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Saudi Operatives Who Killed Khashoggi Received Paramilitary Training in U.S. (nytimes.com)
245 points by bigpumpkin 44 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 147 comments



There seems to be a "perpetual surprise" around Saudi Arabia. Its a shitty regime, we support, train, arm and cover for their shitty behaviour. That's how it is. We're 2nd-order responsible for crushing any move towards democracy, for radicalising the population, for the horrific treatment for women and lgbt+, for their war against Yeman, all of it. None of this should be "news" any more than its news that the navy had ships.


It boggles the mind.

But who cares if the Gulf states engage in all sorts of nastiness. SA is the apparent bastion against terror, Dubai is the place to visit and Qatar will host the 2022 Football World Cup.


Does America's ex-military personnel really teach people to dismember bodies?

Is that an actual course, or did foreign psychopaths (albeit with state department approval) get training in actual military stuff (shooting, ironing beds, polishing boots, logistics, etc.) and then go on all by themselves to butcher journalists with a carving knife?

I don't see the link here, other than a bit or outrage and a wee dopamine hit.


Maybe not a training in ‘dismembering’ but America has a long experience in using torture and teaching it to allied military/paramilitary groups


Is that even something you need to learn? How difficult can it be for several men to kill a single journalist in a controlled and protected environment like a room in an embassy, then cut the body up and transport it away. That's not exactly rocket science.

I think the relevance of this news is generally that Murica trains agents of oppressive states.


Yeah the difficult part would be to keep it a secret, including all the gory details. But they failed at that which makes me question their expertise.


> Yeah the difficult part would be to keep it a secret

Not really.

Even third-year chemistry students know that the only way to dispose of a body is to oxidise it carbon and water vapour in a plastic lined bathtub and a few litres of perchromic acid.

Science, people.


Torture is/was definitely part of even standard military training ie prior to Vietnam deployment for common soldiers. Electric wires on genitalia for example. I would expect that if one dictator sends their spec-ops personnel for US training, the goal is not to improve their techniques of ironing beds or polishing boots, rather more practical topics useful to that dictator.

I can easily see how an additional training in torture, logistics etc. could have helped perpetrators organize and perform the act. Although they would probably managed to kill him even without it in some way or the other.

One of the things I would hate if living in US - not such a great feeling knowing some part of your taxes goes into directly supporting things like this, whether you like it or not...


Sure, but I just cannot for the life of figure me out, how adults (the Saudi operatives) needed to go on the American course to work out that they can kill someone an chop him up with a really sharp knife.

You only need to have one barbeque at your home to work that out.

If training → crimes, then surely we should be more worried about training Saudi butchers and chefs?

The real and IMO only reason the crime occurred as it did is that the Saudi's guessed correctly that the US (and others) would let them get away with it.


I just assumed they never intended to kill him, at least not there or right away, but that their "handling" or torture triggered some health condition, and cutting him and bailing were just plan B.

Which if true, isn't a ringing endorsement for the quality of torture training they received.


> how the Saudi operatives needed to go on the American course to work out that they can kill someone an chop him up with a knife.

Is the post-killing truth part what matters. Everybody can kill, but killing in broad daylight in front of the entire planet and without consequences needs some planning and complicity. They didn't a great job hiding it the last time, so it seems that the little rascals need reinforcement private classes.


At least in school of Americas, they did


> Does America's ex-military personnel really teach people to dismember bodies?

Would be that more evil than throwing tied men and women alive to the sea from helicopters so they drown, while kidnapping their babies at the same time? I don't think so.


Its a testament to the US military that i can't tell who you're referring to here.


They’re likely referring to Pinochet, the dictator the US had installed in Chile. He was known to throw people out of helicopters for things like wrongthink, which of course is a funny meme now.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_flights#Chile_under_Augu...


Argentina, not Chile IIRC


The training stuff show concrete practical support these units got. Khashoggi is not first or only person every killed by Saudi states. When you are training Saudi units, you know exactly that they will be used against political opponents, against activists and so on.


Khashoggi was no mere journalist. There is a simple rule in dictatorship governments that the head of the opposition media is even more trusted and loyal person than the people heading the official party media.

