Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The WSJ makes a case for kidnapping Julian Assange

(Julian Assange) may be hoping to make it to Ecuador, which is unlikely to extradite him to America. Then again, we could always seize him and spirit him here to face justice. We wouldn’t have to resort to the extradition process. The Supreme Court might even prefer it that way.”

What, precisely, is the difference between Stalinist Russia and this?

The U.S. Can Get Julian Assange

Avoid extradition and use secret services to airlift him to stand trial in America

By Seth Lipsky

21 May, 2017

Julian Assange is all smiles after Sweden dropped its rape charge against him. He may be hoping to make it to Ecuador, which is unlikely to extradite him to America. Then again, we could always seize him and spirit him here to face justice. We wouldn’t have to resort to the extradition process. The Supreme Court might even prefer it that way.

Take it from the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who wrote the opinion in U.S. v. Alvarez-Machain (1992). It suggests that if America has a hand in kidnapping a culprit from foreign shores to bring him to justice here, the Supreme Court is not going to be too particular.

I’ve written about this over the years, including in 2009, when Scotland freed Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi to go home to Libya. He’d been convicted for his role in bringing down Pan Am 103 in 1988. It struck me that America ought to capture Megrahi and bring him before an American court. President Obama could have acted under the precedent in the case of Humberto Alvarez-Machain, a Mexican physician.

The doctor was indicted for his alleged role in the murder of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Enrique Camarena Salazar. He was accused, as Rehnquist put it, of “prolonging agent Camarena’s life so that others could further torture and interrogate him.” On April 2, 1990, the doctor was, as Rehnquist put it, “forcibly kidnapped from his medical office in Guadalajara, Mexico, to be flown by private plane to El Paso, Texas, where he was arrested by DEA officials.”

A U.S. district court concluded that the DEA was responsible, even though its agents were not personally involved. Dr. Alvarez claimed his abduction, in Rehnquist’s paraphrase, “constituted outrageous governmental conduct.” A dainty district court and the Ninth Circuit appeals bench were prepared to free Dr. Alvarez.

The Supreme Court was made of sterner stuff. It did cite a precedent, U.S. v. Rauscher , which blocked the prosecution of a defendant brought to America from England for a crime not covered in the extradition treaty between the two countries. The court took the view that once the U.S. proceeded under an extradition treaty, it was bound by its terms.

But the court also cited Ker v. Illinois (1886), which involved a thief, Frederick Ker, who’d been convicted in Illinois but fled to Peru, only to be brought back to court by a Pinkerton agent. Rehnquist wrote that Ker’s “presence before the court was procured by means of forcible abduction from Peru.” But because he wasn’t brought back via extradition, the court rejected his claims to rights under extradition law.

Which brings us to Mr. Assange. If his plan is to slink to Ecuador and if the U.S. really wants him, it might do better by avoiding extradition and turning to our secret services to airlift him to stand trial in America.

Even if America kidnaps him, that might not be the end of the story. Witness the denouement of the saga of Dr. Alvarez-Machain, who was put on trial in the same district court that shrank from trying him originally. The judge acquitted him before the case went to the jury. Dr. Alvarez-Machain then sued America and the Mexicans who’d kidnapped him in league with the DEA. That case, too, went to the Supreme Court, where in 2004 Dr. Alvarez-Machain lost unanimously.
It’s not clear the U.S. wants to put Mr. Assange on trial. If it does, though, the moral of Alvarez-Machain is that it doesn’t have to be squeamish about how it gets him here, even if he’s hiding south of the border.

Mr. Lipsky is editor of the New York Sun.

Trump's sell-out Saudi speech

Trump shows true colors in sell-out Saudi speech

In the Now, RT

So, remember that time when Trump said this? You will find out who really knocked down the World Trade Centre - ‘cause they have papers out there that are very secret. 

