Newsweek has an article out called “When It Comes to Beheadings, ISIS has Nothing on Saudi Arabia”.
The article accurately illustrates that Saudi Arabia is essentially an established version of ISIS; in fact it was established the same way, which is also how Britain established its colonies like the USA, how US/Israel was, and is being, established, how the Afghan Taliban was established in a joint venture with the USA that lasted until 2001, and so on.
Newsweek details how the Saudis behead more people than ISIS (not to mention Saudis are big supporters of ISIS, and, according to leaked 2009 US documents, are the world’s overall biggest supporters of Sunni terror groups such as the formerly US-backed Taliban.)
The Saudi theocracy doesn’t just behead people or crucify people. They slice your head off in public then crucify you.
…if you were accused of banditry or drug smuggling, like seven Yemenis who were beheaded last year, your corpse will also be crucified.
There are different methods of crucifying the headless … while the headless corpse is mounted, your head is placed in a plastic bag… Your head is then raised above your body and appears to be floating and detached. Your corpse might be kept in that position for up to four days, as a grotesque warning to others of what might happen if they stray outside the law.
The article documents how this is done to people accused of being “sorcerers”, adulterers, people who plead not guilty to crimes (and, the article suggests, are likely innocent), and political dissidents (though Israel has the most political prisoners in the region, and it should also be noted that the USA puts people in cages for the rest of their lives for pretty crimes like shoplifting, while almost no one else does this.)
Noam Chomsky pointed out in a talk this month that Saudi Arabia is the single most radical Islamic state, and makes Iran look moderate by comparison (even though Iran also executes people; the top three countries for executing their own people are always Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the USA. China’s numbers are likely higher, but unknown.) And Saudi Arabia, exactly unlike Iran, has been pursuing, and has in fact obtained access to, nuclear weapons, via a deal with nuclear Pakistan, another Islamic fundamentalist US ally and distant runner up to Obama’s USA for greatest threat to world peace at the start of 2014.
Newsweek likewise points out that Iran has “a far more democratic political process than Saudi Arabia.” Iran, like the USA, China, and others, has a kind of fake democracy wherein candidates must be supported by religious authorities; in China, it is state authorities, and in the US, financial authorities, or oligarchs.
Newsweek then documents how the USA demonizes and criticizes not Saudi Arabia, but rather the more moderate and “democratic” country, Iran. When US politicians visit Saudi Arabia, as Kerry, Obama, Hillary Clinton, and others regularly do, they “do not publicly condemn the country”; human rights violations are “not mentioned”.
Indeed, though the USA cages more women than any other country in the world, Saudi Arabia is the only country where women are not allowed to operate cars.
Newsweek then points out that this behavior – criticizing a relatively moderate country but not a far more extremist ally – reveals a blatant double-standard by the US.
However, Newsweek then asks “why” the USA has this double-standard, and doesn’t explore the question beyond offering a couple of incidental hints throughout the article.
Perhaps the Newsweek author doesn’t know, thinks the answer is unknowable, or has some other motive for not exploring the topic further, but it should be pursued and the article presents a good opportunity.
Again, the question is, why does the otherwise wonderful USA have this confusing and seemingly nonsensical “double standard”, wherein it criticizes countries (like Iran) that are moderate compared to US ally Saudi Arabia (not to mention scores of others)?
US Relationship with Saudi Arabia
“…starting in the 1930s, the Americans would come to displace the British as the chief ally of the Saudis, especially after the American-aided discovery of vast reserves of oil in Saudi lands. [Murray] Rothbard spelled out the military and crony connections involved:
The Rockefeller interest and other Western Big Oil companies have had intimate ties with the absolute royalties of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia ever since the 1930s. During that decade and World War II, King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia granted a monopoly concession on all oil under his domain to the Rockefeller-control-led Aramco, while the $30 million in royalty payments for the concession was paid by the U.S. taxpayer.
The Rockefeller-influenced U.S. Export-Import Bank obligingly paid another $25 million to Ibn Saud to construct a pleasure railroad from his main palace, and President Roosevelt made a secret appropriation out of war funds of $165 million to Aramco for pipeline construction across Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, the U.S. Army was obligingly assigned to build an airfield and military base at Dhahran, near the Aramco Oilfields, after which the multi-million dollar base was turned over, gratis, to Ibn Saud.”