He was a bit like Litvinenko - not nice, but not worth shedding too much tears for him.


So? US trains plenty of Saudis. One of the trainees killed 3 US soldiers on US soil not so long ago.


Imagine if some sane US president threw his/her hands up in the air and manages to convince the congress and senate to simply leave the Middle East alone to figure their affairs out for themselves. Take all the money you were spending in maintaining your military presence in Middle East and say augment investments in geographically sensible defense systems, modern spy satellites and intelligence. With the left over money, perhaps implement a single-payer healthcare system. Oh well, political leaders are only short-term thinkers now. They only pander to those that will vote for them or their party in the next elections....


I would venture to suggest that the Middle East as a whole is a cash cow for the US - oil, weapons contracts - so aint nothin' gonna change until that changes.


I think the thing that surprises me the most about this situation is that people are surprised. KSA is a brutal, authoritarian regime currently waging a nigh genocidal campaign down in Yemen, and we keep selling them ungodly amounts of weapons no matter what they do. Why wouldn’t we train their assassination squads? It’s far from the worst thing we’ve enabled them to do. I think the blockade of food that’s caused roughly 100,000 children starve to death is probably a wee bit worse, all things considered.


Why is keeping nice with the Saudi family so important? Why does the US government bend over backwards to cover up for them?


> Why is keeping nice with the Saudi family so important? Why does the US government bend over backwards to cover up for them?

Because they spawn outfits who ram airplanes into skyscrapers. I see no logic in this, but some "expert geopolitical strategists" do. Same with Israel, sinks USS Liberty, and then people on the hill go orgasmic, because "higher meaning" — whatever that means.

A simpler explanation which seems to be much more believable: great amounts of money spent by them to keep the whole US political establishment wined, dined, well moneyed, and happy.


One of the teachers at a major Israeli military university claims that Israel is intentionally acting like a mad dog i.e. willing to take down the rest of the world with them should they go down, and that most European capitols are a target for their airforce. Whether that's rhetoric or reality, I don't think anyone intends to find out.[0]

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/sep/21/israelandthepa...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_van_Creveld


I genuinely doubt the Israeli Airforce could take on the rest of Europe. There are a lot of warplanes patrolling the Mediterranean Sea.


The point of the "mad dog" approach is not to win, but to let others know you will take them down with you, with the idea being that they will do what you want out of fear.


Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) dog


> willing to take down the rest of the world with them should they go down

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samson_Option

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Samson_Option:_Israel%27s_...


People said that about Trump. I don't think that strategy paid off for him


He was not threatening enough, nor possess the mental capabilities to pull off that strategy. That strategy only works if you display the willingness to act, and the cleverness to act in such a way that demonstrates you know exactly where your opponent is weakest.

He was willing to act, his actions just always missed their mark.


Follow the money is generally a good place to start, when something doesn’t make sense.


> Same with Israel, sinks USS Liberty, and then people on the hill go orgasmic, because "higher meaning" — whatever that means.

I don't think it's fair to compare Israel with Saudi. The former is a functioning democracy and is ranks significantly better that its neighbors when it comes to Civil liberties.


It's not a functioning democracy, half of its population has no voting rights.

And it's always been antagonistic with US, despite making pretty face.

And, yes, they are in bed with the Saudis, now quite openly.


> It's not a functioning democracy, half of its population has no voting rights.

Exactly which "half" we are talking about here?

> And it's always been antagonistic with US, despite making pretty face.

They are a de-facto US ally. Doesn't matter how they behave publicly.

> And, yes, they are in bed with the Saudis, now quite openly.

What does that even mean? Pretty much every liberal democracy which recognizes the Saudi royal family and has economic ties with the kingdom is in "bed" with Saudis by that logic.


For most of recent history they've been a major supplier of oil to the US.

https://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=pet&s=m...


They aren’t anymore, are more dependent on US weapons and parts than vice versa


"Major US Supplier" is the shorthand. It's strictly inaccurate, but not a bad first gloss.

The deeper reality is that Saudi Arabia have provided (or occasionally withheld) stability to global oil markets since the early 1970s.

