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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

A Hundred-Year War

The Daily Escape:

Gouldian Finch, native to Australia – photo by Melinda Moore

(This post is an expansion of the ideas in Wrongo’s Memorial Day column)

Ms. Oh So Right suggested while we were in Europe that we stop calling it the “War on Terror” and begin calling it the “Hundred Year War.” Why? Because it seems that the Middle East has an unbreakable hold on us. Tom Friedman offers this take on the Trump doctrine:

The Trump doctrine is very simple: There are just four threats in the world: terrorists who will kill us, immigrants who will rape us or take our jobs, importers and exporters who will take our industries — and North Korea.

Last week, Trump took the decision to insert the US into what promises to be a never-ending war between the Sunni and the Shia for control of the ME. Rather than try to keep a balanced political position between these two religions, Trump has tilted America towards the Sunnis. This from Paul Mulshine:

The pivotal moment on his foreign trip came when Trump cuddled up to Saudi Arabia, a country he accused of “paying ISIS” back when he was campaigning for the presidency.

ISIS is of course, a Sunni group. So is al Qaeda. And Saudi Arabia is at the center of the Sunni universe.

There was a peaceful and democratic change of power in the ME while Trump was away. It was the re-election of Hassan Rouhani in Iran. In that contest, 41.2 million voters, or 73% of the Iranian electorate, turned out to vote. So who did Trump lash out at during his speech in Riyadh? Not Saudi Arabia, but Iran:

From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region…

This ignores the fact that Saudi Arabia funds more terror than does Iran, and it isn’t a democracy. This despite the fact that we share with the Iranians the goal of ousting ISIS from Syria. Yet, on May 18, US planes attacked a convoy of Syrian Army forces that included Iranian militias, and probably a few Russian advisers.

Back when Trump appointed Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, there was some hope that we might become more calculated in our involvement in the region. But both individuals seem to be hot to go to war with Iran. The fear is that the Trump administration will adopt the “on to Tehran” strategy the people around George W. Bush endorsed back when it seemed that Bush’s Iraq invasion had succeeded.

This is where we start getting into “Hundred Years’ War” territory. (The Hundred Years’ War was a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Plantagenet, rulers of England, against the House of Valois, rulers of France, over the succession of the French throne.)

This is why Wrongo thinks we must re-instate the draft. Let America debate about why Trump and the neo-cons think a war with Iran is a good idea. Let them explain to draft-age kids and their parents why American should get involved in a civil war between the Shia and the Sunni.

Why will this keep us safe?

Trump is embarking on a hard-line anti-Iranian journey, precisely when Iranians re-elected a moderate to lead their country. Trump risks making a mistake that would be similar to GW Bush’s. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein permitted the Iranian Shia majority to link up with the Iraqi Shia majority, thus giving the Iranians the first step towards creating the “Shia Crescent.”

If Trump takes an aggressive attitude toward Tehran, he’ll be playing into the hands of the Iranian hard-liners. Trump campaigned at least in part, on not repeating Bush’s ME mistakes. But now he is aligning himself with the Sunnis, who plan to keep the Syrian civil war going for at least another generation (25 years).

What happens then?

We’ll still have 58 years to figure it out.

Let’s close with a tune. Here are Todd Rundgren and Donald Fagan doing “Tin Foil Hat” from Todd’s new album “White Knight”. It’s a song about Donald Trump:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

Takeaway Lyric:

He’s coming down the escalator

With a girl from east of here

He wants to make the country greater

We got nothing left to fear

 

Because the man in the tin foil hat

Is sitting on the throne tonight

It kinda feels like a coup d’état

But it’s gonna be great, tremendous, amazing and all that

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – May 28, 2017

In Saudi Arabia, The LA Times’ Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports that Donald Trump is now called “Abu Ivanka”. Abu means “the father of”.  Apparently Saudi Arabia is fascinated with Ivanka Trump, and thus, The Donald gets a new title.

