Why the U.S.-Saudi relationship has proven so enduring

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, note I am continuing to see a larger backlash on the Saudi issue than one might have expected. The bigger underlying question is this: given all that has happened, so why is the United States still such an ally of the Saudis?  It’s longstanding and thus not just about Trump’s possible business dealings.  It’s also not just about the oil, here is one excerpt:

One feature of the geography of Saudi Arabia is that its major oil fields stand apart and can be taken over without controlling the major Saudi cities. That is one reason why the Saudis were so wary of Saddam Hussein.

That risk means the Saudis are especially dependent on American military protection. In turn, the U.S. knows it has a lot of leverage over the Saudis, and therefore making deals with the Saudis involves easier enforcement and lower transaction costs. The same cannot be said of deals with Iran. So in the Saudi-Iran rivalry, the U.S. ends up siding with the Saudis.

Historically, Iran has been a very difficult country to capture or control, and the population has fought fiercely to defend Iranian territorial integrity. Iran doesn’t need American protection to the same degree as do the Saudis, and so Iran is more willing to be prickly or openly hostile to the U.S.

Iran shared a border with the former Soviet Union (though not Russia) and shares Caspian Sea rights with Russia, and the two countries often have had close and cordial relations. Iran also is easier than Saudi Arabia for China to reach with its One Belt, One Road initiative, which aims to build close ties with the countries to its west. In sum, Iran is going to diversify its geopolitical bets, which pulls it away from the U.S., even if the issues surrounding nuclear weapons and support for terrorism somehow were resolved.

And this:

Of course, the Saudis have abused their position. They are dependent on the U.S., but they also know America has few other potential regional partners for cooperation on such a large scale. And so the Saudis have engaged in human-rights abuses over the decades, figuring it may harm but will not irrevocably damage relations with America.

There is more at the link, analytical throughout.


Have we solved Saudi Arabia's support for international terrorism?

Yeah, by both the US and Saudi Arabia blaming the Iranian people voting for the current Iranian Constitution forcing Saudi Arabia to promote Wahabist ideology everywhere in the world, implemented by mass murder.

Iran is evil. Thus Iran being opposed to terrorists attacking and killing Americans forces Saudis to be virtuous by flying planes into US building to kill Americans.

Thus, 911, the Cole, the Boston bombing, the killing of Americans at an office party is all Iranian state sponsored terrorism.

After all, voting is an act of terrorism.

Note, Iran has judges who decide the law by the bible, just like Christian conservatives, e.g. Judge Moore, et al. Thus, Iran acting like the US conservatives and claiming sovereignty just like US conservatives is terrifying, and thus terrorism.

When Iran offered support to Bush in getting justice for the acts of Saudis and Wahabists, that was radically terrifying. Thus Iran became the axis of evil by making Saudis support more terrorism. And Iraq was also the axis of evil for failing to defeat Iran even with Reagan supporting Saddam in using chemical weapons to kill his opponents, Kurds and Iranians.

Has anyone solved the USA's support for international terrorism?

Yep. It's totally nonexistent.

Doesn't really matter.


I'll translate to something you can visualize easier since you only react to visual stimuli: Remember the Mujaheddin heroes from Rambo? Remember Rumsfeld shaking Saddam's hand?

analog dog

I love my Saudi masters! They're very very good people!

Yes, they are. And don't forget their charity. The Saudi's are wonderful donors.

Exam question 2.3.
Is KSA a Giffen good? Discuss.

"...Early in his reign, when faced with demands for a written constitution for the country, King Faisal responded that 'our constitution is the Quran'"

I think it's important to realize that it is also de-facto the constitution of Iran. They are both theocracies more or less, albeit with secular and religious political control maintaining some illusion of separation. It is difficult to choose between two groups that are more or less equally backward, but the Saudis have one more thing going for them, the holy cities.

In addition to the US I'm pretty sure that if "the big push" between the two ever came all those Wahhabi dollars the Saudis drop worldwide would gain them quite a few more allies. I wouldn't be surprised even if the Israelis ended up getting involved and siding with the kingdom, albeit under the table.

Strange bedfellows.

They are hugely different. Iran has a large urban middle class with a secular or moderate outlook, intellectual curiousity and desire for education, a dislike of their government and a general pro-Western attitude. Iran has been a civilised, literate deeply cultured state for millenia. Arabia was populated by illiterate tribesmen not so long ago.

Iran has both secularized urban populations as well as Trump-voter like Islamists in the countryside

"Trump-voter like Islamists"

This is rhetoric, but what are you even fighting for any more Mr E?

'It is difficult to choose between two groups that are more or less equally backward'

The Iranians have thousands of years of history, and have made major contributions to art and literature, to name just two areas where the classical Greeks felt that Persia was considered comparable.

The Iranians would agree that the Saudis are just a bunch of backward camel herders, however.

It was Iranian-American Reza Badiyi who designed the opening title montage for the original Hawaii 5-O, not to mention Get Smart and The Mary Tyler Moore Show

"They are both theocracies more or less, albeit with secular and religious political control maintaining some illusion of separation. "

Iran has a Constitution ratified in a popular referendum overwhelmingly. It formally institutionalizes religion in government, including Jewish, Christian, and other religions, in addition to Islam.

Note, most US conservatives today claim the US constitution is based on Bible aka Christian law, especially those like Judge Roy Moore. Thus Iran constitution is just like the claimed US constitution in law based on the Bible.

The only difference is conservatives in Iran come to different "conclusions" than US conservatives, which are almost identical in word, but very different in deed. Iran says a good Muslim believes in charity and actually gives charity. In the US, conservatives believe in charity, but only charity done by atheists, liberals, Catholics. The latter, are evil puppets of the Pope.

Ironically, US conservatives became Catholics who oppose the Pope for telling them to provide charity. Thus US Catholic conservatuives are more like Luther, which logically would make them Protestants, but Protestants are liberals in rejecting the authority of Christian authoritarians, letting individuals interpret the Bible themselves.

The Iranians are unique in theirrystem of vilayat-e-faqih (rule of the jurisprudent). The Supreme Leader is a judicial, not executive figure, and it is the only country in the world where the judiciary branch of government is supreme, not the executive or legislative one.

Saudi Arabia is not a theocracy. It is old-fashioned oriental despotism. As Montesquieu noted, in those regimes, religion is the only counter-power, which is why the Al-Saud had to co-opt it: "One will forsake his father, and even kill him if the prince so orders it, but one will not drink wine even if (the prince) wishes it and orders it so."

