FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

If America Can’t Reconcile Its Values With Its Interests, It Doesn’t Have Them

Just in time for Halloween, foreign-policy spook, James Baker had an op-ed in the NY Times (The Trump Administration’s Hard Choices On Saudi Arabia, Oct.23rd)needlessly coaxing Trump to go easy on the Saudi government for Jamal Kashoggi’s death.   Lest human decency stand in the way of progress, “the US should balance its values with its national interests,” in his words.

An ambassador, himself (I’ll come back to that), Baker concedes, bone-saws don’t exactly dignify the trade.  Still, “America has worked close in recent years with the Saudis to stabilize oil markets, counter Iranian adventurism (whatever that is), and combat terrorism.” Not sure if that last one counts as Orwellian -or just pure grade- nonsense, considering Baker was with the Bin Laden family on 9/11, and his firm defended the Saudi government when 9/11 victims filed suit.

We used to call provocateurs like Baker ‘statesmen’ (instead of ‘patriots’, which suggests your ‘values’ include your fellow countrymen), back when states were the strongest geo-policy configurers.  But now that private and corporate power trumps state power, Baker and his ilk ‘gig’ like the rest of us.  His firm, Baker-Botts represents the Saudi government through its offices in D.C. and Riyadh.  Plus, Saudi-Aramco, the state-owned oil company funds The James Baker, III Foundation for Energy-Policy Studies; a Texas think-tank, he runs and Madeline Albright heads the boardI’ll come back to that, too.

Ergo, America’s interests are easy to define: they’re his.  But what of its values?   Baker’s associated with the New American Century, which preached continued American aggression after the Cold War (i.e., our interests), and with a slew of neoliberal presidencies that made dismantling the government’s social commitments a priority (our free-market ‘values’).  (In fairness, Baker uses ‘its’, not ‘our’.)   In sum,  with social divestment, redacted civil liberties, violence, and trans-national corporate hegemony.

So far no conflict.

Until he elaborates. Dismembering a reporter was “a clear affront to America values”, since “a free and robust press are fundamental American principles.”  Not sure if it was this latent advertisement that inspired the Times to run him. (They grandstandingly disclosed his Saudi ties in the footnote.)  But if Baker meant humanist or Enlightenment, or even libertarian or actually-free ‘free’ market values, I’m sure anyone reading this knows that our interests and values rarely thread.  Rather, considering we never forgo our interests, the values part might not exist.

To put it another way, if you track our success in the region in terms of ‘interests’, the global oil-market is still in US dollars, the US is still the richest country, and despite being only 5% of the population we still consume a quarter of the fuel.

If you track our success in the region in terms of ‘values’, our principal allies are a butcherous monarchy and an apartheid state.  Our principal enemy exists because we overthrew a secular democracy and installed an autocrat, so abusive (we supplied his SEVAK thugs) that the ‘adventurous’ Iranian people felt freer under theocracy.

Much of the rest of the region is war zone.  Allies that lost US favor, like in Iraq and Afghanistan, and so were liberated by permanent war, or were part of the spill-over.

Or take Libya. Somehow, American values -the same America that elected Trump, and didn’t elect, but still endured George W. Bush (James Baker did the Florida recount)- couldn’t abide a dictator.  So five years ago last week Omar Qaddafi was impaled, after NATO air-strikes turned the country over to warlords. -They’re, still at war, though it gets little mention in our ‘free and robust’ press.

But if Qaddafi’s offense was single-handedness, than it bears mention he was responsible for the highest standard of living in Africa.  He also had plans to unite Africa, much the way the NAFTA united North America and the EU united Europe.  Unfortunately, the value of healthy, educated, even safe-from-cannon-fire Africans, doesn’t thread with our interest in a divided Africa.

This is far from an exhaustive list, but suffice to say America’s ambassador-class erases a lot more than it builds.

And what does it build? Essentially, private financial structures to bill the decimated countries for the taxpayer-funded cost of invading them.  Let me give you an example.

