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‘Free Riders’ or ‘A New Hope’?

by John Brian Shannon | April 27, 2016

In a recent interview, President Barack Obama called some U.S. allies “free riders” in regards to perceived American largesse, but supposedly “cleared the air” while meeting with King Salman of Saudi Arabia at the April 20th Gulf Cooperation Council meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Now that one side has ‘cleared the air’ let’s allow the other side to share their grievances publicly — except they won’t because there is danger in that for them — and also because ‘it’s just not done’ diplomatically-speaking.

FACT: From 1932 through 1973 (in almost every year) the U.S.A. purchased Saudi oil at a price lower than the cost of production.

Yes, you read that correctly. For most of 41 years, Saudi Arabia massively subsidized the American economy by selling it’s oil for lower than the cost of production. (“Otherwise, the West will lose the Cold War.”) Does everybody understand how that card was played?

I’d call that a very big debt.

(Yes, such treatment ultimately led to the Arab Oil Embargo, although events surrounding Israel were cast as the publicly-stated reason for the Embargo. ‘Those in the know’ at that time are very well aware of this and it’s an open secret among historians and the people who were present in the halls of power in that era)

FACT: During the Cold War, Saudi Arabia mounted more Cold War operations against the former Soviet Union than all other countries combined. (Let that one sink in for a moment!) Saudi Arabia’s Cold War operations against the Soviets were second only to the United States — and countless operations were joint U.S./Saudi operations.

I’d call that a very large debt.

FACT: During the massive Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980’s, the CIA, Pakistan’s ISI, and the Saudis combined forces to evict America’s #1 enemy the former Soviet Union from Afghanistan. (See the movie, ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ which isn’t far off the truth — except it misses the point that Saudi Arabia paid for the whole effort)

The CIA provided a dazzling array of options (technical support, 3rd-rate new or refurbished weapons, realtime satellite intelligence to designated ‘advisors’ on the ground, and cover) while the ISI provided transport, shelter, fighters, and other logistical capabilities.

(In retrospect, in exchange for *being allowed* to get a reasonable price for their oil, it almost looks like Saudi Arabia was expected to shoulder the entire cost of the Soviet/Afghanistan war. Which probably removed most of whatever profits they had hoped to achieve from the new, post-Embargo oil price that the Saudis were *allowed* to charge)

Another big debt to Saudi Arabia.

FACT: “Saudi Arabia has *executed* more terrorists than the U.S. has ever *captured*.” (That was true until 2004, but it was a common refrain until then)

Yes, in Saudi Arabia, when they catch terrorists, they generally execute them with little fanfare. Good riddance!

Saudi Arabia has passed onto the United States intelligence agencies more information about terrorist individuals than any other country.

Of course, U.S. intelligence agencies and some law enforcement units are only too happy to take the credit for apprehending such terrorists, rendering them abroad, incarcerating them without trial, and then casting vague aspersions at Saudi Arabian culture for (possibly) creating them.

Which works quite well, I must say. It has kept the Saudis busy trying to dig themselves out of a contrived hole — a hole contrived by some Western intelligence agencies in order to keep the Saudis quiet about all the free riders Saudi Arabia has given the West since 1932.

I’d call that a moderate debt to the Saudis.

It’s interesting that there was little ‘Islamic terrorism’ prior to the Soviet/Afghan War. And what there had been, was tiny bits of terrorism scattered around Asia and the Middle East. (Usually it was a case of personal attacks — one warlord against another)

But there is a reason for the rise of Islamic Terrorism and we in the West, helped create it.

Instead of castigating people for being ‘free riders’ — trying to keep them ‘down’ and ‘on the defensive’ — we should be meeting every country ‘where it is’ and helping them to destroy terrorist networks and individual terrorists wherever they may be on the planet.

That’s the difference between managing a problem on the one hand and scoping out a much broader, more inclusive, and cooperative vision on the other hand — one that has an infinitely better chance of success.

Finally, terrorism didn’t suddenly just happen. We in the West helped to create it during the Soviet/Afghan War with CIA training, the ISI’s training, and Saudi money.

When our allies the brave Mujahadeen sometimes called the West’s freedom fighters returned home to places like Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and other Middle Eastern nations, their particular indoctrination did not simply vanish…

A New Hope

We need a better vision — one that is at least one order of magnitude better — for dealing with what is probably going to become a widespread problem in this world, with many Western-educated young people joining such groups.

Yes, thousands of Western non-Muslims are joining ISIS and other groups — and in the future it’s likely that other groups will arise with even more tantalizing ideologies (at least to easily-swayed and ‘out-of-place’ young people) who feel they haven’t a real chance at fulfilling their potential in our world.

