HomeArticleEmpire Managers Are Fucking Idiots

Empire Managers Are Fucking Idiots

Listen to a reading of this article:

A recent article in Politico’s Lockheed Martin-sponsored National Security Daily newsletter featured a quote from an empire think tanker who argued that the tyranny of Saudi Arabia’s murderous crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) can be tempered by sending him to seminars.

In “Saudi Arabia shows Biden can’t have it all,” Politico describes an entirely imaginary conflict of presidential interests between a sincere desire to prioritize humanitarian concerns in Saudi Arabia and a need to maintain warm relations with Riyadh to keep oil prices low amid Washington’s economic war against Moscow. I say entirely imaginary because of course the US would happily turn a blind eye to Saudi royals using babies for skeet shooting as long as they continued to advance US fossil fuel interests.

The article features all the usual mundane empire apologia you’d expect from a mainstream publication that is funded by war profiteers (the newsletter was sponsored by Northrop Grumman before Lockheed Martin), but one part stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of sheer foam-brained idiocy. Arguing that the US can advance both its fossil fuel interests and its super important humanitarian concerns, a denizen of the imperial hivemind named Kirsten Fontenrose is cited in the following text (emphasis mine):

Using Saudi Arabia to lower gas prices and secure geopolitical gains doesn’t have to be divorced from human rights promotion if the U.S. molds the wayward crown prince into a moral king.

 

“Shaping young leaders into the types of decision makers America would like as partners takes mentoring, monitoring and shaping,” said KIRSTEN FONTENROSE, a former top Middle East official on Trump’s National Security Council. “There is no reason we can’t establish something akin to a private seminar series for MBS and the inner circle as well as other young leaders in the Gulf or elsewhere around the globe.”

Yowza.

So in Fontenrose’s empire-addled brain, the US can simply provide private seminars for not just MBS but other foreign leaders as well, teaching them not to do atrocities and war crimes. And this will reconcile the glaring dissonance between what the US government says it values and what it actually does.

That’s the kind of thinking that gets you made into a top national security advisor in the government with the most powerful military force ever assembled. Indeed, that’s the kind of thinking that runs the empire.

Fontenrose is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, a NATO-entrenched think tank that is funded by government entities, the military-industrial complex, fossil fuel companies and plutocrats. When questioned by The American Prospect last year about the fact that the Atlantic Council has received millions from Gulf state monarchies, Fontenrose responded, “Every think tank in Washington gets money from Middle East governments.”

This is true. Generally speaking, think tanks are institutions wherein academics are paid by the worst people in the world to come up with intelligent-sounding reasons why it would be good and smart to do something evil and stupid. Those narratives are then inserted at key points of influence before decision makers and the public, where they are used to help make the world a worse place to live.

This is not the sort of dynamic which lends itself to lucid thinking. Fontenrose’s Atlantic Council bio reads like a recipe for turning a human brain into a cog in the imperial machine: from Harvard to the National Council on US-Arab Relations, to “building relationships with military officers and diplomats from the Middle East and South Asia for the Near East Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University,” to positions in the Pentagon and State Department, to Senior Director for the Gulf at the Trump administration’s National Security Council, and then on to the Atlantic Council.

And at the Atlantic Council she shall wait, spewing imperial mouth farts and earning handsome paychecks, until it’s time for the revolving door of the Beltway swamp to usher her back into a government position again.

These are the kind of people who run the world. The imperial machine is packed to the rafters with sniveling power worshippers of this variety, people who choose to spend their lives clawing their way up into positions of influence within the most depraved power structure on the face of this planet, demonstrating their worthiness by their continual willingness to advocate awful things no matter how reckless or stupid.

This is why the world is as it is. The systems which allocate power and wealth elevate the worst among us to the most consequential of positions, where they are then free to act out their own inner misery on the rest of humanity and keep us in a state of suffering and trauma. Nothing will get better until we change those systems.

_______________

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on FacebookTwitterSoundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. All works co-authored with my American husband Tim Foley.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Liked it? Take a second to support Caitlin Johnstone on Patreon!

Latest comments

  • Women always think they can reform the bad boy, don’t they?