KSA are the world's reserve capacity supplier of oil. Given that world transacts globally and is a highly liquid commodity (in the economic sense), *even where KSA don't directly provide the US with much of its oil, the Kingdom's management of production and leadership in OPEC have a profound impact on global oil and through it, global economic and strategic stability.

There are countries with larger total oil reserves, more exports, and greater production (Venezuela, Russia, and the United States, respectively). Saudi Arabia's strengths are the quality of its oil ("light sweet crude", as contrasted with heavy sour crude from Venezuela, which requires light volatiles simply to extract it from the ground, hence periodic headlines about the US "selling oil to Venezuela", which is more misleading than informative), and the low cost of extraction. Additionally, Saudi Arabia have excess capacity --- their pumps are not running full out --- which means that by increasing or decreasing their supply, they can effectively set global oil prices. (Again: liquid assets, it's possible to move $100 of oil by tanker for about $1 in fuel, making arbitrage and cross-supply highly viable, unlike far less readily handled fuels including coal and natural gas, both of which require special handling.)


Nah, rich Arabs always diversify their weapons suppliers. If the US doesn't want to earn tens of billions of dollars there's always France, Russia, etc.


No they can’t. If they buy certain Russian things the US will stop. Look at what happened when Turkey bought Russia’s air defense systems. They lost F-35s over it[1].

[1] https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2020/12/14/us-sanctions...


Vendor lock in. It’s hard to walk away from billions of dollars of hardware…

And just because the USA does buy and use Saudi oil, doesn’t mean American oil companies aren’t pumping it, shipping it or profiting from its sale. And it’s sold in US dollars


Oil is often singled out and important not because the US is dependent on Saudi oil but also because it depends on the Saudi's not dumping oil and undercutting the prices of US producers (and thus bankrupting them). But, I'd say it's more complicated than that and also is related to trillions of dollars in trade, military funding, contracting, etc across the region.

The Saudi's are a very loyal supporter of US policy for all of that and their country is very strategically located in the region and a big reason why the US has been able to exert power there for so long. E.g. Saudi support was crucial for both Gulf wars, the Sudan invasion, and more recently the conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Lebanon, etc.

Being able to park some aircraft carriers off the coast of Saudi Arabia is also helpful when it comes to controlling the Iranians of course. That's technically a long series of proxy wars but of course the US has been battling with them ever since the Iranian revolution all over the region in a long series of proxy wars that usually also involve the Saudis. Ugly but very profitable.

So, oil, money, and strategic value basically. You could pass some moral judgement on that but in the end most wars are about economic interests. And the interests of the US are worth trillions of dollars.


CA consumes a non trivial amount of KSA oil, 21% of total supply in 2018.


One theory is “petro dollars” - Saudi Arabia mandates all of their oil is purchased in dollars, thus ensuring global demand for dollars as every country needs oil. In return, the US has their back unconditionally. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrodollar_recycling#Petrod...


I’m sure it’s been asked and answered before but is there a realistic alternative to USD for such transactions? I imagine Euros would be the next-best bet, being the second-most traded currency.

Edit: While I don’t agree with the person below who replied saying crypto could fill this gap, I don’t think they should be downvoted to the point where we can’t reply. I even hit the “vouch” button but it’s still not possible.


The serious proposal is that the petrodollar be replaced with a basket of currencies, rather than one single foreign currency.


See the "Political events" section in that wikipedia page.


So back in the 00s Iraq tried to use Euros then got invaded and then reverted to USD. A couple of other near-pariah states (Iran and Libya) have offered to accept Gold and/or Euro but it hasn’t taken off. It’s interesting right enough and should maybe considered a warning to anyone who does think about shifting away from USD, but I’m still curious if there’s even a small amount of consideration given to alternatives today


There are some who believe that this is the real reason why we invaded Iraq; Saddam kept trying to sell oil for Euros instead of dollars.


The Saudis are the chosen ally in the region, that have nothing to do with moral values or the interest of the average American, also:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudi_Arabia_lobby_in_the_Unit...