I really need to watch Casablanca! *refreshes Twitter feed*

Enjoyed reading "The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East " by Andrew Scott Cooper . There was a time when the US seems to have allied with Iran instead.
Choosing between Tweedledum and Tweedledee , Alice keeps forging ahead to get out of the rabbit hole.

I am deeply shocked by the words not uttered by columnists, journalists and twitter celebrities:

Kettle, black, drone killings!

Nobody would utter those words because they are nonsense. Don't make moral equivalence between a free country like the USA with a theocratic dictatorship like SA.

Cowen: "You might think that the U.S. is now energy-independent, but many U.S. allies, most notably Japan, rely on oil imports. Part of the larger U.S. foreign policy stance is promising those allies freedom from major supply disruptions."

As the late energy economist M.A. Adelaman would say, this is a myth. The oil market is global and there is no chance of a major disruption as supply, demand and the price of oil simply shift according to Econ 101 market forces.

In late 1985, Saudi Arabia exported almost no oil, which one might consider to be a supply disruption but of course "oil dependent" countries like Japan got as much oil as they wanted at the market price.

'and there is no chance of a major disruption'

One assumes you were born after 1979.

Where was there a major disruption? Certainly you don't mean the illusory "oil embargos" that political scientists sometimes talk about.

So, born after 1979?

And the not illusory oil embargo of 1973 had lasting impacts in places like Japan and Europe.

It also demonstrated that OPEC, and most particularly KSA, had replaced the U.S. as the world's swing producer.

What lasting impacts occurred in 1973 in Japan and Europe? Everyone got the oil they demanded, when they demanded it, although prices went up. There was no serious disruption . Japanese and European governments made errors with respect to how they handled the threat of an embargo through rationing, but they were reacting to a myth.

Henry Kissinger even admitted in a speech in the 1980s that the Nixon administration had no one in it who understood market forces.

The creation of IEA, along with serious attention being paid to the problem of being utterly dependent on imported energy.

For example, building up strategic reserves so as to deal with the sort of supply disruption that occurs when the occasional tanker war or oil nation invasion breaks out in the Persian Gulf.

And of course, increasing energy efficiency standards.

The creation of the IEA? They don't get Econ 101 either as they will do what Tyler did and speak of "serious disruptions" by hand waving and offering no possible examples.

There were wars in the Middle East in the 1970s, the Iraq-Iran War in the 1980s, the Gulf War in 1990, the Iraq War in the 2000s and apparently there has been fighting in Syria and Libya. Where were the serious oil disruptions? None, right? Pirates took over a tanker for a while before being killed. Do you think the huge oil markets would react to a dinky oil tanker being stolen?

Strange how you still haven't answered whether you were born after 1979, to be honest.

Or possibly your definition of supply disruption is different from the one used by people who were older than 10 in 1973.

You left out a certain revolution in a non-Arab oil exporter, by the way.

You have a special definition of "major supply disruption"? You are assuming market forces of supply and demand don't apply to oil for some reason. Is oil a special commodity? If so, how?

I will take the lack of an answer to a repeated question as being no, you have absolutely no personal experience of what occurred in the 1970s.

'Is oil a special commodity?'

The fact you are not even distinguishing between crude and refined product is a pretty clear sign that the idea that various grades of crude are not fungible is likely unfamiliar to you. Sending Orinoco Belt extra heavy crude to Rotterdam (or to MIRO in Karlsruhe, for that matter) would be a waste of money. And until the entire infrastructure had been adapted, result in basically no refined product being produced.

Here is some recent information showing how fungible crude is - 'Venezuela sent almost 280,000 barrels per day (bpd) of heavy crude to India in the first half of the year, a 21 percent drop versus the 355,500 bpd shipped in the same period of 2017, according to PDVSA trade documents.

The decline is the second steepest after the United States, which has suffered a drop of about 30 percent in crude imports from Venezuela this year, the documents seen by Reuters show.

If crude supplies from Iran and Venezuela, two of India’s top five oil suppliers, cannot be secured in coming months, some of the nation’s refiners would have to rely almost entirely on sourcing the heavy barrels they need from Iraq, according to analysts.

“Indian refiners are very worried about supply from Iran, but also from Venezuela,” said Robert Campbell from consultancy Energy Aspects.

Saudi Arabia is expected to boost supply to India in the short term, but those barrels would not match the quality of the missing Venezuelan crude, he added. “The lack of heavy barrels is not a problem only in the Atlantic Basin but in Asia as well,” he added.' https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-india-crude/venezuelas-oil-exports-to-india-fell-21-percent-in-first-half-data-idUSKBN1JT2B7

@clockwork_prior - I think Todd is trolling you dude...

See below - no, he seems fairly serious.

No. Tyler is repeating what almost all political scientists say about "major disruptions" of oil flow but few economists do because they keep in mind supply, demand and price.

Robert Campbell, philosophy degrees and reporter, doesn't understand the economics of oil, either.

In 1973, oil did sometimes have to go through different routes, but the process was relatively quick and inexpensive. There were no shortages. You still haven't come up with one, Clockwork. Hand waving about "personal experience" in the 1970s is not a satisfying answer.

'You still haven't come up with one, Clockwork.'

And you probably have never seen a line of cars waiting for gas either. Most people consider it a shortage when they cannot buy gas at any station in their region. But if it makes you feel better, here is the shortage part - 'In conjunction with the revolution, Iranian oil output declined by 4.8 million barrels per day (7 percent of world production at the time) by January 1979.'

And here is the market part - 'However, this supply disruption may not have been the most important factor pushing oil prices higher. Rather, the Iranian disruption may have prompted a fear of further disruptions and spurred widespread speculative hoarding.'


That 7% decline in world production involved the revolution you did not mention, by the way.

The line of cars was not due to an oil shortage but a stupid government policy. Ya think Nixon's other price controls yielded positive outcomes.

Again, it doesn't matter if oil from a major oil producing state declines or is completely shut off as the Saudis did in 1985. World production can decline - and did - but that doesn't mean a fictional shortage will occur -and has not.

The author of the essay has an undergrad degree in econ, but we don't want the PhDs in econ to get this wrong.

You must be troll. No one could be so illogical.

Wait til you see him go on about immortality pills.

