force memo dated December 18, 2017, its personnel “assisted (the training of) 150 (UAE) airmen in challenging (exercises) to prepare (them) for combat ops in Yemen.”

Further training was provided UAE pilots at the country’s Pentagon operated Al Dhafra airbase, the memo saying:

“Unit fighter personnel advanced the UAE’s F-16 fighter pilot training program; 3 pilots flew 243 instructor sorties/323 hrs that created 4 new instructors & 29 combat wingmen who immediately deployed for combat operations in Yemen.”

CENTCOM spokesman Lt. Col. Josh Jacques lied, saying “(w)e do not conduct exercises with (Saudi and UAE airmen) to prepare for combat operations in Yemen.” 

Joint Chiefs chairman General Joseph Dunford turned truth on its head, claiming the US is “not a participant in the civil war (sic) in Yemen, nor are we supporting one side or another.”

Hard evidence refutes both of the above statements. Conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Central Asia and North Africa are US launched and waged, nothing civil about any of them. Nor are they involved in combating the scourge of terrorism the US supports, using jihadists as proxy troops.

None of the above information should surprise. The Pentagon and private military contractors it enlists are actively involved in training and otherwise working directly with the armed forces of numerous countries worldwide.

What’s going on is all about advancing America’s imperium, largely by waging endless wars and related military activities.

Trump is like his predecessors, co-opted to go along with a dirty system, raging since Harry Truman’s war on North Korea in the early 1950s.

Endless US wars of aggression rage with no prospect for resolution, others drafted to be launched if and when ordered – every sovereign independent country potentially targeted, including Russia, China and Iran.

Big Lies Drown Out Truth-Telling

By Stephen Lendman
Source

All politicians lie, some more than others. The Clintons, Bush/Cheney, and Obama were egregious serial liars.

Since entering office, Trump dissembling, rage, duplicity, hubris, and arrogance exceeded the worst of his predecessors. Virtually nothing he says on important issues is credible.

He never lets facts interfere with his deplorable domestic and geopolitical agenda only despots and robber barons could love.

His lying is so consistent, compulsive and extreme, he may be unable to distinguish between truth and fiction, especially for relying on rubbish fed him by hardline neocon advisors and Fox News disinformation, his favorite TV channel.

He’s an embarrassment to the office he holds, a geopolitical know-nothing, the latest in a long line of anti-populist warrior presidents – serving the nation’s military, industrial, security complex, including Wall Street and other monied interests exclusively at the expense of the vast majority of people everywhere.

His support for Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) flies in the face of his responsibility for ordering Jamal Kashoggi’s murder, his genocidal war in Yemen (partnered with US-led NATO and Israel), the kingdom’s horrendous human rights abuses, its support for ISIS and other terrorists (along with the US, NATO and Israel), and the CIA’s conclusion about MBS’ responsibility for Khashoggi’s assassination.

His hyperbolic claims about Saudi arms purchases from US companies and jobs created are grossly inflated.

According to ABC News, slumlord DLT son-in-law Jared Kushner pushed the Pentagon and State Department to go along with Trump’s fake numbers, according to three former White House officials.

One source quoted Kushner saying “(w)e need to sell them as much as possible” during a national security council meeting ahead of DLT’s Riyadh visit last May.

Touting an alleged $115 billion deal agreed on, along with hundreds of billions more over the next decade, around $15 billion alone has been discussed.

The so-called Memorandum of Intent signed at the May meeting is unrelated to what the Saudis may actually buy – a whole lot less than Trump touts.

According to ABC News, since the touted deal was signed in Riyadh, “there has been minimal activity toward purchasing the defense equipment and arms laid out in the arms agreements and signed,” adding: 

“According to the Department of Defense, of the original $110 billion, Saudi Arabia has signed Letters of Offer and Acceptance valued at around $14.5 billion for equipment, including helicopters, tanks, ships, weapons and training.” 

Much of what the Saudis agreed to buy from the US was negotiated by Obama regime officials.

“Many of the details about the quantity and types of defense weapons to be purchased are not listed and are slated to be delivered after 2022 or have a ‘to be determined’ delivery dates and quantities.”

Trump’s claim about record US arms sales to the Saudis, “creat(ing) hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States” is pure deception, adding:

“Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great US defense contractors.”