The Saudis are kind of like a Bishop (our chess piece) checking a Knight (Iran) from doing anything too nuts (and once upon of time, Iraq). I’d also say they act a little bit like West Germany as a forward base against the Soviet threat (kind of an old model at this point, Obama mostly wanted to steer our forces east toward China going forward). Israel got hip to this too. The alliance is really Saudi Arabia, America, Israel.

In fact, I’d say they are a check on a region that could easily fall under the influence of Iran, Russia, and China. Global oil supply being messed with in a destabilized region is a concern, and festering of Islamic terrorism (think about how Russia let’s ransomware terrorists fester).

Russia would go pretty far to destabilize oil in that region. Plus, they are for sale. If we don’t pay them, China will.

The price for all of this is the same price the devil always charges - your soul and values. Genocide in Yemen in 2020, murdering of journalists (in an embassy, goodness), all done with impunity.


The thing is to use the Saudis to keep Iran in check is like using the devil to keep a daemon in check. Iran (as bad it may be) is a much freer society than Saudi Arabia, and support for terrorism can't be an argument either because Saudi Arabia is a primary supporter of Islamic terrorism in the world. Moreover, the demonisation of Iran together with the support for Saudi Arabia has likely strengthened the hardliners in Iran and made the region much less stable.


The one other comment alluding to the geopolitical concerns that seemed to be missed by many.


The family calls the shots there and I don't think many people will appreciate a Saudi Arabia which is in a military alliance with Russia or China.

To a considerable extent, the family also ensures a stable leadership and rule of law. A decade back, I would have supported forceful overthrow of the family. However, after observing Arab "Spring" and its implications in Syria and Libya, I am dead certain that I do not want a power vacuum in Saudi Arabia.


Because they have lots of money and spread it around generously.


Oil and arms sales.


Let me give a little more context. Saudi Arabia had a relationship with the US early on and it was US contractors who developed the oil there initially. This is a very old relationship, basically it is the bases of Saudi Arabia, the realized early how powerful to US was and attached themselves.

The Saudi were very anti-Communist and opposed Arab nationalist (a 'socialist' type regime) in Egypt. In a period known as 'Arab Cold War'.

There was a fear that most of the middle east would unify under Arab nationalism. The Saudi were opposed that.

A second important part is the sale of oil, people will often argue that this is less important now because domestic production. However it was always more about European and later Asian allies of the US and ensuring oil for them.

The relations were at is worse during the oil crisis. However once the Iranian revolution happened, and Iran was no longer an US ally there was major fear of Soviet invasion or Iranian revolution spreadng. Jimmy Carter declared the 'Carter doctrine':

> Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.

Since their major client Iran was gone the US basically 'had to' depend on Saudi Arabia.

This was then majorly expanded upon by Reagan. While up to this point, relation were diplomatic (and CIA blabla) under Reagan there was a militarization. Bases were starting to build in the region and the US wanted to sell more weapons to the Saudi, Qatar, Bahrain as well.

The US started to build bases in Saudi itself during the first Golf War (that was the major reason for 9/11 btw).

Since 9/11 despise what the general population wants (and correctly believes), politically the US sees Saudi as a major ally in the 'fight for terrorism' when it is convenient but the consistent opposition to Iran is arguably the more important part.

Saudi Arabia has also totally sold out the Palestinians and has been practically allied with Israel.

So here are why the US politicians continue this 'partnership':

- Major oil state that insures sale to European and Asian allies

- Oppose Iran

- Oppose the Islamic Brotherhood (Saudi paid for the overthrow of the Egyptian 'democracy')

- Saudi regime drove AQAP (Al Quida Arab Peninsula) out of Saudi and pretends to fight them in Yemen

- Saudi (and golf state) buy a gigantic amount weapons to the point where Trump basically treated the Crown Prince like cash cow and made him do TV ads with him

- Saudi spend a lot of lobbying and fund many of the 'think tanks'

- Saudi and Israel get along

However, this episode here that so many people car about is literally never what the US cared about. An allied regime killing journalist is about as interesting as empty glass of water. To me this is a total non-story.

This is only a media outrage story. The US routinely helps in repression of journalists and what the US/Saudi are doing in Yemen is about a million times were the this Khashoggi thing. Not to mention that they are also oppressing and killing journalist there too, but I guess there are not good videos of it so it can be safely ignored.

