The US-Saudi imperial interrelationship

Originally  published on the Leftist Critic blog on Nov 13, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

While the society of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is corrupted, there is another dimension to mention: the U$-Saudi imperial interrelationship and where it currently stands. It seems that this relationship is good straits, but could easily bounce back as the masters of war of the murderous empire smile with glee. [1] The plan to “mold” opinion proposed in 1950 has not worked:

“…if the President and the Government and the Department of State…felt there was a menace to the interests of the United States, American public opinion could be molded, if not for the sake of Ibn Saud, for the sake of the interests of the United States and Saudi Arabia”

The KSA was founded in 1932, the year that Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) won the presidential election against “discredited” Republican Herbert Hoover. For years, the Saud family had been hiding in Kuwait, a protectorate of the British Empire, while the Ottomans controlled much of the Mideast. After the collapse of Ottoman Empire in 1923, the Saud family sprung into action. They began establishing the foundation of what would become the KSA. By 1932, when the state was declared to the world, few countries recognized it as there were no resources “of importance” and the country was composed mainly of nomads, delineated into varying ethnic groupings. Later that year, the fortunes changed for the Saud family, the new bourgeoisie of Saudi Arabia abeit underdeveloped of course, which was experiencing an “economic crisis,” when black gold was found. With the oil wealth, the Saud family became the Royals, and their brutal monarchy was cemented. With that, the teachings by Ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab on the Arabian Peninsula, originally part of am “18th-century revival and reform movement,” often called Wahhabism in the West, received state sanction. This form of Islam, which insists on a “literal interpretation of the Koran” and declares that those who don’t practice it are “heathens and enemies,” would be promoted for years to come even as it was used by all sorts of Islamic reactionaries.

As years passed, the U$, along with many other countries, swooped in and recognized the KSA as a state, and Western oil corporations, like Standard Oil, established their roots in the country. Later a camp was established for foreign oil workers, creating a sort of bubble of security, at least in theory. Years later, some argued that Saudi Arabia and the Islamic movement were part of an anti-imperial front. Canadian socialist Paul Saba, wrote in 1980 that colonialists tried to suppress Islam, which made it stronger and part of anti-colonial struggle, meaning that many Muslim groups often played a “progressive role in supporting national liberation.” He also said that because sentencing in the Islamic world is “far less than severe than the torture and murder which existed under the Shah,” that it is fine, a position which should be unacceptable to any reasonable person. Saba also said that the Islamic movement wanted development and progress apart from “imperialist control,” with the US as a key target for hatred and defiance due to, as he put it, “historical plunder and domination of the Middle East and its backing for Israeli Zionism and the Shah of Iran.” While he makes valid points about countries such as Iran, which is currently at a crossroads geopolitically, he does not recognize that many of these countries are religiously conservative and as a result, do not have true liberation, especially for women, homosexuals, and non-Muslims.

In the 1940s, the equation changed once again. While the US sent engineers to work on Saudi roads, financial loans to the KSA were nixed by the U$ government because of British support for the Kingdom. [2] Even as veteran diplomat Alexander Comstock Kirk agreed with this assessment, he rejected the idea of “a division of hemispheres of influence” in which the British would take a leading role instead of the U$. U$ diplomats even debated sending agricultural and technical assistance to the KSA based on what was done on reservations of the remaining indigenous nations in the U$! [3] At the same time, certain policymakers turned their attention to the Kingdom where a “massive oilfield has been discovered in 1938,” and strengthened a relationship with the country, trying to cultivate it as a friend.

All of this happened even as the Kingdom and its bourgeoisie had established diplomatic relations with the Nazi and Italian fascists, both of whom tried to bring the Saudis to their side, sometimes by promising to send armaments. [4] Even so, the U$ was successful in bribing the Saudis to switch sides and declare war on the Nazis by 1945, even inviting them to a UN conference, a proposal which was roundly rejected by the Soviets.

As time passed, relations changed. Not only did FDR’s meeting with Ibn Saud (known in the Arab world as Abdulaziz), in Great Bitter Lake, Egypt, reinforce the U$-Saudi relationship, but the US began sending the oil-rich country military aid. [5] The U$ began seeing protection of the KSA as vital to the security of the empire. This was a time that the US saw the Kingdom as “a bulwark to peace in the Near Eastern world” supported the extension of a 15 million dollar Export-Import Bank loan to the country to develop its railroads, highways and generally its transportation system. [6]

This relationship was helped because the Saudis were staunchly anti-communist. Millions of dollars of U$ investments in the country were considered as an “effective weapon against the advance of Communism.” In exchange for such investment, the Saudis allowed their airfield of Dharan to hold U$ warplanes and US commercial flights by the early 1950s. Afterword, the U$ sent military advisers to “protect” the Kingdom and reassert U$ military rights in the country. In later years, during the 1972 border conflict between North Yemen (backed by Jordan, KSA, the U$, UK, Taiwan, and West Germany) and South Yemen, also called the Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen (backed by the Soviet Union, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, and Libya), and after, the Saudis saw South Yemen as a threat. The country was even praised by the World Bank for satisfying basic needs of the population, raising education standards, and more. The government of South Yemen also engaged in campaigns to eradicate illiteracy, emancipate women, develop a safe drinking water system, and engage in agriculture collectivization. Eventually, the imperial and capitalistic forces got their way, uniting the North and South Yemen behind Ali Abdullah Saleh, a former leader of North Yemen, in 1990, who would be predictably US-friendly until his ousting in 2012. However, in 1994 there was a civil war between the pro-Western northerners and socialist southerners, which was launched by North Yemen, which again led to reunification and purging of the left from Yemeni society. Even since 2013, people resisted Yemeni occupation of the southern part of the country “through the division of labor and through popular committees” which is mainly expressed through peaceful protest as the last secretary general of the Yemeni Socialist Party, Ali Salim al-Beidh, noted in a 2013 interview.

While the Saudis became anxious for not receiving military assistance, they were likely glad that the U$ negotiated an agreement between them and ARAMCO (Arab-American Oil Company). [7] At the same time, the U$ had the appearance as a “neutral mediator” in disputes, mainly between the British and Saudis, handled in arbitration sessions. These disputes were over oil field claims near Farsi island, Qatar, the town of Buraimi, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, and other border areas. Those involved in the disputes, which had been festering since the late 1940s, included Aramco and British oil companies such as Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC). Ultimately, the Saudis found the British, who were exploring oil drilling in a disputed zone, to be impolite and were angry at them, which the British found disconcerting, with their bourgeoisie likely worried on losing a market.

In subsequent years, as the formal British Empire weakened, which would become, at least for the Saudis, “hostile,” the U$ would pledge to protect them and their oil from those they perceived as the “aggressors”: the Soviets. Still, in 1952, the Join Chiefs of Staff believed that “from a military point of view, grant aid to Saudi Arabia and certain other Middle East countries is not justified,” even though they agreed that the Kingdom had unique position in the Mideast. The U$ pledge for support was noted in a summary of a March 1950 conversation, between the U$, Britain, and the KSA:

“the United States has an extremely strong interest in the American investment in petroleum in Saudi Arabia. This is an interest which is vitally important to the security of the United States and to the world…it is necessary that the United States render assistance to nations who find themselves threatened by aggression or subversion from the north…The United States feels that the only important long-range security menace that faces the world is the obviously aggressive designs of the USSR…if at any time it [Saudi Arabia] is menaced by aggressive action or subversive activities from any neighboring power, the United States Government will take most definite action…The United States on its side is gratified that American investors, both oilmen and others, have chosen to come here to work with the Saudi Arabian Government”

However the relationship between the U$ and the KSA developed a hiccup in the form of the murderous Zionist apartheid state.

In 1947, after years of Zionist efforts to establish a state, the murderous apartheid state. was established in the Holy Land of Palestine. The area was already torn by strife between Jews and Arabs, which the British imperialists saw as a dilemma to quickly extricate themselves from. This new state was founded on violence and religious ideals like the KSA, but was specifically founded on the genocide of the Palestinians. The Saudis were strongly opposed to this new state and seemed to favor the Palestinians. Ibn Saud, from 1947 to his death in 1953, was strongly anti-Zionist (perhaps even anti-Semitic) and warned the U$ of consequences if they supported Israel. [8] Even as FDR has reassured Ibn Saud that the U$ would not change its policy on Palestine, “without consulting the Arabs,” this was disregarded. Ibn Saud stayed outspoken on Zionism, even canceling an Aramco concession, alarming the military and foreign policy establishment. Eventually, Saud found he could distinguish between U$ foreign policy elsewhere in the Mideast and ARAMCO, arguing that oil royalties could allow Arab states to resist “Jewish pretensions,” and staying formally hostile to Zionism. For years to come, he U$ supported the Zionist state, although not as strongly until the 1960s and 1970s.