Every one of our young people who leaves to join such a group represents a massive failure on the part of our society.

And we will only have ourselves to blame for what comes after — whatever that may be.

Therefore, let us put our efforts into providing real opportunities for our young people, and with some urgency, create employment opportunities in the Middle East where the youth unemployment rate ranges from 29% (Saudi Arabia) to 24.8% in Egypt and worse, in rural areas.

Young people from any country with a promising future ahead of them, do not run away from their communities to join groups like ISIS. Providing the opportunity for a real future for young people is where we must put our best effort — and we can’t afford to waste a moment in support of that important goal.


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Canada’s Best Option to Deal With ISIS

by John Brian Shannon | November 18, 2015

It’s a fact of international law that military aircraft from one nation entering the airspace of another nation (without permission) is illegal and considered an act of war.

It’s also illegal for aircraft (or ships) from ‘Country A’ to enter ‘Country B’ and kill people there — even if the people they kill are members of a heinous terror organization.

This is a matter of international law. There’s no ambiguity, it’s not up for discussion, and it’s not under debate by legal scholars anywhere. No constitutional lawyers anywhere dispute this part of sovereignty law.

(For the record; Some countries don’t respond militarily to illegal incursions into their air, sea, or land space — while others respond aggressively. It’s the aggrieved nation’s right to respond in any way it deems appropriate)

Two exceptions are allowed under international law

If a country or a coalition of countries, have a mandate from the United Nations (via a UN Security Council or General Assembly resolution) then they may enter and engage hostile combatants under the conditions set within the UN resolution.

The other exception is when the host country has formally requested that a country, or a coalition, intervene inside their borders.

International laws apply equally to every nation. They aren’t like an à la carte dinner menu where you can simply choose which laws you wish to follow

File photo: Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 fighter/bomber. Image courtesy of Canadian Press.

Oh, Canada; Don’t you know that under international law it’s illegal and considered an act of war, when military aircraft from one nation enter the airspace of another — without permission? Unless the host country has formally asked us to intervene inside their borders — or there is a UN mandate allowing it. Neither of which has occurred in the case of Syria as of November, 2015. File photo: Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 fighter/bomber. Image courtesy of Canadian Press.

No matter how evil some terror groups are, countries that break international law are just as guilty of breaking laws as those terror groups

If some countries in the West send their fighter-bomber jets into Syria; a) uninvited by the host government, or; b) with no UN mandate to do so — they are just as guilty of breaching international law as ISIS, perhaps moreso — as nation states know full well the responsibilities of international law and they know that they are bound by those laws. Any protestations by government spokespersons are doublespeak.

ISIS is not a country. Having pretensions at being a country, is not the same thing as being a country

ISIS is a terror group, and although bound by the criminal and civil laws of whatever countries they operate in, they’re not a country and are therefore not bound by the same laws that nation states must uphold.

My point is, if we in the West are saying that we’re a great moral force in the world, then we better start acting like it.

Historically, Canada is renown as a nation that abides by the rule of law

In no way should Canada be invading the sovereign airspace of any nation with our fighter aircraft, no matter the pretext.

In fact, our constitutional document refers to ‘Peace, Order and Good government’ as the justification for supporting the idea of a federal government in the first place. So…

Either Canada is a nation that respects international law, or it isn’t

If we abide by international law, then we are setting a good example and we should expect to be treated accordingly by other nations. And if occasion arises when our good example is not reciprocated by other nations, then we can claim full legal recourse with support from other law-abiding nations.

If we don’t abide by international law, but instead rely on the law of the jungle — then we must realize that we will be treated accordingly by the UN, by other institutions and by other nation states.

One way or another, we’ll get what we deserve

Therefore, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems on the right side of international law when he indicated that Canada’s CF-18’s would stop flying into Syrian airspace to bomb civilians — only some of whom may be ISIS members.

Until then, Canada continues to break international law by flying into Syrian airspace and bombing civilians

Let’s not forget that ISIS members are civilians who have joined a terror organization — they’re not members of the Syrian Army and Canada isn’t at war with Syria — therefore, we have no legal right to be there regardless of how evil the ISIS entity is. The anger we feel at their horrific terror attacks doesn’t entitle us to become lawbreakers.

We’re supposed to be the country of ‘Peace, Order and Good Government’ – not a country of ‘Anger, Revenge and International Scofflaws’

The sooner Canada returns to conformance with international law the better; For the reputation of this country, for the example that this country sets to the world, and for this country’s future security.