The dollar amount of alleged deals and numbers of jobs created are figments of his imagination and habitual dissembling. His hyperbole bears no relation to reality.

A US/Saudi document seen by ABC News says what Riyadh agreed on with Trump officials “does not create any authority to perform any work, award any contract, ‘issue articles from stock,’ transfer funds, or otherwise obligate or create a binding commitment in any way either for the United States or the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

In other words, it’s a Trump regime no-deal/deal – nothing firm or contractually binding, nothing approaching Trump’s touted $110 billion figure and $450 billion amount.

They’re fantasy numbers, not real ones. So-called “record amount of money” in US arms sales to the kingdom and “hundreds of thousands of jobs” created, perhaps a million he said, is “record” bunkum.

It’s more proof that all Trump claims are fabricated. Nothing he says is credible. He plays fast and loose with reality, pretending fiction is fact.

Trump exposed: Once a liar, always one, never to be believed on anything.

U.S. Foreign Policy Has No Policy

Why can’t we just leave everyone alone?

By Philip Giraldi
Source

President Donald Trump’s recent statement on the Jamal Khashoggi killing by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince might well be considered a metaphor for his foreign policy. Several commentators have suggested that the text appears to be something that Trump wrote himself without any adult supervision, similar to the poorly expressed random arguments presented in his tweeting only longer. That might be the case, but it would not be wise to dismiss the document as merely frivolous or misguided as it does in reality express the kind of thinking that has produced a foreign policy that seems to drift randomly to no real end, a kind of leaderless creative destruction of the United States as a world power.

Lord Palmerston, Prime Minister of Britain in the mid nineteenth century, famously said that “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”The United States currently has neither real friends nor any clearly defined interests. It is, however, infested with parasites that have convinced an at-drift America that their causes are identical to the interests of the United States. Leading the charge to reduce the U.S. to “bitch” status, as Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has artfully put it, are Israel and Saudi Arabia, but there are many other countries, alliances and advocacy groups that have learned how to subvert and direct the “leader of the free world.”

Trump’s memo on the Saudis begins with the headline “The world is a very dangerous place!” Indeed, it is and behavior by the three occupants of the White House since 2000 is largely to blame. It is difficult to find a part of the world where an actual American interest is being served by Washington’s foreign and global security policies. Indeed, a national security policy that sees competitors and adversaries as enemies in a military sense has made nuclear war, unthinkable since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, thinkable once again. The fact that no one is the media or in political circles is even talking about that terrible danger suggests that war has again become mainstreamed, tacitly benefiting from bipartisan acceptance of it as a viable foreign policy tool by the media, in the U.S. Congress and also in the White House.

The part of the world where American meddling coupled with ignorance has produced the worst result is inevitably the Middle East. Washington has been led by the nose by Israel and Saudi Arabia, currently working in sync, to have the United States destroy Iran even though the Iranians represent no threat whatsoever to Americans or any serious U.S. interests. The wildly skewed view of what is taking place in that region is reflected in Trump’s memo in the first paragraph, which reads:

“The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, ‘Death to America!’ and ‘Death to Israel!’ Iran is considered ‘the world’s leading sponsor of terror.’”

Almost all of that is either patently untrue or grossly exaggerated, meaning that Trump’s profoundly ignorant statement is remarkable for the number of lies that it incorporates into 631 words which are wrapped around a central premise that the United States will always do whatever it wants wherever it wants just because it can. The war being waged by the Saudis against Yemen, which reportedly has killed as many as 80,000 children, is not a proxy struggle against Iran as Trump prefers to think. It is naked aggression bordering on genocide that is enabled by the United States under completely false pretenses. Iran did not start the war and plays almost no role in it apart from serving as a Saudi and Emirati excuse to justify the fighting. Other lies include that Bashar al-Assad of Syria has killed millions of his own citizens and that Saudi Arabia is fighting terrorism. Quite the contrary is true as the Saudis have been a major source of Islamic terrorism. And as for Iran being the “world’s leading sponsor of terrorism,” that honor currently belongs to the U.S., Israel and the Saudis.

The core of Trump’s thinking about Khashoggi and the Saudis comes down to Riyadh’s willingness to buy weapons to benefit America’s defense contractors and this one sentence: “The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.” Yes, once again it is Israel pulling Trump’s strings, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leading the charge to give Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman a pass on the gruesome murder of a legal resident of the United States who, once upon a time, might have actually had the U.S. government on his side.