Despite this, the U$-Saudi relationship persisted. Presidents, whether from the capitalist Democratic and Republican parties, have tried to favor the KSA in whatever way they can, whether that is through arms deals or accepting ceremonial gifts. The U$ even sent a medical team, led by President Truman’s personal physician, to the Kingdom to make sure that Ibn Saud was healthy before his death! In 1957, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared the “Eisenhower Doctrine,” said that the U$ would, within constitutional means, oppose “overt armed aggression” in the Kingdom and the Middle East by Soviet and Soviet-aligned agents. Years later, John F. Kennedy, still lauded by conservatives and liberals alike, ordered that a squadron of fighters be sent to the country to protect it from Egyptian air assaults. Years later, the U$ was grateful for the Saudi effort to avoid a “serious shortfall in oil supplies,” stabilize the world oil market, and the Saudi decision to increase production due to the Iranian revolution in 1979.

In later years, the relationship between the KSA and the U$ strengthened. A senior fellow at the elite Council on Foreign Relations, Rachel Bronson, wrote in 2004 that the “close, cozy relationship” between the two countries began with Ronald Reagan, not George W. Bush, with the relationship cemented in efforts to counter claimed “Soviet aggression.” She continues, saying that the Saudis had their own reasons for fighting the Soviets including their fear that the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan would “threaten” their Kingdom. Bronson goes on to say that the Saudis also played a role in funding the contras in Nicaragua, Reagan’s “freedom fighters” for capitalism, along with funding opposition to Ethiopia’s Soviet-aligned government and horrid rebel leader Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA to fight the Soviet-backed government in Angola. She then claims that current attention to Bush family “misses the longer history of the American and Saudi Arabian contemporary relationship.” However, by saying this, she is whitewashing the Bush family’s history with the Saud family.

In 1990, former CIA director and then-President George H.W. Bush brought troops into the Kingdom during the Persian Gulf quest for oil, declaring that the U$ would “assist the Saudi Arabian government in the defense of its homeland.” This was not a surprise as then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney personally flew to the oil kingdom to ask King Fahd to allow the US to “station thousands of troops there,” saying to the U$ Senate that the US was coming to their aid because of the agreement between Roosevelt and Ibn Saud all those years ago. [9] Not long after, he subsequently supported the war against Iraq. Years later, George W. Bush would declare the country was “expanding the role of its people in determining their future” even as they remained a brutal state.

Still, there have been disagreements and snipes over the years. Even disgraced war criminal Killary Clinton, in excerpts of speeches, released by Wikileaks and organized later by the National Security Archive, to bankers and well-off constituencies, criticized the Saudis. She said that they (and the Emiratis) feared “organized efforts for political Islam,” saw the Muslim Brotherhood as threatening, and were against missile defense in the Mideast. She also said that the Saudis did not have a stable government (perhaps indicated by the killing a Saudi royal by head chopping), that the Saudis have backed the Sunni fighters in Syria with large amounts of arms, and that the “Saudis have exported more extreme ideology than any other place on earth over the course of the last 30 years.” [10] This statement aligns with earlier Wikileaks cables saying that the country was “the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups,” with the government not even trying to stop the flow of money, and recent releases saying that the Kingdom and Qatar “fund ISIS.”

As for Clinton, while she may have angered top policymakers when she spoke her mind about Zionist and Saudi actions, she also stated the obvious. She said that that as a result of the so-called “Arab Spring,” the Zionist state and the KSA are “more closely aligned in their foreign policy…[on] Iran…Egypt…Syria and…a lot of other things.” [11] This is was also clear when the late King Abdullah said that the U$ should “cut off the head of the snake” and bomb Iran before it was too late. [12] More recently, the Saudis even allowed Zionist newspapers to be viewed in the country.

Apart from the powerful (but currently weakened) Saudi lobby, there is the bourgeois media. When King Abdullah died in January of last year, this media could not let down on its praise, calling him “something of an advocate for women” (The Telegraph), “a reformer at home” (BBC), a “reformer and often came up against the more hard-line clerics” (CNN), “accepted limited change” (The Guardian), “pushed cautious changes” (Reuters), “earned a reputation as a cautious reformer…[and] became, in some ways, a force of moderation” (New York Times), “to his supporters, [he]…was a benign and…progressive monarch” (Wall Street Journal), “was seen by many as a gentle reformer” (The Independent), and “was considered a savvy and plainspoken modernizer, if not a reformer” (The New Yorker). [13] While BBC, the Wall Street Journal, and The Independent were more reserved in their praise, they were still part of the general trend.

Apart from crap infotainment sites like BuzzFeed claiming that King Abdullah’s “legacy” was important to care about, President Obama declared that the Saudi king was “always candid and had the courage of his convictions” and corporatist Secretary of State John Kerry, in a bubble of misunderstanding and confusion, said that the U$ “lost a friend…the world has lost a revered leadera man of wisdom and vision…a brave partner in fighting violent extremism.” To top this off is the State Department-connected and bourgeois Human Rights Watch declaring that King Abdullah’s reign has “brought about marginal advances for women but failed to secure the fundamental rights of Saudi citizens,” which basically offering of praise.

Some criticized such praise at the time. One of these people was Jacob Mchangama, the director of the Justia think tank, on the conservative website of Forbes. He wrote that the reactions to the death of the Saudi king “has been a rude awakening.” He criticized the responses of leaders including John Kerry, former UK prime minister David Cameron, and IMF chief Christine Lagarde, saying that “acknowledging the victims of King Abdullah rather than singing false praises would be a good start” in the right direction. His tepid criticism doesn’t go far enough: the bourgeois media and Western capitalist leaders are supporting the imperialist U$-Saudi relationship by whitewashing the crimes of the authoritarian Kingdom. If anything, people should be celebrating the death of a tyrant like King Abdullah, not praising him as a reformer, and should be recognizing that Saudi society is still violent, like that of the U$, but also in a very different way, with routine executions of “subversives.”

The Iranian leaders clearly agree with Clinton on this point. In a recent speech to the UN General Assembly, the moderate reformist President, backed by the Western capitalists, Hassan Rouhani, argued that if the Saudis are serious about development and regional security they must stop their “divisive policies, spread of hate ideology and trampling upon the rights of neighbors.” He further criticized the U$ government for not following on the Iran deal, along with the Supreme Court decision earlier this year, to which only chief justice John Roberts and associate justice Sonia Sotamayor dissenting, to seize Iranian assets because they “committed terrorism.” He also said that Iran had a good relationship with the people of the United States, and that their “problem is with the American government, not companies, people and universities.”

Apart from the internal dynamics and land grabs, there are obvious realities which should be pointed out. For one, the Saudis are backing the religiously reactionary opposition in the Syrian Arab Republic, which was not “moderate” but are basically Al Qaeda type-organizations, like Al Nusra. They even offered Russia an oil deal secretly if they withdrew backing of the Syrian government, which they refused, and they provided chemical weapons to Syrian “rebels.” The goal of the Saudis interconnect directly with U$ imperial interests, which entail the displacing the progressive government headed by Bashar Al-Assad and replacing him (and the government) with one that benefits imperial power and allows Western investments to flow. The Kingdom is, as as result, an arm of U$ imperial foreign policy. The KSA even allied with the U$-supported  state of Kazakhstan, and the U$, which has a drone base in the Kingdom, has propped up the brutal autocratic state and its leaders. All of this isn’t a surprise since in 2011, the U$ Senate Intelligence Committee found a list of direct members of the Saudi royal family who were connected with 9/11, a discovery which connects to the fact the Kingdom arguably divided into fiefdoms, with specific princes having their own interests which may have had a “severe impact on 9/11.”

Recently, the relationship between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the U$ has been decisively shaken. On September 28th, the U$ Congress roundly overrode President Obama’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), a law which allows families of victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for involvement in the attacks, which makes sense since 15 of the 19 hijackers came from the country. [14] Scholar Binoy Kampmark argued that the law was a “very American formula, one born in the court room and litigation process,” that any avenue of legal action “against an ally was tantamount to a confession,” and noting that the Saudi foreign minister said that their assets could be seized due to the law. He also argued that this bill’s passage meant that “various imperial efforts of the US would be compromised,” with U$ imperial engagements and actions, along with those of US allies, suddenly facing “the prospect of legal targeting,” with the law serving as one the most overt challenges to “assumptions of sovereign immunity.”