  • The Atlantic Council is the geopolitical version of the “violence interrupters” non-profit here in NYC where people try to reform ruthless gangbangers into upstanding members of society. Doubtful Ms. Fontenrose’s efforts are going to make MBS less of a murdering despot.

  • I can just imagine Fontenstein walking down one of the corridors of power in the empire headquarters and someone walking the other way saying to her: “Say, I like your idea about conducting a seminar to tame MBS!”
    Her head would swell with pride for coming up with such a brilliant solution to human rights abuses.
    How many people like her are there, swishing around amongst the powermongers, being paid huge amounts to come up with such mindless swill?

    • And on the flip side, how many worthwhile people are going to stay and pursue a career in such an environment? When Hillary Clinton sent a memo to hundreds of State Department employees ordering them to spy on and steal the credit card numbers of the UN staff, how many of them leaked it to the press? Zero. I recently read Andrew Napolitano’s blunt assessment that the US government is “rotten to the core”. We need to drag the Overton window to this overlook.

      • I have understood for decades that the US government is rotten to the core and I am amazed that it has not yet collapsed into a pile of stinking bile.
        Regarding the situation where zero employees leak details of despicable acts to the press, it was a similar situation in Australia with health department employees during the scamdemic.
        Thank you Ted for introducing me to the ‘Overton window’ I looked it up and it is an excellent way of illustrating the cognitive dissonance that humans experience.

      • Many in govt are frightened and corrupt. But what intelligent govt worker would leak anything to a press that is a devoted servant/partner of the govt or those few real journalists who are under constant surveillance? One might even ask how many govt workers were quietly fired for trying to tell the truth? It takes a lot of guts to leak anything about Clinton who, whether she murdered anyone in this country or not (forget all the deaths she has caused overseas), has the attitude of an arrogant gangster who takes vengeance, and one who is protected by the likes of Comey.

  • Caitlin you’re so funny but honestly Kirsten is over the top hilarious with her personal improvement lecture series for a guy who has people murdered and then dismembered. I got a good laugh over that. They are barking mad.

    I think an underappreciated component of why the government is so generously stocked with babbling mediocre sociopaths is because nobody but their own kind wants to be around them so they tend to drive out anybody worthwhile, kind of the way bad currency drives out good. That and violently trying to achieve absolute control of the entire world is just naturally going to attract the psychotic fringe sort.

    • Well said Ted. Most of us would be vomiting if we found ourselves in the company of such people.

  • Jackson Hinkle interviews Brian Berletic on the upcoming vicious and unprovoked attack on double extra sovereign Taiwan by China.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ble13PMzpQw
    A couple of fine young American lads having a sane geopolitical discussion. Quite a refreshing experience, and I for one will take it while I can, for the time for such talk is coming to an end.

  • They help shape the narrative by censoring Forbidden Opinions and Forbidden Information.
    https://www.projectcensored.org/atlantic-council-partners-with-facebook-to-censor-social-media/

  • How do we change this?
    Feel free to leave your comments at CongressOfDebate dotcom on whether this upcoming means of unbiased public debate will provide a voice for all expert viewpoints on all policy issues around the world.

  • Agreed. The are insane idiots who cannot recognize their horrific failures… so much so, they think THEY should rule the ‘world’…

    I pray we find a way to save ourselves from their intended future…

  • Maybe the seminar could include a youtube video on using bone saws appropriately.

  • Robert Kennedy, Jr. makes the same points about America’s “public health” agencies which Fauci completely controls. All the leaders in public health, medicine, hospitals, research colleges, medical journals, etc. have been captured by now. Big Pharma and the Vaccine Culture rules all – although they do partner often with the intelligence community and military industrial complex. Kennedy makes a strong case that just as many people have been killed by these group-thinkers as in many of our wars (I mean, “interventions.”). The “leaders” in these organizations don’t change. And if they do leave the replacements from the Minor Leagues will be clones of their predecessors.

  • Perhaps Bonesaw could give a TED talk about how assassination leads to good governance. Then nobody will care, and then Prince Bonesaw can skip the seminars. No need.

    Maybe Steven Pinker can explain that Henry the VIII was a lot worse at choppings showing humanity has made progress at the same TED conference.

    Today on my own website I connect the dots between the Russian war and famine.