I don't think it is my fault that Tyler and Clockwork don't understand supply and demand and price adjustments.

I mostly agree with Todd and I was born before 1960.
Much of the problems in the 1970's had to do with governments reacting with price controls and other bad policy. A disruption in the middle east would cause higher prices which is not painless but we could adjust without too much pain,much more so now than in the 1970's. My Prius get over 50mpgs. NG can be used to make diesel at some price. Car pooling aided by the internet (I though that was what Uber was at first). We have many options, what options do the Saudis have if they no longer have petroleum revenues?

I'm sure Tyler understands all of this, but it is easy to quickly write "major disruptions" since IR people like Ian Bremmer and Joseph Nye have been getting it wrong for decades and easy their logical errors if you don't think it through. Oh, born three weeks before the Apollo 13 launch. I can't believe I missed it by only three weeks. I've always been a procrastinator.

"easy to make their logical errors"

What lasting impact?

1. France responded to the oil embargo by replacing virtually all of its oil-fired power stations with nuclear power.

2. Japan perused a major program of nuclear plant construction to replace imported oil .

3. Every country in Europe greatly expanded its oil taxes and auto efficiency standards in order to reduce dependence on imported oil.

4. The North Sea oil fields suddenly became viable thanks to the explosion in oil prices, pivoting Britain away from imported Middle eastern oil.

5. In 1975 Brazil launched its sugar cane ethanol biofuel program to wean the country off expensive imported oil.

6. Many western European countries and Japan switched from a pro-Israel stance to a more pro-Arab stance.
From the Wikipedia entry:

Although lacking historical connections to the Middle East, Japan was the country most dependent on Arab oil. 71% of its imported oil came from the Middle East in 1970. On November 7, 1973, the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments declared Japan a "nonfriendly" country to encourage it to change its noninvolvement policy. It received a 5% production cut in December, causing a panic. On November 22, Japan issued a statement "asserting that Israel should withdraw from all of the 1967 territories, advocating Palestinian self-determination, and threatening to reconsider its policy toward Israel if Israel refused to accept these preconditions". By December 25, Japan was considered an Arab-friendly state.

This misses the point. Sure, a government that is irrationally spooked (look at the Japanese government shutting down all 50 nuclear reactors for years after Fukushima) can go in a new policy direction. But at what point in 1973 or 1974 were Japanese refineriess unable to purchse oil at the market price?


By the way, Japan's nuclear program began in 1954 and the first plant was built in 1966 and nuclear eventually accounted for 10% of Japan's energy - not close to "replacing imported oil."

'This misses the point.'

Or illustrates it in a way that is simply too obvious to be hand waved away while mumbling about market forces. Which are actually part of the reason for those actions - the price of oil quadrupled.

(And replace oil in generating electricity was likely meant in reference to Japan, a shift resulting from the first oil embargo.)

Price fluctuations with oil are also driven by psychology as we saw when oil prices shot up for a while in 1990 and 2008.

There is always oil available at SOME price. The problem is that extremely high prices are economically devastating for oil-importing nations.

That's why the OPEC embargo was so damaging. It blew up the trade deficits of oil-importing countries. Many countries responded by changing their energy policy to be less dependent on imported oil.

In a market economy, you never "run out" of anything. You just raise the price of it until large numbers of consumers are priced out of the market.

Give me a break. Who was priced out of the market in 1973? Nobody.

+1 to Todd Kreider
And I'll add Saudi Arabia needs the petroleum income much more than the world needs their petroleum.

It is surprising that Cowen as a distinguished economist accepts the mainstream nonsense that we need a military presence to get oil. I can understand Bush the younger might have that misconception, despite being smarter than he received credit for.



(how come smirkingchimp and smirkingtrump are all OK, but not smirkinkgbarry? Do the liberals have more prejudice than they admit?)

Somehow economists are all on board that populations will diffuse up the standard of living gradient, but they are not onboard with the very likely theory that oil will flow in the opposite direction of the payment for that oil.

'accepts the mainstream nonsense that we need a military presence to get oil'

Mainstream nonsense maybe, but the U.S. military (especially the Navy) is fully aware of the reason for their presence - to deny other nations access to oil in the event of conflict. About the only major exception to this is Russia, and those countries supplied through the Russian/East European pipeline network.

It is not a coincidence when one looks at where major U.S. naval forces are stationed that they just happen to straddle all the major tanker routes.

"Mainstream nonsense maybe, but the U.S. military (especially the Navy) is fully aware of the reason for their presence - to deny other nations access to oil in the event of conflict."

Very good point, much appreciated.

The American military is fully aware of the importance of oil, and has been since the 1930s, when it began war gaming the destruction of Ploesti, at the time Europe's largest oil refining complex.

And regardless of what thinks of embargoes, one merely has to see where Japan invaded after the American oil embargo to grasp that the importance of oil is not precisely a secret.

It is always interesting to see the misconceptions people have concerning oil, even though much of WWII depended on who had access to it - and who did not.

(Why yes, my grandfather just happened to serve on American tankers in WWI and WWII. Those tankers were what allowed the American concept of strategic bombing to play out over Europe, among the other forms of mechanized warfare used by the Allies, after all - and why U-Boots were the major focus of German naval activity.)

The U.S. military can only deny oil to small nations and would be a huge operation. It doesn't explain a very expensive 34/7 Navy presence.

Japan panicked in 1941. There was no way that the U.S. and Britain could have placed an oil embargo on Japan. You are the one repeating the popular misconceptions about oil.

While it's true Japan panicked, and I think giving up Manchuria to avoid WWII would have been wise for Japan, at the end of WWII the US had a pretty good blockade of Japan, admittedly using the full might of the US Navy.

Bonus trivia: Halsey's Typhoon in WWII was a disaster for the US Navy, and it did not help that they didn't remember which way typhoons travel in the northern hemisphere (counter-clockwise and to the northwest), as they ran into the same typhoon twice!

'There was no way that the U.S. and Britain could have placed an oil embargo on Japan.'

The idea of trolling just might be true, but here is a bit of information about the oil embargo - 'The oil embargo was an especially strong response because oil was Japan's most crucial import, and more than 80% of Japan's oil at the time came from the United States.

