In another foreign policy faux pas, the Biden administration has angered Saudi Arabia and damaged the U.S. relationship with the powerful oil-rich Arab kingdom.
While damaging foreign relationships is never a good idea, alienating and angering the Saudis at this particular moment is dangerous and costly to Americans, as the Ukraine-Russia war continues and the global oil market is in chaos, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Before even becoming president, Joe Biden set himself in opposition to Saudi Arabia, continually condemning the kingdom for the death of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. (Khashoggi was a Saudi Arabian journalist who left the country as a dissident, but in 2018 was assassinated in the Saudi consulate at Istanbul, allegedly at the direction of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.)
In 2019, Biden said that the kingdom should be treated as a pariah due to human-rights issues like Khashoggi’s death.
Then, in the summer of 2021, Biden told Americans to blame low Saudi oil output for rising gas prices.
Relations remained cold between the crown prince and Biden, who, since becoming president, has not deigned to meet with the Saudi ruler.
But last fall, Biden sent his national security advisor Jake Sullivan to talk with bin Salman about oil production and supply, hoping to strike a deal to increase oil production and combat the rising prices of gas and oil.
However, after bringing up the death of Khashoggi once again, the meeting ended with the prince shouting at Sullivan and telling him the U.S. could forget about any request to boost oil production, according to The Journal.
Fast-forward to the current circumstance, with Russia’s war on Ukraine continuing and deeply hurting the global oil economy. The U.S. finds itself in an awkward and weak position, as Saudi Arabia has aligned itself with Russian interests, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Once the Russia-Ukraine war began, the Biden administration began eyeing Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, hoping to convince them to ramp up oil production, which would undercut the money Russiamakes off of its own oil exports and also drive down the rising prices of oil and gas, CNN reported.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the most powerful members of OPEC, the bloc of 13 countries that together control 40 percent of global oil production, making them crucial in the global oil game.
Saudi Arabia did not do as Biden requested and has promoted its own interests above the West’s, which could be dangerous for the U.S. and also keeps gas prices high for Americans.
“The risk for the U.S. is that Riyadh will align more closely with China and Russia, or at least remain neutral on issues of vital interest to Washington, as it has on Ukraine, Saudi officials said,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
Bin Salman has made it clear that the devolving relationship with the administration means that he will not be devoted to helping the U.S.
The prince told The Atlantic that he does value the relationship with the U.S. and he is “trying to do my best.”
“If his best is not good enough for Joe Biden, [bin Salman] said, then the consequences of running a moralistic foreign policy would be the president’s to discover,” The Atlantic reported.
“It’s up to him to think about the interests of America,” the prince added.
The Biden administration has since stopped asking the Saudis to pump more oil, a senior official told the Wall Street Journal. Instead, Biden now asks only that Saudi Arabia not do anything that would hurt the West’s efforts in Ukraine.
The condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is coming from governments that have committed war crimes, without media coverage, for decades.
This does not justify Russia’s actions.
Any actions taken by governments that harm, displace and kill innocent people should be condemned and forbidden.
Why do we only hear a one-sided story from Western legacy media?
Why are people who have a different view of this conflict, and other issues, instantly condemned in today’s society?
Are we creating a culture where people who oppose narratives can’t even speak, share their opinion or fear to do so?
What’s happening in our world when relationships are ruined due to a certain narrative we believe?
Human rights groups, civil liberty groups and press freedom advocates received a glimmer of hope when Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, won the right to ask the Supreme Court to block his extradition to the United States.
At that time last January, the High Court ruled that Assange had an arguable point of law and that he can petition the Supreme Court to hear the case. This was allowed to happen over concerns about how the US justice system would treat Assange, especially given the fact that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) wanted to assassinate him.
Heart’s sank on Monday when the British Supreme Court refused Assange’s latest appeal to prevent his extradition to the US. The case now moves to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to authorize the extradition.
According to his Lawyer Barry Pollack, Assange will continue the legal process fighting his extradition to the United States to “face criminal charges for publishing truthful and newsworthy information.”