Those for the law include president-elect (and fascist) the orange menace, Killary, Nancy Pelosi, John Cornyn, and a majority of Congress. The main force behind the law, other than feelings of jingoism conjured up even by mention of the September 11 attacks, was a New Jersey group named 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, which is pro-military but critical of the Saudis. The group’s chair, Terry Strada, a former director of J.P. Morgan Chase’s Human Resources department, joined the group in 2002 and became chair in 2012. [15] One of their lawyers, James P. Kreindler, declared that “Saudi Arabia doesn’t want to see this continue in the media or court…we are going to prevail. We are going to win. Either the Saudis will come to the table or we’ll go to court and win there.”

The groups against the law are varied. They include the Saudi government, President Obama, who warned it would lead countries to sue the US in foreign courts for war crimes, CIA director John Brennan, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Gulf Cooperation Council, a bipartisan group of former executive officials saying that the law would harm US interests and undercut security of the empire. [16] The Saudi foreign ministry declared that the law would lead to “serious unintended repercussions” such as threats to sovereign immunity. Some have said that the law, coupled with other measures, is a setback for the Saudis, whose influence on Capital Hill is waning, and that “anti-Saudi activity” on the Hill is the strongest it has been in decades. [17] These “concerns” were as bad as an ABC News fluff piece about the law, with their hand-picked experts saying that the law cold lead to “potentially any nation” sued, could make the U$ “much more vulnerable,” is “very dangerous…a huge mistake,” undermining counter-terrorism, and hilariously that “some countries would be interested in saying our military aid to Israel is aiding and abetting things that they would allege are sometimes war crimes against the Palestinians” which “we” need immunity from.

A Yale-educated individual formerly in the military establishment, named Michael Rubin, went the furthest of all. He said that without oil, the KSA “would be a very different place” and that oil money led the country into “modernity.” After saying that JASTA would shake “Saudi financial stability,” he declared that the Kingdom would become “bankrupt” because of the law, saying that this is not “good for America” since “what happens in Riyadh doesn’t stay in Riyadh.” Then, almost like a giddy neo-con, he worried that political instability in the country would not be “good” because decades of “Islamist education and indoctrination” would lead unemployed Saudi youth to not embrace “liberalism and tolerance if suddenly put in desperate straits.” Basically, this means that the country would not be a bastion of imperialism and could become, hypothetically, anti-imperialist and antagonistic to the U$, which he sees as “dangerous.” Reasoned people should welcome such a change in Saudi Arabia if it is pushed by those who want to challenge imperial control, apart from the Islamic reactionaries.

Congressional criticism and efforts to curtail the Saudis only goes so far. In late September, the U$ Senate passed a law, by a supermajority, to approve the sale of Abrams tanks and other armaments to the KSA, with bigwig Senators like John McCain, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and Mitch McConnell in support. Those that objected were led by libertarian-Republican Senator Rand Paul and liberal-Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. While Paul opposed giving the KSA more arms because Congress hadn’t discussed the Saudi bombing of Yemen, which has killed over 3,800 civilians and resulted in much turmoil, Murphy had other reasons. He argued that there is “an American imprint on every civilian life lost in Yemen,” a statement proved by the fact that that the KSA is using U$-supplied white phosphorous in Yemen. He also said that the KSA was not “immune from criticism” and that the US should not dictate what “form of Islam wins out around the world.” However, he said that the U$ should still have a strong relationship with the KSA, which he considered vital, that allows “for one party to object to the behavior of the other when it’s not in the party’s mutual national security interests” and that the relationship can survive U$ challenges. Despite these reservations, criticism of the Saudis in Congress, and generally, is a good sign of things to come. Bourgeois left-liberals have their answer to these problems in (and relating to) Saudi Arabia embodied by veteran peace activist Medea Benjamin. She argues in her new book that the current US-Saudi relationship is destructive and that the US State Department should use its existing policies to sanction the KSA. [18] While this may be satisfying to some, this article will go further be recognizing how the relationship is connected to the capitalist system, imperialism, and the murderous US empire.

On the other hand, the imperial interrelationship with Saudi Arabia could be in trouble. For one, during the continuing U$-backed Saudi war in Yemen, some top government officials, especially in the State Department were worried. They said in emails, from mid-last year to earlier this year, that they were concerned about legal blowback from U$ participation in the Saudi bombing. These officials believed that the US could be “implicated in war crimes” and that the Saudis would kill civilians due to their “lack of…experience with dropping munitions and firing missiles” coupled with weak intelligence, even as they attempted to maintain the U$-Saudi relationship. Further emails showed that the Saudis disregarded a list prepared by senior officials to prevent destruction of “critical infrastructure” and reduce casualties, bombing a bridge to the Yemeni capital of Sanaa which was a major rout for humanitarian food aid. Even former military prosecutor and California liberal senator Ted Lieu declared, that due to the assistance in the horrid bombing, the Obama administration is “now in an untenable situation.” This situation is complicated by the fact that risks to U$ military personnel, the footsoldiers of empire, even those on Navy destroyers, is increasing due to Saudi airstrikes on Yemeni civilians. [19]

Still, there is no doubt that the murderous empire had purposely turned looked away from the abuses of women, non-Muslims, foreign workers, and many others in the Kingdom, as previously noted. Not only is the country a murderous state, but it is effectively a client state of the empire, since without US support it could not destabilize the region whether it is backing horrid “rebels” in Syria or decimating the small country of Yemen. This is not a surprise since diplomats, even in 1946, declared that the U$ should provide “such assistance as may be necessary and feasible to strengthen and maintain that country as a sovereign state free of internal and external disturbances which might threaten its stability.” But the empire is not the only one that is defending the Kingdom.

As it should be obvious, supporting a relationship, even a “bilateral partnership,” with a tyrannical government like the KSA is against the principles of democracy, freedom, and justice the US supposedly stands for. Some policymakers might speak of the “reforms” in the country such as “expanding rights of women in Saudi Arabia,” but they will never gut the relationship. The fact that the NSA partnered with brutal Saudi state police and that the country’s currency is directly tied to the U$ dollar, showing that the relationship is entrenched. Even Bernie Sanders, the professed progressive and “antiwar” candidate in the capitalist Democratic Party, believed that rich authoritarian Arab states, such as the Kingdom, should fight against Daesh. Such an approach is not anti-interventionist since it means that the US-backed imperial proxies would be fighting against it, which does not, in any way, shape, or form undermine U$ imperialism. It also provides the potential for Saudi aggression to expand beyond Syria to the whole Mideast, causing more reactionary responses.

Readers may be looking for a “call to action” after reading this piece. I’m not going to follow the pattern of so many liberal documentaries which say you should go to a website and sign a petition. However, it is my hope that this article helps people start to challenge not only the accepted narrative about Saudi Arabia in the West but informs criticisms of bourgeois liberals. Much of the criticism of the US-Saudi relationship, and the Kingdom itself, mainly focuses on violations of “human rights,” as flawed a concept as that is, and stays within the bounds of accepted discourse in our capitalist society. There needs to be an analysis of Saudi Arabia and U$ imperial power which recognizes the interconnected nature of imperialism, capitalism, and other systems of oppression. This includes even criticizing states, even those one may be inclined to support, which have relationships with Saudi Arabia. While this article does not have all the answers and is only a first stab at this subject, but hopefully it opens the door for more discussion.


Notes

[1] Under the Obama administration, there was biggest arms deal in U$ history, at the time, with up to $60 billion dollars of military equipment bought for the Saudis, which was largely ignored by the corporate media.

[2] Wallace Murray, “Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray),” May 29, 1941, 890F.51/21, Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Alexander Comstock Kirk, “The Minister in Egypt Kirk to the Secretary of State,” June 26, 1941, 890F.21/23: Telegram; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Cordell Hull, “The Secretary to the Minister in Egypt (Kirk),” August 22, 1941, 890F.51/29: Telegram; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Alexander Comstock Kirk, “The Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State,” August 30, 1941, 890F.51/30: Telegram; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Cordell Hull, “The Secretary to the Minister in Egypt (Kirk),” September 10, 1941, 890F.51/30: Telegram; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Alexander Comstock Kirk, “Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State,” September 23, 1941, 890F.51/39: Telegram; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Sumner Welles, “Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Welles) to the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray),” September 26, 1941, 890F.515/1⅓, Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016. Even the US was not on board with a Saudi request for 2 million in gold pieces in 1946.

[3] Harold I. Ickes, “The Secretary of Interior (Ickes) to the Secretary of State,” May 21, 1941, 102.64/100; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016; Gordon P. Merriam, “Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Gordon P. Merriam of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs,” September 19, 1941, 800F.00/67; Foreign Relations of the United States Diplomatic Papers, 1941, The British Commonwealth; The Near East and Africa, Vol. III, Accessed October 14, 2016.