The Saudi Pipeline:

In his speech, Trump called Saudi Arabia the country that contributes more to peace than any other Muslim country. Really? The Saudis?

Trump got the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Now, he plans to sell off half the US oil reserve so we can once again be dependent on OPEC oil:

Trump is impressed by Wailing Wall:

When Donny visited the Pope, he received a copy of the Pope’s Climate Encyclical:

His Assholiness gives the Pope a religious education:

 

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New OPEC Deal Puts Saudi Arabia On The Sidelines

The new OPEC deal to cut oil output, the Cartel’s first since 2008, gives OPEC what it wanted: higher oil prices. It was difficult for the Cartel to achieve an agreement. Russia, a major oil producer that isn’t even a member of OPEC, brokered a deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran. From Oil Price:

The interventions ahead of Wednesday’s OPEC meeting came…from Putin, Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani…According to Reuters, Putin’s role as intermediary between Riyadh and Tehran was pivotal, and is a “testament to the rising influence of Russia in the Middle East since its military intervention in the Syrian civil war just over a year ago.”

Prior OPEC meetings failed to deliver consensus, because nobody wanted to cut production. Tehran argued OPEC should not prevent it from restoring the output lost by years of Western sanctions, but the Saudis wouldn’t agree. The animosity between them didn’t help: Proxy wars in Syria and Yemen have exacerbated decades of tension between the Saudi Sunni kingdom and the Iranian Shi’ite Islamic republic.

The brokering started when Putin met Saudi’s Prince Mohammed on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in China. Both felt they could benefit from cooperating to push oil prices higher, and agreed to work together to cut excess production that had more than halved oil prices since 2014. Lower prices had created large budget deficits for both Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Financial pain made cooperation possible, despite the huge political differences between Russia and Saudi Arabia over the civil war in Syria. But Iran also had to agree. Prince Mohammed had repeatedly demanded that Iran participate in any production cuts. Saudi and Iranian OPEC negotiators had debated the point without compromise for months.

Putin stepped in: He established that the Saudis would shoulder the lion’s share of cuts, as long as Riyadh wasn’t seen as making concessions to Iran. A deal was possible if Iran didn’t celebrate a victory over the Saudis.

Reuters reports that a phone call between Putin and Iranian President Rouhani smoothed the way. After the call, Rouhani and oil minister Bijan Zanganeh went to Iran’s supreme leader for approval. During the meeting, leader Khamenei approved the deal. He also agreed that Iran wouldn’t take a victory lap once the deal was announced.

And so the deal got done. OPEC is trimming output by 1.2m barrels per day (bpd) starting January 1st.

The deal is contingent on securing the agreement of non-OPEC producers to lower production by 600,000m barrels per day. Russia says it will contribute half of that, 300,000 bpd. Iran was allowed to slightly boost its output, while Iraq slightly lowered theirs.

We’ll see if the deal holds, and/or, who cheats.

Pundits like to chalk up winners and losers in this type of deal. Since OPEC now accounts for less than half of all energy output in the world, it is a weakened cartel, dependent on the kindness of outsiders (like Russia) to hold together.

Saudi Arabia looks like the biggest loser. First, it cut production by 500,000 bpd. Second, it has presided over a momentous shift in global power, one that is as stunning as Brexit or Trump’s victory.

Saudi’s capitulation to Russia and Iran ends OPEC’s domination of the world’s energy market. The Saudis also made the US shale oil market more powerful in the global energy market, since US shale will produce more oil whenever oil prices are high. However, Saudi oil remains far cheaper to produce than American shale oil, since it requires far less energy to extract and refine.

Russia emerged as the biggest winner. Its economy did not buckle under the Saudi effort to drive oil prices down via increased production. Putin is now the indispensable power broker in the Middle East, something that was unthinkable even 12 months ago. The Syrian civil war will soon end with Russia winning, Assad staying in power, and Saudi Arabia as the regional loser.

And so, this year truly has seen the death of one world order, along with the birth of another. The US and Saudi now have very little to show for their 50+ year joint effort to dominate the Middle East. The EU looks far from stable as a force in Western Europe.