Japanese war planners had long looked south, especially to Brunei for oil and Malaya for rubber and tin. In the autumn of 1940, Japan requested 3.15 million barrels of oil from the Dutch East Indies, but received a counteroffer of only 1.35 million.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Events_leading_to_the_attack_on_Pearl_Harbor

Of course, the oil embargo imposed by the U.S. after Dec. 7, 1941 was essentially 100% effective, by the way. By the end of WWII, Japan basically no longer possessed any merchant shipping capable of carrying oil, and no where to get oil that would not first have to pass an American fleet.

"and more than 80% of Japan's oil at the time came from the United States."

Read that sentence you wrote out loud. Catch where it says "at that time"? Do you realize that shortly afterward Japanese oil imports were coming largely from Mexico? The U.S. could not block the sale of oil to Japan at the time.

As I said, the Japanese government simply panicked, unnecessarily.

'The U.S. military can only deny oil to small nations'

How many sea launched cruise missiles would it take to disable a tanker? Then add up the number of tankers and cruise missiles - the U.S. is able to pretty much able to deny tanker shipped oil any time it wishes, and it would not be anywhere near as huge an operation as the submarine warfare that completely cut Japan off from oil in WWII.

It isn't as if the U.S. lacks experience in this area, after all.

Just look at a map, and where the fleets are stationed.

Agree with prior.

The threat alone would mean essentially no merchant ships accepting an offer to ship oil.

Whether the US Navy could literally prevent any ship from breaking the blockade is not even the right framework for addressing the question.

And Japan was critically low on oil within weeks of the US embargo. Japanese leadership informed Tojo that a full withdrawal from China was the only realistic solution to the embargo aside from declaring war on the Dutch.

Still nursing your butthurt, hun?

I think so but I don't want to admit it.

So, one assumes that the entire column concerning that enduring relationship was three letters, repeated over and over again, alternating with a five letter word.

But this explanation kind of defines US relations with Saudia Arabia as being intellectually lazy. If the US wanted to play hardball with SA, the US could bring enormous pressure to bear (and probably should be) and I think decades of such a cozy relationship have left the SA royalty unappreciative of the vulnerability of their actual position if the US political elite ever wises up. The counter to this is that the SA royalty has already bought the loyalty of the US elite. Part of what makes the current circumstances of US politics so pathetic. Time to recognize that money isn't speech, heavily restrict lobbying, and increase national politicians pay 5-10x. Then see how SA fares.

My comments at the Bloomberg site are a bit of a false flag, as I was trolling, and am more with TC on this issue than you would think reading the comment there. That said, I think this is a golden opportunity for the USA to slap MbS hard, and they should. If they fail now, he'll only get a bigger head of steam. What if he wants nuclear weapons? (see this headline from a few months ago: "Jul 9, 2018 - As Saudi Arabia and the United States continue negotiations to build reactors in the kingdom, Israel has given Washington “red lines”)

Really? You trolling!!

@Viking - Good writing is trolling. As is good reporting. Khashoggi was a troll. This was actually, I once read in a history of journalism, perfected about 80 years ago by non other than the Washington Post. I'm not talking about yellow rag journalism of Rudolf Hurst and Horace Greenley, or pure propaganda as in partisan newspapers from the days of Ben Franklin, but framing the facts in a provocative way, being Devils' advocate, and the like. AlexT trolls as does TC on this site. As I say, nearly anything entertaining, including your evening news, is trolling. But you know that Viking, you're a smart guy! (a troll tactic btw, appeal to the audience's prejudices, which every newspaper and news outlet does these days).

I am shit. Shit comes out of my mouth.

Larger backlash? Where? Serious question.

He was an opinion writer for the Washington Post, so obviously there would be lots in the newspapers and media generally, but does anyone outside of Washington pay the slightest bit of attention to them?

If you live in Tyler's bubble, the "Saudi issue" is the current Hellpit of Rage du Jour, now that they have lost the Kavanaugh Battle and the Fake Indian Battle and the Dammit Why Does Unemployment Keep Falling Battle.

No one in the real world cares. Especially since the Saudis have been doing Their Saudi Thing non-stop for many decades, and even Obama made public excuses for them. But in the bubble, everything is different after Nov 8 2016. Thanks for piling on, Ty!

For the sane: just blink a few times. This will be gone, and they'll try something else by Friday.

"they'll try something else by Friday."

So if the media was unbiased it would simply be endless praise for all things Trump. This pesky 'news' that keeps coming and going from all different directions is some really annoying conspiracy

Always cracks me up when the Trumpy snowflakes complain about that mean old media being biased to report bad stuff about Trump when it's just reporting the fact that Trump is shitty and does and especially says stupid shit every day.

Trump is both a jerk and hard-done-by, re: the media. I thought the George W Bush derangement was hypocritical and severe, and TDS blows it out of the water. You got to admit it’s almost funny how nothing he does gets anything but scorn.

The media , particularly the elite legacy media like the NYT and the New Yorker, is worse than the tinpot dictators who aren’t happy to win their elections with a 70% turnout but gotta inflate the number to 98.7%.

You can fume about BDS and TDS all you like, but only if you acknowledge the every-bit-as-prevalent ODS and CDS (both strains).

A lot of ODS was by nuts and cranks.

TDS is by 9/10 staff writers st the New Yorker. (Yes, I’m holding the elite media to a higher standard.)

At least we agree Fox News is a bunch of nuts and cranks.

Weird but true. I’ve not watched more than an hour of FOX in my life (except for football). My local logger has severe OBS and he’s a drunkard. But my liberal colleagues each have 2-3 college and grad school degrees and they foam at the mouth at the very mention of Trump, whom they compare to Hitler (whereas I see him as a merely obnoxious pseudo nationalist).

Cool anecdotes, bro.

There's a whole country full of TDS and ODS and all the DS's. I have watched some Fox News so I can tell you, plenty of ODS there and only half of them are drunkards.

It is true the media tends to lean against Reps, but one good thing about Trump might be a return to some balance. If the Reps start nominating non-clowns again, maybe the left-leaning media will give them some credit. We'll see.

The thing to do is not whine about them bad old reporters, but get your news from multiple sources and synthesize.

I do get my news from all over. And I’m not whining. But TDS is a thing and it eclipses OBS by an order of magnitude.

Nope, pretty equal. You have to account for the difference in shittiness between the two man. It's only natural a mess like Trump would derange people. Never understood why Obama freaked some people out so much. I'm charitably assuming it wasn't all about his race.