Assange was charged under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, largely for actions rightfully recognized as protected news-gathering practices. He made public previously classified documents exposing various war crimes carried out by the US and other governments.
A favourite quote of mine comes to mind here from Nils Melzer, the Human Rights Chair of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law who has served as the UN Rapporteur on Torture and Other Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
“How far have we sunk if telling the truth becomes a crime? How far have we sunk if we prosecute people that expose war crimes for exposing war crimes? How far have we sunk when we no longer prosecute our own war criminals? Because we identify more with them, than we identify with the people that actually expose these crimes. What does that tell about us and about our governments? In a democracy, the power does not belong to the government, but to the people. But the people have to claim it. Secrecy disempowers the people because it prevents them from exercising democratic control, which is precisely why governments want secrecy.”
Nils Melzer, Human Rights Chair of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law
This is why it’s ironic that the western military alliance and their allies overseas are condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The point is not that it shouldn’t be condemned, any violent conflict that escalates to the point where innocent people have to fear for their lives should always be condemned. The point is that it’s hypocritical given that the West has done the same, and in many cases the citizenry is programmed to praise it.
Multiple governments, the United States included, are guilty of some of the most significant war crimes in human history. Just look at what’s happened in Iraq and various parts of the Middle East over the decades. Governments funding, arming and even ‘creating’ terrorist organizations that they claim to be ‘fighting against’ has been a common theme exposed by Assange and many others.
Again, this doesn’t justify the Russian invasion, but it’s important to note that facts about tensions that have been boiling for quite some time have been omitted.
War and geopolitical issues are always followed by propaganda campaigns by governments to influence the perception of their own citizenry. The screenshot below is a great example. This is an unfortunate part of our reality, and the most horrendous atrocities have always been committed and disguised as a noble action.
Stella Moris, partner of Julian Assange and mother to his two boys explains,
“Julian was just doing his job, which was to publish the truth about wrongdoing. His loyalty is the same as that which all journalists should have: to the public. Not to the spy agencies of a foreign power. He published evidence that the country that is trying to extradite him committed war crimes and covered them up; that it committed gross violations that killed tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children; that it tortured and rendered; that it bombed children, had death squads, and murdered Reuters journalists in cold blood; that it bribed foreign officials and bullied less powerful countries into harming their own citizens, and that it also corrupted allied nations’ judicial inquiries into US wrongdoing.”
The US alone has displaced between 38 and 60 million people across eight countries since 2001. Keep this in mind the next time you hear US government officials pledge to defend “international law,” “human rights,” or “sovereignty and territorial integrity” abroad, or any government for that matter.
There is ongoing conflict on this planet almost at all times, the US-Saudi led war in Yemen has killed nearly half a million people and more than 20 million are facing famine.
Making Sense of War Is Difficult
These days it’s nearly impossible to decipher what’s actually happening, but does it really matter? Innocent people have become the sacrifice of governments who seem to enjoy playing their war games. When it comes to the Russian Ukraine conflict, we are only presented with one side from legacy media, while all other perspectives, whether legit or not, are deemed a “conspiracy theory” or, in this case, “Russian propaganda.”
An open, balanced, and grounded discussion is never had. Opposing points are never addressed, and dialogue is not welcome. You’re not allowed to ask questions about COVID in the same way you’re not allowed to question the mainstream narrative with regards to what’s happening in Ukraine. If you are, you’re condemned for it.
Is this a slippery slope? Have we created an unsafe space for meaningful dialogue? What will the effects be of the continued shutdown of dialogue?
This underlying cultural theme is why people like Julian Assange are in jail – and suffering. This is why the US Department of Homeland Security has stated that sharing “misinformation” online may be considered domestic terrorism. The only issue is, they (the US government) are the ones acting as ‘the ministry of truth.’
A few days ago Saudi Arabia executed 81 people for having “deviant beliefs.”