Canada’s best way forward for dealing with ISIS, is to operate within Iraq, a country which has formally asked for our assistance

Canada can contribute to operations on the ground and in the air in the fight against ISIS within Iraq. We’ve been asked to be there, and we should therefore, show up and contribute our best effort.

If Canada, claims that it is part of a great and moral fight in the world, then let us start by being moral

And in this case, that means getting out of Syrian air, sea, and land space, ASAP — and fulfilling our mandate to be enablers of Peace, Order and Good Government by assisting the government and people of Iraq to our best ability.

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D’Oh Canada! Justin Trudeau: Statesman or Spendthrift?

by John Brian Shannon | November 9, 2015

One of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first official acts as the elected leader of the great and noble country of Canada, was to offer a free airplane flight home to the former Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Stephen Harper.

Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau (2015)

Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau (2015)

In any other country this sort of thing would be considered normal courtesy for a new Prime Minister to bestow upon the outgoing Prime Minister. But not in Canada. Noooo. Here, the wailing has just begun.

And before it’s all through, I’d expect the country to lose about 1000 extra trees and gallons of newspaper ink in order to properly cover the latest (purported) fiasco perpetrated by a Canadian Prime Minister.

Harrumph! “We caught you on the first day!” Or something to that effect.

It’s all so small-time

In a real country like, oh, (name any country) this so-called story wouldn’t have made the last page of any newspaper let alone the front page.

But here in Canada, some are now lining up to offer the new Prime Minister a lesson in spending ‘their’ money — as if they paid for the whole trip themselves.

And it is their money. Or a portion of it. The free ride home for former Prime Minister of Canada has cost each Canadian 1/3rd of a cent.

[According to unnamed sources, flying Stephen Harper to his home city of Calgary and returning the government aircraft to Ottawa cost $110,000 CAD. Divide that cost into 35,000,000 Canadians and you get 1/3rd of one cent, per capita. If you come up with a different math result, please advise. Wouldn’t it be exciting if I was wrong and it cost each Canadian 1/2 a cent per Prime Ministerial term? Woot! Free TimBit for you!]

Yes folks, that’s what it’s all about. Each Canadian citizen has paid one-third of one cent to fly the former PM home and return the empty jet to Ottawa

On the other hand, it has probably cost at least $1,000,000 for the ink, newsprint and internet use to publicize this (purported) scandalous waste of each taxpayers’ 1/3rd of a cent.

Aren’t we lucky this is a one-time only cost that we all bear at the end of each PM’s time in office?

If this sort of frivolous spending keeps up, each Canadian could conceivably be in for a whole cent over the course of 15 years — assuming we get a new PM every 5 years. Which has been known to occur.

But it’s the principle of the matter!

Slow news days raise our principles, don’t they?

The Americans must be dying with laughter

It reminds me of a Monty Python sketch called The Funniest Joke in the World where the British Army obtained the lines to the funniest joke in the world and broadcast the joke to the German soldiers across the WWII front — and the joke being so funny, would have the German soldiers dying of laughter in the German trenches. And according to the sketch, that is how the Brits won the Second World War. Jolly Good, mates!

It’s even funnier if you read the previous paragraph aloud in John Cleese’s highbrow British accent. Your kids will love you.

But is that any way to treat our American cousins? They read our newspapers… so it follows that stories like this could become injurious to their health.

So far, Canadians seem to be impervious to this new weapon.

And now for Something. Completely. Different!

The security of Canada’s military, economic, industrial, and social fabric was protected last week in dramatic fashion by the new Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Justin Trudeau — a man of excellent pedigree, impeccable credentials and uncommon statesmanship.

Mr. Trudeau, recently elected to Canada’s highest office, had the foresight and courage to arrange a high level of transportation security for the one person in Canada most likely to know every single Canadian military, economic, and industrial secret of the past decade, the former Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Stephen Harper.

Mr. Trudeau performed this courageous act knowing full well that he’d be under fire for years to come from ‘extremist commentators’ within Canada. j/k

Due to Mr. Trudeau’s actions, Canada’s official secrets — all of which are known by the former Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Stephen Harper — have now been deemed safe by unnamed experts in Canadian security.

Mr. Harper has been further advised to call the 911 operator at least 30 minutes in advance of any surprise abduction or interrogation attempt by foreign enemies that may wish to gain access to Mr. Harper’s extensive knowledge of Canada’s official secrets. The former Prime Minister was keen to agree to the plan, saying that it had been his great privilege to serve the wonderful and generous citizens of Canada.

D’Oh Canada! We stand on guard for thee!

Unless it costs more than 1/3rd of a cent per capita.

Maybe the Americans would be kind enough to help us defray some of these costs. Things (like the costs of being a real country) are getting out of hand these days!