Earlier this week, a video that perfectly encapsulated the hypocrisy of American foreign policy made the rounds on the internet.
Yowza, that's not a good look. This is about as disastrous an answer as you can come up with. Walking away would have been a better answer. Curling into the fetal position and crying would have been better. Screaming “STRAIGHT CASH HOMIE!” then throwing the microphone at the journalist who asked the question would have been superior. Quite literally anything other than that response would have been a better option, since his silence told the whole story.
But don't blame Stuart Jones for this excruciating clip, point the finger at the last half century of American foreign policy. How the hell are you supposed to diplomatically answer that question and still have it make sense? Saudi Arabia and Iran are the chief exporters of terrorism across the globe, and our official position is that one of those governments is bad and the other is good.
Wahhabism is an archaic form of Islam that interprets the Koran literally, and this is the religion that the Saudi ruling family enforces. Another term for it is Salafism, and it is mostly used when discussing terrorist groups like al-Qaeda or ISIS. Simply put, two of the greatest threats to mankind were borne from the same ideology that our “friends” enforce. We sell arms to the Saudi ruling family, and then they turn around and funnel cash and weapons to insurgent groups that destabilize the region. Iran does this too, as the two nations are fighting proxy wars across the middle east, yet somehow Iran is the only bad actor here. It's pretty obvious how a big part of Iran's aversion to the United States is our hypocritical and unadulterated support for their enemy. Well, that and the fact that the CIA admitted they were behind the 1953 Iranian Coup that eventually lead to today's brutal regime.
15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis. Osama bin-Laden was born and raised in Saudi Arabia. This isn't difficult to wrap your head around. Their government relies on the United States to remain a regional hegemon through oil and arms sales, but the logical conclusion of the ideology espoused by the Saudi royal family leads to the destruction of the United States, as Ted Galen Carpenter wrote a couple months after 9/11:
Saudi Arabia enlisted in the fight against terrorism only in response to intense pressure from the United States following the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Even then, its cooperation has been minimal and grudging. For example, Riyadh has resisted Washington's requests to use its bases in Saudi Arabia for military operations against Osama bin Laden's terrorist facilities in Afghanistan.
Saudi Arabia harbored, trained, and dispatched terrorists to murder Americans, and then dragged their feet in aiding our mission to hunt down the perpetrators behind the worst attack on American soil since World War II. And these guys are supposed to be our friends? Our relationship with the Saudi royal family is the perfect demonstration of how central oil and arms sales are to American foreign policy.
What makes this relationship extra insane is the fact that we are not as reliant on Saudi Arabian oil as our actions make it seem. We import over three times as much oil from Canada as we do from Saudi Arabia. Mexico and Venezuela are almost as important as the Saudis to our oil trade. American oil production “now stands at or near the highest levels in decades” according to William O'Keefe, former COO of the American Petroleum Institute. All indications are that the United States could withstand a decline in the oil imports that underpin our relationship with the Saudis, yet this option doesn't even seem to be on the table.
While Saudi Arabia has the second largest oil reserves on the planet, Iran isn't far behind—coming in at fourth place. If oil is the lone reason for maintaining our relationship with a toxic partner in the Saudis, why wouldn't we be able to trade with Iran? They also fund terrorist groups that attack western targets. But this is far too much logic for our State Department to handle on this issue, as demonstrated by their hilariously incomplete Annual Report on Assistance Related to International Terrorism.
Two years prior to the 9/11 attacks, the Saudi Kingdom's Grand Mufti—who is appointed by the King—wrote in his book:
“[t]he attack of the Christian crusaders is today at its most intense…The Muslim whose mind has not been corrupted cannot bear to see the infidels wielding authority…[t]herefore such a Muslim strives [to] his utmost to expel and distance them—even if he has to sacrifice his own life, or his most cherished possession for this cause.”
The official Saudi government textbook states that Muslims “must show the infidels rudeness and violence, and wage Jihad in the way of Allah without fear of the Infidels and hypocrites, or terror of their arms and numbers.”
Yet in the state department's Annual Report on International Terrorism, Saudi Arabia isn't even mentioned, while Iran gets its own section. If a political science 101 student submitted this report by the State Department as their own, they would fail. America's position on Saudi Arabia is so hypocritical that it likely creates more terrorists than it destroys. By saying that one terrorist sympathizer is bad while another is good, all while expressing completely uncritical support of Israel's apartheid-style governance of Palestinians, the United States practically writes the recruitment catalogs for ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, etc….
In response to a terrorist attack that was orchestrated by a man raised in Saudi Arabia and carried out primarily by Saudi Arabians, we invaded Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban who were harboring bin-Laden and his cohorts, and take a wild guess as to who funds the Taliban. Leaked State Department cables show that Hillary Clinton was very aware that our friends are really our enemies, writing:
“More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups. Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”
To recap: in 2009, the Secretary of State said that Saudi Arabia is the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups, yet in 2016, the State Department released a report on financial assistance to terrorism that did not include Saudi Arabia. I'd fall over laughing if I wasn't boiling with rage right now.
So let's bring this back full circle to our friend Stuart Jones, and watch this poor man defend the indefensible again.
Knowing what he knows, how could you reasonably espouse this gargantuan level of hypocrisy?
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.