Ben Wizner, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, American Civil Liberties Union, explains with regards to Assange,
“For the first time in the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges against a publisher for the publication of truthful information…It establishes a dangerous precedent that can be used to target all news organizations that hold the government accountable by publishing its secrets. And it’s equally dangerous for U.S. journalists who uncover the secrets of other nations.
Ben Wizner, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project
Seeking truth threatens the power and control governments and corporations continue to grasp day by day. What we see today is the justification of unethical actions that are deemed by government to be justified for the good of the world. This requires massive propaganda campaigns to convince a large portion of the citizenry to obey, and stigmatize those who don’t.
“National Security” has become a term used to justify secrecy on virtually anything that threatens the power, control, and reputation of governments and organizations that are tasked with looking out for humanity’s best interests.
What’s The Solution?
It’s high time citizens of the world refuse to get caught up in the back and forth banter of what’s happening, what’s right and what’s wrong. This doesn’t mean running away from truth-seeking, but instead seeking a different and more balanced conversation on the grounds of good faith. It means being ok with the idea that the “popular” narrative and the one presented to us by our “leaders” may not be the only one.
The world is growing tired of people being divided on both sides of a crisis to the point where relationships with friends and family are ending because we cannot find comfortable ways to discuss ideas.
At the heart of any meaningful action in our world is our ability to make sense of reality and unite on a direction. The problem we face in sensemaking is breaking down as we are shutting out a balanced inquiry and pretending that anyone who opposes an idea in the mainstream is just operating off of ‘misinformation.’
We need to unite in something where most of us agree, allowing and giving governments the power to kill innocent people should not be tolerable. It’s not fair that innocent people continue to suffer with regard to complications that have nothing to do with them. I’m not sure what the solution is. A massive shift in consciousness is needed on this planet, and that shift needs to happen in those who “govern” us and seem to desire more power and control. At the same time, an “us versus them” mentality also seems useless.
There is pressure on the US dollar from entities like the IMF and nations like Saudi Arabia. But how bad is it?
We previously reported that Russia and the Saudis signed an agreement some believed would be the end of the US ‘Petrol’ Dollar. The USD was the currency used in oil trades and this was likely being replaced in an agreement between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
As far back as 2011, the IMF thought it would be a good idea to replace the USD as the world’s reserve currency.
The International Monetary Fund issued a report Thursday on a possible replacement for the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
The IMF said Special Drawing Rights, or SDRs, could help stabilize the global financial system. SDRs represent potential claims on the currencies of IMF members. They were created by the IMF in 1969 and can be converted into whatever currency a borrower requires at exchange rates based on a weighted basket of international currencies. The IMF typically lends countries funds denominated in SDRs
A report from Wolfstreet discusses the current situation of the USD as the world’s reserve currency.
The global share of US-dollar-denominated exchange reserves declined to 59.15% in the third quarter, from 59.23% in the second quarter, hobbling along a 26-year low for the past four quarters, according to the IMF’s COFER data released today. Dollar-denominated foreign exchange reserves are Treasury securities, US corporate bonds, US mortgage-backed securities, and other USD-denominated assets that are held by foreign central banks.
In 2001 – the moment just before the euro officially arrived as bank notes and coins – the dollar’s share was 71.5%. Since then, it has dropped by 12.3 percentage points.
In 1977, when inflation was raging in the US, the dollar’s share was 85%. And when it looked like the Fed wasn’t doing anything about inflation that was threatening to spiral out of control, foreign central banks began dumping USD-denominated assets, and the dollar’s share collapsed.
The plunge of the dollar’s share bottomed out in 1991, after the inflation crackdown in the early 1980s caused inflation to abate. As confidence grew that the Fed would keep inflation more or less under control, the dollar’s share then surged by 25 percentage points until 2000 when the euro arrived.
Since then, over those 20 years, other central banks have been gradually diversifying away from US dollar holdings.
Under Biden it seems that everything is going in the wrong direction.
“As far as I'm concerned, it's a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity.” -Hunter Thompson