You may find it’s the Saudis, OK?’ Well, I couldn’t wait to see him call the Saudis out, to their faces, for being the leading backer of Wahhabi terror groups. ‘...But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three: safe harbour, financial backing and the social standing needed for recruitment…’ 

Isn’t that Saudi Arabia? ‘It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in that region… I am speaking, of course, of Iran.’ Wait a minute, you mean the people who are currently fighting al-Qaeda & Isis? ‘Designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation - which they certainly are.’ Yeah, also fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria. ‘Saudi Arabia and a regional coalition have taken strong action against Houthi militants in Yemen’ Wow! 

OK, so did you even bother having one of your relatives write this for you, or did the Saudis just hand it to you when you showed up? ‘Assad has committed unspeakable crimes and the United States has taken firm action in response to the use of banned chemical weapss-ss-ss...’ 

Could this get any more embarrassing?

Prof. Stephen Cohen on the anti-Russia narrative

Dems crippling Trump’s plans to cooperate with Russia out of own ambitions – Stephen Cohen

The presidency of Donald Trump is off to a rough start. It seems the president’s every move breeds scandal, and mainstream media outlets are unrelenting in their attacks. At the center of the anti-Trump narrative is Russia, with Trump accused of working with Moscow to steal the US election and blamed for leaking state secrets to Russian officials. With an ongoing investigation into the barrage of allegations, calls are growing louder for the president’s impeachment. How will these scandals affect Trump’s presidency? And is the White House even capable of operating in this atmosphere of media hysteria? We ask contributing editor of the Nation magazine, professor emeritus at Princeton University – Stephen Cohen.

Russian troops in southern Syria

Russian forces arrive in southern Syria

21 May, 2017

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:30 A.M.) – Russian paratroopers and special forces arrived in the Al-Sweida Governorate of southern Syria this week, following the U.S. attack on a pro-government convoy near the Iraqi border-crossing, a military source told Al-Masdar News last night.

The Russian military personnel will take the role of advising the Syrian government troops in southern Syria, while also helping to deter any potential response from the U.S. and Jordanian forces that have carved a niche in the Al-Sweida and Homs governorates.

According to some media activists in southern Syria, the Russian forces are planning to build a base along the Al-Sweida Governorate’s border with Jordan; however, this could not be confirmed by Al-Masdar News.

Rumors have also surfaced regarding the deployment of the 31st Brigade of the Russian special forces; they are allegedly meant to engage the enemy forces and help the government troops seize the Iraqi border-cross

A warning from 120 years ago

We’ve known about the Greenhouse effect for at least a century. I learned about it as a child in the 1960’s

Thomas Chamberlin's Call for Climate Action, in 1899

Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin, 1899: "It now becomes necessary to assign agencies capable of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere..."

More about Chamberlin: He was the first to demonstrate that the only way to understand climate change was to understand almost everything about the planet together — not just the air but the oceans, the volcanoes bringing gases from the deep interior, the chemistry of how minerals gradually disintegrated under weathering, and more. 

Chamberlin's novel hypothesis was that ice ages might follow a self-oscillating cycle driven by feedbacks involving CO2. http://history.aip.org/climate/simple...

Source: An Attempt to Frame a Working Hypothesis of the Cause of Glacial Periods on an Atmospheric Basis https://archive.org/details/jstor-300...

Text version https://archive.org/stream/jstor-3005...

Related https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_...

The 1847 lecture that predicted human-induced climate change

A near-forgotten speech made by a US congressman warned of global warming and the mismanagement of natural resources

21 June, 2011

When we think of the birth of the conservation movement in the 19th century, the names that usually spring to mind are the likes of John Muir and Henry David Thoreau, men who wrote about the need to protect wilderness areas in an age when the notion of mankind's "manifest destiny" was all the rage.

But a far less remembered American - a contemporary of Muir and Thoreau - can claim to be the person who first publicised the now largely unchallenged idea that humans can negatively influence the environment that supports them.

