In my studies of history over the last decade, conducted on this blog, I’ve noticed that each generation has its own political thesis, its own dominant media, and its own dominant industry. Old theories, media and industries continue to exist, but they lose their importance as history marches forward, technology leading, economics following, media reflecting, and politicians trailing somewhere behind.
This is also true regarding our foreign relations. Each generation has a key ally and a key enemy. The identities of the friend and foe shift with the times. Germany, once a foe, has become a friend.
Saudi Arabia, once a friend, has become a foe.
The Arab kingdom’s rise and fall in America’s estimation parallels the history of the oil industry. The giant pools of easily-exploited crude there were first discovered by Americans in the 1930s, and the Kingdom began flexing its political muscle against American interests in the 1970s.
Today, it should be our implacable enemy, not the ally it’s considered to be. That it’s not has to do with the normal lags I found in politics, media and economics. And, of course, in the fact that we remain as addicted to oil today as we were when I was born 60 years ago. It will take another recession to change this.
Let’s go two generations back and, for a moment, play the 1939 Game. We like to pretend that, seven years into the New Deal, we had fully recognized, as a people, the existential threat Hitler represented. This may be one of history’s great cover-ups, because it simply was not true.
Franklin Roosevelt had lost the 1938 elections. A coalition of southern racists and northern “isolationists” had taken over Congress, mainly because Roosevelt had become timid in the face of the Depression’s ebb, had taken his foot off the economic gas, and had listened to Mellonites in his own party screaming “the debt the debt the debt.”
But were these isolationists really isolationists? Not all were. Many, including Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh, had already been feted by Hitler, in Berlin. Tom Watson Sr. of IBM was a major supplier to the Reich, and his punch card readers would soon be used to total up the Holocaust. Some of these people were naïve, some were dupes, while others became a willing Fifth Column through groups like the German-American Bund and, later, America First. To these Americans, Germany represented culture, it represented Bismarck’s social progress, it represented order, and it represented the largest number of American immigrants, including my own ancestors, the first of my own Blankenhorn line having arrived here in 1892 from Hamburg.
Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon succeeded in erasing this sin from history. They were of a new generation, World War II veterans, and their hyper-nationalism and fierce anti-communism made the past sins of Republicans irrelevant to post-war voters. They also began its journey from being the liberal party it was in Lincoln’s day to the conservative party it is today.
Fast forward to our own time. We have been allied to Saudi Arabia, more or less, for two generations. We have fought two wars, the Gulf War of 1991 and the Iraq War of the 2000s, more or less on oil’s behalf. Thousands of Americans died, not just for oil, but for the Saudi family’s domination of the oil market, and the money generated from it, in league with the American state of Texas, which recycled the cash through Wall Street.
But oil is no longer in America’s best interest. It is destroying the ability of human beings to live on this planet. It can be replaced, as coal is in the process of being replaced, with renewable energy, starting with the least-costly renewable energy of all, which is efficiency. This is the great economic opportunity of our time, creating energy abundance that is also sustainable, because it is not tied to pulling anything from the ground just to burn it.
What happens to Saudi Arabia as this happens? Saudi Arabia goes away. Eventually the Sauds, and the other Gulf monarchs, are overthrown. Saudi Arabia becomes just Arabia. They know this. They have been working for a decade now to diversify, into chemicals, into refining, into tourism, into air travel and finance. But the Kingdom itself has not reformed. The Saud family still combines the best features of Bourbon Kings like Louis XVI and the Spanish Inquisition. The family controls Sunni Islam, it is dedicated to spreading that version of its faith around the world, and it recognizes the legitimacy of no other faith – not even other branches of Islam.
The Saud family is medievalism personified. Its members do hardly any work. They drive around Europe in fast cars they discard after accidents. They debauch women outside the Kingdom and treat them as slaves inside it. They funded Al Qaeda. They fund ISIS.
ISIS is the Sunni Wahhabist ideology on steroids. And if you take away all the aid for it that comes from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states, it will disappear. It has no economic model to offer, it has no ideology other than absolute faith and destruction of everything that it deems “non-Islamic.” It is a throwback to the Christianity of the 7th century, not the 15th as the Saud family preaches, or the 18th as they practice, or the 21st century we live in.
ISIS is the Dark Ages.
The Iran Treaty is the first step in breaking the hold of this evil over us. It is just one step of many, but it’s an important step. By taking Shiite Islam back into the family of nations, where the state is controlled by religion but where there exist a form of democracy, markets, and citizens doing honest work, a real civil society, a counterweight can be built to Sunni Islam, a Protestantism to Sunni’s Catholicism. Islam, which currently lives in the 14th century, badly needs a Reformation.
The speech given Tuesday by former Vice President Dick Cheney should be seen in that context. Some are willing to criticize him directly now but no one, to my knowledge, has yet placed him, his views, or his speech in the proper historical context.
Dick Cheney is Saudi Arabia’s mouthpiece. He is speaking for the nation that, based on our values, and on our economic self-interest, has emerged as the chief threat to America in 2015. Listening to Cheney today is like listening to Henry Ford in 1939.
What is in America’s interest is to make the Saudis pound sand, to drive a stake in the family’s heart the way history drove one in the Medicis. What is in America’s interest is to liberate ourselves, first from Saudi oil, then (and most important) from oil of all kinds. That can be done. It is being done. Our laws, and our foreign policy, need to reflect that effort, removing aid to the industry and introducing carbon trading. But we don’t do that because of Fifth Columnists like Dick Cheney, and oil-funded media like Fox News (whose second largest owner is a Saudi national) and Al Jazeera (based in Qatar).
Today, on the 14th anniversary of 9/11, a terrorist act funded, and carried out, by Saudi nationals, let’s finally admit who are real enemy is, and who the willing dupes of that enemy are.