[4] Francis R. Nicosia, Nazi Germany and the Arab World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 43, 76, 88, 110-114, 124-125, 126-127, 130-132. Reportedly, late Saudi King Abdullah treasured the dagger Hitler gave the Saudis in 1939.

[5] Adam Taylor, “The first time a US president met a Saudi King,” Washington Post, January 27, 2015. Accessed October 14, 2016; Rudy Abramson, “1945 Meeting of FDR and Saudi King Was Pivotal for Relations,” Los Angeles Times, August 9, 1990. Accessed October 14, 2016; G. Jefferson Price III, “Saudis remember FDR’s broken promise,” Baltimore Sun, September 1, 2002. Accessed October 14, 2016.

[6] “Memorandum by the Deputy Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Villard) to the Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Clayton),” September 27, 1946, 890F.51/9–2746, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1946, The Near East and Africa, Volume VII. Accessed October 14, 2016; “Memorandum by the Acting Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Hare) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Thorp),” June 30, 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; “Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Officer in Charge of Arabian Peninsula Affairs (Awalt),” July 28, 1950, 866A.10/7-2850, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; “Editorial Note,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016.

[7] “Editorial Note,” 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; “Editorial Note,” 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; Fred H. Awalt, “Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Fred H. Awalt of the Office of African and Near Eastern Affairs,” October 5, 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V, Accessed October 14, 2016; “The Chief of Staff of the United States Army to the Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army, 786A.5/4–350: Telegram, April 3, 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; Raymond A. Hare, “The Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Hare) to the Secretary of Defense (Johnson),” March 8, 1950, 711.56386A/2–1350, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1950, The Near East, South Asia, and Africa, Vol. V. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1441: Memorandum of Conversation, by Robert Sturgill of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs,” August 19, 1952, 786A.5 MSP/8–1952, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1432: Memorandum of Conversation, by Robert Sturgill of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs,” January 21, 1952, 711.5886A/1–2152, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1451: Memorandum by the President to the Director for Mutual Security (Stassen),” March 14, 1953, 786A.5 MSP/3–1453, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1453: The Under Secretary of State (Smith) to the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister (Faisal),” 786A.5 MSP/3–2653, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1510: Memorandum of Conversation, by the Officer in Charge of Arabian Peninsula–Iraq Affairs (Fritzlan),” April 1, 1953, 780.022/4–153, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1448: The Officer in Charge of Arabian Peninsula–Iraq Affairs (Fritzlan) to the Ambassador in Saudi Arabia (Hare),” January 16, 1953, 786A.5 MSP/1-653, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; “No. 1454: Editorial Note,” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016; Walter B. Smith, “No. 1450: The Under Secretary of State (Smith) to the Director for Mutual Security (Stassen),” Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954. The Near and Middle East (in two parts): Volume IX, Part 2. Accessed October 14, 2016.

[8] He was also reportedly anti-Semitic. As Tariq Ali writes in his review of Gilbert Archar’s book about Arabs and the Holocaust, he writes that Archar didn’t add that “the late Ibn Saud…was in the habit of presenting visiting Western leaders with copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a virulently anti-Semitic book. Other sources such as an article by Anthony Sampson in the Observer Review titled “Desert Diary” on March 9, 1975 partially confirms this.

[9] Additionally, it is worth noting that Osama Bin Laden used the fact of U$ troops in the country as a rallying cry to bring support to his cause. He argued that he hated the US also for U$ sanctions against Iraq and “American policies toward Israel and the occupied territories,” also noting he was infuriated by U$ troops stationed in the country as he told journalist Robert Frisk.

[10] Clinton also asserted that the Iranians were behind the planned murder of a Saudi ambassador, which was proven false. Investigative journalist Gareth Porter argued, convincingly, that the U$ government’s narrative on the assassination plot was an an elaborate set up to implicate Iran as part of a campaign against the country and possibly lead to war.

[11] Perhaps this is also why Erdogan thanked Saudi Arabia for its post-coup solidarity as he tries to make Turkey and the Saudis have a common cause.

[12] Wikileaks cables, from the 2010 release with documents gathered by Chelsea Manning, also suggested deals for jetliners given to heads of states and airline executives in multiple Mideast countries, that the Kingdom proposed energy ties with China if Beijing backed sanctions against Iran, and that the country is a major source of financing of Islamic reactionary groups.

[13] “King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz al-Saud – obituary,” The Telegraph, January 22, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; “Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz dies,” BBC, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Anas Hamdan, Catherine E. Shoichet, and Dana Ford, “Saudi Arabia’s ‘reformer’ King Abdullah dies,” CNN, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Ian Black, “Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah dies at 90,” The Guardian, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Angus McDowell, “Saudi King Abdullah dies, new ruler is Salman,” Reuters, January 22, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Douglas Martin and Ben Hubbard, “King Abdullah, Shrewd Force Who Reshaped Saudi Arabia, dies at 90,” New York Times, January 22, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Ellen Knickmeyer and Ahmed Al Omran, “Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Dies,” Wall Street Journal, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Helen Nianias, “King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz dead: What did he do for Saudi Arabia?,” The Independent, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016; Robin Wright, “Postscript: King Abdullah, 1924-2015,” The New Yorker, January 23, 2015. Accessed October 24, 2016.

[14] CBS News, “Obama vetoes bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia”, Sept. 23, 2016. Accessed October 10, 2016; Associated Press, “Obama’s veto of 9/11 bill aimed at Saudi Arabia sets up standoff with Congress,” September 23, 2016. Reprinted in The Guardian. Also see articles in NBC News and Politico.

[15] For more information, also see Strada’s posts on Huffington Post and her appearance on C-Span. Also of note is the response of their lawyers. I would add all of the press releases of Strada’s group here, but there are so many that the links would take up too much space.

[16] See articles in Al Arabiya, Slate, Al Jazeera, ABC (Australian), BBC, DW, and ABC (American).

[17] Karoun Demirjian, Washington Post, “Saudi Arabia is facing unprecedented scrutiny from Congress,” Sept. 21. Accessed October 12, 2016; Steven T. Dennis and Roxana Toxon, Bloomberg, Sept. 21, 2016, “Saudi Arabia’s Clout in Washington Isn’t What It Used to Be.” Also see an article in Euro News.

[18] This is mild compared to the absurd, silly, downright dumb approach of Charles Davis, called Chuckles by many critical radicals on the twittersphere, instituting a no-fly-zone over Saudi Arabia to stop their war.

[19] Articles in Fortune, Bloomberg, and Foreign Policy claimed when the war began that oil prices were negatively effected. However, a CNBC piece quoted a high-level Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Francisco Blanch, who argued that “I don’t think that Yemen had a lot of importance for the oil market…I’m not very worried about physical supply disruptions coming out of Yemen…The main issue…is whether the airstrikes…end up being a proxy war…a proxy war in the Middle East is always a risky event for oil market; there’s no question about it.” Some even claimed that the war in Yemen was a “proxy battlefield” between Iran-backed Houthis and US allies (Yemen and Saudi Arabia). Recently, the Saudis intercepted a missile from the Houthis which they claimed was headed to Mecca, but they could be twisting the truth.

Imperialism besets Iran

Originally published on Leftist Critic on Jan 18, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism. At that time, some changes were made. I likely will write more on this subject as this post doesn’t seriously look into the Iranian bourgeoisie.

You’ve probably heard of the capture of ten U$ sailors and their two navy boats by Iranian authorities. This post aims to tie this to the reality of the existing U$ imperialism. What is presented here is only part of the picture, challenging not only the bourgeois media  but Celebrity Left figures like Greenwald who claim they hold a higher Truth.™

What the bourgeois media and others have to say

The bourgeois media in the United States assuredly did not approve of the capture of U$ military personnel by the Iranians and likely scowled at it from their ivory towers of “wisdom.”[1] Jim Michaels of the crappy USA Today claimed, relying on military sources, that it there was a mechanical failure that caused the boat to drift into Iranian waters. The article also quoted CENTCOM (Central Command), a force founded on maintaining US imperialism in the Mideast, which admitted that the crew was not “physically harmed during their detainment” even as they wanted to ask the crew about the possibility of “interrogation by Iranian personnel.” Not surprisingly Iranians were portrayed as brutes first conveyed by showing ONE IMAGE of the captured Marines in a video and implying to the reader they were about to be executed even though this was not the case. The article also declared that “one of the crew is shown apologizing for straying into Iranian waters but it is not clear whether the statement was coerced or how the video was edited…The Americans were escorted “at gunpoint” to a port facility on Iran’s Farsi Island.” Later the article noted that despite “more than three hours after losing communication with the boats, the U.S. Navy cruiser USS Anzio heard from the Iranians that the American sailors were in Iranian custody and were “safe and healthy,”” noting a CENTCOM statement which claimed that “two SIM cards from handheld satellite phones” were removed. The article also quoted Obama’s address to the nation about this, saying that “we worked directly with the Iranian government and secured the release of our sailors in less than 24 hours,” with the exact time being 15 hours. Eyder Peralta of NPR basically repeated this narrative, as did Fox News and Reuters which claimed that foreign sailors had been captured in the past by Iranian authorities. One article in CBS News followed this same narrative as did CNNThe Atlantic and The New Republic acted like their pieces had “new” information that other news sources didn’t, but they towed the same line. A number of pieces in bourgeois media relied on a New York Times article which claimed that Iranian authorities had seized GPS equipment so that it would prove that U.S. ships were trespassing. The Times declared in the article title that the sailors were seized “amid claims of spying” despite the fact the article itself and no other sources show this to be the reality. These faulty conclusions were also shown in a Times editorial.