  • “Shaping young leaders into the types of decision makers America would like as partners takes mentoring, monitoring and shaping,” said Kirsten Fontenrose, a former top Middle East official on Trump’s National Security Council. “There is no reason we can’t establish something akin to a private seminar series for MBS and his inner circle as well as other young leaders in the Gulf or elsewhere around the globe.”
    It already exists actually and is located in Fort Benning, Georgia. It was called for decades School of the Americas, which was a lovely name. In 1993, a released list of 60,000 graduates confirmed that “dictators, death squad operatives, and assassins” had been educated there, which would fit MBS like a glove.
    Besides, in 2001, it had acquired such a shitty reputation that it changed its name to Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Hemisphere_Institute_for_Security_Cooperation
    They’d just have to add a Northern Hemisphere branch for MBS and “other young leaders in the Gulf” who actually are quite familiar already, like their US counterparts, with human rights abuses but what they need badly is the PR. And no one can beat the Americans at that! They can bury you alive and explain that it was for your own good because you were about to catch a cold.
    MBS obviously comes short in that field. On patronizing too… Exceptionalism, manifest destiny… Those are concepts he rather feels clumsy with contrary to Obama for instance, who could accept the Nobel Peace Prize with one hand while droneslaughtering an entire village with the other without batting an eye.
    MBS, who is not bad-looking himself, could definitely learn a lot from a “private seminar series” with Obama the Seducer. As John Lennon wrote, “there’s room at the top they are telling you still, but first you must learn how to smile as you kill, if you wanna be like the folks on the hill”.
    MBS looks a bit too sullen for now. In other words, they’ve definitely got the talents there (look at the genocide in Yemen for Chrissakes!), it’s the merchandizing that needs updates. Once you’ve nailed the problem, as Kirsten Fontenrose has, finding a solution is child’s play.

    • Aeons ago I was working as a bellhop in a high end Seattle hotel. A conference was held, and all sorts of South American Generals and Admirals showed up in full dress uniform. I asked one of them what was going and he said ‘This is the school of the Americas’. They all had fancier uniforms than I was wearing and my uniform had gold piping on the seams with gold shoulder epaulettes. South America has fancy-assed military uniforms.

      Later some sort of secret police guy decided to talk to me. He questioned me incessantly and upon determining that I was an engineering student putting himself through school, he decided I was a good guy and that I should come to Columbia to visit. For free.

      He did not question me enough because I am a socialist. No way was I going to take him up on his offer. If I had I might already be bones.

  • Agree completely Caitlin. Well adjusted people don’t want to control others, and don’t want to be in positions of power. Only control freaks and sociopaths want to be in power, and the current state of the world shows this clearly. It seems that to get to positions of power, you need to prove your criminality potential to those criminally minded people who are already in power. Sort of like committing your first murder to show the mob boss you are one of them.

    I still believe the world would be a better place if people were randomly selected from the phone directory every few years to run things. Even if you accidentally picked a sociopath once in a while this way, you’d at least have normal people running things most of the time.

    • Sortition – https://www.sortitionfoundation.org/

      By selecting representative groups of everyday people by lottery, and bringing them together in Citizens’ Assemblies, we can break the hold of career politicians on decisions and bypass powerful vested interests.

      • I agree wholeheartedly with you K-Dog. Positions of power should be a short term duty for ordinary citizens, the wisest and best people being chosen by the community. They should receive an adequate salary for the term of duty and then return to their normal life.

    • Also, IMO, the PTB won’t trust you or let you into their club unless they have the goods on you…in case you need to be “disciplined” (blackmailed) at a future date.

  • “Nothing will get better until we change those systems.”
     
    And just exactly HOW do we change them? THAT is THE question. And there is only one very simple answer.

  • ” .. the US would happily turn a blind eye to Saudi royals using babies for skeet shooting … ”
    Lmao … Yeah it would. In fact we’d happily sell them special made baby throwers ‘cept we no longer know how to manufacture anything.
    What I don’t understand, if the US is an oil exporting POWERHOUSE, which is what FOXNews and the various financial channels have been telling me the last few years, why the fuck do we give two rat’s asses as to Saudi production?
    Kidding. I am being sarcastic, sardonic, facetious, I am mocking The Oil Narrative, and so on.
    Before there was the Covid Narrative and the Ukraine Narrative, there was the Oil Narrative, and similar to the other two, it was 90% lies and 10% total nonsense.