There was just as much Derangement syndrome with Reagan, Clinton and GW Bush.

GH Bush largely escaped that through a pragmatic centrist approach. Which was rewarded by getting him ejected from the White House after a single term. Being a centrist is not a rewarding position in American politics.

Sadly so. But wasn't Bill "Two Term Super Popular Then" Clinton a pragmatic centrist? The CDS was personal with him.

"a pragmatic centrist?"

He certainly tacked the center with welfare reform to win his second term. And judged by today's standards he'd be considered a Republican.

"The CDS was personal with him."

I think your glasses are a bit rose colored. Have you forgotten Whitewater? That was a classic corruption scandal with Bill and Hillary Clinton being partners with Jim McDougal and Susan McDougal. Jim McDougal was convicted of 18 felonies and died in a Federal penitentiary over his role in Whitewater.

Or the Lincoln bedroom scandal, whereby Bill was allowing prominent donors an overnight stay in the Lincoln bedroom?

Or the Chinese illegally funding the Clinton election campaign in 1996? With all the hoopla about Russians potentially supporting Trump, it's amazing how the Chinese were caught red handed giving money to Clinton campaign.

"Chung said the executive had helped him meet three times with General Ji Shengde, the head of Chinese military intelligence. According to Chung’s testimony, General Shengde had told him: “We really like your president. We hope he will be reelected. I will give you $300,000 U.S. dollars. You can give it to . . . your president and the Democratic party.”"

"The sprawling fundraising scandal ultimately led to 22 guilty pleas on various violations of election laws. Among the Clinton fundraisers and friends who pleaded guilty were John Huang, Charlie Trie, James Riady, and Michael Brown, son of the late Clinton Commerce secretary Ron Brown. But many questions went unanswered, even after the revelations that Clinton had personally authorized offering donors Oval Office meetings and use of the Lincoln bedroom."

Exactly, he was centrist (today he'd be a Republican), we agree. So being a centrist isn't enough to avoid deranging some folks, and at least it used to be a rewarding position in American politics.

I don't deny he was sleazy, but aren't all DSes kind of personal? That's my point, I was rebutting your idea that derangement is about ideology but it seems to be increasingly personal.

With Reagan it was more about policy and ideology and I don't count that as 'derangement'. Starting with Clinton, there seems to be increasingly angry, deranged people that just cannot stand the person himself (or herself). People HATED that guy, and Bush II, and Obama, and now Trump. It was visceral and stupid and still is. People need to calm the hell down about all of it.

"So if the media was unbiased it would simply be endless praise for all things Trump. "

No, that would be ridiculous. Probably as ridiculous as endless praise for all things Obama.

So what then? Should the International pages of the Newspaper report every day "You don't care about the rest of the world so here's some blank space to doodle"?

Agree. Moralizing and crusading is literally all newspapers can do. There's nothing else they can write about as journalists.

Do you propose we treat journalists like they do in Saudi Arabia?

'No one in the real world cares.'

Well, German arms exports to Germany's second largest arms customer have just been halted.

Apparently about to be joined by France, Britain, and some other nations. Also, most US CEOs who were planning to attend MBS's "Davos in the Desert" have pulled out, along with nearlyi all foreign CEOs. MBS's "Vision 2030" is a dead camel, especially now that King Salman finally pulled the plug for good on selling off 5% of the shares of ARAMCO.

The scale of diminishing returns on global accords sure puts the laffer curve in its place.

people i know is worried. they provide services for the KSA and there are unpaid invoices for projects backed by MBS. if he falls and his projects lose status.... who will pay for the work?

The backlash is because of a deep vein of ire against the Saudis in the West, which has just been waiting for something like this as an excuse to go on the attack and see them suffer.

Newsweek article from July 9, 2018: “Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” the prince said in the interview.
Despite Israel’s security concerns, Trump appears eager to move forward with providing nuclear fuel to Saudi Arabia.
“From the little we do know from the administration, it is looking at this deal in terms of economics and commerce,” Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican who is chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, said in a March statement. “National security implications only register as a minor issue, if at all.”

Can you say "Armageddon? Iran vs Saudi Arabia vs Israel = Apocalypse

I think there's two problems at play here. One is a necessary re-evaluation of how much the US needs Saudi Arabia versus Saudi Arabia needing the US. The argument here seems very cold war driven. S.A. stands as a key ally against....well there's the problem Against the USSR made sense but against China, Russia? Despite tensions these are not going to be Cold War II.

The other issue is the fragmenting of international borders combined with the questionable loyalty of Trump mostly as well as his administration.

In the old days, if an authoritarian regime got rid of a troublesome writer, that was mostly the end of it. Since the media was controlled inside the borders, there was no need to worry about the exiled writer. Sure his work might slip in, hand copied by dedicated dissenters but for the most part he wouldn't reach the population anymore. These days, esp. for a wealthy population like the Saudi's, this can no longer be counted on. Sure maybe the Washington Post site would be blocked by the 'official' internet in S.A., but does anyone really think Jamal Khashoggi wasn't be read anymore? Hence the temptation to reach out and silence dissenters beyond borders is higher than it was before. This may be the tip of the ice berg as well. Keep in mind Russia and even more China has a lot of dissenters and if this is the new norm how long before killing people on US soil starts happening ? (Already happened in the UK)

Now combine this with Trump's "I trust 'friends' over evidence when they deny it to me" attitude towards authoritarian nations that, at best, flatter him and at worse indirectly sponsor him, and there clearly is something to worry about. If a hard stand isn't taken now a really problematic norm will be established.

Over 85% of Muslims worldwide are Sunni. Iran is a Shia Muslim majority country, surrounded by Sunni Muslim majority countries hell-bent on either converting or killing the heretics. You think the Iranians might be a bit nervous about their precarious position? You think? Cowen presents the two sides as equals, with Iran, the Shia country, the stronger country and Saudi Arabia, the Sunni country, as the weaker. Cowen's math is a bit off-base: 85% is more than than 15%. I'm no Iran apologist, but America's attitude about Iran derives from the humiliation of the 1970s hostage crisis, a crisis in which nobody died. Unlike 9/11 when over 3,000 Americans died and unlike during the Sunni insurgency in Iraq when thousands of American soldiers died. Cowen's suggestion that Iran is a greater threat than Saudi Arabia because Iran is attempting to ally with Russia and China is absurd. Russia is essentially a failed state, more organized crime than country. As for China, does Cowen believe China and Iran are equals, that Iran has leverage over China? Of course, none of this matters, Saudi money having compromised too many powerful Americans.

