Caitlin Johnstone: Teaching MbS Manners

When the U.S. wants to reform certain murderous foreign leaders it can simply provide them with private seminars, according to an addled imperialist think tanker quoted by Politico

Mohammad bin Salman caricature. (Donkey Hotey, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

By Caitlin Johnstone

A recent article in Politico’s Lockheed Martin-sponsored National Security Daily newsletter featured a quote from an empire think tanker who argues that the tyranny of Saudi Arabia’s murderous Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) can be tempered by sending him to seminars.

In “Saudi Arabia shows Biden can’t have it all,” Politico describes an entirely imaginary conflict of presidential interests between a sincere desire to prioritize humanitarian concerns in Saudi Arabia and a need to maintain warm relations with Riyadh to keep oil prices low amid Washington’s economic war against Moscow.

I say entirely imaginary because of course the U.S. would happily turn a blind eye to Saudi royals using babies for skeet shooting as long as they continued to advance U.S. fossil fuel interests.

The article features all the usual mundane empire apologia you’d expect from a mainstream publication that is funded by war profiteers (the newsletter was sponsored by Northrop Grumman before Lockheed Martin).

But one part stands head-and-shoulders above the rest in terms of sheer foam-brained idiocy. Arguing that the U.S. can advance both its fossil fuel interests and its super important humanitarian concerns, a denizen of the imperial hivemind named Kirsten Fontenrose is cited in the following text (emphasis mine):

“Using Saudi Arabia to lower gas prices and secure geopolitical gains doesn’t have to be divorced from human rights promotion if the U.S. molds the wayward crown prince into a moral king.

 “Shaping young leaders into the types of decision makers America would like as partners takes mentoring, monitoring and shaping,” said KIRSTEN FONTENROSE, a former top Middle East official on Trump’s National Security Council. “There is no reason we can’t establish something akin to a private seminar series for MBS and the inner circle as well as other young leaders in the Gulf or elsewhere around the globe.”


So, in Fontenrose’s empire-addled brain, the U.S. can simply provide private seminars for not just MbS but other foreign leaders as well, teaching them not to do atrocities and war crimes. And this will reconcile the glaring dissonance between what the U.S. government says it values and what it actually does.

That’s the kind of thinking that gets you made into a top national security adviser in the government with the most powerful military force ever assembled. Indeed, that’s the kind of thinking that runs the empire.

Fontenrose is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a NATO-entrenched think tank that is funded by government entities, the military-industrial complex, fossil fuel companies and plutocrats.

When questioned by The American Prospect last year about the Atlantic Council having received millions from Gulf state monarchies, Fontenrose responded, “Every think tank in Washington gets money from Middle East governments.”

This is true. Generally speaking, think tanks are institutions wherein academics are paid by the worst people in the world to come up with intelligent-sounding reasons why it would be good and smart to do something evil and stupid. Those narratives are then inserted at key points of influence before decision makers and the public, where they are used to help make the world a worse place to live.

This is not the sort of dynamic which lends itself to lucid thinking. Fontenrose’s Atlantic Council bio reads like a recipe for turning a human brain into a cog in the imperial machine: from Harvard to the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, to “building relationships with military officers and diplomats from the Middle East and South Asia for the Near East Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University,” to positions in the Pentagon and State Department, to senior director for the Gulf at the Trump administration’s National Security Council and then on to the Atlantic Council.

And at the Atlantic Council she shall wait, spewing imperial gibberish and earning handsome paychecks, until it’s time for the revolving door of the Beltway swamp to usher her back into a government position again.

These are the kind of people who run the world. The imperial machine is packed to the rafters with sniveling power worshippers of this variety, people who choose to spend their lives clawing their way up into positions of influence within the most depraved power structure on the face of this planet, demonstrating their worthiness by their continual willingness to advocate awful things no matter how reckless or stupid.

This is why the world is as it is. The systems which allocate power and wealth elevate the worst among us to the most consequential of positions, where they are then free to act out their own inner misery on the rest of humanity and keep us in a state of suffering and trauma. Nothing will get better until we change those systems.

Caitlin Johnstone is a rogue journalist, poet, and utopia prepper who publishes regularly at Medium.  Her work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking her on Facebook, following her antics on Twitter, checking out her podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following her on Steemit, throwing some money into her tip jar onPatreon or Paypal, purchasing some of her sweet merchandise, buying her books Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative MatrixRogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone andWoke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

This article is from and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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17 comments for “Caitlin Johnstone: Teaching MbS Manners

  1. GBC
    June 9, 2022 at 07:59

    Caitlin shreds the pomposity and nonsense of Fontenrose, whose cluelessness about what the real world of US actions since Hiroshima and Nagasaki must be enormous. As Blinken, Sullivan, and others, as well as Fontenrose demonstrate on a daily basis, it requires 4 years of study at an Ivy League institution, and at least 2 more of graduate studies, to soak up the alternative reality (“We create our own reality.”) of our foreign policy blob. As the author points out, when 98 year old Kissinger is almost the only voice of sanity, we are swimming in dangerous waters.