The reckless calibrations employed to set American policies in other parts of the world are also playing out badly. Russia has been hounded relentlessly since the 2016 election, wasting the opportunity to establish a modus vivendi that Trump appeared to be offering in his campaign. Russian and American soldiers confront each other in Syria, where the U.S. has absolutely no real interests beyond supporting feckless Israel and Saudi Arabia in an unnecessary armed conflict that has already been lost. There is now talk of war coming from both Moscow and Washington while NATO in the middle has turned aggressive in an attempt to justify its existence. The bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Russia is now worse than it was towards the end of the Cold War while the expansion of NATO up to Russia’s doorstep has threatened the Kremlin’s vital interests without advancing any interest of the United States.

Afghanistan has become the longest war in U.S. history with no end in sight and China too has seen what began as a dispute over trade turned into something more vitriolic, a military rivalry over the South China Sea that could explode. And North Korea? A love fest between two leaders that is devoid of content.

One might also add Venezuela to the list, with the U.S. initiating sanctions over the state of the country’s internal politics and even considering, according to some in the media, a military intervention.

All of the White House’s actions have one thing in common and that is that they do not benefit Americans in any way unless one works for a weapons manufacturer, and that is not even taking into consideration the dead soldiers and civilians and the massive debt that has been incurred to intervene all over the world. One might also add that most of America’s interventions are built on deliberate lies by the government and its associated media, intended to increase tension and create a casus belli where none exists.

So what is to be done as it often seems that the best thing Trump has going for him is that he is not Hillary Clinton? First of all, a comprehensive rethink of what the real interests of the United States are in the world arena is past due. America is less safe now than it was in 2001 as it continues to make enemies with its blundering everywhere it goes. There are now four times as many designated terrorists as there were in 2001, active in 70 countries. One would quite plausibly soon arrive at George Washington’s dictum in his Farewell Address, counseling his countrymen to “observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.” And Washington might have somehow foreseen the poisonous relationships with Israel and the Saudis when he warned that “…a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification.”

George Washington or any of the other Founders would be appalled to see an America with 800 military bases overseas, allegedly for self-defense. The transfer of wealth from taxpayers to the military industrial complex and related entities like Wall Street has been catastrophic. The United States does not need to protect Israel and Saudi Arabia, two countries that are armed to the teeth and well able to defend themselves. Nor does it have to be in Syria and Afghanistan. And, by the way, Russia is no longer the Soviet Union and NATO should be abolished.

If the United States were to withdraw its military from the Middle East and the rest of Asia tomorrow, it would be to nearly everyone’s benefit. If the armed forces were to be subsequently reduced to a level sufficient to defend the United States it would put money back in the pockets of Americans and end the continuous fearmongering through surfacing of “threats” by career militarists justifying the bloated budgets.

Will that produce the peaceable kingdom? Probably not, but there are signs that some in powerful positions are beginning to see the light. Senator Rand Paul’s courageous decision to place a “hold” on aid to Israel is long overdue as Israel is a liability to the United States and is also legally ineligible for aid due to its undeclared nuclear arsenal and its unwillingness to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The hysterical reactions of American Jews and Israel suggest that any redirection of U.S. Middle East policy will produce a hostile reaction from the Establishment, but even small steps in the right direction could initiate a gradual process of turning the United States into a more normal country in its relationships with the rest of the world rather than a universal predator and bully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing in Any Conspiracy Theory Is As Bad As What’s Being Done Out in The Open

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Yesterday President Trump posted a statement on the White House website saying his administration will be standing with the House of Saud despite the CIA’s assertion that Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman personally ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was living and working in the United States.

The statement reads like a long form version of one of Trump’s tweets, replete with gratuitous exclamation points and slogans like “America First!” and the lie that Iran is “the world’s leading sponsor of terror”, which will never be trueno matter how many times this administration deliberately repeats it. The world’s leading sponsor of terrorism is of course Saudi Arabia, along withIsrael and the United States.

Trump’s alleged opposition has responded with melodramatic outrage, as though a US president continuing to stand by Saudi Arabia in the face of horrific acts of violence is somehow new and unprecedented and not standard operating procedure for decades. Dismembering a journalist while he’s still alive would be a fairly typical Tuesday afternoon for the Saudi government and would not rank anywhere near the top ten most evil things this government has done, but because it involves America and a conspiracy it’s a sexy story that everyone laps up. Add in the fact that Trump is more blunt and forthcoming about American depravity and you’ve got yourself a yarn.