George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882) certainly had a varied career. Here's how Clark University in Massachusetts, which has named an institute in his memory,describes him:
Throughout his 80 years Marsh had many careers as a lawyer (though, by his own words, "an indifferent practitioner"), newspaper editor, sheep farmer, mill owner, lecturer, politician and diplomat. He also tried his hand at various businesses, but failed miserably in all - marble quarrying, railroad investment and woolen manufacturing. He studied linguistics, knew 20 languages, wrote a definitive book on the origin of the English language, and was known as the foremost Scandinavian scholar in North America. He invented tools and designed buildings including the Washington Monument. As a congressman in Washington (1843-49) Marsh helped to found and guide the Smithsonian Institution. He served as US Minister to Turkey for five years where he aided revolutionary refugees and advocated for religious freedom. He spent the last 21 years of his life (1861-82) as US Minister to the newly United Kingdom of Italy.
In other words, he kept himself busy. But I would argue his defining moment came on 30 September, 1847, when, as a congressman for the Whig party (a forerunner of the Republican party), he gave a lecture to the Agricultural Society of Rutland County, Vermont. (The speech was published a year later.) It proved to be the intellectual spark that led him to go on and publish in 1864 his best-known work, Man and Nature: Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action.

More than 160 years on, it really does pay to re-read his speech as it seems remarkably prescient today. It also shows that he was decades ahead of most other thinkers on this subject. After all, he delivered his lecture a decade or more before John Tyndall began to explore the thesis that slight changes in the atmosphere's composition could cause climatic variations. And it was a full half a century before Svante Arrhenius proposed that carbon dioxide emitted by the "enormous combustion of coal by our industrial establishments" might warm the world (something he thought would be beneficial).

Yes, in his speech, Marsh talks about "civilised man" and "savages" – and the language is turgid in places – but let's cut him a little slack: this was 1847, after all. It's about half way through he gets to the bit that matters most to us today:
Man cannot at his pleasure command the rain and the sunshine, the wind and frost and snow, yet it is certain that climate itself has in many instances been gradually changed and ameliorated or deteriorated by human action. The draining of swamps and the clearing of forests perceptibly effect the evaporation from the earth, and of course the mean quantity of moisture suspended in the air. The same causes modify the electrical condition of the atmosphere and the power of the surface to reflect, absorb and radiate the rays of the sun, and consequently influence the distribution of light and heat, and the force and direction of the winds. Within narrow limits too, domestic fires and artificial structures create and diffuse increased warmth, to an extent that may effect vegetation. The mean temperature of London is a degree or two higher than that of the surrounding country, and Pallas believed, that the climate of even so thinly a peopled country as Russia was sensibly modified by similar causes.
Some of the terminology he uses is clearly a little archaic to our ears today, but, broadly speaking, his hunch has subsequently proved to be correct. You can see him grappling with concepts that we now know as the urban heat island effect and greenhouse effect.

But in the speech he also called for a more thoughtful approach to consuming natural resources, despite the apparent near-limitless abundance on offer across the vast expanses of northern America. As the Clark University biography notes, he wasn't an environmental sentimentalist. Rather, he believed that all consumption must be reasoned and considered, with the impact on future generations always kept in mind: he was making the case for what we now call "sustainable development". In particular, he argued that his audience should re-evaluate the worth of trees:
The increasing value of timber and fuel ought to teach us that trees are no longer what they were in our fathers' time, an incumbrance. We have undoubtedly already a larger proportion of cleared land in Vermont than would be required, with proper culture, for the support of a much greater population than we now possess, and every additional acre both lessens our means for thorough husbandry, by disproportionately extending its area, and deprives succeeding generations of what, though comparatively worthless to us, would be of great value to them.

The functions of the forest, besides supplying timber and fuel, are very various. The conducting powers of trees render them highly useful in restoring the disturbed equilibrium of the electric fluid; they are of great value in sheltering and protecting more tender vegetables against the destructive effects of bleak or parching winds, and the annual deposit of the foliage of deciduous trees, and the decomposition of their decaying trunks, form an accumulation of vegetable mould, which gives the greatest fertility to the often originally barren soils on which they grow, and enriches lower grounds by the wash from rains and the melting snows.