In my opinion the whole strategic approach the US has towards the Saudi and the Middle East in general is fundamentally flawed and pilled on top of a whole bunch of wrong assumption.

Unfortunately realignment in foreign policy is very difficult. With Israel and Saudi (and co) money continually buying of congress/Washington while Iran and others don't have such powerful lobbying organizations within the US.


> Unfortunately realignment in foreign policy is very difficult. With Israel and Saudi (and co) money continually buying of congress/Washington while Iran and others don't have such powerful lobbying organizations within the US.

At the moment Iran and its proxies are actively threatening the US and its allies. Stopping that will be a prerequisite for any lobbying attempt.


Or maybe the US and its allies actively pursue shit that's threatening to the Iranians? Eg: Yemen, Syria, etc.

Let's drop the farcical argument about how the Iranian programme is a threat to US interests. Meanwhile the tiny UAE can actively buy nuclear tech from the US, while also letting the Chinese build a military base and themselves building a base in Djibouti. Or the Saudis who can easily acquire a nuclear weapon from Pakistan with far less effort than the Iranians can with their nuclear program, nuke or not (because the Saudis funded the Pakistani nuclear programme, and above was one of the conditions).

Iran is currently "threatened" by 3 potential or active nuclear US allies - Israel, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, so bad guys or not, geopolitics dictates that they too have to acquire nukes to maintain their survival. For the very reason that North Korea still exists while Ukraine has been invaded.


Yes and SA, Qatar give help to tons of groups that threaten to US (so does the US) and Turkey helped out ISIS and yet they are allies.

Apparently those things are not prerequisites to do lobbying. Or SA enacting basically a genocide in Yemen. Apparently that shouldn't stop lobbying.

However Iran is not and has not been actively engaging the US since Bush Jr Iraq War.

In fact Iran saved US allies in the region form ISIS. Iran was practically an ally of the US against ISIS. No Shia militia or Iran allied force has attacked the US in any way.

I would argue AQ types are a far bigger danger to actual US people then any Iranian militia and those don't get financing form Iran and its allies.

Not to mention Israel and what they are doing to Palestinians (and not to mention they are a rough nuclear nation) but of course "Iran is 'threading'" so of course that is simply not acceptable.


If you go to Washington DC and go to the Watergate Hotel, right across the street and not on Embassy Row is the massive Saudi Embassy, reminding everyone who comes in over Teddy Roosevelt Bridge who runs barter town.


Embassy size doesn’t correlate with power. This is easy to observe in various European countries, where the Russians managed to hold on to their huge Soviet-era embassies, even though their contemporary influence is far lower.


To be fair "Embassy Row" is just a road with a lot of embassies. Embassies and consulates are all over the place in DC.


I don't feel like this answers the question. Saudis have outsized influence on the US because they have a large building as their embassy?


There is a really interesting dynamic where the Saudis have basically pushed the line of thinking that they have a special relationship with us going back to WWII or WWI. I generally am a bit skeptical of Cato Institute but they had a great podcast with Prof Robert Vitalis about this that shed a ton of light on exactly this question for me. https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/americas-oil-myths/id1...


No: they do it the old fashioned way: lobbying and political contributions.


They are a client kingdom loyal to the US. How have we bent over backwards to cover up for them? The general consensus seems to be that Saudi Arabia was definitely responsible, and very little is being done about that.


Historically, the least bad option in maintaining supply of the fuel of civilization and countering Iran, Russian, and Chinese influence. Such is geopolitics.


The next ~30 years are going to be pretty interesting if EV and Green tech scales down oil requirements.


My guess is the slack in the oil supply will be taken up by other industries as the reduced demand from transport will leave large supply dropping the price for them. So I expect various chemical, plastic, pharmaceutical, pesticide, and fertilizer companies will use all of that oil.


You already can see companies, eg Shell and Exxon investing heavily in their "chemical complex" refineries, and selling off refineries that only process fuel.


I think a bigger concern these days is how Europe gets natural gas (LNG).


I suspect that many oil rich countries have been anticipating this development and have been heavily investing elsewhere.