This has remained a hot story through to today, invigorated by a tweet by America’s WWE president in which he crowed about low gas prices and added “Thank you to Saudi Arabia” like a good little muppet. And amid all the fist-shaking and rending of garments about the killing of one man by the Saudi government, a far less magnetic story has been published saying that about 84,701 Yemeni children under the age of five were starved to death between April 2015 and October 2018. And I say “were starved to death” instead of “have starved to death” because their starvation is the direct result of a blockade and relentless violence by Saudi Arabia.

The lack of any sense of proportion in response to the Khashoggi case compared to the destruction of civilian lives in Yemen has been roundly criticized by anyone with a public platform and open eyes, and rightly so; obviously a government murdering a journalist in cold blood would be a terrible thing, but to hold that as more worthy of attention than the anguished deaths of untold tens of thousands is obscene.

This dynamic is also not unique to Saudi human rights violations. Take the ongoing Russiagate conspiracy theory, for example. Even if Mueller’s investigation did somehow prove that Trump colluded with the Russian government to steal the 2016 election (and it won’t), that act would still have been far less horrible than the ongoing cold war escalations that this administration has been continually advancing against a nuclear superpower. The existence of every single organism on this planet has been placed in jeopardy by Trump’s idiotic, unforgivable, still very much ongoing game of nuclear chicken with Russia, but hardly anyone ever talks about it. They focus on an empty conspiracy theory instead, partly because it is the mass media’s job to manufacture support for warmongering while downplaying its risks, and partly because theoretical conspiracies draw more attention than the things our rulers are doing right out in the open.

I often get conspiracy buffs asking/telling me to write about this or that theory of 9/11 or the JFK assassination or whatever, and I’m just like, dude, have you seen the stuff they’re doing in broad daylight?? It’s not that I have any attachment to the official narratives the TV tells me I’m required to believe, I just find I can get a lot more traction with much better arguments pointing out the facts that are publicly known and undisputed, especially because those things are often far worse than anything alleged in any conspiracy theory.

I mean, take 9/11. Pretty bad, right? 2,996 dead human beings. If that were engineered or permitted to happen by any faction of the US government or any of its allies, that would be pretty diabolical. But would it be worse than a million Iraqis killed in a war based on lies? Even if you only care about American lives, just the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq already far exceeds the death toll of 9/11. This was a war engineered by secretive government agencies and DC insiders, justified and sold to the public with government lies, lies which were advanced as objective and unquestionable fact by the mass media. The war was rammed through without any public accountability, a million human lives were snuffed out, and when they were done nobody was tried for war crimes. Nobody was even fired. No changes were ever made to prevent such horrors from being inflicted upon our world again.

On paper, I’d say that’s far worse than 9/11. Yes, I know the two are related, but just looking at the objective facts of those two occurrences, one is clearly more egregious an offense than the other, regardless of what specifically happened on that September morning.

Pretty much all other conspiracy theories are like this as well; interesting and intriguing due to the idea of catching powerful people in the act of something horrible, but much less horrible than the things those same powerful people are doing publicly. Mass media outlets make no attempt to hide who owns them or to mask their virulently pro-establishment bias as they manipulate our minds day in and day out, medicine money is spent on bombs and war ships, civilians are starved to death with sanctions, wars are waged on lies and when those lies are uncovered we get nothing but a “Fuck you we do what we want,” billionaires influence the legislative branch with corporate lobbying and campaign donations right out in the open to tilt the scales in favor of the plutocratic class, money is hemorrhaging upward to the richest of the rich while Americans die of lack of healthcare, we inch closer to extinction by either ecocidal end-stage capitalism or nuclear holocaust, and lucrative arms deals are cut with an unfathomably wealthy royal family that is causing the worst humanitarian crisis on earth in Yemen.

If we could see with fresh eyes what is being done to us and our fellow man right out in the open, we would recoil and fall to the ground trembling in sheer terror. The only reason we don’t treat these terrible things like what they are is because they have been normalized for us to the point where we take them for granted and assume that’s the only way things could possibly be. Conspiracy theories sparkle because those are new stories we haven’t been desensitized to, but it’s usually the things that powerful people do out in the open that does the most damage.