In the 1940s, US planners confirmed that the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, contained the greatest material prizes in world history, and set about ensuring that the US could control these resources (just as the US had previously worked to control the formerly most important resource, cotton, in order to bring Britain “to its knees”. Britain then was holding profitable colonies and enticing lands that ambitious US slave-owning empire-builders were drooling over.)
In the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower asked his staff, privately, the question asked again decades later, publicly, by Bush Jr.: Why do people in the Middle East seem to hate us? His staff investigated and determined that it was because the USA prevented democracy and supported repressive regimes in the Middle East so the US could control the region’s energy resources, and that the US should continue doing that.
The cozy gift-based US relationship with Saudi Arabia continues up to today, under Obama, who brown-noses the Saudis by, for example, sending them the biggest shipment of lethal weapons in US history, which Obama did in 2013. The shipment included internationally banned cluster bombs, one of the personal favorite toys of Obama, as well as the Boston Bombers.
Professor Chalmers Johnson concludes from his extensive research that if Saudi Arabia were to become too upset with the USA, stopped dealing its oil in dollars and switched to some other currency (as did Saddam prior to the US invasion, after which the US switched Iraq back to dollars), then the entire US empire would collapse.
So, quite clearly, the USA refrains from criticizing Saudi Arabia because it is a cornerstone of the extremely profitable (for people like the Rockefellers and Bushes) US empire, but that is only one reason.
Tradition of Excellence
Another reason, one that people go to astounding lengths to avoid saying or even thinking, but which is plain to those looking from outside, is that the USA™ is a vicious, extreme country. Since its inception, it has killed, enslaved, conquered, raped and tortured uncountable millions of people, continuing up to this second and projected far into the future. Countries don’t have to do that. China, for example, sailed to Africa before any western country. The difference was China didn’t then enslave the people it found living there. China still has zero foreign military bases. Switzerland, during the same period in which the USA has been taking innumerable lives, expanding its living-space, and putting the entire world under garrison with 1,000 or so terrorist training camps, has never entered one war. Instead, the Swiss developed an actual, highly effective defense policy (which partly hinges on not going around killing, torturing, and repressing people), and invented the Red Cross.
Beheading people is obviously not good, and it’s bad that the USA participates in it by backing Saudi Arabia to the literal hilt, but, as Chomsky pointed out this month, smashing the bodies of children into unrecognizable pieces like a sadistic giant, as the USA and its friends do constantly, makes beheading look “kind of polite”. And the act, mostly carried out by Bill Clinton, of knowingly killing (way) over 500,000 kids (and many innocent others) simply has no contemporary equivalent, and constitutes more murders than all people to have ever been slain by WMD in human history.
Of the US invasion of Vietnam to uphold Western colonial domination, “David Hackworth, a retired colonel and the most decorated officer in the Army, commented in 2003:”
”There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.”
As a reminder, at My Lai, a bunch of US terrorists strolled into town and machine-gunned hundreds of women and kids. US soldiers also collected Vietnamese ears, noses, virginity, and so on, as trophies during the invasion.
Here’s Jimmy Carter, considered to be the absolute extreme end of US “human rights advocacy”, speaking about the US invasion of Vietnam:
The destruction was mutual.
I don’t feel that we ought to apologize or castigate ourselves or to assume the status of culpability.
I guess that’s why, rather than paying reparations to Vietnam, the USA is, to this day, making Vietnam pay reparations to the USA. That, or it’s just bully’s justice.
As for the destruction being “mutual”, I’m not really sure why Carter thinks Vietnam invaded the USA, raped and machine-gunned countless women and children, carried out massive chemical warfare and land-mining that’s mutating and killing swathes of US citizens right now, took people’s ears and noses as trophies, and so on, but, uh… okay…
Anyway, the Western tradition of barbarism is old. Europe is so outstandingly brutal that it has taken over essentially the entire world at one time or another, and has dug in like ticks (ticks with ICBMs) in the places where it was able to exterminate most of the previous inhabitants: the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Those great nations, along with the homeland of Britain, have formed an illegal, global privacy-invasion, big-brother racket that creepily refers to itself as the “five eyes”, and is part of the ongoing domination expansion campaign of these groups.
