(Photograph via Al Jazeera)
Ask Not What Our Bombs Can Do For You
But What You Can Do For Our Bombs
In a move unprecedented in scope yet consistent with policy decisions of previous U.S. Administrations, The Trump White House pledged an immediate $110 billion dollars this Saturday to the nation of Saudi Arabia for “defense funding”, as well as accumulative monetary aid totaling to $350 billion over the next decade. The deal was finalized as Mr. Trump, whose administration finds itself under almost daily controversy, the latest being the firing of FBI Director James Comey and allegations of a cover-up involving collusion with the Kremlin to ensure a Trump victory in 2016, embarked on his first trip abroad as U.S. President.
In a bizarre and yet not unexpected series of the events, the jingoist U.S. President, who not a month into his administration experienced both international and domestic condemnation for his attempts to implement an executive order that has what has been widely referred to as the “Muslim Ban”( it is worth noting, Saudi Arabia was not one of the nations listed in the travel ban), was warmly received by the Arab nation’s King Salman, receiving a gold medal from the Saudi leader as well as a day of leisurely photo-ops and handshakes. President Trump, in what surely must have been a much-needed respite from the increasing scrutiny and calls of condemnation in his homeland was greeted with an almost hero’s welcome in the primarily Muslim state; he was greeted by the Saudi Royalty with an elaborate welcome ceremony upon arriving in country, and spent most of his day in luxurious surroundings and a warm reception by businessmen and national leaders alike, presenting the arms deal to the press, guests, and hosts as a fulfillment of his oft-repeated promise to create jobs in the U.S. Private Sector. While, as of the time of this writing the strategic justification for the deal if any, is unclear, the deal will provide business and contracts to U.S monolith General Electric, U.S defense contractors Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, Fortune 500 company Jacobs Engineering, oil giant Saudi Aramco , as well as the launching of an agreement between Raytheon and Saudi Arabia Military Industries amongst others. These contracts will supposedly go into an almost complete overhaul of every aspect of Saudi Arabia’s military; from the production of new helicopters and tanks, new radar systems and intelligence equipment, drones, and missiles to name a few. Regardless of the strategic reasoning behind the Arms Deal, it is worth noting that Saudi Arabia has traditionally been perceived as one of the few stable regions in the Middle East. Whereas neighboring states are oft visited by U.S. Forces either in the form of military bases, occupation, or as adversaries in proxy wars of one kind or another, the Saudi Kingdom, with it’s almost universally condemned human rights record, monarchy, and it’s adherence to religious dogmatism, remains almost untouched by the U.S and its Western Allies. Despite its flaws, and it’s flawed on a humanitarian level are deep and many, Saudi Arabia stands functional and self-reliant in a region war-torn by extremism and foreign intervention. As a matter of fact and popular perception, they are one of the few Middle Eastern states that actually holds chips at the bargaining table of international relations.
One could make an argument as to why this is: the stability of the nation’s long-established infrastructure. It’s strict adherence to a religious dogma that has in an almost Orwellian manner snuffed out the very possibility of a liberalization or democratization of its citizenry. The answer is perhaps more simple than that though. The answer very well might be the 268 billion barrels of oil the State holds under its’ possession.
There is no doubt that these are strange times. In the modern era, no Western politician, less a U.S President, has come into power and position the way one Donald J Trump has. Not a news cycle passes without a revelation or renewal of controversy. Allegations of Russian Conspiracy aside, Trump bullied his way into the Presidency on a campaign that fattened itself on the most vicious and disgusting tendencies American Character. His war-mongering and strongman posturing had all the unpredictability of someone’s middle-aged father who was just fucking sick and tired of the junior being “so damn sensitive all the time”. Trump addressed the American people by descending into the national basement and telling the oldest son “he better shape up or ship out” while no doubt wondering why his boy was so damn strange, looking at his wimpy liberal stepchild while half-drunk on bitter resentment and the other half on Old Style as he brewed up some hateful hypothesis about why his wife didn’t look him in the eye anymore. His populism was built on a platform of fear and xenophobic hatred, appealing to the most base instincts of a middle class long disenfranchised, capitalizing on the confusion and prejudices of a citizenry that had been left behind by a brutal economic hierarchy that not only robbed them of their hopes and livelihoods but had indoctrinated them to thank them for it in the process. Most Presidents wait until at least they are in office for their sex scandal to unfold. Trump’s explosive misogyny and capacity for nadir were so potent it couldn’t even wait until his term to come to fruition. He and his administration are a weird, dumb, Yang to the dignified and rigid orthodoxy of the Saudi Royalty. Two sides of the same coin if you will. On paper, there is an almost profane poetic harmony in the way that the Saudi Arms deal encompasses and embodies the worst aspects of both the current U.S. leadership and the nature of the zealot oligarchy that dominates the power structure in Saudi culture and government. Emotionally speaking, all makes perfect sense.Both are regressionist, and both adhere to International Law much in the way a Priest would should he ask for a donation and take from the till. The Sexism, the Oligarchy, the Militantism is all there. So it would be by all appearances to the nervous Neo-Liberal lost in the valium haze that is the MSNBC evening “news” cycle that the exchange between the Trump Administration and the Saudi Government and their respective private enterprises is nothing more than yet another bursting capillary in the bloodlines that pump through the monstrous GOP Mutant that is Donald Trump and his the numerous seeping boils that serve as his staff and advisers .But to anyone who participated in the Democratic Primaries in a seriously Heavy way, such a way that the upper half of their eyelids have been seared off by the blade of hypocrisy and intrigue and flat out power fetish that characterized the nature of those months, there is another vision to be seen and narrative to be read here. It’s what William Burroughs called “Naked Lunch”. It’s what one also might call, business as usual.