The Untouchable US-Saudi Relation Is a Core Element of US Imperialism

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By Frederico Pierccini
Source

Nixon’s decision in 1971 to withdraw the United States from the gold standard greatly influenced the future direction of humanity. The US dollar rose in importance from the mid-1950s to become the world reserve currency as a result of the need for countries to use the dollar in trade. One of the most consumed commodities in the world is oil, and as is well known, the price is set by OPEC in US dollars, with this organization being strongly influenced by Saudi Arabia.

It is therefore towards Riyadh that we must look in order to understand the workings of the petrodollar. After the dollar was withdrawn from the gold standard, Washington made an arrangement with Riyadh to price oil solely in dollars. In return, the Saudis received protection and were granted a free hand in the region. This decision forced the rest of the world to hold a high amount of US dollars in their currency reserves, requiring the purchase of US treasuries. The relationship between the US dollar and oil breathed new life to this currency, placing it at the centre of the global financial and economic system. This privileged role enjoyed by the dollar allowed the United States to finance its economy through the simple process of printing its fiat currency, relying on its credibility and supported by the petrodollar that required other countries to store reserves of US treasuries in their basket of currencies.

This arrangement continued to sustain itself in spite of numerous wars (the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan), financial crises (the Black Monday of 1987, the Dotcom bubble of 2000, and Lehman Brothers’ subprime crisis of 2008), and the bankruptcies of sovereign states (Argentina in 1998). The explanation is to be found in the credibility of the US dollar and the US itself, with its ability to repay buyers of treasury bonds. In other words, as long as the US continues to maintain its dominance of the global financial and economic system, thanks to the dollar, its supremacy as a world superpower is hardly questioned. To maintain this influence on the currency markets and the special-drawing rights (SDR) basket, the pricing of oil in US dollars is crucial. This explains, at least partially, the impossibility of scaling down the relationship between Washington and Riyadh. Nobody should delude themselves into believing that this is the only reason why Saudi-US relations are important. Washington is swimming in the money showered by Saudi lobbies, and it is doubtful that those on the receiving end of such largesse will want to make the party stop.

The agreement made between Washington and Riyadh guaranteed that the latter would receive protection from the former and Washington would look the other way regarding Riyadh’s behavior within its kingdom and in the region – so long as Saudi Arabia sold its black gold in US dollars alone. This agreement was clearly a controversial one and has been kept away from the general public, even in the light of Khashoggi’s death and the liberal mainstream media’s piling on the Kingdom. Yet this is not the only reason why US-Saudi ties are so close. The initial agreements between the Saudis and the Americans concerned the petrodollar; but after the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 (Iran’s nationalist prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, had been previously overthrown by the US and UK in 1953), Riyadh and Washington decided to declare war on their common enemy, with the hearty approval of Israel. The cooperation between Riyadh and Washington became even closer in the 1980s, through the common campaign against the USSR in Afghanistan through the use of jihadists recruited, trained and armed by the Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the US secret services. The use of jihadist terrorism as a geopolitical weapon has been a main feature of Riyadh’s statecraft.

The relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US evolved from a mere economic and protection agreement, to a full-fledged collaboration against the shared enemies of Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh, expanding on the existing cooperation since the 1980s of using jihadism to advance strategic objectives. The situation with Iran became of primary importance for US strategy in the region. Riyadh, with the passage of time, assumed a triple role, namely, that of being the guarantor of the petrodollar, a facilitator in the use of Islamic terrorism as a geopolitical weapon, and a regional opponent of Iran.

This relationship has been mutually beneficial. The House of Saud has been free to run its country according to the strict strictures of Wahhabism without Western interference; and Washington enjoys a capacity for unlimited military spending (especially after the 2008 crisis and the beginning of quantitative easing) simply through the printing of debt in the form of government bonds that are immediately acquired by other countries. Washington has effectively been printing waste paper and obtaining consumer goods in return, a state of affairs that has allowed the United States to squander six trillion dollars in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without suffering significant economic consequences.

Ever since Donald Trump took over the White House, the process of de-dollarization that begun during the Obama era has only accelerated. With the unprecedented move in 2012 to remove Iran from the SWIFT international banking system, a dangerous precedent had been set that acted as a warning to the rest of the world. The United States revealed itself as willing to abuse its dominant position by wielding the dollar as a weapon against geopolitical adversaries.

