The Constitution provides for three branches of government: the executive, Congress, and the judiciary – but there have been a few additions lately. With the rise of mass communications, common parlance has designated the media as the “Fourth Estate,” because – in theory – it is supposed to act as a “watchdog” on the activities of the other three. (Although in practice, as we have seen, it often doesn’t work out that way.) And as America entered the age of empire, stepping out on the world stage and exerting its power, a development the Founders foresaw – and greatly feared – became a reality: the rise of foreign lobbyists, i.e. the Fifth Estate, as a power in our domestic politics.
This was inevitable as we took the road to empire. Our foreign clients, protectorates, and sock puppets have a material interest in maintaining the status quo: their life blood depends on the smooth workings of the political machinery that keep the gravy train flowing from Washington to every point on the globe. “Foreign aid,” arms deals, overseas bases that boost their economies, the deployment of “soft power,” and the architecture of entangling alliances that have enmeshed us all over the world – all of this is defended and relentlessly extended by foreign lobbyists who work day and night to protect and expand their very profitable turf.
The latest newsworthy example is the Saudi lobby, which is working overtime these days to burnish the Kingdom’s badly tarnished image. The recent agitation for the release of the censored 28 pages of the joint congressional report on the 9/11 terrorist attacks – and news reports of their horrific war crimes in Yemen – has them on the defensive.
The American people are waking up to the fact that the 9/11 hijackers – who came to this country with little knowledge of English, and few resources – had some significant assistance from at least one foreign intelligence agency, and the Saudi connection, which is the subject of the redacted 28 pages, is now in the spotlight. In response, the Saudi lobby is manning the barricades, with articles like “Saudi Arabia Is a Great American Ally” in Foreign Policy magazine, which basically argues that we need these head-chopping barbarians because Iran is worse. On the legislative front, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-Perpetual War) is blocking a Senate bill that would give the green light to a lawsuit by the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudis. Graham and Senator John McCain have long worked hand-in-hand with the Saudis to garner US support for “moderate” Islamist rebels fighting to overthrow the government of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. And when the Saudis launched their terror-bombing of Yemen, Graham was right there cheering them on – and lamenting that “they no longer trust us” because they didn’t give us a heads up.
The Saudis have threatened to sell $750 billion in US assets if the Senate bill passes. In the meantime, President Barack Obama is in Riyadh, on a trip to repair frayed relations, where he is receiving a “chilly reception,” according to news accounts.
That’s the problem with being the world’s biggest superpower – you have to do a lot of kowtowing.
The Saudi lobby is a vast public relations machine, well-oiled with money and top-heavy with Washington insiders. Former Senator Norm Coleman, who headed up the American Action Fund – a major “dark money”conduit to GOP campaigns – and is now backing Ted Cruz is on the Saudi payroll.