And Saudi Arabia has just become the third dinosaur to be felled by the asteroid called 2016.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – October 2, 2016

The nation’s cartoonists had many easy targets this week, what with the presidential debate aftermath, but most offerings were repetitive: Trump’s hair on fire, Hillary wrestling Trump, blah, blah.

Millennials are thinking about voting for Gary Johnson. Maybe they should examine the consequences of that decision:

cow-millenials-vote

There is no IPhone app for instant positive change. The challenge is to vote for representatives and referendums that forward the ideals we cherish (and do nothing that will retard change) – no matter how long it takes.

It is puzzling why so many young voters think Hillary is dishonest. The Clintons have released their tax returns for decades. They have released the tax returns of their foundation. Congress has spent years and millions investigating her and has not found anything illegal. Of course, the media has been furiously digging into both candidates, but most of what they have produced is about Trump’s malfeasance: They have found dozens of documented reports of dishonesty, pay for play, ugly comments about women and minorities. His two divorce degrees require confidentiality by the ex-wives to keep the support money coming.

He could be arrested for what he did in Cuba, if the statute of limitations had not run out, but a large segment of our younger voters dislikes Hillary enough to vote for Gary Johnson.

The debate lasted 90 minutes. Trump’s debate worked for about 30 minutes:

cow-alcohol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As expected, he brought up “Stop and Frisk”:

cow-stop-and-frisk

Maybe this is a good time to remind The Pant Load about the Fourth Amendment, which says that this action is most likely illegal:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The VP debate on Tuesday probably won’t be must-see TV:

cow-vp-debate

 

Apparently, the Saudis couldn’t spend enough in DC to avoid the override of Obama’s veto:

cow-saudi-suits

 

 

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – April 24, 2016

(Mr. Wrong and Ms. Right are in Bordeaux. Next, we visit the Normandy Beaches)

RIP Prince. “When Doves Cry” was a personal favorite:

COW Doves Cry

Wrongo didn’t appreciate when Prince was so popular, how gloriously filthy some of his mainstream songs were when you watched MTV, or heard them on the radio. The web has few Prince live performances because of his tenacious control over his artistic product. Check out this video from his 2004 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

Apparently, the guitar that Prince used in the video was a cheap Telecaster knock-off. The Diminutive One tosses it into the audience as he finishes. Rolling Stone reports that it almost didn’t happen: George Harrison’s widow, Olivia, wanted the performance of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” to be limited to people who knew George — unlike Prince, who later claimed he had never even heard the song before it was sent to him to learn for the performance.

Obama of Arabia meets up with his homies:

COW Whats New

Tubman on the $20 bill gives new meaning to new money:

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Irony anybody? A 2-term President who was a soldier, a lawyer and served in Congress both in the House and Senate, and a Democrat, is replaced by a pro-Lincoln freed slave who worked for the US Army and was a Republican? And the guy responsible for it is a Democrat!

Trump and the GOP get ready to play delegate football:

COW Lucy

Trump told the GOP he was gonna be a new man in the General Election:

COW New Trump

 

 

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If The Saudis Want to Fight Iran, the US Should Stand Back and Watch

According to breaking news, the Saudis severed ties with Iran after protesters in Tehran set fire to the Saudi embassy in riots over the execution by Saudi Arabia of the Saudi Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. The Saudis are leaning on the Gulf States to break relations with Iran also.

Remember that Iran is a Shiite nation while the Saudis are majority Sunni, as are the Gulfies.

We don’t know if the Saudi charges and verdict against al-Nimr were trumped-up, or if his execution was a deliberate provocation, but, why didn’t Iran do a better job of guarding the Saudi embassy? Wrongo’s first thoughts went back to the 444 days that the US embassy was held by Iran. Was there a better way for Iran to remind America of that historic black eye?

Was Iran dumb, or simply ready to flex their new, post-sanctions muscles against Saudi Arabia?

And what about the new king in Saudi Arabia? Are these executions more about internal House of Saud politicking rather than a direct message to Iran? Is it more important for the Boy Prince Saud to establish his anti-Shia cred with his opponents in the ruling family? A secondary effect may be to rile the Iranians, since the Boy Prince is currently losing his wars in Yemen and in Syria. Perhaps a provocative execution is just what he needs to shore up public support.

The Saudis have now accused Iran of supporting terrorism. At the same time, some US lawmakers want to move the goalposts and make recent Iranian missile firings an issue, even though those missiles were never were part of the deal between the US and Iran.

Expect to see these two issues – Iranian support of terrorism and the Iranian missiles – to be dominant themes in the GOP primaries in an effort to tarnish Obama and Clinton while hoping to stall implementation of the Iran Nuclear deal. The GOP posturing about the Saudi execution continued with Republican presidential hopefuls failing to condemn the executions, while highlighting the strong alliance between Washington and Riyadh on the Sunday bobble head shows.

The fun then went full Sharia with Ben Carson suggesting that the nuclear deal struck last July between Iran, the US and five other world powers pushed Saudi Arabia to violently repress its Shiite population:

The Saudis have been one of our strongest allies in the Middle East, and I think it’s unfortunate that we put them in the position we have by showing the support to Iran that we have with this foolish deal…There’s no reason for the Saudis to believe that we’re really on their side when we do things like that.

And when you hear a medical doctor making excuses for mass executions, you gotta just change channels. And since you know he is vehemently pro-life, you have to cringe while you do it.

Carly Fiorina dismissed Iran’s reaction to the death of the leading anti-government protester:

I take the Iranian condemnation with a huge grain of salt…This is a regime that tortures citizens routinely, that thinks nothing of executions, that still holds four Americans in jail. Saudi Arabia is our ally, despite the fact that they don’t always behave in a way that we condone…Iran is a real and present threat.

You’ve got to hand it to these GOP candidates. It’s nearly impossible to be on the wrong side of nearly every geopolitical issue, but these folks are actually nailing it!

Wahhabism is the state-sponsored form of Sunni Islam in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s export of Wahhabism throughout the Middle East is without question a greater threat to ME peace than Iran’s missiles.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia executed 158 people. They justify the executions as part of its strict interpretation of Sharia law. Punishing government protesters with death while citing Sharia law has led The New York Times editorial board to compare the kingdom’s judicial system to that of ISIS. Yet, unlike ISIS, Saudi Arabia currently sits on the United Nations Human Rights Council and, as both Fiorina and Carson noted, Saudi Arabia is considered a key US ally in the fight against the Assad regime in Syria.

Because of this, even our State Department did not fully condemn the Saudi executions, only voicing “concerns” over the practice. Here is empty suit spokesperson John Kirby:

We have previously expressed our concerns about the legal process in Saudi Arabia and have frequently raised these concerns at high levels of the Saudi Government…

Weasel words from the State Department.

We should see this as a time to re-balance our ME policy, and be less pro-Sunni.

We shouldn’t have a dog in this fight.

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Time to Dump Our Frenemy, Saudi Arabia

Our Middle East strategy is a failure. We want to blame someone for the failures in Iraq, Afghanistan and now, in Syria. Many will point the finger at Mr. Obama, and he is complicit in our failure, but so are all American presidents since Carter.

One constant in our ME efforts has been our ally, Saudi Arabia. They have been our confidante and along with Israel, they have provided intellectual leadership to our presidents and our military.

Since the 1930’s when we first recognized Saudi Arabia, we have tried to straddle the fence with our choice of allies in the ME. Turkey (NATO member) is Sunni. So is Saudi Arabia. Our “enemy” AL-Qaeda is Sunni. Our “enemy” Iran is Shia. Our “ally” Iraq is Shia. Our “enemy” Syria is Shia. Our “enemy” ISIS is Sunni.

Now, we need to reconsider our alliance with the Saudis.