Other media weren’t much better. The dependably pro-military Navy Times declared that

“the sailors seem to have mistakenly entered Iranian waters aboard their top-of-the-line riverine assault boats…a refueling rendezvous gone awry is the likely explanation…Top officials say they’re still piecing together what led up to the confrontation at sea…Iranian officials searched for advanced technology and sensitive communications…some of the crew members were exhausted and anxious after their detention but none were harmed.”

The British publication, The Independent was not much better: it quoted numerous anonymous U$ officials, and was short with few details just like this article in an Arab publication. Some deluded individuals may think that people like Glenn Greenwald would come, riding on his white steed as Juice Rap News laughably portrayed him some time ago, but that is not the case. As I noted on twitter, his article reads like a Washington Post column, not even using the words empire or imperialist which is almost as bad as this article by Justin Raimondo on the libertarian-leaning publication, antiwar.com. The latter article declares that the U$ military is spewing bullshit in its story, asks “what in heck were those two boats doing in Iranian waters” and says that this “isn’t an accident…[but] was a military incursion” and claimed that “Iranians who are riven with factions and conflicting lines of authority: the American empire is overseen by a vast national security bureaucracy.” That may sound nice, but its this part that assumes that “we” implies everyone and is almost childish in tone, unnecessarily sexualizing the situation: “There’s no denying we were caught by the Iranians with our pants down. The only question is – how were we trying to f—k them over?”

Back to Greenwald, who claims he is revealing a hidden truth and/or challenging the U.S. media. His article quotes CBS News, Bloomberg News, Reuters, AP, New York Times, The Daily Beast, LA Times, along with Pierre’s pet publication, The Intercept.  He does claim that the US media is lying, saying that “there are multiple reasons to suspect otherwise” and notes the video taken by Iran, despite what I wrongly said on twitter, which shows a U$ sailor who said on state TV that they made a mistake, but only mentions it in passing, saying “one of the sailors in the video taken by Iran claimed they were “having engine issues”” and doesn’t elaborate. Greenwald then continues to advance his High and Mighty™ viewpoint of the U.S. media in an article which also quotes The Guardian, his own publication (even linking to @tinyrevolution, another Intercept writer), CNN, Middle East Eye, a UN maritime treaty, and Slate. He then claims that “no matter how many times the U.S. government issues patently false statements about its military actions, those statements are entitled to unquestioning, uncritical treatment as Truth the next time a similar incident occurs.” A good way for those who are critical of the Celebrity Left to challenge Greenwald would be to challenge him on this as he sticks with an “unquestioning, uncritical” approach which is enough analysis to make progressives salivate and want more, but is not a necessary and radical analysis.

Looking at Iran’s state media

Due to these shortcomings it is best to look at Iranian state media. To start with there is a short video (as shown here and here) which shows equipment from one of the ships, that the 10 marines captured eating a good meal, and seeming to be treated well. This video begins to disprove the idea that Iran is a “brute” that is “aggressive” toward the United States, when in reality the opposite is true as the U$ is the real imperial bully. Other articles noted statements from Iranian and U$ military authorities saying that the U$ crew of ten marines, 9 men and one woman, were released after there was proof their entry was unintentional (see herehere, here, and here). A number of other articles quoted a IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) Rear Admiral, Ali Fadavi, as saying that the U$ marines were dealt with respectfully, which the White House and the IRGC in general confirmed, saying the crew was healthy and well-situated. Beyond the confirmation by the Pentagon and IGRC that two U$ navy boats were taken into Iran’s custody (see here, here, here, and here), Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Brigadier General Hossein Salami was quoted as saying that

“The marines were crying when they were being captured, but they later felt better after the IRGC forces treated them with kindness. The Americans humbly admitted our might and power, and we freed the marines after being assured that they had entered the Iranian waters unintentionally and we even returned their weapons.”

That article also noted that

“each of the two US Navy boats that were 3 nautical miles deep into the Iranian waters when they were captured by the IRGC Navy’s second naval zone were equipped with three 50mm caliber machine guns and other light and semi-heavy weapons. IRGC officials said the coordinates recorded on the GPS devices taken from the 10 US marines confirmed their trespassing as well.”

While I could look at other articles in Iranian state media about a U@ apology, there’s one video, which the Navy Times predictably called a “propaganda video,” that is revealing. In the video, which is actually an interview with someone from PressTV and isn’t an interrogation or propaganda per say, an unnamed US captain apologizes for going into US waters saying “that was our mistake, admitting that they penetrated Iranian territorial waters, and saying that “it was a misunderstanding, we did not mean to go into Iranian territorial water.” In the interview the captain also says that they were captured by an Iranian patrol boat when they were “having engine issues” and tried to talk to them until “more boats came out and took us in.” Interestingly, the captain says that “the Iranian behavior was fantastic…we thank you very much for your hospitality and your assistance,” and that they had “no problems” when in Iran. In the interview, the captain also says that their departure was from Kuwait and destination was Bahrain. You won’t see a description like this in the bourgeois media because this same video was cut short by CNN as an “exclusive” despite the availability of the FULL VIDEO, which distorts what the captain said, making it harder to recognize what happened.

Before going on and putting this into a broader context, it is important to look at some other state media articles. I’m not talking about what the Pentagon has to say, Kerry thanking Iran for releasing the 10 marines (also noted here), and GOP being unhappy that the marines captured were released. The IRGC, which globalsecurity.org describes as security for the revolutionary regime and “considered the military vanguard of Iran” and the elite Council for Foreign Relations (CFR) describes as an institution founded after the 1979 revolution which was “charged with defending the Islamic Republic against internal and external threats,” predictably had a number of things to say about this incident. One commander, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Major General Hassan, said that the incident showed how vulnerable the U$ is in front of “powerful” Iranian forces, connecting to an earlier article saying that the Iranian navy has a good amount of strength and is capable enough to save lives on the high seas. Another commander, Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi declared that the foreign minister of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, took a strong position on the incident by calling for “US officials to apologize for the issue” but also said that while there could be a harmless crossing of the Persian Gulf, “US presence has never been harmless.” Fadavi was also quoted as saying that while the crew, that was detained for a short time, didn’t resist much at all, but that “a US aircraft started doing provocative behavior for 40 minutes.” He said this was, the article summarized, an “indication of the US unfaithfulness to regional tranquility” and he predictably argued that the IRGC restored such tranquility. Other IRGC members conveyed the seriousness of the situation. Rear Admiral Fadavi said that they were ready to strike the USS Truman Aircraft carrier for any hostile movies, a craft as noted earlier, which, in his description, “showed unprofessional moves for 40 minutes after the detention of the trespassers.” The article continued by noting that eventually after communicating an announcement that

“they came to realize the IRGC Navy has the first and the last word in here. The US and France’s aircraft carriers were within our range and if they had continued their unprofessional moves, they would have been afflicted with such a catastrophe that they had never experienced all throughout the history. They could have been shot, and if they were, they would have been destroyed…In the end they and their diplomats acknowledged their wrong action and undertook not to repeat such mistakes.”

The article also quoted Fadavi as saying almost triumphantly:

“the US and its Navy rest assured that they won’t be the winner of any battle with Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz as destruction and sinking of their warships will be the end result of any such war. But in those 40 minutes, the Americans were clearly under intense psychological pressure and they did not act like a professional and responsible force.”

Such statements are not a surprise considering imperialist bullying behavior of the U$ in the Middle East and beyond.