As Special Envoy on Iraq Debt, James Baker III, redirected upward to 57 billion dollars of reparations to, jointly, the Carlyle Group (he heads their board), and the Albright Group.  Founder, Madeline Albright, recall, was responsible for the chlorine ban that killed 100,00 civilian Iraqis. -Mostly kids.

Yes, she thinks it was “worth it”.

But 57 billion while on state duty?  Perhaps Baker misses that sort of white House connection, and that, not our interests, drove him to the NY Times.  Trump has spots opening constantly.  Defense Secretary is rumored to be next.

Be great to plot black-ops wars with Pompeo and Bolton, again.  Sharp guys.

Virtually bone-saws.

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 20, 2019
Robert Hunziker
The Dangerous Methane Mystery
David Schultz
The Intellectual Origins of the Trump Presidency and the Construction of Contemporary American Politics
Sabri Öncü
Thus Spoke the Bond Market
Gary Leupp
Japanese and German Doubts on U.S. Drumbeat Towards Iran War
Binoy Kampmark
The Fragility of Democracy: Hong Kong, China and the Extradition Bill
Doug Johnson
On the Morning Consult Poll, Margins of Error, and the Undecideds in the Democratic Primary
Laura Flanders
In Barcelona, Being a Fearless City Mayor Means Letting the People Decide
Martha Rosenberg
Humor: Stop These Language Abuses
Jim Goodman
Current Farm Crisis Offers Opportunity For Change
Cesar Chelala
The Pope is Wrong on Argentina
Kim C. Domenico
Lessons from D.H. : A Soul-based Anarchist Vision for Peace-making
Jesse Jackson
Mobilizing the Poor People’s Campaign
Wim Laven
We Need Evidence-Based Decision Making
Cesar Chelala
Health Consequences of Overwork
June 19, 2019
Matthew Stevenson
Requiem for a Lightweight: the Mayor Pete Factor
Kenneth Surin
In China Again
Stephen Cooper
Abolishing the Death Penalty Requires Morality
George Ochenski
The DNC Can’t Be Allowed to Ignore the Climate Crisis
John W. Whitehead
The Omnipresent Surveillance State
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
Guaidó’s Star Fades as His Envoys to Colombia Allegedly Commit Fraud With Humanitarian Funds for Venezuela
Dave Lindorff
What About Venezuela’s Hacked Power Grid?
Howard Lisnoff
Try Not to Look Away
Binoy Kampmark
Matters of Water: Dubious Approvals and the Adani Carmichael Mine
Karl Grossman
The Battle to Stop the Shoreham Nuclear Plant, Revisited
Kani Xulam
Farting in a Turkish Mosque
Dean Baker
New Manufacturing Jobs are Not Union Jobs
Elizabeth Keyes
“I Can’t Believe Alcohol Is Stronger Than Love”
June 18, 2019
John McMurtry
Koch-Oil Big Lies and Ecocide Writ Large in Canada
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Evidence About Iran is “Dodgy” at Best
Yoav Litvin
Catch 2020 – Trump’s Authoritarian Endgame
Thomas Knapp
Opposition Research: It’s Not Trump’s Fault That Politics is a “Dirty” Game
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
U.S. Sanctions: Economic Sabotage that is Deadly, Illegal and Ineffective
Gary Leupp
Marx and Walking Zen
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Color Revolution In Hong Kong: USA Vs. China
Howard Lisnoff
The False Prophets Cometh
Michael T. Klare
Bolton Wants to Fight Iran, But the Pentagon Has Its Sights on China
Steve Early
The Global Movement Against Gentrification
Dean Baker
The Wall Street Journal Doesn’t Like Rent Control
Tom Engelhardt
If Trump’s the Symptom, Then What’s the Disease?
June 17, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence
Linn Washington Jr.
Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran
Geoff Dutton
Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited
Nick Licata
Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation? 
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics
John Feffer
Democracy Faces a Global Crisis
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail