Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel: Wounded Saleh Flees to Saudi Arabia

mass protests in Yemen

Yet another dictator has sought refuge in Saudi Arabia, our close ally and notorious perpetrator of gross human rights violations:

The Saudi royal court said on Sunday that Saleh arrived in Saudi Arabia along with other top Yemeni officials to be treated for wounds they suffered in Friday’s rocket attack on the presidential palace, Reuters reported.

Saleh sustained neck and chest injuries in the attack in the capital, Sana’a. However, shortly after the attack, Yemen’s state media said Saleh suffered minor injuries and aired an audio message from him saying he was in good condition. …

Yemeni Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has reportedly taken over as acting president and supreme commander of the armed forces.

However, Saleh’s Son, Ahmed, is believed to be in the capital to grab power in the event his father does not manage to return to Yemen.

The people of Yemen have been taking to the streets en masse for five months now, demanding the rights of democracy, an end to corruption, and the creation of a government which actually tends to the needs of its populace.  In response, the dictatorial Saleh regime has responded with brute force, opening fire on large crowds of unarmed, peaceful demonstrators and killing – at the very least – hundreds.  In spite of official proclamations to the contrary, Saleh has done so with tacit approval from Washington, enjoying access to both American taxpayer funds and American weaponry.  Neighboring Saudi Arabia, having squelched protests within its own borders and  – with much loss of life – in Bahrain, has undoubtedly contributed to the brutal crackdowns in its own way, as their gleeful welcoming of the wounded Saleh seems to indicate.

There are many questions that need to be asked regarding the American response to the various uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East, and our blatantly hypocritical relationship with the Saudi regime.  The fact that we have not intervened in either Yemen or Syria, where the government response has equaled or surpassed the Gaddafi’s in terms of sheer brutality, should raise immediate flags.  Clearly, there is something we desire in Libya that can be gained through direct military intervention.  In Yemen and Syria, it seems, we already have access to whatever it is we crave.

The reality is that the United States cares nothing for the principles of democracy or the protection of human rights.  Like every other empire in the history of the planet, we care only about cementing our power and ensuring our continued access to important natural resources.  In Libya we found both:  we could prevent the creation of a gold-backed dinar which would challenge the supremacy of the dollar, and gain access to its lucrative oil reserves.

In contrast, anything that Yemen has of interest for the U.S. empire is already within our grasp.  While Yemen does have significant oil reserves, the more important factor is the level of cooperation that Washington has enjoyed with Saleh.  U.S. forces have been allowed to bomb various targets throughout Yemen, and in return for financial and material aid, Saleh has complied with most U.S. requests.  A cooperative dictator need not be removed, regardless of the atrocities he commits within his own borders.

Democracy in the Middle East is not good for American hegemony.  Understandably, most Arabs do not welcome the presence of U.S. troops on their soil, nor do they enjoy the prospect of U.S. corporations becoming obscenely wealthy from their natural resources.   An awakened and empowered populace means the U.S. loses its stranglehold on the region, and with it the ability to manipulate the supply  – and cost – of oil and gas.

There’s little else to say about the matter.  U.S. foreign policy, as a tool of corporate power, stands in complete opposition to the promotion of democracy and the preservation of human rights.  While elected officials may pay lip service to such ideals in public, in practice the requirements of empire always come first.  What this means in practice is that U.S. taxpayer money helps suppress democratic  movements throughout the world, while American-made weapons slaughter untold thousands every year.

There is no solution from within the current system, as the corruption runs to the very core of both major parties and has even infected the Supreme Court (think Citizens United) and the Constitution itself, through the 14th Amendment and the  absurd concept of corporate personhood.  But as hopeless as it all might seem, the solution lies with us at all times, simply waiting for the masses to rouse and claim what is rightfully theirs.  Much like the notion of voodoo, which maintains its power only as long as the participants believe, so too does the corporate elite maintain its vice-like grip on America:  it will end when we simply wake up and realize that the yoke we wear is of our own construction, and that all we have to do is choose to no longer wear it.

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