The consequences of that action continue to be felt today. Many within the Western elite have come to recognize this mistake and are regretting it. Russia and China understood that they were next on the chopping block and set about creating alternative payment systems like CIPS that would serve to act as a backup system in case Washington tried to exclude Moscow and Beijing from the SWIFT system.

Trump contributed more than any of his predecessors towards further pushing the world in the direction of de-dollarization. Sanctions and tariffs have weakened confidence amongst US allies and forced the rest of the world to start looking for alternatives. The cases of Iran and Russia are instructive, with commercial exchanges being undertaken in currencies other than the dollar for a number of years now. There are dozens of other examples where the use of the dollar in commercial transactions has been abandoned. More complicated, however, is the financing of debt for private or public companies that often takes place in dollars. This exposes industries to a difficult situation in the event that their national currencies devalue against the dollar, making it more expensive to find the US dollars needed to repay creditors, leaving what are major national companies with the prospect of facing bankruptcy. As Russia learned in 2014 with the attack on its Ruble, exposure of potentially strategic sectors of the country to the economic influence of a foreign adversary should be avoided.

The push to renounce the use of the dollar in financial transactions also stems from the fear that the next financial crisis may affect global debt as expressed in dollars; not only destroying the US economy, but dragging down with it countries that are large holders of US treasuries. This is not speculation or conspiracy theory but simple deduction from observing the economic situation over the last 10 years. The global economy was saved in 2008 as a result of the confidence held by citizens following the intervention of central banks. The corrosive mechanism laid out by the Fed and its partners became evident months later. Central banks started printing unlimited amounts of money at 0% interest rates and furnishing it to banks and financial institutions to cover the debts left by the bursting of speculative bubbles like the one involving subprime mortgages.

The average citizen, seeing Bernanke and Draghi on TV talking about “unprecedented actions to save the system”, felt reassured, and therefore felt their money remained safe, in banks or in US dollars. The next financial crisis – potentially the worst ever – is likely to be caused by either the raising of interest rates by the Fed and other central banks, or from the popping of one of the numerous debt bubbles around. The central point is that the citizens’ belief in the system will be put to the test because, as Draghi said, “[this weapon of QE] can be used only once”. There is no protection for banks and speculative entities that could be in debt to the tune of many billions of dollars with no chance of survival.

With a view of to the possible collapse of the dollar-based financial system, several countries are selling their US government bonds, reducing their exposure and accumulating gold. This involves not just China and Russia, but even the European Union.

In such a situation, a crisis in relations with Saudi Arabia is unthinkable for Washington, especially when the region now seems to be guided by an axis that starts from Tehran and ends in Beirut, including Baghdad and Damascus. Riyadh is necessary for the Israeli strategy in the region, and Washington follows in tow for reasons related to the US dollar. Factoring the importance of Riyadh in supporting the petrodollar and in countering Iran in the region, it is not surprising why the Israeli lobby in Washington is doing its utmost to calm US senators down intent on punishing Riyadh for the Khashoggi affair.

If Saudi Arabia were really convinced of the innocence of MBS in the Khashoggi affair, it could use this situation to its advantage by reducing the role of Washington in its foreign policy. Turning to the east and increasing partnerships with China and Russia would have beneficial effects on the whole region, as well as reducing the importance of the United States in the world. Saudi Arabia is governed by a large family riven with divisions and feuds spanning decades. MBS has no interest in his kingdom and is occupied with his survival alone. He is aware that Netanyahu and Trump are his best bet for continuing to reign. Trump is equally aware of the importance of MBS in his communication strategy in the US, with a view to the midterm and the 2020 elections. MBS is for Trump the golden goose that finances the MAGA project, thanks apparently to Trump’s mesmerizing negotiation skills with the Saudis. Of course this is far from the truth, but what matters is the spin that Trump gives to this alliance.

Israel is the primary ally of MBS, given that the crown prince is the first Saudi monarch openly willing to establish diplomatic relations with the Jewish State and bring relations between the two countries out into the open. The upper level of the US government, the so-called deep state, tried for a few weeks to use MBS against Trump. But this strategy came to an end after the Israelis, together with some elements of the US deep state, saw the risk of downsizing the global relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US. MBS will hardly be pushed aside, and within the Kingdom his position seems firmer than many expected, as seen at the Davos in the Desert conference. Breaking up with MBS would have had unimaginable repercussions for the US’s hegemonic position, and this is something Washington can ill afford at the moment.