  • It sounds like a “no idea is too stupid” idea at a brain storming session, but then again, is it really that stupid? Yes, there’s the how exactly do we get this information and attitude adjustment into the Saudi ruler’s head. but IF SOMEHOW we did get it across to him that he should tone his shit down and sell us oil cheaply, well then, it’d be a win for the US. I mean, I didn’t think it was such a bad Trump era idea to pay off the Palestinians for peace. I mean, They say everybody has a price. I do. and it ain’t that high! Look, we are doing supider shit now in the Ukraine.I mean, whose idea was that? How many billions? And for what? Ideally everyone, including Saudi princes, should just do the right thing, but you need get real like in realpolitik. Ya do what you gotta do. Bribery and flattery and mind fuckery work.

    • ‘he should tone his shit down and sell us oil cheaply, well then, it’d be a win for the US’

      Oil will not last forever. What are your plans for when it is gone?

    • If they’re talking about it publicly that tells me they’ve already tried to do it privately and failed. Appealing to social media for a brainstorming session is a sign they literally need the public to plan out their own plans. It’s a kind of outsourcing for when rulers run out of imagination. A totally suprising and unintentional perk of living in a global surveillance state

  • I strongly suspect that Caitlin no longer has full control of her blog.
    Buyer beware.

    • With all due respect, maybe you should change your tune if you don’t want your trolling to get too obvious…

      • A health paranoia is OK. You responded just like an Army Troll.

      • Said the obvious troll.

        • That was not nice. Go to my website and at the bottom you will see an email addy. Write to me there Mr. Knox and when I respond lets see if you still think I am a troll.

          • He was picking at Pascal. And projecting.

          • I don’t think you’re a troll. I think the guy who showed up and started calling other people trolls is a troll, and said so using similar words. The comments are in an order shown by the indentations.

    • I suppose you would know if you had posted comments that subsequently disappeared. Perhaps that has happened. Who knows what personage or mechanism would cause such a thing? It certainly hasn’t appeared to be happening in comment sections that are recent and still being “played upon” by commenters.
      As for “buyer beware,” Caitlin offers her work freely. It is a gift. So there are no buyers—only those who freely choose to gift Caitlin in return. And while the comments section is associated with her blog, it isn’t what she writes, and it isn’t the primary thing people come here to read—it’s just an associated discussion.
      I would suggest that Caitlin is in complete control of what she writes. And such an actively creative mind like hers is a beauty to behold. That’s the most important thing about this site.
      So okay, comments can disappear on the internet. I’ve had it happen to me more than once on another site, but never here that I am aware of. So let’s just be grateful for Caitlin and glad we have the forum we have. Personally speaking, there is no other forum where I have posted my thoughts in a more uninhibited fashion than here. (To boot, there is no annoying time lapse due to “moderation”).
      Caitlin’s guidelines are reasonable and this comments section is a pretty darn good one on the whole. I hope, Levi, this issue resolves itself to your satisfaction and continued participation so that you don’t have to bring it up again—because, complain as you might, there’s nothing any of us can do about it.

    • thanks for the advice anonymous canary-sama, i’ll remember to be intensely sceptical of everything anyone says from now on. Especially bloggers.

  • I can’t listen to the reading without signing up for SoundCloud.

    I don’t want to sign up. And won’t.

    I will continue to read your content, however.

    • Press or click the “Listen in browser” just below “Play on SoundCloud” and you can hear it right here. My eyes get tired so sometimes I take that option.

  • “Generally speaking, think tanks are institutions wherein academics are paid by the worst people in the world to come up with intelligent-sounding reasons why it would be good and smart to do something evil and stupid. Those narratives are then inserted at key points of influence before decision makers and the public, where they are used to help make the world a worse place to live.”

    That may be the best paragraph I have read in the 21st Century.

    • Agreed! That was one of Caitlin’s best lines ever.

      • A perceptive observation about what money does indeed!

    • Caitlin produces many absolute gems but yes that paragraph deserves an award!

leave a comment