Even Tom Friedman…

Is now calling out those who claim Iran — and not Saudi Arabia — is the biggest sponsor of terrorism.

The Washington Post ran a story last week about some 200 retired generals and admirals who sent a letter to Congress “urging lawmakers to reject the Iran nuclear agreement, which they say threatens national security.” There are legitimate arguments for and against this deal, but there was one argument expressed in this story that was so dangerously wrongheaded about the real threats to America from the Middle East, it needs to be called out.

That argument was from Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, the retired former vice commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, who said of the nuclear accord: “What I don’t like about this is, the number one leading radical Islamic group in the world is the Iranians. They are purveyors of radical Islam throughout the region and throughout the world. And we are going to enable them to get nuclear weapons.”

Sorry, General, but the title greatest “purveyors of radical Islam” does not belong to the Iranians. Not even close. That belongs to our putative ally Saudi Arabia.

[snip]

But if you think Iran is the only source of trouble in the Middle East, you must have slept through 9/11, when 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Nothing has been more corrosive to the stability and modernization of the Arab world, and the Muslim world at large, than the billions and billions of dollars the Saudis have invested since the 1970s into wiping out the pluralism of Islam — the Sufi, moderate Sunni and Shiite versions — and imposing in its place the puritanical, anti-modern, anti-women, anti-Western, anti-pluralistic Wahhabi Salafist brand of Islam promoted by the Saudi religious establishment.

Mind you, I’m not sure I’d say “nothing has been more corrosive” than Saudi extremism. After all, serial US invasions are pretty high up on that list.

But the two together — Saudi complicity and US action — sure do a pretty good job of destabilizing the Middle East.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

9 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    rip van winkle momentarily rouses from his slumber:
    .

    [… But if you think Iran is the only source of trouble in the Middle East, you must have slept through 9/11, when 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Nothing has been more corrosive to the stability and modernization of the Arab world, and the Muslim world at large, than the billions and billions of dollars the Saudis have invested since the 1970s into wiping out the pluralism of Islam — the Sufi, moderate Sunni and Shiite versions — and imposing in its place the puritanical, anti-modern, anti-women, anti-Western, anti-pluralistic Wahhabi Salafist brand of Islam promoted by the Saudi religious establishment. …]

  2. orionATL says:

    [… Nothing has been more corrosive to the stability and modernization of the Arab world, and the Muslim world at large, than the billions and billions of dollars the Saudis have invested since the 1970s …]

    well, there is the divisiveness and corrosiveness in the middle east generated by the billions upon 10’s of billions of dollars which american politicians (for decades democrats, nowadays republicans) have spent propping up that last redoubt of european coloniaism – israel – in order to buy american zionist votes.

    this was an iffy but doable foreign policy effort in the 60’s and 70’s, but with solicited immigration entrenching the israeli rightwing in power, the semitic brethren are now enmeshed in a tagteam death match. empowering iran as the regional ruling kingdom has a small chance of changing this disaster. so would turning our backs on saudi oil and american zionists votes, but that ain’t likely to happen.

  3. bloopie2 says:

    Absolutely. But as to “the stability and modernization of the Arab world”, I’m wondering, IF the US weren’t so invasive (kudzu?), how would things be going over there? Still all the dictatorships and tyrannies bringing our desired stability? Surely such a situation must, in any scenario, end at some point? Or maybe not – the Reds lasted a long time.

  4. Strangely Enough says:

    “There are legitimate arguments… against this deal”

    And yet it seems no one makes them. Funny, that…

    • RUKidding says:

      Yes, pray tell: what ARE the arguments against the Iran deal? I’m still waiting to hear them… as in: arguments that make sense and have some logic and reality to them. Not just the usual Iran is teh horrible argle-bargle.
      *
      As to Friedman making sense for once?? Eh, stopped clocks, etc. Don’t hold yer breath for it to happen again any time soon. Also, he may forced to retract his perfidious truthfulness.

  5. orionATL says:

    because rip might be on the road to reform, it would be, how shall i put it, uncharitable, to bring up the matter of that unit of measure known as a (nother) “friedman”.

  6. scribe says:

    It’s only news when a blind squirrel finds an acorn, as in Friedman’s spew quoted above.
    .
    I have to think that the late-summer heat went to his brain and he had a sudden fit of … intelligence? … insight?

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