Last week, my colleague Jeff Opdyke reminded us that like all power-hungry states, the U.S. requires enemies like ISIS to keep the population distracted and mobilized against the wrong threats. As he rightly put it: “War … gives government the cover it needs to curtail liberties and freedoms here at home. It gives government reason to rally the citizenry as the long-term health of the nation deteriorates.”
Of course, war does more than just that. War generates massive flows of taxpayer money to the defense industrial sector, which passes some of it on to money-hungry politicians, who vote for more war and thus more money for defense. And so on.
After decades of nonstop warfare in the Middle East, against enemies largely imagined, many Americans react to such matters with a cynical shrug and sigh. “Whaddya gonna do? That’s the way things always are,” they say.
No, things are not always that way. Things are that way because we have made choices … choices we can change.
One of the biggest problems in America today, in my opinion, is the general lack of sound historical knowledge in the population. For example, most people would probably tell you that Muslims have always hated the U.S., because of their religion.
Nonsense. In the first half of the 20th century, the U.S. was popular and respected in the Middle East, a beacon of freedom in a world subjugated by European imperialism. From World War I until the early ‘50s, most Arabs and Persians saw the U.S. as an anti-colonial ally, committed to democracy and to end the French and British Empires, which ruled most of the Middle East directly or indirectly.
All that changed in the eight years between 1948 and 1956. In 1948, the State of Israel was established over Arab (not Muslim) objections. In 1951, the reformist Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, was overthrown in a coup engineered by the CIA at the request of the British MI6. Mosaddegh had angered the Brits by nationalizing Iran’s oil industry and trying to curb the political power of feudal Iranian landowners. Finally, in 1956, the U.S. stood by while the British and French invaded Egypt to regain control of the Suez Canal, nationalized by Gamal Abdel Nasser.
There’s Oil in Them Thar Wars
At the time, these actions were rationalized as necessary measures to curb Soviet influence in the area. There’s some truth in that. But the long-term damage to the U.S. reputation in the Middle East was severe, and we are reaping the harvest today.
Arabs and Persians who had once admired the U.S. became implacable enemies. As the years passed, ongoing support for pro-U.S. dictators like the Shah of Iran, Hosni Mubarak (Egypt), Saddam Hussein (Iraq) and the Saudi royal family guaranteed that each generation of Middle Easterners would grow ever more hostile to the West.
By 2014, anti-Western sentiment in the Middle East — now wrapped in the black banner of atavistic Islamic fundamentalism — has gone on long enough to appear timeless and immutable, a basic feature of “Islamic” thinking.
But even those who subscribe to such misguided views usually acknowledge that our own motivations have hardly been altruistic: after all, it’s always been about the oil. Somehow, history managed to arrange a situation in the Middle East that would justify our perpetual military presence right where the single most important resource to the U.S. economy is concentrated.
Download Your Free Copy of Counter Markets
Fool Me Twice …
We often speak of how the events of 9/11 changed the U.S. It’s true: Ever since then our liberties have been trashed, our society has become militarized, and our politicians have become spineless fear-mongers, using the threat of terrorism to justify their every violation of the Constitution, democratic norms, and basic decency.
But that’s not all: Key U.S. interests have made billions off of that fear. Like the oil companies of the second half of the 21st century, defense and intelligence contractors like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics have wallowed in the fat generated by nonstop war.
Indeed, shares in those and similar companies reached record highs in the days after U.S. bombs began to rain down on Syria on September 23.
Explaining the persistence of war in the Middle East doesn’t require conspiracy theory or an imagined “clash of civilizations.” It just requires a government that lies through its teeth and classifies all the important information for reasons of “national security.” It also needs a citizenry ready to believe anything fear-mongering politicians and the media tell them.
But the fact that there is so much money to be made by keeping the real story a secret certainly helps.
An ISIS of Our Own Making
ISIS, for example, was reportedly created — with CIA support — by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, ex-head of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services and a former socialite ambassador to the United States. The goal was to take down Syrian dictator Hafez al-Assad and outflank his Iranian allies.
But ISIS got out of control, and to divert attention from the fact that the black-clad lunatics are really a child of U.S.-Saudi regional policy, people like Senator Lindsey Graham tell us that ISIS “will open the gates of Hell to spill out on the world … we are all going to be killed here at home.”
We continue to support Saudi Arabia because we are addicted to its cheap oil. Saudi Arabia supported ISIS, with our help, to keep its regional foes off-balance. Now U.S. defense industries stand to make hundreds of millions in U.S. taxpayer dollars cleaning up our joint mess.
All of these players desperately want to keep us uninformed and distracted so we don’t choose to stop this insanity immediately. They rely on us to continue choosing to remain so.
At our recent Total Wealth Symposium in Panama, a Sovereign Society member approached me gingerly. He said: “Many of the things you write seem so against the conventional wisdom, but you convince me. It makes me reconsider what I’m used to hearing.” I replied with my personal Theory of Everything: “I just ask ‘who benefits?’ and pursue matters accordingly.”
Very little of what our government does is designed to benefit you and me. That goes for domestic as well as foreign policy. We can choose to acquiesce, or to strike out on our own path — the very essence of what it means to be “Sovereign.” So stay Sovereign … and unconventional in your thinking, whether about politics, finance or offshore living.
After all, they’re more afraid of that than anything else.
Ted Baumann is an Offshore and Asset Protection Editor who joined The Sovereign Society in 2013. As an expat who lived in South Africa for 25 years, Ted specializes in asset protection and international migration. He is the editor of Offshore Confidential and Plan B Club. His writing is featured at The Sovereign Investor, where this article first appeared. For more information about how to protect your assets, please visit here.