The inconveniences resulting from a want of foresight in the economy of the forest are already severely felt in many parts of New England, and even in some of the older towns in Vermont. Steep hill-sides and rocky ledges are well suited to the permanent growth of wood, but when in the rage for improvement they are improvidently stripped of this protection, the action of sun and wind and rain soon deprives them of their thin coating of vegetable mould, and this, when exhausted, cannot be restored by ordinary husbandry. They remain therefore barren and unsightly blots, producing neither grain nor grass, and yielding no crop but a harvest of noxious weeds, to infest with their scattered seeds the richer arable grounds below.

But this is by no means the only evil resulting from the injudicious destruction of the woods. Forests serve as reservoirs and equalizers of humidity. In wet seasons, the decayed leaves and spongy soil of woodlands retain a large proportion of the falling rains, and give back the moisture in time of drought, by evaporation or through the medium of springs. They thus both check the sudden flow of water from the surface into the streams and low grounds, and prevent the droughts of summer from parching our pastures and drying up the rivulets which water them.

On the other hand, where too large a proportion of the surface is bared of wood, the action of the summer sun and wind scorches the hills which are no longer shaded or sheltered by trees, the springs and rivulets that found their supply in the bibulous soil of the forest disappear, and the farmer is obliged to surrender his meadows to his cattle, which can no longer find food in his pastures, and sometime even to drive them miles for water.

Again, the vernal and autumnal rains, and the melting snows of winter, no longer intercepted and absorbed by the leaves or the open soil of the woods, but falling everywhere upon a comparatively hard and even surface, flow swiftly over the smooth ground, washing away the vegetable mould as they seek their natural outlets, fill every ravine with a torrent, and convert every river into an ocean. The suddenness and violence of our freshets increases in proportion as the soil is cleared; bridges are washed away, meadows swept of their crops and fences, and covered with barren sand, or themselves abraded by the fury of the current, and there is reason to fear that the valleys of many of our streams will soon be converted from smiling meadows into broad wastes of shingle and gravel and pebbles, deserts in summer, and seas in autumn and spring.

The changes, which these causes have wrought in the physical geography of Vermont, within a single generation, are too striking to have escaped the attention of any observing person, and every middle-aged man, who revisits his birth-place after a few years of absence, looks upon another landscape than that which formed the theatre of his youthful toils and pleasures. The signs of artificial improvement are mingled with the tokens of improvident waste, and the bald and barren hills, the dry beds of the smaller streams, the ravines furrowed out by the torrents of spring, and the diminished thread of interval that skirts the widened channel of the rivers, seem sad substitutes for the pleasant groves and brooks and broad meadows of his ancient paternal domain.
If the present value of timber and land will not justify the artificial re-planting of grounds injudiciously cleared, at least nature ought to be allowed to reclothe them with a spontaneous growth of wood, and in our future husbandry a more careful selection should be made of land for permanent improvement. It has long been a practice in many parts of Europe, as well as in our older settlements, to cut the forests reserved for timber and fuel at stated intervals. It is quite time that this practice should be introduced among us.

After the first felling of the original forest it is indeed a long time before its place is supplied, because the roots of old and full grown trees seldom throw up shoots, but when the second growth is once established, it may be cut with great advantage, at periods of about twenty-five years, and yields a material, in every respect but size, far superior to the wood of the primitive tree. In many European countries, the economy of the forest is regulated by law; but here, where public opinion determines, or rather in practice constitutes law, we can only appeal to an enlightened self-interest to introduce the reforms, check the abuses, and preserve us from an increase of the evils I have mentioned.
A footnote: it is 150 years ago this year since Marsh was personally appointed by Abraham Lincoln to be the US's first ambassador to Italy. (Marsh was buried in Rome.) Just three years later, Lincoln approved the legislation which would lead to the creation of Yosemite National Park in California. This acted as a precedent across the world for federal and state governments to purchase or secure wilderness areas so they could be protected in perpetuity from development or exploitation. It's speculation, of course, but I've always wondered whether Marsh and Lincoln ever discussed such matters, be it in person or in correspondence. Perhaps, there's a keen historian out there who knows the answer?

Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia

Trump And Saudi Arabia Agree To Take “Good And Evil” Fight To Iran

Kurt Nimmo

21 May, 2017

Following a landmark arms deal, President Trump told the Saudis they must confront Iran. He accused the Iranians of fomenting “destruction and chaos” in the Middle East and providing “safe harbor, financial backing and the social standing needed for recruitment.”

US President Donald Trump deplores Iran as a "destabilising force"
US President Donald Trump Keynote Speech on Islam
BBC News

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud agreed. He said “the Iranian regime has been the spearhead of global terrorism.”

In fact, King Salman, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are the spearhead of global terrorism.

Salman “oversaw the collection of private funds to support the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s… In the early years of the war—before the US and the Kingdom ramped up their secret financial support for the anti-Soviet insurgency—this private Saudi funding was critical to the war effort. At its peak, Salman was providing $25 million a month to the mujahedeen,” writes former CIA official Bruce Riedel. The mujahideen would later splinter into al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

In 1992, Salman was appointed by King Fahd to found and head the Saudi High Commission for Aid to Bosnia (SHC), which by 2002 had delivered over $600 million in aid, writes Nafeez Ahmed.

But a raid by NATO forces on SHC’s Sarajevo office shortly after 9/11 found a range of terrorist materials, including photographs and detailed maps marking government buildings in Washington, before-and-after photos of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and hand-written notes of meetings with Osama bin Laden. An estimated $41 million of the SHC’s operating funds was missing.
Yet throughout this period, US intelligence was fully aware of Saudi sponsorship of al-Qaeda affiliated militants, but did nothing about it.
NSA intercepts caught the Saudis transferring money to radical Islamic terrorists. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh wrote that “the intercepts show that the Saudi government, working through Prince Salman [bin Abdul Aziz], contributed millions to charities that, in turn, relayed the money to fundamentalists. ‘We knew that Salman was supporting all of the causes.’”
The NSA intercepts proved, according to the New Yorker, that senior Saudi royals were “channelling hundreds of millions of dollars in what amounts to protection money to fundamentalist groups that wish to overthrow it.” By 1996, the US intelligence community had amassed clear evidence that “Saudi money was supporting Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Yemen, and Central Asia, and throughout the Persian Gulf region.”
Indeed, that year an extensive CIA report on the use of NGOs as fronts for terrorist financing concluded: “We continue to have evidence that even high ranking members of the collecting or monitoring agencies in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Pakistan—such as the Saudi High Commission [run by then Prince Salman]—are involved in illicit activities, including support for terrorists.”

In early 2015, al-Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui claimed in testimony “that members of the Saudi royal family provided extensive funding to al-Qaeda throughout the 1990s, including Prince Turki al-Faisal and Prince Bandar. Moussaoui also described ‘meeting in Saudi Arabia with Salman, then the crown prince, and other Saudi royals while delivering them letters from Osama bin Laden.’”

During Trump’s speech, Salman called on Gulf Cooperation Council leaders to “reject extremism, work on fighting all forms of terrorism, stop its financing and its propagation, dry up its sources, and stand firm in confronting this scourge that poses a danger to all of humanity.”

He promised to prosecute terrorists and terror financing, to “eradicate” the ISIS terror army “and other terrorist organizations regardless of their religious, sect or ideology.”
Trump headed to to push "Arab NATO" against . Meanwhile, Iran reelects a President known for negotiations. Who is a threat?

Left unmentioned is the fact virtually all terror groups in the Middle East—including the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and al-Nusra (now Jabhat Fatah al-Sham)—subscribe to the Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam and would not exist without the assistance and encouragement of the Gulf Emirates.

Instead, Iran was singled out. From Financial Times:
Donald Trump has launched a fierce attack on Iran, just one day after the country re-elected its moderate president on a platform of re-engagement with the outside world.
Speaking to an audience of Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia, the US president singled out Tehran for fuelling “the fires of sectarian conflict and terror” as he called on Gulf nations to “drive out terrorists and extremists”.
Mr Trump’s stance contrasts starkly with his predecessor Barack Obama, who two years ago struck a landmark nuclear deal with Iran and whose administration had a strained relationship with Tehran’s Sunni rivals in the Gulf.