  2. Vera Gottlieb
    June 8, 2022 at 09:47

    Not that the Yanx couldn’t use some manners being taught them too…

  3. robert e williamson jr
    June 8, 2022 at 00:22

    Caitlin this is not directed at you but you are responsible for setting this up for me. I don’t want to use this term too much but you are on fire here,with this.

    “The is why the world is as it is.” Caitlin, continues but I must ask the question. Those systems you speak of as though they are a part of our bona fides government, aren’t they the halls of ” smoke and mirrors”. They represent part of what “the Other” has hijacked in order to always “get their way”. They make up those cloudy connections, conduits which siphon off the power of the people to determine their own destiny. These willing to sell their services , as parasites, assisted in gaining undue influence in the vital planning and decision making at the highest level of government, poisoning from within. Brings to mind the likes of think tanks and lobbyist.

    From the early in the 1950’s the US was involved deeply in the machinations by the West to control all things connected with Iranian oil.

    After several years of intense work by Alan Dulles & Co. to build the CIA in the vision they worshiped, events there dictated that the US and it’s allies acted swiftly and Operation Ajax ousted Mohammad Mosaddegh, the elected prime minister. CIA had hit the ground running. They went all in got what they wanted and paid little price for what had happened. CIA was born to run dark ops world wide and out to prove it.

    Then CIA failure in Cuba and the fair haired Mr. Dulles was fired by JFK. JFK was murdered ten years after CIA’s 1953 Iranian coup in 1963 and the CIA, it has since been learned stood by and watched everything but did nothing to stop the murder. Again CIA involvement was denied, Congress duly intimidated and nothing approaching justice was ever considered.

    Little surprise that CIA, NSA and the Pentagon received everything they needed to run the horror show in South East Asia. South Vietnam, ground that Robert Blum, Alan’s cohort in designing CIA, himself helped plow and seed for war.

    In very short order after the Kennedy death the US had it’s first never ending war and all the horrors that went with it. Number One being a full fledged vastly funded MICCIMAT. Nixon, what a guy gonna take out the CIA and live to be king. He and Hank the Shank Kissinger plot to keep the war going and the result was Nixon got caught and left office rather than face the music.

    Pike and Church investigated and were stymied by CIA foot dragging, conniving, lying and covering up to gain the undue advantage needed to defeat the “watchers”. That much touted oversight by congress who through its abdication of it’s responsibilities failed to engage in out of fear and intimidation. Ford, Nixon’s successor pardoned him. You can call it what ever you see fit, my word SKULLDUGGERY, for Nixon was humiliated and gone. By then RFK had been neutralized and the coast was clear for more SKULLDUGGERY

    Thirty five years later the politics of oil rule the day, 911 happens and the wheels begin to come off of the democracy assisted energetically by the Patriot Act. The Deed for all practical intents and purposed is finalized.
    All that PA ambiguous language and law starts to settle on the American horizon. This may be the first time that many Americans, and I include myself in that group, had that real painful gut feeling that just as the Hijackers, most of whom were of Saudi origin, had done a terrible act of terrorism, Something else was terribly wrong.

    Now we are given the imperial presidency we have been warned about. They say “If he gets away with this what is it will the next guy (POTUS) try. We now have our answer to that question, which apparently is he will do as he pleases. SEE: Trumps POTUS for life plan. Now consider BIDEN has close to two more years to decide whether he wants to set our hearts on fire or the planet.

    I’ll let everyone reach their own conclusions, many here would have it no other way. Rightfully so I guess. But I’ll warn everyone, once, of the price we pay when we bull shit ourselves and start to believe our own bullshit. Look at what it has done to DC!

    This super wealthy elitist group, these of shadowy international corporate deep state have taken over, not caring about the bright lights they will never have to face because they control the courts in the US and just about everything else needed to guarantee THEIR individual freedoms.

    Thanks CN

  4. Shaun Onimus
    June 7, 2022 at 19:15

    @Charles Carol, I’d like to think that ‘voting with our feet’ is worth a shot since voting at the polls doesnt do it anymore. Starve their budgets, brain drain their industries. I can’t imagine feeding the MIC through paying taxes will allow change. I’m planning on going as far East as they will take me. Good luck!

  5. Charles Carroll
    June 7, 2022 at 13:57

    Good article. But, like shouting into an empty RR tunnel. Does anyone really think we can unseat these war mongering moles by going to the polls again and again?

  6. Occupy on!
    June 7, 2022 at 11:48

    So profound. So heartbreaking.

