by Michael Krieger
January 13, 2015
The quaint notion that the U.S.
political system remotely resembles either a Republic or a Democracy
should have been abandoned long ago.
Any lingering illusions were surely
extinguished last year, when an academic study empirically proved
that the USA is nothing more than a corrupt oligarchy. I highlighted
this groundbreaking piece of research in the post: New
Report from Princeton and Northwestern Proves It - The U.S. is an
Here's an excerpt from the study itself:
Despite the seemingly strong
empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian
democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American
public actually have little influence over the policies our
Americans do enjoy many
features central to democratic governance, such as regular
elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread
(if still contested) franchise.
But we believe that if policymaking
is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small
number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a
democratic society are seriously threatened.
While having super rich and powerful
American oligarchs running the show is one thing, the reality of the
situation is actually far worse.
Thanks to a recent article in
Vice, we now know that foreign
governments are aggressively employing their extraordinary wealth to
advance their interests here on American soil.
In many cases, these are autocratic
regimes, which not only do not care about the best interests of the
nation, they are often caught actively funding ISIS and even
perpetuating 9/11 itself.
Here are some excerpts
from the piece:
ex-congressman and GOP strategist Vin Weber, Christmas came a
few days early and from an unlikely source: the Qatari
In December, three days before the holiday, the
former Minnesota lawmaker and his lobbying firm, Mercury LLC,
signed a lucrative lobbying
contract with the Gulf State, receiving a $465,000 advance for
the first few months of work.
Weber isn't alone.
Over the past year and a half,
regimes throughout the Middle East, from Turkey to the United
Arab Emirates, have gone on what appears to be a shopping spree
for former members of Congress.
Compared to the
rest of the world, Middle East governments have accounted for
more than fifty percent of the latest revolving door hires for
former lawmakers during this time period, according to a review
of disclosures by VICE.
What's also striking about the latest surge in
foreign lobbying is that many of these former lawmakers maintain
influence that extends well beyond the halls of Congress.
Michigan Representative Pete Hoekstra, who used to chair the
House Intelligence Committee, appears regularly in the media to
demand that the US increase its arms assistance to the Kurds in
Writing for the conservative news outlet National
Review, Hoekstra argued that,
"the United States needs to immediately provide [the Peshmerga]
with more than light arms and artillery to tip the scales in
their favor and overcome the firepower of the Islamists."
In that instance
and in others, Hoekstra has often not disclosed that since
August 12th, he has worked as a paid representative of the
Kurdistan Regional Government, which relies on the beleaguered Peshmerga militia for safety against ISIS.
same goes for former US Senator Norm Coleman, a lobbyist who
serves on the board of the influential Republican Jewish
Coalition, and whose Super PAC, American Action Network, spent
over $12.3 million to help elect Republicans last year.
Since July, Coleman
has been a registered lobbyist for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,
hired in part to work on sanctions against Iran, a key priority
of Saudi Arabia's ruling family.
Shortly after signing up as a
lobbyist for the Saudis, Coleman, introduced only as a former
Senator, gave a speech on Capitol Hill imploring his
congressional allies to realize that Israel and Saudi Arabia
have many shared policy priorities, and that the United States,
"should be hand in glove
with our allies in the region."
And in a Twitter
message greeting the new Congress last week, Coleman wrote
that a "nuclear Iran" is the biggest threat and linked to an
article calling for Congress to prioritize a new round of Iran
It's not always
clear what these lawmaker-lobbyists say or do on behalf of their
foreign supervisors, but what is clear is that many of these
politicians are willing to renege on their past commitments to
human rights. Delahunt, for
example, led inquiries in Congress to cast a light into the
brutal abuses of Azerbaijan.
If anything, Azerbaijan has gotten
worse, according to international observers, who note that since
last year, the country has gone on an unprecedented crackdown of
activists, journalists, and other perceived opponents of the
But instead of pushing back against such crimes, Delahunt now
works to put a positive spin on the developments.
The influx of
foreign influence into Washington is a growing phenomenon. As
the New York Times reported late
last year, major think tanks, including the Brookings Institute
and the Atlantic Council, have allowed foreign donors to call
the shots on their policy prescriptions.
Major trade groups that can now play an unlimited role in
influencing elections, thanks to the Citizens United ruling,
receive direct funds from corporations headquartered in foreign
The American Petroleum Institute, for instance, is run by
a board of directors that includes an executive from ARAMCO, the
Saudi state-owned oil company that takes its orders from the
Saudi ruling family.
Remember that next time you read a
report from a "think tank," or hear one of their "expert" analysts
mainstream media propaganda show.
You'll probably hear as much truth from
them as you received from Fox News'
recently shamed "terrorism expert,"
It appears that this trend of former
powerful politicians getting revolving door payouts via shady, human
rights abusing regimes represents the wave of the future. After all,
why attract all that publicity by joining JP Morgan, when you can
just as easily start your own consulting or lobbying firm and earn
millions from the likes of say, Kazakhstan.
This is precisely what
former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has done. Recall: Letter
Reveals Tony Blair Advised Kazakhstan's President on How to Spin
Massacre of Innocent, Unarmed Protesters.
Even more troubling, is the fact that
several of the governments mentioned in the Vice
piece, specifically Qatar and Saudi Arabia, were instrumental in
funding the emergence of ISIS, the latest existential terrorist
'threat' du jour.
Remember the post, America's
Disastrous Foreign Policy - My Thoughts on Iraq, in
which it was noted that:
But in the years they were getting
started, a key component of ISIS's support came from wealthy
individuals in the Arab Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi
Sometimes the support came with the tacit nod of approval
from those regimes; often, it took advantage of poor money
laundering protections in those states, according to officials,
experts, and leaders of the Syrian opposition, which is fighting
ISIS as well as the regime.
So these individuals are funding ISIS
with one hand, and feeding former U.S. politicians with the other. It's basically oligarchy on steroids.
And it's not just ISIS either.
Bear in mind the increasingly clear connection between Saudi Arabia
the 9/11 attacks highlighted in the piece: Two
Congressmen Push for Release of 28-Page Document Showing Saudi
Involvement in 9/11.
Are we simply being played as fools by
bunch of authoritarian desert monarchs?
Certainly appears that way...