Oil is a fungible market. The Saudis have to sell it to someone, and selling it to someone besides the US just frees up other suppliers to sell to the US.


Because the last time the US let a Middle East Country fall into complete chaos it didn't work out very well for the US.

Sadly, the US didn't learn from this and then went and turned Iraq into complete chaos.


Saudi Arabia was literally never unstable, the idea that it is US relationship that is preventing Saudi Arabia from collapsing is very questionable.


Who do you think finances US debt, public and private?

Who do you think pours money into defense contractors, financial services and politicians pockets?

Who do we rely on to control the oil price for us?

Who else is an important ally in the region for Israel?

I dispise the Saudis, we should drop them and warm up to Iran, but that above 3 points are why no one has done it yet (plus momentum/tradition).


The US public debt is denominated in Dollars, does the Saudi manufacture Dollars? If not, how could then they finance the public debt?


They sell oil for dollars. They give the dollars to the fed and 101 other institutions as loans, those institutions lend the money to the government and private groups.

China does the same only they sell goods for dollars instead of oil.


(not sure why people are down voting this, it's pretty straight forwards factual stuff?)


What is paramilitary training? Working at a butcher's?


I clicked expecting to enjoy another public black eye for the School of the Americas, and instead I’m left with dread that the USA has privatized that training. Because of course you have.


If it makes you feel any better, many US citizens hate it too. It's stupid both to privatize the military, and to provide military training to repressive authoritarian regimes.

America and our democratic allies spent half a century fighting totalitarianism, only to turn around and treat the post-Cold War "peace dividend" as carte-blance to sell out everything we had just finished fighting for. Now authoritarianism is on the rise again as a result.

This has to be most idiotic own-goal in history.


> spent half a century fighting totalitarianism

By destabilizing and ousting democratically elected leaders around the world and replacing them with our puppets? Or do you mean fighting those puppets when they became inconvenient?

I suspect what happened is not the history you think it is.


> By destabilizing and ousting democratically elected leaders around the world and replacing them with our puppets

El Saud was put in place as rulers of Saudi Arabia by the British, not the Americans.


US has done "regime change" in many countries replacing elected officials with warlords/monarchs/dictators etc.

Consider Mossadegh in Iran - an elected, secular politician who was replaced to put Shah - a monarch, in power:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohammad_Mosaddegh

Then, of course, all across Latin America: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_involvement_in_r...


Yes, but the linked story was about Saudi Arabia, not Iran or Latin America.


I was replying broadly on the issue of regime change



Destabilizing oppressive regimens controlled by the Soviets.

Arguably still oppressive after we’re done but better than before.


[flagged]


One thing we Americans really need to learn is that Capitalism does not necessarily bring Democracy. It's very possible to have a capitalistic economy under an authoritarian regime, with multiple historical examples.

But after the Cold War ended, America/ns conflated Capitalism with Democracy, thinking they are one and the same, and that if we could bring bring the former to authoritarian nations, the latter would inevitably follow.

But they aren't, and it doesn't. If you want to spread Democracy and human rights, you have to spread Democracy and human rights. If Capitalism follows, fine, but it needs to be built on a foundation of freedom, represenative government, separation of power, checks and balances, and institutionalized protection of human rights, and it can't be relied upon to guarantee that.


> One thing we Americans really need to learn is that Capitalism does not necessarily bring Democracy

And after that, we need to learn that capitalism does not only “not necessarily bring democracy”, but that capitalism is fundamentally incompatible with and limits realization of democracy (but less so than, say, feudalism); the transition from relatively pure capitalism to the modern mixed economy in the developed West was important in continuing the advance of meaningful democracy, but the significant remaining capitalist elements are still in tension with democracy.

(Which, while it is problematic in many places isn’t necessarily all bad; unrestrained democracy isn’t a universal good, though the places capitalism is in tension with it aren't even approximately 1:1 with the problem areas of democracy.)


Yes, one of the biggest problems is extreme wealth concentration, combined with private cradle-to-grave funding of politicians, combined a with plurality/first-past-the-post voting system.

When 1% of the country can determine who gets to run for, and stay in, office, and which political parties are viable and which are marginalized, then such a Democracy is flawed at best and doesn't always represent the will or interests of most people.


