Those familiar with the workings of Washington are aware of the influences at work on the web of think-tanks, university departments and individual scholars, officials and analysts which direct their conclusions into defined paths. For example, the countries comprising the Gulf Cooperation Council depend on the United States for their security. Hence, the urgency to ensure that policy papers from “expert” and “non-partisan” sources reflect less the core strategic interests of the US than the desires of those at the apex of the GCC. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi detested Saddam Hussein—or Moammar Gaddafi, and more recently Bashar Assad—enough to want NATO to get rid of them.
Foundations, university departments and individual scholars have, over the decades, received generous assistance from sources that are either within the GCC or linked to them, and it is no surprise that those getting such largesse know exactly what views they need to espouse to ensure that the flow of funds continues. Several leading politicians, for example, have set up foundations and other “charitable and non-profit” institutions that pay for their corporate jets, luxury hotel stays and staff expenses. Almost none have revealed the actual donors, nor is there any curiosity as to the process by which policy conclusions reached by such agencies mirror so accurately the needs of their patrons.
Given the uproar that has ensued over Donald Trump’s suggestions on foreign policy, the assumption may be made by innocents that the policies the Republican candidate for the Presidency is opposing or distancing himself from, represent triumphs.
In actual fact, they have proved to be disasters, whether they be the manner in which the post-Saddam occupation of Iraq took place, or the steps taken in Afghanistan after the Northern Alliance and the US Air Force had the Taliban on the run in the final weeks of 2001. As for NATO, the errors made by that entity have often led to horrendous results. Of course, such is not the narrative related by the authors of such policies.
In Iraq, for example, the “surge” is considered to have “turned the tide” in Iraq, before—such self-serving narratives claim—Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki imposed a “Shia dictatorship controlled by Iran” on the country. What most GCC countries sought after Saddam’s fall was the setting up of a governance mechanism once again controlled by the Sunni minority, rather than the natural preponderance that the far greater numbers of Shia in Iraq gave that community. The relentless intervention by US policymakers to press the Wahhabi-serving GCC agenda on Baghdad created much of the policy missteps, which resulted in the growth of ISIS safe zones in Iraq and the refugee flood into Europe. ISIS followed in Iraq the 1995-96 example of the Taliban and bribed army commanders in Iraq to cease defensive operations against them.
The cash for this came from much the same sources as had contributed to the coffers of the Taliban, yet such donors are still welcome visitors to a Washington where the analyses which steadily morph into actual policy are usually bought and paid for by those interests which benefit from them.
Across the political divide, almost all those prominent in politics in the national capital of the world’s biggest economy partake of the resources of those with a transparent interest in precisely the outcomes which the policies recommended by key Washington policymakers seek to generate.
Whether it be the facilitation of the Taliban by Bill Clinton during the 1990s or the later bungling of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars by George W. Bush, or the way in which Team Obama members subsequently forced through regime change in Libya or how armed ISIS volunteers in Syria were passed off as the “moderate opposition” by the Wahhabised secret services of regional allies of the US, each such disaster is rooted in policy errors caused by the financial linkages that have been built up across the Washington Beltway since the 1970s.
Neither Bernie Sanders nor Donald Trump was the beneficiary of the complex of interests that for so long have dominated US policy. While Sanders has given way to Hillary Clinton, Trump has managed to savage his foes to the shock of the army of lobbyists who do not—yet—have even the smallest influence on the man.
Trump has not hesitated to mention the failures of US policy and of NATO, thereby putting thousands of paid-for “experts” and public opinion builders at risk of exposure.
In reality, it makes sense to have Russia as a friend rather than remain a foe, and to invite Kim Jong-un to Washington, to cool down the latter’s suspicion that he is slated to be on the same conveyor to doom that Saddam and Gaddafi were, and which Bashar Assad declined to step onto. The Republican nominee is correct when he points out, for example, the link between the disastrous US policies followed since the “Arab Spring” and ISIS.
However, for those worried at a possible steep fall in their grants and other incomes were he to get elected over Hillary Clinton, such Trumpian sense needs to get portrayed as nonsense, so that their domestic and international patrons get the candidate of their choice elected in November.