He said the fight against Iran is a “battle between good and vil.”

The Financial Times did not clarify how Obama’s “strained relationship” with Saudi Arabia resulted in a $115 billion weapons sale. It was a record that beat the Jared Kushner negotiated $110 billion arms deal.

Kurt Nimmo is the editor of Another Day in the Empire, where this article first appeared. He is the former lead editor and writer of Infowars.com. Donate to ADE Here.

Roger Stone: Trump Receiving Award Used As Propaganda In Arab World

Trump’s Speech in Riyadh Signals US Alignment with Global Terrorism and Extremism

22 May, 2017

Trump sa
Bill Van Auken

Riddled with hypocrisy, clichés and absurdities, President Donald Trump’s speech Sunday before an assembly of monarchs and despots in Saudi Arabia spelled out an agenda of escalating US militarism throughout the Middle East and a buildup in particular toward war with Iran.

Hailed by a fawning American media as “presidential”–supposedly eclipsing for the moment the crises and factional struggles engulfing the administration–the speech was reportedly drafted by Stephen Miller, the extreme right-wing ideologue credited with being the chief architect of Trump’s abortive executive order banning people from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the US.

Much in Trump’s half-hour address echoed the speech delivered by Barack Obama in Cairo eight years earlier. Both presidents declared their desire to reset US relations with the Middle East, while absurdly posturing as leaders of a pacifist nation seeking only good for the region and offering to head up a united struggle against “violent extremism.”

In what was meant as a rhetorical invocation to action against terrorism, Trump told his audience,

Drive them out. Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land. And drive them out of this earth.”
saudi cleric
Like Obama before him, Trump had no interest in dealing with who brought Al Qaeda and similar forces in, as the historical trail leads directly to the CIA in Afghanistan and US imperialism’s longstanding support for right-wing Islamist organizations and terrorist groups as a counterweight to left nationalist and socialist influence in the Arab and Islamic world. Jointly, the US and Saudi Arabia continue to fund and arm such forces in their drive for regime-change in Syria.

Both speeches were laced with flowery tributes to Islamic culture. Trump noted in particular how impressed he was with the “splendor” of Saudi Arabia and the “grandeur” of the palace in which the so-called Arab Islamic American Summit had been convened.

What separated the two addresses were the different shifts in strategy by Washington. While Obama sought to repair the damage done by the Bush administration’s criminal war in Iraq by offering a new face for US imperialism, Trump traveled to Saudi Arabia to make clear his administration’s break with his predecessor’s policy of seeking a rapprochement with Iran based on the 2015 nuclear deal. He adopted an openly confrontational stance toward Tehran.

Above all, America seeks peace–not war,” Trump proclaimed, in what stood out as the most blatant of the many lies in his brief address. The reality is that US wars in the region have killed millions over the past decade-and-a-half. And the thrust of the US president’s visit to Saudi Arabia, his first stop in a nine-day foreign tour, is the preparation for new and even bloodier conflicts.

This was made plain by the principal agreements forged between Trump and the Saudi monarchy, which included a $110 billion arms deal that incorporates the option to purchase $350 billion worth of weapons over the next 10 years.

The arms agreement “supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the entire Gulf region,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO, told reporters in Riyadh, “in particular in the face of the malign Iranian influence and Iranian-related threats which exist on Saudi Arabia’s borders on all sides.”

In his speech, Trump painted Iran as the principal state sponsor of terrorism, accusing Tehran of providing terrorists with “safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment,” and fueling “the fires of sectarian conflict and terror,” all charges that could be leveled, with justification, against his Saudi hosts.

He portrayed the US cruise missile attack on Syria last month–followed just last week by the US bombing of a pro-government militia in the southeastern part of the country–as part of a wider struggle against Iranian influence. He went on to call upon “all nations of conscience” to “isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.

