In his tour of America, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has started to do some real damage to truth and us, as he shapes public opinion. His weapon is the rhetoric of falsehood. He has come here with antagonism in his heart and war-making on his mind. He has come to knot the U.S. government even more firmly to Saudi Arabia than it already is. Who will counter the falsehoods he has begun to spread? It won’t be Trump. He has already strengthened the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia. What liberal and conservative pundits see through his exaggerations, lies, excessive fears and misshapen perceptions? Who among the influential voices in our country will speak up against MBS? Who will break through the wall of happy collaboration between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia that is being erected as the Prince expresses the rhetoric of falsehood?
MBS has his own version of George Bush’s “Axis of Evil”. It is a “Triangle of Evil”. It has three sides, each supporting the other two in their quests to “spread Islam even to America”: Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.
The threesome is a grouping by eschatology, which is concerned with the final days of human history or the final destiny of human beings. MBS is saying that, as against the notion of a Christian Kingdom of God, the Triangle of Evil seeks an Islamic world politically and religiously. Significantly, he asserts that the three will use force to get it. This is the great fear and threat that MBS is raising on our shores. In so many words, he’s saying that they’re out to get us, somehow enslave us, even in America. He is claiming their aggression. Indeed, he is quoted as saying “Ayatollah Ali Khamenei [Iran’s leader] was akin to Hitler”.
Islam, in any form, or from any triangle of evil, will never conquer America, either through force or persuasion or abandonment of American values. The idea is ridiculous. MBS is simply trying to rally the U.S. government behind his anti-Iran project. It’s like the specter of mushroom clouds that was used to rally Americans against Saddam Hussein.
If this grouping and this characterization are accurate, true, relevant and meaningful which they are not, either in religious terms or pragmatic terms, it implies that the U.S. and its allies like Saudi Arabia should be destroying Iran’s regime and the Muslim Brotherhood with the same vigor and drive that Trump has displayed in his quest to destroy ISIS in Syria. If there is aggression, it must be met with strong defense and counterattack. It is war against Iran, in one form or another, which must involve Israel and the U.S., to which MBS is committed in veiled ways. MBS deep down wants war, not only in Yemen, but against Iran. He has no alternative strategy of diplomacy, deals and political remedies.
Iran is using various ways to spread its influence. They are well short of outright aggression. They can be resisted in many ways that are short of war. MBS intervened in the Yemen civil war; he didn’t choose other means to influence events. His strategy has failed, killed thousands, and brought famine and cholera to that land. Now, in essence, his ideas point in one direction only. He wants to engage Iran in war. What other way will bring down the Iran regime? Such a war will enlarge the scale of misery many-fold, as in Iraq.
If it is the Christian Kingdom of God that Americans want, or even something far more modest, like security and peace, it will never come about by attempting to use force to extinguish every movement and ideology that poses a threat or imagined threat to “allies” like Saudi Arabia or to us here in America who can well live without such “allies”.
The greatest and unconquerable defense against ideologies that appear to threaten American values such as peace and freedom is understanding of our system, its strengths and vulnerabilities. The fundamentals of that system are both libertarian and religious. Confidence in the most important basics of our own way of life is enough, with the accompanying material strengths, to stop any inimical ideology from spreading and turning the country into a totalitarian prison. We have far less to fear from MBS’s triangle than from our own inadequacies, misunderstandings, lies and mistakes of philosophy, political, ethical and religious.
We cannot let MBS influence our thinking and policies toward Iran. His thought and ideas cannot be trusted. He is quoted as saying of his country “No one can define Wahhabism. There is no Wahhabism. We don’t believe we have Wahhabism.” This puzzled his interviewer, as it should have. MBS may or may not alter the relation between Saudi Arabia and Wahhabism, but he cannot and should not throw sand in our eyes by denying it. The Wikipedia entry on Wahhabism says
“The alliance between followers of ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Muhammad bin Saud’s successors (the House of Saud) proved to be a durable one. The House of Saud continued to maintain its politico-religious alliance with the Wahhabi sect through the waxing and waning of its own political fortunes over the next 150 years, through to its eventual proclamation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, and then afterwards, on into modern times.”
In terms of rights, Saudi Arabia has no place to go but up. MBS has allowed women to drive, a well-publicized move in the right direction. It does not allow him the luxury of making inflammatory and warped statements such as
“I believe that the Iranian supreme leader makes Hitler look good. But the supreme leader is trying to conquer the world. He believes he owns the world. They are both evil guys. He is the Hitler of the Middle East.”
What do such statements do, except prepare readers and listeners in America and elsewhere to get rid of the new Hitler? Americans hear more than enough from their own Congress and Executive about how evil Iran is. Our government has been at odds with Iran ever since its revolution in 1979. Trump is still antagonistic, despite the nuclear deal and even because of his view of it. We do not need to hear from MBS his extreme ideas about Iran, colored as they are by the geopolitical presence of Iran as Saudi Arabia’s neighbor. He is just reinforcing the existing anti-Iranian attitudes of our government.