For one specific example of traditional Western terrorism, British conquerors in India would slaughter people en masse and sew the skins of their Hindu and Muslim victims into the corpses of cows and pigs, as a form of religious humiliation, then fire them out of cannons! This is how the Brits went about trying to convert people to Christianity. It was a “convert or die and then get sewn into a sacred or forbidden animal and fired out of a cannon” kind of thing. ISIS makes people convert or die, but the Brits took it to another level of perversion. Maybe it was the famous dry British sense of humor.
The Brits also beheaded people, but seemed to look happier about it (though maybe ISIS guys are smiling under their masks):
Image: A British Royal Marine in April 1952 grins proudly as he displays the severed heads of a young man and woman who may have or may not have exercised their legal right to resist foreign occupation.
The classy Brits would also, a la Game of Thrones, line the roads with rotting corpses of people they had slaughtered, as a terror-warning to anyone thinking about resisting the Empire. This is how the Brits were, as was often claimed in the West, establishing their global empire in a “fit of absent-mindedness.” Just absent-mindedly displaying slaughtered corpses and sewing people into animals like in Silence of the Lambs. Hm? What’s that? Sorry, I nodded off while I was doing my sewing. So absent-minded.
As the world’s overall most extreme and dangerous terrorist group, there is no reason the driving forces of the USA would want to criticize Saudi Arabia as long as it is acceptably cooperative. Sure, some individuals within the USA (though not role models like Obama, Hillary) see reason to strongly criticize the Saudi practices; so do individuals in Saudi Arabia. But the dominant barbarism of the USA prevails, and thus Saudi Arabia not only gets more US weapons in one 2013 shipment from Obama than any other country ever, but remains backed by Obama when it invades places like Bahrain to back up dictators who are carrying out repression by “systematically torturing children”, as documented by Amnesty. The USA not only participates in what Saudi Arabia does to its own people, but goes far beyond that and slaughters millions of people thousands of miles from US shores.
So, to pick up where Newsweek left off with a question, it would certainly seem that the reasons for the USA’s apparent “double-standard” (which is really just a crude, very basic propaganda tactic) are that the US doesn’t care what allies do as long as they don’t present an obstacle to US government/corporate domination, and that US controllers are themselves the world’s leading extremists: If you don’t pay enough tribute or cooperate sufficiently, we’ll kill you slowly by cutting you off from the world, kill you quickly by detonating a million explosives in your cities, drench you with toxic chemicals, and send hundreds of thousands of impoverished US kids to kill you.
If Iran suddenly decided to give control of its resources and space back over to the USA, virtually all criticisms of Iran’s human rights issues emanating from the US would end, as in the case of Saudi Arabia, where they never began. And if Saudi Arabia switched its oil-dealings to a non-US currency, the USA would, if it didn’t launch an outright terrorist invasion or proxy war, quickly start criticizing human rights issues in Saudi Arabia, just as the Bush regime used criticism of Israeli human rights abuses to make Israel cancel a weapons deal with China.
There are endless illustrations of this dynamic going back forever, but let’s look at one more crucial contemporary example:
In August of last year, someone carried out a chemical weapons attack in Syria, intentionally killing room-fulls of kids, as well as innocent adults.
Obama intentionally lied and said Assad, president of Syria, did it because only he could have done it, and, based on that lie, stated that he was going to punish Assad, because such an attack warranted a punishment. (That part is obviously true – such an attack certainly warrants punishment; legal punishment decided by an international tribunal, not ridiculous war criminal Barack Obama.)
Here, thanks to leaked information given to Seymour Hersh and reported in the London Review of Books, is what Obama determined was the correct punishment for the chemical attack:
Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up targets for bombing. Early in the process, the former intelligence official said, ‘the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently “painful”…
The original targets included only military sites and nothing by way of civilian infrastructure. Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into ‘a monster strike’: two wings of B-52 bombers … navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles … ‘Every day the target list was getting longer,’ …
…two B-52 air wings with two-thousand pound bombs were assigned to the mission. Then we’ll need standby search-and-rescue teams to recover downed pilots and drones for target selection. It became huge.’ The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities…’,
The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.
‘…a massive assault…’
That’s what Obama says is the necessary punishment for carrying out this chemical weapons attack against civilians. Remember that.
Obama’s launch day came, but, seemingly inexplicably, Obama didn’t go through with his planned “massive assault”. What happened?