There were other statements from IRGC commanders that are worth noting. Another article, which was an earlier version of the article previously noted, quoted Fadavi as saying: “had the US continued its unprofessional deeds after the detention of its 10 marines by the IRGC, all its warships could have gone sinking.” Based on Islamic guidelines, as the article summarized, “the Iranian military should not mistreat the captives, he said the US marines who were detained earlier this week were even privileged to watch the European Cup football tournament.” Another commander, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Hassan Firoozabadi, even challenged Iran war halks in the U$ Congress:

“those US congressmen who plot a new problem for Iran each day are apparently fed with incorrect information and take their actions with closed eyes and away from the realities and, thus, harm the American nation. I hope that the incident in the North of the Persian Gulf that will likely be not the last by the US troops gives a lesson to those in the US congress that rock the boat.”

Another article quoted Fadavi as saying that

“the territorial waters of every country are those waters that the presence of foreign vessels should take place with the prior information and permission of that country…Mr. Zarif has adopted a strong and firm stance and told Kerry that they have been in Iran’s territorial water and they should apologize.”

The same article also quoted IRGC Spokesperson General Ramezan Sharif as saying that

“Iran never jokes with anyone about its national interests and won’t show any ignorance either…our behavior will be based on Islamic kindness. If investigations show that there hasn’t been any purposeful action, they will be treated differently, but if the information taken through interrogations reveal that their trespassing has been done for intelligence work and irrelevant jobs, officials will definitely take the necessary actions.”

Another article quoted Fadavi as going even further than Firoozabadi, saying that if anyone wanted war with Iran they would be committing suicide. Yeah, neocons, like those who want an armed intervention in the DPRK, and Hillary Killary Clinton, get this message which Fadavi said at a naval ceremony in the Iranian city of Bandar Abbas:

“Today, if any country thinks of military confrontation against the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is either looking for a way to commit suicide and being annihilated or it has become mad and drunken and has developed dementia.”

I could explain in more detail other statements by those associated with the IRGC (see here and here), but readers are open to read those on their own. It is worthy to note that the Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran Seyed Abbas Araqchi declared that

“this shows Iran’s internal power as we powerfully seized the military vessel of the world’s big military power and then freed its personnel powerfully after ensuring of their unintentional entry into our territorial waters. This is a sign of our might.”

Whether you agree with them or not, the Iranians are justified in feeling this way about their action. Then there’s the Secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezayee, who said that “the US pilot [of the boat] shouldn’t have made the move and Mr. Zarif [Iran’s foreign minister] needed to certainly lodge a complaint with the Americans since if they embark on such a provocative move again, it can lead to a confrontation.” On that I agree, they should file a complaint and call out the U$ military on this action, though I’m not sure it is enough. In another article, this same Secretary argued that “if the Americans really believed that Iran is a terrorist state, [they] would they lie down and rest so calmly and relaxed while they were in IRGC’s custody,” putting to rest US allegations about Iran’s behavior. Two other articles in Iranian state media. The first of these noted the following statement from Iranian national legislature, called the Islamic Consultative Assembly, Iranian Parliament or Iranian Majlis, praising the actions of the IRGC navy as showing enemies that Iran is serious about defending its “national security and interests”:

“Seizure of the US warships and capture of the US marines for illegal and unallowed voyage through the Islamic Republic of Iran’s territorial waters and then releasing them after their apology [was a valuable action]”

Another article quoted a senior MP (member of Parliament), the Chairperson of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi. In the article, Boroujerdi said the following:

“The divine Islamic establishment and the great Iranian nation’s national honor and might were displayed again by the IRGC Navy’s wise and mighty measure. The measure by the IRGC Navy forces in the Persian Gulf showed that safeguarding security of this sensitive region is in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s hands and even the US cannot ignore the rules of this game.”

What actually happened in this incident?

Earlier in this article I mentioned an articles by Raimando and Greenwald which claimed to offer alternative approaches to what happened but actually based their articles mostly if not completely on bourgeois media accounts. There were also some on twitter who said the incident was either: a Gulf of Tolkin-like situation intended to provoke war, which the Japanese rejected prior to WWII; just plain weird; was a “big” incident which resulted in some U$ Navy members being mad at the U$ government for its response; and was a “delicate diplomatic situation,” a term which downplays what happened. But this doesn’t really help clarify the incident itself.

One line in a recent article in the Washington Post about the incident claimed, which Raimondo blindly quoted without further analysis or fact-checking, that the two vessels captured are “known as riverine command boats, are agile and often carry Special Operations forces into smaller bodies of water.” [2]  An article the Post linked to describes the vessels, Riverine command boats, also called RCBs, as “actually Swedish CB-90s and are a type of fast attack craft” which raises further questions. The article also notes the following which puts more of the incident into question:

RCB’s can carry contingents of infantry and special operation forces and are often crewed by sailors in Riverine squadrons, known by some as River Rats. The riverine force came of age in the Vietnam War in what was then known as the Brown Water Navy. In the 1960s and early 1970s boats such as Patrol Boat, River (from ‘Apocalypse Now’ fame) and Swift Boats were the River Rats vessels of choice.

The Wikipedia article on these RCBs notes the following, making them seem like they are attack boats used for military assault:

“[this boat] is a class of fast military assault craft originally developed for the Swedish Navy by Dockstavarvet…The CB90 is an exceptionally fast and agile boat that can execute extremely sharp turns at high speed, decelerate from top speed to a full stop in 2.5 boat lengths, and adjust both its pitch and roll angle while under way. Its light weight, shallow draught, and twin water jets allow it to operate at speeds of up to 40 knots (74 km/h) in shallow coastal waters…In July 2007 The United States Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) specified the CB90 for testing as its Riverine Command Boat. Safeboat International of Port Orchard, Washington, was given a US$2.8 million contract to produce one prototype.”

From there one is brought to a 2007 article in the  pro-military Navy Times which notes the following about these boats:

“…the CB90, a Swedish-designed shallow-water vessel that’s fast, lethal and flexible enough to be an ambulance or a fast-attack craft. The Navy has decided to buy two of the boats, now known in certain Navy circles as the Riverine Command Boat, for use by the newest incarnation of the brown-water navy, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s riverine group…The RCB is designed for maximum adaptability. It has an airy, aircraft-style cockpit with two operator seats and a middle jump seat that swings into and out of place. It has a head just below the cockpit divided by a passageway that leads to a bow ramp, so troops can be put ashore quickly. The bow and hull are heavily reinforced so operators can run the boat up on a rocky stretch of beach to disembark riders without worry, Wood said. “There are not many environments it can’t pull into and away from,” he said. “That’s one of the things the Navy found desirable, that it’s capable and proven.”…While the Navy declined to offer details on how or where the RCB will operate in the near future, a Navy official at the Pentagon said in a written statement that the boats are intended for use in the command role…The ship has cabin space that can be configured to carry more than 20 troops or serve as a floating command post with extra communication gear…The Navy replaced bolt-on Humvee armor with a lighter material, wired up electrical power supply at the gun mounts and improved the optics and communication equipment…The new RCB has stirred up a lot of interest in the Navy, Wood said — both from the new conventional riverine force, the naval special warfare community and surface warfare operators.”

In order to complete the picture it is important to look at Iranian state media once again. The first of these articles asked what would happen if there were Iranian boats in U$ waters. Here’s some selected quotes:

“As soon as the news was out, US media condemned Iran’s interception of the US naval boats that infringed its waters as an “aggression”…The Riverine Command Boat (RCB) is a watercraft designed to patrol rivers and other shallow water, fully equipped with GPS systems, radars, sensors and weaponry. Their speed and small size makes them useful for patrolling busy waterways such as the Persian Gulf and protecting larger navy ships…The US anti-Iranian fever was flowing through social media as soon as the news was out…The 10 sailors on the boats did not report the navigational error to their superiors before they were taken by the Iranians…The question in fact should not be about how Iran dealt with the situation. The question should rather be: if the scenario was exactly the reverse, and it was Iranian boats that had “mistakenly” drifted into US waters what would have happened?”

The other article raises questions about what happened during the incident itself. Sadly is broadly relies on Glenn Greenwald’s supposed “better analysis.” Still, here’s some quotes from that article:

“On Thursday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the sailors “obviously had misnavigated.” At the same time, mechanical failure was ruled out as a reason for the incident. This means that the boats were not in distress when they sailed near Farsi Island, which houses a naval base of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. This also means that Iran was within its right when it detained the soldiers, Sputnik reported…the US sailors….were most likely familiar with the route, since they often traveled between Bahrain and Kuwait. After all, the US Fifth Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain. Second, not a single sailor on the vessels reported the error to their superiors…Yet, many US media accounts of what transpired presented the incident as a hostile act committed by Iran…One could only imagine front page headlines if the US and Iran switched places and those were Iranian boats that had inadvertently drifted into US territorial waters.”

While it seems clear from Iranian state media sources that U$ warships engaged in provocations that could have escalated conflict if the IRGC hadn’t used their forces and messaging wisely, whatever actually happened in up to the reader. Hopefully the articles in this section help readers think more about what was the actual trajectory of events.