> Capitalism does not necessarily bring Democracy.

But Democracy does solve a number of issues capitalism has. Free-markets allocate tangible and (pardon the cliché term) fungible goods quite well.

Non-tangible (e.g. intellectual property) and non-fungible (e.g. environment) goods are not managed well in a purely capitalist system. Some sort of a majority vote and public goods solution work much better and in fact create the necessary infrastructure (safe streets, reliable electricity, clean water) for capitalism to function.

So Capitalism ≠> Democracy, but Democracy => Capitalism is more true than not.


Are you seriously defending the Soviet system? I mean, it was tried and didn’t even last 100 years before imploding after making millions of lives miserable and requiring many more dead just to maintain order.

So yeah, better than the Soviet system.


No.


>You can stop now. You won. The soviets are gone.

They're clearly not though. While the successor state isn't communist, the successor state still acts in aggressive ways. We can also find many examples of people supporting the ideology in groups online, eg reddit's r/communism. Some of them even defend Stalin.

Clearly the ideology isn't dead.


The facts are collectivism basically requires oppression. and those governments would just murder you if you didn't like it. So how about no we won't stop.


Sure thing. Factual existential constraints totally don’t apply to a, your, „free“ capitalist society. Great to have choice, if you can’t afford any, eh? Seriously, your comment is exactly what I am talking about. I can’t even fathom your... Okay this will get ranty!

Capitalism has all the murders and atrocities you can think of. It’s just not attributable to a single entity, but hidden behind ideas like „not profitable“. Ebola vaccine anyone? Tuberculosis? Cobalt exploitation? Climate change. Peak phosphorus. Pollution. How many annual death in the US are preventable with a better welfare system? I shiver when privileged Americans talk about social darwinism like it’s a good thing, and it makes me sick that you celebrate videos of people being generous to some poor fucks on the streets. Aww, he bought him shoes! Is it the projection into the imbalance of power? One day being the one to let another live? And GoFundMe campaigns for cancer treatment… W.T.F. Maybe I am missing some degrees of freedom those people indulge in, or maybe…

Monetary profit is not a metric for human welfare, no matter your narrative need for it to be. If you put systemic pressure on profit, you won’t select for prosperity and our collective future‘s benefit, but optimize for - can you guess? - monetary profit. Your economic dogma is called overfitting. Don’t mix up correlation and causality, when bringing up stats about global developments. That’s just bad science and you should know better, with the best education system in the world. Or is that an „anyone, but not everyone“ kinda thing too? Or did you sign an NQA to get the crippling credit for your degree? Sorry, what do I know about those things being oppressed by collectivized European education… Funny how not being 100k in debt kinda gives you the illusion of freedom. Like choosing a job I like, over one which frees me of that debt. Or maybe I just travel a bit, maybe to America, and educate my self on real freedom. Working can wait, what’s more important than understanding freedom?

Most academic economists don’t believe in the whole unregulated free market fantasy, anymore. For quite some time actually. That’s an American culture thing, believe it or not. Turns out, humans are not really rational actors. Who would have thought? Don’t trust me, tho, look it up, or ask economists (real ones, not some tech bro bitcoin investors): Most markets can’t regulate shit. And please while your at it, ask sociologists about 'freedom' and 'oppression'.

Really tho, have you ever allowed yourself a critical take on capitalism? Open outcome? Without defaulting to „Nice in theory, but communism…“?

I dare you, fellow human <3


>Capitalism has all the murders and atrocities you can think of.

It's not even close to the combination of mass purges and economic failure-driven mass starvation under the Communists.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_killings_under_communist_...

>It’s just not attributable to a single entity, but hidden behind ideas like „not profitable“. Ebola vaccine anyone? Tuberculosis? Cobalt exploitation? Climate change. Peak phosphorus. Pollution. How many annual death in the US are preventable with a better welfare system?

Agree with all of the above, no argument there.

>I shiver when privileged Americans talk about social darwinism like it’s a good thing,

Agreed, it's the ultimate form of self-back-patting complacency.