While globally Sunnis way outnumber Shia, Iran has three times as many as people as Saudi Arabia and a much more broad-based economy. While the Saudis have a lot more high-powered aircraft and weapons bought from the US, the Iranian military is much more battle-hardened and experienced. If they got in an outright war, the Saudis might have the Emiratis to help them locally, although maybe the Egyptians would help them, who have a pretty serious military. But then Iran might get help form Turkey and Syria, and its immediate neighbor to the west is Iraq, whose population is solidly majority Shia, and they would probably lean to supporting Iran also. In short, in terms of on the ground locals, Iran looks at least as strong as KSA, although if the US and Israel were to weigh in heavily on the Saudi side, that might tilt it the other way, although anybody invading Iran would have a hard time on their hands.

Meanwhile in reality, Gulf royal money elects US presidents.

Any backlash may be mitigated by the large swaths of American politics, industry and culture that have been bought off with Saudi investment ... or "investment"

Mark Simone meanwhile has a contrarian take on this whole incident: What kind of "savvy journalist" was this guy to blunder like a fool into that embassy, just for some divorce paperwork?

Khashoggi wanted a divorce, which you can't do unless you process paperwork. K* was smart enough however to use an Apple smart watch connected to his Apple smart phone to upload his last words to the iCloud. Smart actions while 'smarting' (sic, pun). One Turkish newspaper is reporting that during the torture, where the agents were cutting off K*'s fingers, K was actually speaking to MbS, who, like Stalin (if you know your Soviet history) wanted to be virtually present in the interrogation. Recall Stalin had a secret viewing room to watch the show trials.

Would you trust MbS with nuclear fuel, given that Iran is building secret nuclear weapons, and given Saudi Arabia says they will also build nuclear weapons if Iran does? Google this. Armageddon! And they have insect sized drones, ID microchips with '666' hex firmware in them for placement on foreheads, and we have global warming, just like the Bible predicted. Apocalypse now?! I'm sure some Christian group has already seen the parallels.

Do you actually put on circus music when you troll, Ray?

Top hat & cane.

Heh. "Hey Half-My-Age-Girlfriend, fetch me my trolling tobacco and pipe!"

@msgkings - who farted? Oh, that's you talking. Do you know what hex code is Dumbo? It's not a curse, fool. Hehe, re(a)d this: #FF0000. You!

I'm not saying you had a stroke, but if you did your post would look a lot like that.

It's a pentauple pun, hun / If I have to explain it to you it ruins the fun / But I'll give you a hint since you're dumb. The hex code for red is #FF0000. You READ that right, get it? Dum dum DUMB (sound of a comic DRUM) msgkings, who never visited a comedy club in his life.

@msgkings - sigh. A moments reflection in the mirror will show you who's dumb. Another hint (clue #2) is the play on words of HEX with CURSE and HEXADECIMAL (Google this). There's a third pun involving an elephant (man, that's you, it HURTS me to say so). Wasting my time with you, right over your flat top.

The comedy clubs I've been too didn't do a lot of hexadecimal code jokes.

On the bright side the Saudis are politically neutral - they don't care which party wins the US presidency since they've bribed them both.

Two things. First, I don't think America would have accepted anything this overt before, that is just a terrible normalization. Second, the piece needed more Yemen, and maybe some Game Theory on the residual of War on Terror.

"Why the U.S.-Saudi relationship has proven so enduring"

Money, oil and regional politics. Iran had a revolution and Demonized the USA, Iraq was a Soviet client. Saudi Arabia was the remaining Islamic regional power.

Some think the military industrial complex has to manufacture enemies to guarantee the budgets stay big. The fall of the USSR was dangerously close to causing a "peace dividend". Since then, fundamentalist jihadist have been need to get people scared enough to pay up. The house of Saud does a good job of funding and propogating the fundamentalist enemies abroad. So of course the House of Saud has gotten bipartisian support for decades.

Sadam was far more secular that the House of Saud. Sadam was a "good guy" while spending on war against Iran...he became a "bad guy" when he decided to stop taking out loans for more tanks and increased oil production too much(pushing down oil prices).

J Watts is the first to come close, but let me spell this out more concretely and precisely.

Regarding oil it goes back to 1928 and the pair of agreements made then by leading oil companies: the As Is Agreement and the Red Line Agreement. The bottom line was that while Iranian oil industry was to be run by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, now BP, and the Iraqi one would be run by Royal Dutch Shell, Saudi Arabia would belong to Standard Oil of New Jersey, known popularly as Esso, that later became Exxon and even later merged with the former Standard Oil of New York, aka Mobil, to form the current Exxon-Mobil. Oil was not discovered in Saudi Arabia until 1938, but eventually Esso, Mobil, Gulf, and Texaco would form the Arabian American Oil Company, aka ARAMCO, which would be nationalized in the 1970s, but with the former US-based owners continuing to have special privileges and deals and being well paid off. This long connection with the leading firms in the US oil industry is fundamental to understanding the long alliance.

The other is the matter of political regime continuity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in contrast with the political regime changes in Iran, where British oil interests long predominated until nationalized by the Shah in the 1970s. So the Sa'ud family has been continuously in charge in KSA since even before the 1928 agreements, and from 1938 King Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman al Sa'ud was able to make increasingly favorable financial arrangements with the US oil companies, as did his successors. Probably the moment of worst US-KSA tension came in 1973 when King Faisal bin Absulaziz al Sa'ud imposed an oil export embargo on exports to the US (and the Netherlands) to punish the US and the Dutch for supporting Israel during the Yom Kippur War, with this embargo triggering the OPEC quadrupling of oil prices that brought the post-WW II "golden age of growth" around most of the world to an end. But the US and KSA managed to move beyond that based on longer tern interests.

As for Iran, the US aided the British in overthrowing democratically elected Premier Mossadegh in 1953, after which some US oil companies got a small piece of the action. Gradually the US replaced UK as the indispensable ally of reimposed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who would be overthrown in 1979 during the Islamic revolution. They remain angry at us for supporting the Shah and overthrowing Mossadegh (a fact known by at least 98% of the adult Iranian population but by less than 1% of the adult US population). We remain angry over their seizure of hostages in 1979, although since there have been times the US and Iran have cooperated, including after 9/11 and very recently in Iraq where our armed forces worked in tandem to help defeat ISIS.