The broader picture of U$ imperialism

In order to fully understand the incident it is better to take a step back and look at US imperialism as a whole. According to the most recent Base Structure report, the U$ had 951 bases worldwide, outside the U$ itself, where there are many more bases. This calculation comes from 110 US bases in territories, plus those 576 overseas, those not in the U$, 42 Army National Guard sites and 223 bases in “other sites” outside the US which don’t meet other criteria for being bases. There may be even more than this since what is considered a “base” by the report must be a military site, which must be “must be larger than 10 acres AND have a Plant Replacement Value (PRV) greater than $10 million” if it is within the U$, and if the site is in a foreign country “it must be larger than 10 acres OR have a PRV greater than $10 million to be shown as a separate entry.” From this I came up with two different charts showing where the most U$ bases are located:

The last chart is most relevant here, as it shows that in Bahrain alone, the U$ has ten military bases. This is key because, if one uses the major naval base in Bahrain which claims on their website to cover 152 acres and is “home” to over 7,000 “military personnel and DOD Civilian employees,”  then Farsi Island, with land on the small island mostly restricted to a IRGC base, is only over 90 miles away as calculated using this site. A recent AP article noted that Farsi Island was “in the middle of the [Persian] Gulf and home to an Iranian military facility.” [6] Old Times articles from the 1980s say that the island is “where the Iranians have a base,” apparently serving as “a base for Iranian high-speed naval launches used to attack gulf shipping” as another article alleged. The L.A. Times at one point even noted without criticism that Western officials believed that “Farsi Island…was used as a base by Iran to carry out attacks on Gulf shipping and to lay mines in the area.” Another article claimed that some of the dolphins were used as U$ military weapons to scout for supposed Iranian frogmen who would, in their minds, sabotage barges used as floating bases, ” were taken near Bahrain and “near Iran’s Farsi Island” in order to apparently “protect them from sabotage.” If the U$ military couldn’t get any more out of their minds, you were wrong! Also of note here is the expansive reach of the U$ empire just in buildings alone, with the U$ Army controlling over 250,000 buildings!

Moving on, there are a number of maps showing U$ bases around Iran at this current time, which sorta update a map created by Al Jazeera years ago. They are as follows:

Civilian personnel in bases around Iran. The fact that these are based of a Black woman as one of the personnel is in a way an indication of existing “multi-racial” imperialism
Number of U$ troops surrounding Iran
Drone bases around Iran
U$ military bases around Iran

These maps alone, not even including their position in terms of black gold, make it clear why Iran would be in a defensive posture to U$ imperial and military aggression. The same could be said about a fear of being bombed, considering that Micah Zenko of the CFR in a blogpost admitted the following: “…last year, the United States dropped an estimated total of 23,144 bombs in six countries [Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia]. Of these, 22,110 were dropped in Iraq and Syria.” However, this seems to be more minimized now than in the past.

Still there is the looming power of US imperialism as Obama declared in his recent State of the Union, really State of the Empire, in which he claimed that China and Russia look to the U$, suspiciously promoted before it was spoken by the Vox folks. In his militaristic, nationalistic, and imperialist speech as some on twitter recognized (see here, here, here, and here), and which I chronicled in a set of tweets (see here, here, and here). However, in order to make it easier for the reader, sections of the speech are quoted below, and bolded for emphasis, so it is evident the imperialist bullcrap he is saying:

“…The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin…when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead — they call us…the international system we built after World War II is now struggling to keep pace with this new reality. It’s up to us to help remake that system. And that means we have to set priorities. Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks…We just need to call them [ISIS] what they are — killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed…We also can’t try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis. That’s not leadership; that’s a recipe for quagmire, spilling American blood and treasure that ultimately weakens us…Fortunately, there’s a smarter approach, a patient and disciplined strategy that uses every element of our national power. It says America will always act, alone if necessary, to protect our people and our allies; but on issues of global concern, we will mobilize the world to work with us, and make sure other countries pull their own weight…American leadership in the 21st century is not a choice between ignoring the rest of the world — except when we kill terrorists; or occupying and rebuilding whatever society is unraveling. Leadership means a wise application of military power, and rallying the world behind causes that are right… that kind of leadership depends on the power of our example.”

Still, this isn’t the full picture.

A fuller picture of Iran’s situation

Iranian state media fills out a bit more of this picture. One article declares the U$ and EU ended economic warfare against Iran, noting that the Iran nuclear deal, officially called JCPOA, with the lifting of UN sanctions “related to Iran’s nuclear program.” This article also said that

“Iran never negotiated out of fear and never feared to negotiate…Iran has now joined the club of nuclear countries and the warmongers can do nothing about it…It is not necessary to wait for positive signals from media outlets to find out more about the world community’s position towards this latest development. The global economy is in turmoil and they need Iran’s lucrative market and trade…Despite the political theatre of “distrust,” Europe has equally come to terms with the fact that Iran has gone nuclear, which means the Congress’s anti-Iran rhetoric is superficial. Otherwise, Western companies and investors would have never come to Tehran to ink deals in business and trade…Iran has every right to master civilian nuclear technology and that many in the West are more than happy to distance themselves from the warmongers on the Capitol Hill and Israel…Iran knew the value of the cards in its hand and knew where it was going.”

This article connected to others which said that Iran is willing to work with the IAEA, that Iranian banks are reconnecting to SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), foreign assets will be unfrozen, and a conversation between Iran’s president and the Afghan’s president. Other articles touted Iran as a place for Italian companies to thrive in a post-sanctions world and that an ex-German Chancellor is leading a business delegation to Iran. As such, the Western bourgeoisie, especially those from Europe, are hungry to get into Iran’s “untapped” market.

Most interesting of all was the Deputy Trade Promotion Organization Chief for Commercial Aids Mohammad-Reza Modudi telling a business conference that Iran is not only was one of the largest closed economies which hasn’t joined the WTO but that:

“We were hosting a huge wave of foreign economic delegations visiting Iran in the hope to establish economic ties with Iran. Over the past two years, though, the Iranophobia campaign was diminished to the verge of extinction. In export field, we need to work to set brands which has somehow developed inside Iran, but yet to develop abroad. The advancements achieved in the world are indebted to sound competitions, not supportive policies of the governments.”

To me, this indicates that people such as Modudi are fine with Western companies coming in to build and improve Iran but that they do not want those companies to be a mode of regime change. Hence, they don’t want another Operation Ajax or Western regime change program, likely led by the CIA, in Iran. However, there is something else here. Modudi wants Iran to develop its own brands to compete with Western brands in a capitalist marketplace, to strengthen their domestic bourgeoisie.

This is because Modudi, is part of the pro-Western moderate sect of the Iranian bourgeoisie, like the president of Iran, Hassan Rouhini, who is about to visit Western Europe soon. These people are content that Iran is buying Airbus planes and opening itself more to Western investment. However, such pro-Western moderates clash with so-called “hardliners” such as leading religious clerics and the Iranian military enshrined in the IRGC. A recent Christian Science Monitor article said that Iran’s course ahead “depends on the results of an internal struggle raging within the Iranian elite over whether the supreme leader…Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, should continue to hold [his]…political powers and be respected as the instrument of God in secular matters.” The article, which clearly took the side of the pro-Western moderates, also argued that “this debate over clerical rule is also central to Iran’s economic recovery…The power of religion lies in its spiritual attraction to individuals, not its authority over the state.” Such so-called “hardliners” are opposed to increased Western influence and investment in Iran, wanting to continue the domestic effects of the Islamic/Iranian Revolution of 1979 but seem to have made some level of peace with the Iran nuclear deal. That is because such hardliners while they take an arguably anti-imperialist stand, they are part of a country that is neither communist, socialist, or truly radical. Iran after 1979 became anti-imperialist, especially toward the U$, which some would characterize as “anti-Western,” but also religiously conservative and not socially progressive like Cuba after 1959 or Venezuela after 1999.

The gap between the moderates and the so-called “hardliners,”  among the Iranian bourgeoisie, is likely to be exploited, with the U$ empire slapping on more sanctions  which were linked to Iran’s ballistic missile program according to multiple sources (see here and here). The British news source and bourgeois media outlet, the BBC, declared that

“…the new sanctions prevent 11 entities and individuals linked to the missile programme from using the US banking system…They  [the sanctions] were triggered by Iran conducting a precision-guided ballistic missile test capable of delivering a nuclear warhead last October, [supposedly] violating a United Nations ban…[Obama] said differences with Iran remained, and the US would “remain steadfast in opposing Iran’s destabilising behaviour elsewhere” – such as its missile tests.”