The use of jihadism and petrodollars as political and financial weapon against Washington’s adversaries is reason enough to quickly forget Jamal Khashoggi and go back to ignoring the various abuses committed by Saudi Arabia. In this phase of the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar world, the US cannot afford to renounce some of the most potent weapons in its arsenal to wield against its geopolitical foes.

Has America Lost Its Moral Compass?

By Reverend John Bryson Chane
Source

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The alleged direct ties of Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammad Bin Salman linking him to the murder and dismemberment of United States resident and Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi has heightened the awareness of President Trump’s willingness to put his self-interests and “deal making” first, before condemning the criminal behavior of the Saudi Government.

Our Nation is living through a time of political anomaly. Donald Trump has ascended to the Office of the President as a businessman, deal maker, and a media-savvy political chameleon. Whether we watch FOX and Friends, CNN, follow Trump’s Tweets, claim residency in a Red or Blue State, as Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Christians, Jews or Muslims we need to come to terms with the debilitating cost of making “America Great Again.”

Truth be told democracy is a complex and messy way of governing any nation, let alone one as diverse as America. Yet there are indissoluble values enshrined in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and affirmed by the Rule of Law, freedom of the press, and the important balance of powers between the Executive, Judicial and Legislative Branches of government. They are being undermined each day by the current occupant of the White House. The president surrounds himself with an inner circle of staffers who have discarded their sense of right and wrong by agreeing to serve Mr. Trump with absolute loyalty. They behave like co-dependents afraid to confront a president who is heavily addicted to power and control and has a hard time with reality. And their co-dependency is mirrored by the behavior of many in the House and Senate.

Morality is understood to mean knowing the difference between right and wrong, of good and bad behavior. Its definition comes from the core teachings of all monotheistic religions, the ancient roots of philosophical thinking and sustaining cultural mores. Moral behavior is open to human interpretation fed by an individual’s upbringing, their interpretation of religious teaching, cultural traditions and engagement with the world. Sadly, President Trump’s decision making, and behavior exhibit the personality of an amoral person, one who doesn’t seem to comprehend what it means to live a moral life and too often appears unable to distinguish between right and wrong.

He consistently uses language that is disrespectful, bullying, racist, and homophobic. He is a classic example of a misogynist. And because the people of this nation have become so polarized by the current politics of divide and conquer at any price very few confront his behavior and condemn it. If we say we are a “religious people” how can we condone such behavior without calling it out for what it is…unacceptable, unembraceable and immoral?  Or as so many are doing in America right now, turning a blind eye and defending the president because he is fulfilling his campaign promise to “Make America Great Again.”  Whatever happened to living out the basic values of treating others with dignity and respect, behavior that mirrors empathy, a willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own actions and compassion for the least among us?

This president has a history of not telling the truth.  He is a confirmed liar, well documented by the media. Bipartisan fact-checking has shown Trump has either lied or manipulated the truth to suit his needs and reinforce his power and leadership in over a thousand instances.

In a statement made on the day of his inauguration, Trump promised to bring a country divided by his election back together to meet the challenges that are ahead for our country and the world. He has done just the opposite. Our country is losing the respect and support of our European allies. Our isolation from the global community with “America First” is causing world leaders to doubt the ability of America to lead the world with its better angels during times of increasing violence, climate change, and the rapid uptick of emerging un-democratic authoritarian regimes.

And because of this president’s self-promotion as an international deal-maker what we get in return for those “deals” are relationships with despotic leaders such as Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. All represent undemocratically governed countries that are known for their egregious human rights violations. And because of the deals, this president looks the other way when human rights are continuously violated, and the rule of law is a non-existent reality. What price as a country are we willing to pay for this president’s deal-making?

The compass is a necessity for anyone when lost in the wilderness seeking a way out. Its consistent pointing to true north can be lifesaving. As a nation we are badly divided politically, culturally and tribally. Our true compass point used to be focused on the Office of the President whether we liked him or not. But when the compass is being stolen from the American people by this president’s behavior we are in real danger of becoming a morally rudderless nation, rapidly losing our soul. Is this country and its citizenry willing to forfeit our democracy and very soul as a nation in order for Donald Trump to make another deal?

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