Iran poses no threat to the US at all. It has not invaded a neighboring country without being invaded first since the 1820s. It had abandoned its nuclear weapons program even prior to the agreement Obama made with them, which further put them in a box in that area and which they have adhered to, although the US has now withdrawn, partly at the behest of KSA and Israel. While the US regularly describes Iran as the "world's leading state sponsor of terrorism," it is well over a decade since any group primarily supported by Iran has actually carried out deadly terrorist attack. OTIOH, the Saudis have supported branches of al Qaeda in Syria, not to mention killing many civilians in Yemen in a pointless war, with the bombs used supplied by the US and with US fueling and directional assistance. Really, US foreign policy in that region has become bizarrely skewed.

@ (Sir Charles) Barkley Rosser - some of us have read The Prize by D. Yergin, who ended up becoming an oil consultant after that book was published, but thanks for the reminder. More interesting is that the Bechtel corporation is behind a lot of Saudi construction, including their largest new city, and the Bechtel corporation was historically a big hire of departing Republicans. See the polemic but not untrue book by Sally Denton, "The Profiteers" (on Bechtel).

Bonus trivia: Ex-Nixon and Reagan honcho, former Marine, Bechtel officer and former Theranos board member George P. Shultz has a Princeton tiger tattoo on his butt! And he's 97 years young! Get to 100 please!

It had abandoned its nuclear weapons program even prior to the agreement Obama made with them,


If you think that Iran had not ceased its nuclear weapons program in fact while George W. Bush was still president, then you are just ignorant. This was the judgment of unanimous agreement in official National Intelligence Estimates of all the US intel agencies dating as far back as 2006. Indeed, one of the few good things to come out of Bush's mostly disastrous invasion of Iraq was that it led to Iran ceasing its nuclear weapons program, with Supreme Jurisprudent Khameini issuing a fatwa against nuclear weapons. Of course, our flunky the Shan was developing nuclear weapons in the 1970s, and the original nuclear program in Iran dated to the 1950s with US support.

Uh, sure.


"If you think that Iran had not ceased its nuclear weapons program in fact while George W. Bush was still president, then you are just ignorant. "

Tell it to the UN.

"June 2010 - the Council noted that Iran had failed to comply with previous Security Council resolutions concerning its nuclear program and imposed further sanctions on the country."

In 2006, the UNSC demanded that Iran cease all uranium enrichment, even though it has long had an ongoing civilian nuclear energy program. In 2007 the first US NIE came out concluding that they had ceased pursuing a nuclear weapons program in 2003. They had the capability of doing so, but the uranium enrichment levels they were engaging in by 2007 and continued with later were too low for weapons production. But this report, and its followup in 2009, received nearly zero publicity and was largely kept secret anyway. In spite of these reports US presidents continued to denounce Iran for its alleged nuclear weapons program. More generally UNSC members knew this, but wanted to put the potential for an Iranian nuclear weapons program deeper into a box. That led to the economic sanctions approved by the UNSC and the rounds of negotiations that led to the agreement in 2015 that led to Iran shutting down various facilities and drastically reducing its enrichment program. By all accounts it has adhered to this agreement, but now Trump has pulled the US out and is punishing Iran with renewed economic sanctions, even though our miiitaries worked together recently in Iraq to defeat terrorist ISIS. I am not going to comment further on how stupid this move is, which is only supported by a handful of nations in the rest of the world, none of them parties to the 2015 agreement. This could easily lead to Iran renewing its higher rate of uranium enrichment. Do not expect it to kowtow to Trump's unreasonable and illegal behavior.

Barkley, you are moving the goal posts around:

First you said this:

"If you think that Iran had not ceased its nuclear weapons program in fact while George W. Bush was still president (2009), then you are just ignorant."

Now you are saying this:

" That led to the economic sanctions approved by the UNSC and the rounds of negotiations that led to the agreement in 2015 that led to Iran shutting down various facilities and drastically reducing its enrichment program. "

Just be honest and admit your first statement was wrong.

J Watts,

You were actually being one of the more knowlwdgeable and reasonable people commenting on this thread, and now you are falling flat on your face. The facilities they shut down and the enrichment activities they cut back were not actively part of an active nuclear weapons program. This is what the US NIEs stated. This was a matter of making it harder to have a nuclear weapons program to shut down an ongoing nuclear weapons program. Do you get this, J Watts?

So, I was honest and my statement was completely correct. You are ignorant and a sucker for lots of repeated propaganda in US media. Go check it out. Go check out the US NIEs if you want to continue deluding yourself that I am making incorrect statements. Not a damned thing I have written on this thread is incorrect, nothing.

Interesting take.

No mention of the “emergency powers” of Mossadegh. Or the disbandment of parliament. Or abandoning secret voting. Whatever. He’s a liberal hero for whatever reason, who cares. Conservatives love Pinochet for equally stupid reasons. But I’m laughing at your characterization of lack of terrorist activity.

Iran decided to intervene in the Iraq War in a big way, becoming an EFP IED factory where the government financed the R&D, production, logistics, transfer and training in use of explosive devices intended to murder US soldiers and Iraqi civilians.

Iran also funded the Mahdi Army and various Shiia militias in Iraq for the express purpose of the murder of British and American soldiers, Iraqi soldiers, and Sunni civilians to include women and children.

They funded intended genocide through mass murder of Sunni families in Iraq. They’re now funding mass murder in Syria. And providing soldiers, arms, logistical support, and technical expertise to murder as many Sunnis as they can in the Levant.

But I guess they took a half assed measure of hiding it, so they’re the good guys.

You follow a long and noble tradition of useful idiot.


There is much to dislike and disapprove of regarding Iran. However, they are far from being either the most evil regime on the planet or the biggest state sponsor of terrorism. The general propaganda about them in the US has been wildly exaggerated. Your list of things fits in with this, even as you score a few points.

On Mossadegh, you are mostly wrong. He did not declare emergency powers or suspend parliament or end secret voting. He did cancel planned parliamentary elections in early 1953, the only item fitting your tale. It should be noted that some CIA documents on Project Ajax remain classified, and there are ongoing disputes regarding details of it.