The article noted that Rouhani welcomed the nuclear deal along with “many governments, the UN and EU” but criticized by some U$ Republicans and the murderous Zionist state as allowing Iran to “spread terror.” The article noted the effects of these sanctions is huge:

“The economic sanctions being lifted now were imposed progressively by the US, EU and UN in response to Iran’s nuclear programme[.] The EU is lifting restrictions on trade, shipping and insurance in full[.] The US is suspending, not terminating, its nuclear-related sanctions…The UN is lifting sanctions related to defence and nuclear technology sales, as well as an asset freeze on key individuals and companies…Non-nuclear US economic sanctions remain in place…Nearly $100bn (£70bn) of Iranian assets are being unlocked…Share prices in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s largest stock market, fell more than 6% following the lifting of sanctions…Iran has always maintained its nuclear programme is peaceful, but opponents of the deal say it does not do enough to ensure the country cannot develop a nuclear bomb.”

The supposedly independent paper, which largely takes a pro-U$ military bent since it operates within the military, Stars & Stripes, reprinted an AP article that claimed that “U.N. experts said in a report in December that the missile test in October violated sanctions banning Iran from launches capable of delivering nuclear weapons. A U.S. Treasury official [named Adam J. Szubin as noted in another article] says Iran’s ballistic missile program poses “a significant threat to regional and global security.”” Then there was an article in Telesur which noted the following:

“The United States imposed new sanctions against companies and individuals connected to Iran’s ballistic missile program just hours after four U.S. citizens had left Iran after being freed from jail in a prisoner swap deal between the two countries…According to the U.S. Treasury Department, 11 companies and individuals were blacklisted for supplying Iran with material and funds for its ballistic program. The United Arab Emirates-based Mabrooka Trading, and its owner Hossein Pournaghshband, were placed on the U.S. blacklist for helping Iran produce carbon fiber for the missile program…Iran unveiled a secret missile program in October when it conducted its first ballistic missile test…Iran says a United Nations Security Council resolution, approved in July, would only ban missiles specifically designed to carry nuclear warheads so it would not affect its military program as Tehran does not pursue nuclear weapons…The new sanctions also came a day after the nuclear deal between Tehran and six world leaders went into effect Saturday, effectively lifting decades-long economic sanctions against Iran in return for Tehran’s commitment to a civilian nuclear program…the U.S. State Department also announced it had agreed to release $400 million and $1.3 billion in interest for Iranian funds that had been frozen by Washington since 1979.”

Still, likely the best article on this did not come from a tweet saying that Obama stayed harsh on Iran but an Iranian state media source. This article quoted Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan, arguably as slamming the new sanctions slapped on Iran and saying that work would continue on “missile advancements”:

“Attempts to impose new sanctions under the pretext of irrelevant excuses show the United States’ continued hostile policies and hatred towards the Iranian nation and its useless attempts to weaken Iran’s defense power, which are not helpful to regional security, stability and tranquility. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s missile industries are fully home-made and reliant on knowledge, expertise and infrastructures of the defense industry, and imposing sanctions against people and companies don’t affect the trend of its development and strengthening”

The article also quoted a statement by the Iranian foreign ministry which declared that:

“As explicitly stated before, the Islamic Republic of Iran will respond to such propaganda and harassing measures with pursuing its legal missile program more seriously and enhancing its national defense and security capabilities. Iran’s missile program has not been designed for carrying nuclear weapons at all and therefore, it doesn’t violate any international rule”

These statements show that Iranian (so-called) hardliners and likely Iranian moderates [4], the two competing sections of the Iranian bourgeoisie, are not happy about these new sanctions and will have none of it. Still, the Iranians were willing to make a prisoner swap, which Obama praised, which resulted in 28 Iranians having charges dropped or being released under this swap deal. It is possible that two of the Amerikans released were CIA agents since their pictures were NOT shown on national television. [5] Not surprisingly, Borzou Daragahi, a “correspondent” of the anti-Russian and pro-U$ joke of a media outlet, which classifies as part of the bourgeois media, BuzzFeed had a field day over this. Basically, Daragahi acted like Iran’s government was the bad, evil oppressor and that the Westerners were “innocent victims.” Yeah right.

Despite the new U$ sanctions other countries are opening their doors while some like Saudi Arabia (see here and here) are closing them. Such countries include Japan which is ready to lift its sanctions, in lieu of Iran dismantling a “large section of its nuclear program” and take advantage of the “new” opportunity of an “untapped” market, strengthening the hold of their bourgeoisie on Iran itself:

“The government will swiftly lift Japan’s sanctions on Iran based on a new U.N. Security Council resolution, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said. The Japanese government “welcomes” Iran’s compliance with a final deal…Kishida said [that] “Japan will further strengthen the historically friendly relationship with Iran. Japan will actively cooperate for the steady implementation of the final agreement (on the nuclear issue).” To support the deal’s implementation, the government will send nuclear energy experts to Iran, officials said…Japanese sanctions on Iran include a halt in investment in the energy field. Japanese companies expect removing the punitive measures will boost economic relations with Iran, which is rich in oil, natural gas and other natural resources and has a market of 78 million people…After scrapping the sanctions, probably this week, the government will conclude a formal investment pact with Iran, to help Japanese firms expand into not only oil but other market segments expected to attract economic reconstruction demand, such as the auto, high-speed rail and aircraft sectors, sources said. The government was also to dispatch a team to Iran as early as Monday to explore business opportunities there, the sources said.”

Closing remarks

I could focus on  a number of things like Greenwald’s nasty reply to me by declaring “is publishing exposés on chemical giants & prison diaries from a victim of US Penal State a violation of Twitter-radicalism?” to which I criticized by saying The Intercept was not that adversarial, causing a back-and-forth conversation to ensue with some of his mindless supporters. [3] But there is something more important. I’m talking about the U$ empire, an empire that engaged in numerous bloody occupations over the years, and an empire that defines the modern meaning of imperialism in this day and age.

It seems that Iran has a choice: either it bows to increased Western pressure/influence, which assuredly would come in the form of Western imperialism, as pro-Western moderate sect of  the Iranian bourgeoisie wants or it can resist Western influence as the so-called hardliner sect of the Iranian bourgeoisie wants. Some may say that this is a false dichotomy, as one could support a non-Western backed people’s revolution in Iran to overthrow the existing state and replace it with one that serves the masses, a socialist state.. Whatever the outcome, it is clear that Iran will get integrated into the global capitalist system more now that it has in the past. What happens next depends on this clash between differing Iranian elites, Western pressure, pressure from non-Western states, the people in Iran itself, and beyond.


Notes

[1] Jim Michaels, “US Navy Boats veered into Iranian waters before mechanical breakdown,” USA Today, Jan 2016; Eyder Peralta, “Mechanical failure led boats to Iranian waters, US says in new account,” NPR, Jan 18, 2016; “Iran releases 10 US Navy sailors after boat drifted in Persian Gulf,” Fox News, Jan 13, 2016; Phil Stewart and Parisa Hafezi, “Iran holds 10 U.S. sailors; White House expects prompt return,” Reuters, Jan 12, 2016; “US military reveals missing items after sailors’ Iran detention,” CBS News, Jan 2016; “10 US  sailors in Iranian custody,”CNN, Jan 2016; Marina Koren, “What Led American Ships Into Iranian Waters?,” The Atlantic, Jan 18,2016; Gwyweth Kelly, “Iran has detained two U.S. Navy ships but will release 10 crew members “promptly.” (Updated),” The New Republic, Jan 2016; “Iran Seizes U.S. Sailors Amid Claims of Spying, New York Times, Jan 13, 2016.

[2] “Iran captures two US navy boats but will return crew soon,” Washington Post, Jan 12, 2016; “These are the US Navy riverine boats that Iran just took into custody,” Washington Post, Jan 12, 2016.

[3] , “US Navy sailors released unharmed by Iran in less than a day,” AP, Jan 13, 2016; “US says copters answering shots sank 3 Iran boats,” New York Times, Oct 9, 1987; “A Kuwaiti tanker under  US escort hits mine in gulf,” New York Times, July 25, 1987; Charles P. Wallace, “Gulf Tanker War Truce Shattered by Iraq Raids : Aircraft Hit Iranian Offshore Installations; Vessel Docked at Island Terminal Set Ablaze,” Los Angeles Times, Aug 30, 1987; “Dolphins On Patrol In Persian Gulf,” UPI, Oct 24, 1987.

[4] See the following tweets by Rouhini as proof of this:

[5] Maybe I’m reading into this too much, but I think this could be the case. Some also slammed Fox News for this, but I think that’s letting CNN and MSNBC off the hook (referring to this tweet)

[6] For these tweets, see conversation threads starting here and here.