Although many in the non-mainstream media have consistently pointed out that Saudi Arabia has been a key financier of ISIS, (see here, here, and here) we continue to spend our resources to defeat ISIS in both Syria and Iraq while our ally funds them. And they also export and promote a very similar brand of Islam to that of ISIS. The Progressive reported on the views of Cal State Professor Asad AbuKhalil:

The ideology of the Saudi regime is that of ISIS even if the foreign policies differ…Mainstream Islam frowns upon the views, excesses, practices and interpretations of ISIS…But Wahhabi Islam [the official ideology of the Saudi monarchy] is fully in sync with ISIS.

Still, there has been little mainstream media acknowledgement of the Saudi role until an article on 11/20 in the NYT by Algerian writer Kamel Daoud:

Black Daesh, white Daesh. The former slits throats, kills, stones, cuts off hands, destroys humanity’s common heritage and despises archaeology, women and non-Muslims. The latter is better dressed and neater, but does the same things.

His white Daesh is Saudi Arabia. Here is how Daoud ends his piece: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

Daesh [ISIS] has a mother: the invasion of Iraq. But it also has a father: Saudi Arabia and its religious-industrial complex. Until that point is understood, battles may be won, but the war will be lost. Jihadists will be killed, only to be reborn again in future generations and raised on the same books.

Daoud makes this point about our relationship with Saudi Arabia:

In its struggle against terrorism, the West wages war on one, but shakes hands with the other. This is…denial, and denial has a price: preserving the famous strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia at the risk of forgetting that the kingdom also relies on an alliance with a religious clergy that produces, legitimizes, spreads, preaches and defends Wahhabism, the ultra-puritanical form of Islam that Daesh feeds on.

Wahhabism is Saudi Arabia’s dominant faith. It is an austere form of Islam that insists on a literal interpretation of the Koran. Strict Wahhabis believe that all those who don’t practice their form of Islam are heathens and enemies. It hopes to restore a fantasized caliphate centered on a desert, a sacred book, and two holy sites, Mecca and Medina.

Saudi Wahhabis have spent $ billions to export Wahhabism throughout the ME. They have been able to greatly influence the politics and religion in Muslim countries, and the teaching of Islam in educational establishments.

It has changed these countries, and has led to the conversion of some Muslims to Wahhabism. This conversion of relatively small numbers of Muslims has had a large impact, because these converts have provided much of the leadership of the various jihadi movements that have sprung up in the ME.

The reality of Saudi support for ISIS is studiously ignored in America, probably because of their financial clout, their supply of oil, and our long-standing alliance with them. And there’s the trap. Denial creates an illusion that the Saudis are our partners.

Once again, desert Arabs are stoking a war designed to control the Fertile Crescent. But they are not alone. Turkey wants a rebirth of the Ottoman Empire. Israel prefers Muslims to fight each other, and not them. Russia wants to keep its Syrian base in order to project power elsewhere in the ME. The West wants secure access to oil and to enrich its military contractors by engaging there.

The Saudis also invaded Yemen, and we supported them. They attacked their neighbor under the pretense of reinstalling the deposed government. Now, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the local ISIS affiliate have flourished there. They are fomenting war throughout the ME.

So why would we rely on the Saudis in our war against ISIS?

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Monday Wake Up Call – June 29, 2015

Mylan, a generic drug maker based outside Pittsburgh, abandoned its status as a US corporation, gaining tax advantages by moving its headquarters to the Netherlands. The move reduced the taxes the company pays on profits from sales of drugs overseas, but Mylan continues to maintain most of its operations in Pennsylvania.

Mylan was viewed by some in Congress and the Obama administration as a symbol of corporate greed when they undertook a corporate inversion that placed profits above any commitment to its home country.

But now, Mylan is demanding that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) protect it from a hostile takeover bid by an Israeli company, Teva Pharmaceuticals. Mylan asked the FTC to examine Teva’s purchase of Mylan stock for possible violation of the requirement that large purchases of stock of US firms must be reviewed by antitrust authorities, because Mylan is still listed on the NYSE. The company claims that its principal office remains in Pennsylvania, which makes it a “US issuer” of stock for federal anti-trust purposes.