That he was speaking in Saudi Arabia, a brutally repressive absolute monarchy, just two days after more than 70 percent of Iranian voters participated in a sharply contested election, did nothing to blunt Trump’s call for regime-change.
trump saudi arabia5
Trump sword-dancing. (Photo: Screenshot)

He specifically praised Saudi Arabia and its allies for having “taken strong action against Houthi militants in Yemen.” The near-genocidal Saudi war has killed some 12,000 Yemenis, while destroying basic infrastructure in the Arab world’s poorest country, leaving over 7 million people on the brink of starvation and unleashing a cholera epidemic that threatens a massive death toll.

In March, US Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis issued a memo calling for stepped-up US support for this criminal war, in which the Pentagon is already supplying intelligence and logistical backing to the Saudi bombing campaign.

Part of the weapons deal signed by Trump involves the shipment of precision-guided munitions that had been cut off in a highly limited gesture of disapproval of Saudi tactics in Yemen by the Obama administration, which itself concluded over $100 billion worth of weapons deals with Riyadh. Also included in the new deal are tanks, artillery, helicopters and other weaponry that can be directly funneled into the slaughter in Yemen.

In addition to his speech and the signing of arms and investment deals, Trump participated in a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Saudi-led coalition of Gulf oil sheikdoms. Trump administration officials have raised the objective of using the GCC as the foundation of a Sunni Arab version of NATO directed at military confrontation with Iran.

Beyond the drive to militarily confront Iran, a principal regional rival of US imperialism in the Middle East, and the huge profits that Saudi arms purchases reap for the US military industrial complex, there are broader strategic considerations in the US turn toward a closer alliance with Riyadh.

Some of these issues were outlined on the eve of Trump’s trip in a piece published by the influential Washington think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies and authored by Anthony Cordesman, a longtime Pentagon adviser. First among them is, according to Cordesman, “the continued level of US dependence on Saudi help in securing the stable flow of Gulf oil.”

While US imports from the Gulf have fallen sharply over the past quarter-century, Cordesman cites “indirect dependence” in terms of the impact a disruption in oil exports would have on global energy prices and the world capitalist economy. In particular, he points to the dependence of Asian economies on Gulf petroleum exports.

If the United States failed in “providing power projection forces and arms” to the region, he writes, its principal global rival, China, might fill the void. “China may not yet be ready to try to assume the role, but the entire South China Sea crisis would pale to near insignificance if China became the de facto guarantor of Gulf stability.”

Cordesman continues:

The real-world nature of US influence and power in the Pacific would be cut massively, China’s leverage over other major Asian economies like Japan and South Korea would be sharply increased, and the potential rise in tension between China and India–and cut in India’s relative position–would have a massive impact on the balance of power in South Asia and the Indian Ocean.”

In other words, the turn toward closer relations with Saudi Arabia and the related Gulf oil sheikdoms is bound up with US imperialism’s mounting conflict with China, which it has identified as the principal challenge to the drive for American global hegemony. Washington is determined to dominate Asia, including China, by maintaining the military power to choke off the region’s energy imports.

The fact that the sclerotic House of Saud, one of the world’s last absolute monarchies, has become a lynchpin of Washington’s imperialist strategy, not only in the Middle East but globally, is a measure of the crisis of American and world capitalism.

Oil revenues, which account for fully 90 percent of the kingdom’s export earnings, have been cut nearly in half since 2014. Last month, the government was forced to reverse itself on austerity measures that hit the military and public employees over fear that declining living standards and rising unemployment are creating the conditions for social revolt.

In the predominantly Shia Eastern Province, the center of the kingdom’s oil production, security forces laid siege to the town of Awamiyah, a center of resistance to the regime, during the week preceding Trump’s visit. Combined with the failure of the Saudi bid to topple the Assad regime in Syria by supporting Al Qaeda-linked militias and the regime’s inability to retake Yemen from the Houthi rebels, the deepening domestic crisis is creating the conditions for revolutionary upheavals against Washington’s principal ally in the Arab world.