It turned out the chemical attack was almost 100% certainly not carried out by Assad, and was almost 100% certainly carried out by major US ally and NATO member, Turkey:
‘We now know it was a covert action planned by [Turkish president] Erdoğan’s people to push Obama over the red line,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors’ – who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas – ‘were there. The deal was to do something spectacular. Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey – that it could only have gotten there with Turkish support. The Turks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it.’ Much of the support for that assessment came from the Turks themselves, via intercepted conversations in the immediate aftermath of the attack. ‘Principal evidence came from the Turkish post-attack joy and back-slapping in numerous intercepts. Operations are always so super-secret in the planning but that all flies out the window when it comes to crowing afterwards. There is no greater vulnerability than in the perpetrators claiming credit for success.’ Erdoğan’s problems in Syria would soon be over: ‘Off goes the gas and Obama will say red line and America is going to attack Syria…
Obama’s staff began warning him not to attack Syria, though apparently without giving him this specific information (they self-censored since they were afraid to contradict Obama’s lies).
But after a while, the excuse no longer flies. Certainly, once Hersh’s article was released and the whole world found out that it was Turkey who carried out the chemical terror attack, the NSA-expanding president could not credibly claim to be in the dark while the world is in the light.
The point is, look at what Obama did when he was saying that Assad was the one who carried out the attack: he went on TV and said we need to punish him with massive illegal violence.
But when it got out that Turkey was the one who carried out the attack, did Obama go on TV and say we need to teach the Turks a lesson by detonating tons of explosives in their cities?
No. And now Obama is bombing Syria, anyway, just using a better propaganda pretext.
But why is he also not detonating explosives in Turkey? The crime didn’t change. Only the perpetrator changed. How does that make a difference?
What kind of POS “global policeman” and “protector of the innocent” stops wanting to punish a gas attack intentionally targeting kids when he finds out his friends did it?
The evil, corrupt kind, that doesn’t care about terrorism, genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes at all, and in fact commits them constantly, because what he really cares about is maintaining and expanding a global profit racket, or empire. It couldn’t be much more clear.
Which takes us back to the beginning: as the record illustrates, the US corporate state is not bombing ISIS for any reason (including killing US citizens, which the US doesn’t care about outside of the implications for expansionism) except to try to nurture its profits racket. The USA is not a human rights organization – in fact it spies on human rights organizations, like Amnesty. The US does not bomb people for humanitarian purposes, and its bombings are illegal and virtually always make things much worse, regardless. If we buy that the US corporate state bombs for humanity (just like how Chevron dumps toxic waste into the Amazon for humanity), we are being duped into embodying the precise desired response to the propaganda of the world’s biggest and most extreme terrorist network, which tells us: “Think that we are doing this to help you (even though we can’t stand you), and pay no attention to our personal enrichment and your impoverishment, mutilation, and death. Those are also for your good. We just don’t subject ourselves or our families to those parts because… uh… uh… Look over there!”
Don’t like referring to the blood-soaked venom excreted by Obama and the USA as “propaganda”? Check out this video game created and released by the US army, which it uses as a propaganda tool to try to radicalize US children into becoming militants who will die and kill people to secure profits for US companies:
Virtually everyone you kill in the game is unshaven, and there is almost no blood, unlike every other one of these games. This one is sanitized. When you shoot someone, the person just falls down, lies still, and is no longer a “target”.
The US Army advertises this in gaming magazines so it can, like cigarette companies, target and hook children when they are young and impressionable.
In corporate news style (i.e. Fox’s “bomb them bomb them keep bombing them!” refrain) I’ll offer some ideas for what we can do, without using Fox’s suggested mass, illegal violence. 1) To stop crimes, stop being the world’s biggest perpetrator of crimes. 2) To achieve a more just and peaceful world than what he have now, let’s focus our efforts on balancing (otherwise known as “democratizing”) the distribution of world power – exactly what the USA and its integrated mega-corporations like Fox don’t want, and forcefully block and prevent, so you know it’s the right track. Here’s why this would help.
(Note on Newsweek: In the late 80s, Newsweek referred to then senator John Kerry as a “randy conspiracy buff” for investigating what was a completely true allegation: that the USA was protecting cocaine dealers in the US so it could illegally finance an illegal US terrorist operation against Nicaragua, with staging grounds in Honduras.)
Robert Barsocchini is a researcher focusing on global force dynamics. He also writes professionally for the film industry. Here is his blog. Also see his free e-book, Whatever it Takes – Hillary Clinton’s Record of Support for War and other Depravities. Click here to follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.