The irony of this is not lost in Washington. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee said:

Mylan is trying to have its cake and eat it too…It is an intolerable abuse of a loophole when US corporations pretend they are based overseas in order to get out of paying their fair share and duck their responsibilities to the United States. It’s just plain hypocrisy when one of those same inverted companies claims that it is actually a US company because it needs the special protections US law gives to American companies.

Mylan may have a case. Its plea for help from the US government could pass legal muster but, the optics of a company that abandoned its US citizenship in order to pay less in federal taxes, and then seeking the protection of a federal agency is problematic.

Compounding the farce, Mylan is attempting its own hostile takeover of Perrigo, in order to stave off Teva.

Mylan’s unabashed lack of shame is impressive. Maybe the FTC’s decision-making on this case should take quite a while.

So, wake up Congress, and deal conclusively with corporate inversions! Our wake-up calls for the next few weeks will be songs about summer. We start with the Lovin’ Spoonful’s only #1 hit, “Summer in the City”:

For those who read the Wrongologist in email, you can view the video here.

Monday’s Hot Links:

The return trip often seems shorter than the initial trip, even though the distance traveled and the actual time spent traveling are identical. This is called the “return trip effect”. Two studies say it is real, but you already knew that.

Trucker jobs will be the first casualty of driving robots. Trucker salaries average $40,000/year. Most truck accidents are due to user error: Driving too fast, driving while tired, or driving while intoxicated. Robots don’t drink, don’t get tired, and won’t drive unsafely in order to get to a destination faster. Drivers will still be needed for inner-city driving (at least initially), but most long-haul operations will quickly vanish as soon as licensing is complete in most states.

Three years ago, Saudi Arabia announced a goal of building, by 2032, 41 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2032, slightly more than Germany has today. The Saudis burn about a quarter of the oil they produce—and their domestic consumption has been rising at 7% a year, nearly three times the rate of population growth. According to a British think tank, if this trend continues, domestic consumption could eat into Saudi oil exports by 2021 and make the kingdom a net oil importer by 2038.

Privail Diagnostics, has developed a simple, portable blood test that can detect the HIV virus (not antibodies) for the first time. That means an earlier diagnosis, and reduced infection rates. Privail’s at-home testing device is like a diabetes test, needing only one drop of blood. It shows the results in a color bar, like an at-home pregnancy test or digital output, like a diabetes meter. Invest at your own risk.

Hackers have apparently cracked the computer systems responsible for issuing flight plans to pilots of every airline. The apparent weak link? The flight plan-delivery protocol used by every airline. Ground computers calculate the appropriate flight plan for planes, and someone on ground approves the plan before distributing it to pilots. Pilots receive plans before taking off, as well as enroute, when a change occurs during a flight. Plans are uploaded to planes via a datalink. Once a hacker figures out those protocols, it is possible to issue a bogus flight plan. But, the industry says, not to worry.

Your thought for the week: Giving money to poor people is socialism, or even communism…..giving money to AIG or Goldman Sachs is capitalism, and that’s what made this nation grrrreat!!!

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Has The Saudi Military on Yemen’s Border Deserted?

Just saw a disturbing story about Saudi Arabia’s fight in Yemen, a story that has not surfaced in our media. It comes from News786, an alternative news channel that calls itself the largest Hindi news website of Punjab. It covers news from India and the world:

Here is the real reason why Saudi Arabia halted operation `Decisive Storm’ and failed to launch a ground invasion of Yemen: in a stunning revelation, it has come to light that on 25-26th April, almost 4,000 Saudi forces fled their border bases in anticipation of Riyadh’s order for sending its troops inside Yemen.