The 6th Circle
“The third area that demands attention is preventing radicalization and countering efforts by ISIS and other international terrorist networks to recruit in the United States and Europe. For starters, it is long past time for the Saudis, the Qataris and the Kuwaitis and others to stop their citizens from funding extremist organizations. And they should stop supporting radical schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path towards extremism. We also have to use all our capabilities to counter jihadist propaganda online. This is something that I spend a lot of time on at the State Department.”- Hillary Clinton, 2016
“The Clinton Foundation has accepted tens of millions of dollars from countries that the State Department — before, during and after Mrs. Clinton’s time as secretary — criticized for their records on sex discrimination and other human rights issues. The countries include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Brunei, and Algeria.”
-“Foundation Ties Bedevil Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign”.
NY Times, August 20th, 2016
If it’s true there is a special ring in Hell for hypocrites, it would be interesting to see how they go about gerrymandering it. In the paranoid and panicked atmosphere that has followed in the wake of the political apocalypse that was the 2016 General Election, facts still play a secondary role to Narrative; they are conveniently discarded or sacrificed before the almighty altar of the 24/7 News Cycle. And if the story of the 2016 election cycle was a befuddled, sensationalist mess of spin and hyperbole where the meteoric rise of the world’s most dangerous moron began and each day, then it is not surprising in the Hellscape that is Trump’s America is presented in a more binary light. The American public loves polarization, and the American Press even more so, and with a new scandal or bombshell coming out of the White House every day, it’s only natural that the very media that gave Trump unprecedented coverage and promotion would cast all other objectivity aside to turn the daily page in the story of our Pig President and his latest folly in his war on all things good and decent. And with good reason.
Suddenly the forces that so skewed the Democratic and GOP Primaries to such a degree that their outcome was almost a forgone conclusion are absolved of any responsibility for manufacturing this mess in the first place. Brian Williams, Rachel Maddow, and Chris Matthews are reborn as the mouthpieces of the Resistance; brave stalwart souls in what they are declaring is a new golden era for investigative journalism, each surely confident that they are one leak away from becoming the Woodward and Bernstein for a whole new generation of Americans terrified that their government has been hijacked by a man who makes Richard Nixon look like Abraham Lincoln by comparison. Easy money as they say. And it’s a win-win for all involved. Suddenly all that fatal hubris, the strategic failures, and Inner Party shenanigans of the DNC no longer matter. They are lost like a whisper in a thunderstorm. E-mails, Super-Delegates, and the spectre of Hillary Clinton’s defeat no longer haunt or compel us as long as Sean Spicer has to wake up every morning and face the Nation with the expression of a trust fund kid who must explain to his parents how he wrecked his father’s Mercedes while mummy and daddy were down in Miami.
One can make the argument that these errors and attitudes of the Democratic Party and it’s power players are but misdemeanors when compared to the daily allegations of Treason and Felonies coming out of the Trump White House. Yet any criminal must start somewhere, and if Donald Trump is guilty of taking the GOP to its natural conclusion as the world’s most powerful state-sanctioned terrorist organization, then the Democratic Party is guilty of nothing less than betraying the hopes and efforts of not only the Progressive base that elevated Bernie Sanders from an obscure Socialist to the status of a modern-day folk hero, but also the millions upon millions of people who placed their faith in the Clinton Campaign, and at the end of the day, however misled or misguided, wanted in their heart of hearts a world more equal, even if it was one they viewed with blinders on. One cannot condemn the horrors and hypocrisy of the Trump era while turning a blind eye to the hypocrisies of the DNC, an institution that’s sole purpose on paper was to ensure that someone like Donald Trump never came within reach of the White House.It’s those very hypocrisies that ensured his Victory, for they alienated the very struggling people who needed to show up at the polling place to advert such a tragedy.
Perhaps they wrongly perceived that Trump couldn’t possibly win, but they also correctly perceived that Hillary Clinton, was, while certainly not Donald Trump, equally unwilling to face her own ethical fallacies. And that is the second half of the Saudi Arms Story, the half that is not being told. It’s origins in a deal originally wrought in the Obama White House, a fact conveniently lost in the narrative presented daily that this yet one more drop in the river of bile that flows out Donald Trump’s role-play as the resurrected love child of Mussolini and Caligula. The now iconic photo of Donald Trump and King Salman pressing their hands to that weird glowing orb has now become synonymous with the terrifying world bent of both leaders, a snapshot of two self-perceived Caesars lording over their sphere of influence and all the power that comes with it. But I would wager, that if one looked with a forensic enough eye, they could find the fingerprints of U.S. Presidents past from both Parties are all over it.
(Editor’s Note: Alexander Franklin was last seen being pulled off the streets of downtown Chicago and shoved into the back of a white van by two men eyewitnesses reported as having a startling resemblance to MSNBC anchors Chuck Todd and Chris Hayes. Anyone with knowledge of his current whereabouts is encouraged to contact staff at Berning Media. As of writing, MSNBC has declined to comment)