Iran did supply the Mahdi army with various arms, including IEDs, although they have had a complicated relationship with its leader, Moqttada al Sadr, now the dominant figure over the new Iraqi government, having gotten into that position out of the most recent election in which he stressed his independence from Iran and other outsiders, a position he has long maintained. This was a civil war, not terrorism, which would not have happened if the US had not invaded Iraq. As it is, while the US supported the central government over al Sadr, the US only occasionally got involved in the fighting between them rarely, most significantly once in 2007 when US troops battled a rogue group from the Mahdi army in Karbala. Mostly the US was itself battling Sunnis who opposed the Shia dominated government.

Yes, Iran has supported the Assad government in various ways, although their involvement is relatively limited. This is nothing admirable, but Assad is supported by others, notably the Russians. The Syrian war seems to be winding down, but it has been horrible all the way around, with the Saudis backing outright terrorist factions while Iran has backed the murderous Assad regime. Between the two of them, which is the issue here, that one looks like pretty much a wash.

"However, they are far from being either the most evil regime on the planet or the biggest state sponsor of terrorism."

Much like Donald Trump isn't the worst state leader on the planet. Amirite?


In its annual “Country Reports on Terrorism” released Wednesday, the State Department said Iran was the planet’s “foremost” state sponsor of terrorism in 2016, a dubious distinction the country has held for many years

It's a rich vein of crazy.


All crock. If SA and the USA are such strong allies, how come SA does not get its way wrt Palestine? Maybe, SA are second class allies and they not smart enough to realize that?

What makes you think the KSA minds the Palestinian status quo? Nice to always have something to point at to distract your people from their problems at home.

The matter of Palestine is one where there was a split between MBS and his dad, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Sa'ud. MBS was playing along with Kushner on a Trump Israeli-Palestinian deal, supposedly the big reason we were supposed to all admire MBS aside from him letting women drive, but when the US announced moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Salman stepped in and said "that is enough of that," and KSA has since pulled out of any supporting role in the US efforts regarding Israel and Palestine, which have all been just what Netanyahu wants anyway, with the Palestinians totally alienated and also withdrawn from any negoitations. Kushner's peace plan has been a total flop, unless you are a big fan of Netanyahu.

KSA is a not-so-secret ally of Israel on many things

Why the U.S.-Saudi relationship has proven so enduring

No particular reason for it to not endure. Saudi Arabia generates some nuisance problems, but hasn't done anything peculiarly disruptive outside of the OPEC hikes in 1973-74 and 1979-80, something it no longer has the market power to effect. It projects some force into Yemen (a disorderly country), but otherwise leaves the rest of the world alone. It's disagreeable internally, but in ways derived from and congruent with its culture. There's no grand reason to believe a posited successor regime would behave more benevolently. It has some assets to trade - petroleum and location - for mutual benefit.

Actually, in 1979 KSA helped offset the price shock (also a quadrupling of crude prices) by increasing production by nearly 2 mbpd. The supply shock came from the fall of the Shah's regime, which was followed by major conflict in the Iranian oil fields, which led to its production falling from 6 mbpd down to about 1 mbpd.

"Iran doesn’t need American protection to the same degree as do the Saudis,"

The Shah might beg to differ.

And that's why the US remains close to the Saudis -- so religious nutjobs don't take over another country with trillions of dollars in oil and use it to fund jihad against the West -- you know, like what just recently happened in Syria.

Iran's regime doesn't just openly murder and torture its critics, it still proudly hangs 13-year-olds for being unchaste when they are molested by their uncles -- they are inalterably hostile to the civilized world and its values. SA can be pretty awful, but the awfulness of SA does not extend to the entire ruling class, even if they too often turn a blind eye to it.

That whole part of the world is just a shitshow. I wonder if it will continue to be so the rest of my life.

I would expect the only way to make it the middle east and most of Africa better is recolonization. But that would be pretty painful for the colonizers.

..."to fund jihad against the West -- you know, like what just recently happened in Syria. "
What happened in Syria is certainly not jihad against the west . More like against itself.


yes, certainly ISIL is jihadist , but its origins have more to do with Iraq , Egypt and Saudi Arabia per the same Wikipedia article than Syria.

ISIS took over Syrian oilfields and used them to finance jihad against the West. The reason the US stays close to the clownshow running the House of Saud is precisely so the same thing doesn't happen there -- like it did in Iran forty years ago.

Things can always get worse.

The U.S.A. is a client state of the House of Saud.

There is more at the link, analytical throughout.

"Analytical" is the new "recommended" it seems. Anyway this sort of self-certification sounds awkward.

Hey, on the bright side, if Israel tires of KSA, they just need to snap their fingers and their loyal lap dog will respond.

I get the sense that multinationals make US foreign-policy. They want access to the lucrative Saudi market.


one of these days people are gonna figure out that
Professor Cowens funny bone is underrated.
compare his analysis to that of the professional meme zombie
analysis here

nice information.

Dear TC, thank for writing that article. I found it clarifying. But if the US support of SA is nearly inevitable for purely geopolitical reasons, what was the reason for Obama taking a step away from SA and towards Iran? Stupidity? Value-based foreign policy? Or is the US support of SA not really so inevitable?

The comments to this post are depressing. Commenters are wallowing in propaganda, revisionist history, mood affiliation and blind hatred.

Why the relationship between the US and SA endures is obvious: mutual gain. We are one of their largest foreign markets. We have massive military capabilities. SA's enemies, Iran (and formerly Iraq) were in the Soviet/Russian sphere. The Kingdom survives a tenuous relationship with Wahhabists only through compromise and threat of force. Both Hussein and Bin Laden hoped to exploit this powderkeg.

SA really does not and has never cared about Palestinians. They are non-Arab beggars who are all take and no give.

There is at least some chance that Khashoggi actually was a subversive traitor to SA. That doesn't excuse his murder, but it is the leading explanation in my opinion. I'm quite sure SA has an extensive intelligence network. He appears to have been close with the Erdogan government, and Erdogan is not our ally. Erdogan might have aspirations for becoming a pan-ME leader and thus a threat to SA.

I dont know why people dig for conspiracy theories when obvious answers immediately present themselves.

the "larger than expected backlash" is because it is a journalist and the journalists are mad about a journalist being killed and the journalists decide what to make the top headline. The fact that major papers are leading with Erdogan's accusation today, when Erdogan has imprisoned 1000 journalists is telling.

Oil and Israel.

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