  7. Cynic
    June 7, 2022 at 03:26

    Another fantastic articulation by the ever astute Miss Caitlin, straight to the bone. Love your articles.

  8. Joe Wallace
    June 7, 2022 at 01:05

    I thought we were cultivating good relations with the Saudi Crown Prince, Muhammud bin Salman, on human rights grounds, to preserve freedom of disassembly.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      June 8, 2022 at 09:48

      Whose ‘human rights’ grounds???

  9. Piotr Berman
    June 6, 2022 at 22:31

    One may argue that Fontenrose proposal cannot be faulted to be one of the worst policy proposals ever, as it was, to my judgment, harmless, unlike so many others. But she definitely failed at her main mission, “to come up with intelligent-sounding reasons why it would be good and smart to do something evil and stupid. However harmless, it did not sound intelligent at all.

  10. ChrisHerz
    June 6, 2022 at 21:56

    Thank you for your work. And, yes. Amerikkkans are profoundly anti-intellectual because their intelligentsia rent themselves to the worst people in the world.

  11. Dfnslblty
    June 6, 2022 at 21:52

    Cutting prose to be ignored by the imperialists.
    You’re getting the People to reason & think.

    Keep writing.

  12. John R
    June 6, 2022 at 21:04

    From the piece – ” . . . the U.S. would happily turn a blind eye to Saudi royals using babies for skeet shooting as long as they continued to advance U.S. fossil fuel interests.” Sounds about right but don’t give ’em any ideas. How low can we go ?

  13. Shaun Onimus
    June 6, 2022 at 20:41

    Best definition of think tank I have ever seen. Couldn’t agree more, excellent article, thank you!

    • Larry McGovern
      June 7, 2022 at 11:24

      ….and the absolutely brilliant “…think tanks are institutions wherein academics are paid by the worst people in the world to come up with intelligent-sounding reasons why it would be good and smart to do something evil and stupid.” fits right in with Ray McGovern’s “expansion” of Eisenhower’s MIC (Military Industrial Complex) into MICIMATT (Military Industrial Congressional Intelligence Media Academia Think Tank) Complex.

      Larry McGovern (Ray’s brother)

      • Jeff Harrison
        June 7, 2022 at 13:42

        Your reply, Larry, is why I’d like to see like buttons on CN.

  14. June 6, 2022 at 19:35

    They will send MbS to a seminar as a palliative to assuage “humanitarian concerns,” at least unless or until they perceive that he has outlived his usefulness like Ngo Dinh Diem, Rafael Trujillo, Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega, Mullah Omar, Muammar Qaddafi, and Bashar al-Assad before him, at which point he will abruptly be on the receiving end of a devastating US-led military intervention and/or proxy war, while the “humanitarian concerns” that previously only merited a seminar will suddenly be unironically trumpeted by government spokespeople and stenographic media outlets as a worthy casus belli.

    In the meantime, though, the United States and aligned countries will be happy to continue logistically supporting his government as they commit human rights abuses at home, covertly sponsor Salafist jihadism abroad, and bomb and starve Yemen into submission (the latter being war crimes that the United States and the United Kingdom are much better-positioned to do something positive and productive to stop than the Ukraine crisis on a far more foreseeable time scale – simply by withdrawing the operators, technicians, and subsidized tools and components that maintain the US/UK-supplied Saudi war machine on a day-to-day basis).

    From a comment I originally made back in May 2016:

    “‘[B]etween the lines of its vision to kick what royals are calling an ‘oil addiction’ are clear steps for Saudi to kick its other habit – reliance on US economic and military support.’

    Taylor Luck, ‘Saudi plan to end oil ‘addiction’: How will it change the kingdom?,’ The Christian Science Monitor, May 2, 2016

    Potential end of the petrodollar standard and proxy control over one of the world’s largest petroleum reserves, and with it almost the entire basis for the whole US-Saudi security relationship, anyone?

    What a coincidence that attempts to release the twenty-eight pages are only being given widespread coverage right now, as opposed to around thirteen years ago, right? While we are at it, how about the higher profile suddenly being given to the legislation backed by Senator Murphy, Senator Paul, Congressman Lieu, Congressman Yoho, etc. to restrict the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia in the context of the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen (which probably still will not go anywhere at this time, especially since the US is now directly involved there – see Thomas Gibbons Neff and Missy Ryan, ‘US Forces Now on the Ground Supporting Combat Operations in Yemen, Pentagon Says,’ The Washington Post, May 6, 2016)?

    I am not saying that I am opposed to the Saudis ostensibly being exposed by such a release or toward the prospect of the Saudis being cut off from their ability to wage war and commit human rights abuses at their current levels (far from it!), but it is quite obvious that the timing for all of this seems rather selective. This goes hand-in-hand with the BRICS having something of a recent flirtation with Saudi Arabia as well, no doubt.”

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