News786 goes on to say that the West knows this:

The Intel gathered by the western intelligence agencies shows that the Saudi military forces have fled their bases, military centers and bordering checkpoints near Yemen in groups…European Intel said that Saudi forces’ mass AWOL forced Riyadh to declare ceasefire and dissuaded it from launching ground attacks against Yemen.

Col. Pat Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis, is a retired US Military Intelligence officer who served in Yemen and was the first Professor of Arabic Language at West Point. He said this:

Saudi Arabia has no ground forces worthy of the name. They are the worst sort of rabble recruited in economically distressed parts of SA where the chance of an easy, well paid job in an army that has never fought anyone is a pleasing prospect. That is the Saudi Arabian Land Forces in a nutshell. Then there is the Saudi Arabian National Guard, a Sunni, largely Wahhabi internal security force.

Now, the news that the Saudi National Guard and its regular Army forces are deserting could all be put down to disinformation. Some of the information cited by News786 comes from Al-Manar, a Lebanese TV network owned by Hezbollah that has been designated as a terrorist entity by the US. Much of the original reporting was by FARS News Agency, usually described as Iran’s semi-official news agency.

So, is it disinformation put out by Iran and Hezbollah to cause Egypt and the US to think before they jump in? More from Col. Lang: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

I have told people here endlessly that information and sources must be evaluated separately. IMO the Saudis have no ground forces worthy of consideration and will not invade Yemen in any significant way. One must remember that SA has a government controlled press and any such news would be ruthlessly suppressed in SA sources.

So, what’s the point of starting a war you cannot fight yourself? Could it be that the Saudis did not have a realistic assessment of their military strength? Or that their officers were yes-men, who didn’t want to upset the Saudi royals?

America knows too well how difficult it is to win a ground war in a Middle East country.

A Saudi ground war in Yemen could likely end in a defeat, one with huge repercussions for our ME strategy. America thinks of the Saudis and the Israelis as our best pals in the ME. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are enthralled with these two racist countries, and believe what they tell us is the truth about the geopolitical situation in the ME. We have backed our belief with money and arms.

Imagine our surprise if after all the arms we have sold them and after all the training we have provided them, Saudi Arabia turns out to be unable to defend itself. Like Iraq, or Afghanistan.

Let’s start the weekend with a song. Here is “Blame It On Obama” by Andre Williams. This came out in September, 2012 inspired by the presidential campaign. Williams is a 77+ year-old R&B singer who is better known for his salacious R&B than his political commentary:

For those who read the Wrongologist in email, you can see the video here.
See you Sunday.

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – February 1, 2015

The Super Bowl is today. There will be queso con chorizo and enchiladas at the Mansion of Wrong.

It was a busy week. Obama has bromance with India’s Prime Minister Modi, then flies to the funeral of the Saudi King. The Republican beauty pageant began; we learned that the Koch brothers plan to spend nearly $900 million to elect Republicans in 2016, but Mitt isn’t running. Mitt didn’t leave gracefully, but perhaps he showed the self-awareness to avoid further indignities. He signed off calling for an “end to the grip of poverty,” which, considering the source, should be received by most with something between a snort and a laugh.

The Koch brothers are almost their own political party. The biggest contenders for the Republican nomination went to Palm Springs for their audition with the Koch funding team. This means if you are a candidate, you will shade your story and beliefs to please the Kochs and their fellow travelers. That means you are going to spend more thought about getting and keeping your Koch money, and less time thinking about which policies matter. Or maybe, its just birds of a feather.

Choose your poison at the SB:

COW Space Needle

 

Thank you, Supreme Court, politics is now forever in your debt, and democracy has left the building:

COW Franklins

 

We will soon leave the snow season for the money season:

COW Blizzard of 16

 

Mitt decides not to be the next Adlai Stevenson:

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

 

Mr. Obama visits Saudi Arabia, makes sales call:

Saudi Client

 

When will they ever learn?

COW Measles

 

Your word for the week: Agnotology.

Agnotology is the study of culturally induced ignorance or doubt, particularly the publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data.

Does this concept bring to mind any particular group?

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