>And GoFundMe campaigns for cancer treatment…

This is certainly a modern absurdity and indictment of US healthcare. I suspect single payer would be a net savings on healthcare for society, along with some reforms like requiring healthcare providers to publish prices for procedures and services, instead of having some back office financial engineer figuring out different prices for different patients based on how much he can squeeze out of their insurance plans.

>Most academic economists don’t believe in the whole unregulated free market fantasy, anymore.

After the deregulation of the 90s, and resulting wealth concentration, instability, and resulting Global Financial Crisis, more and more Americans don't believe it anymore either. In hindsight, the post-Great Depression Glass-Steagal regulations seem to have effectively applied the generally desirable principles of decentralization and separation of concerns to the financial system. It would probably be a net win for most of society to reinstate them.

All that said, as problematic as capitalism can be, let's not be in too much rush to forget how much worse other alternatives have been and are.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platform_of_European_Memory_an...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victims_of_Communism_Memorial_...


I am not down playing Stalin‘s and Mao‘s genocides. Nor do I advocate for „communism“.

Just pointing out how capitalism isn’t exactly free of horrors, but they are hard to measure. E.g. tuberculosis claiming 1.5 million lives each year, but not in the west, so there is very little done about it. Or HIV.

The thing is we are not comparing individual countries but ideologies here. And capitalism fails those deceased for economic reasons. It’s easy to overlook.

You can mix capitalism and collectivism, as most countries did. It’s not black and white.


I don't know why people are downvoting us both, since it's a fairly rational and respectful discussion, albeit about a controversial topic. Have an upvote.


My comment is at -1. Not too bad. Matches the content of the new comments around. Either way I join your conspiracy <3


> Capitalism has all the murders and atrocities you can think of. It’s just not attributable to a single entity, but hidden behind ideas like „not profitable“

Do truly not see the difference between the government making the active choice that you die vs someone not producing free labor for you to exploit.

Which EU country are you from? You guys have a habit of trying to brush ur issues under the rug wether its homelessness or massive Antiziganism.


Germany.

And yes, racism is a problem in Germany too. As is the bureaucratic barrier of state welfare for people with mental health issues, especially schizophrenia.


>By destabilizing and ousting democratically elected leaders around the world and replacing them with our puppets? Or do you mean fighting those puppets when they became inconvenient?

I suspect what happened is not the history you think it is.

I hate justifying the US's behavior in this regard, but all such critiques need to at least be context-aware.

The USSR was attempting to spread a system of totalitarian social, economic and thought control world wide. At the time, almost everything by comparison was a lesser of two evils. In opposing their efforts, anyone who also opposed the USSR, be it a European Democracy or a third world strongman, became a US ally. Anything to thwart the spread of the USSR's variant of Communism. Supporting strongmen was ugly and unpleasant, but those were also desperate times.

The USSR was expanding rapidly and adding satellite states left and right. Any strongman who 1) opposed the USSR, and 2) who was strong enough to maintain control of their country despite USSR attempts to destabilize and gain proxy control of it, was a potential valuable ally in the greater contest. Sometimes the strongmen were the only ones in a given country who could meet both criteria, and the US had to work with was available. Ugly, but c'est realpolitik.

Though I'm not sure Iran can be justified even under that framework. Fomenting a coup in a country with a democratically elected government and liberalizing society just so we can take their oil instead of buying it at market rates is unjustifiable, even in a Cold War context. Their oil could potentially tip the military balance of power, but surely an alternative to a coup was some kind of oil-for-military-aid treaty with a fellow Democracy.


Your picture may be as narrow-minded as the person you're replying to, but in the other direction. The US also uses its economic clout to push for social, political and economic reforms in other countries as well.


The problem is if there is a conflict between economic and and "ethical" interests the economic interest always won (let's not even get into all the political reasons why totalitarian regimes were supported).

The US (and much of the west by extension) certainly has a very spotty history of supporting democracy, especially if it was in their economic interest to support the totalitarian regime.


The US supporting democracy (or atleast classical liberal enlightenment values that would eventually lead to a functioning democracy) in Vietnam, Iraq, Korea, Syria, Afghanistan, and more has by far been a net negative economic interest. We've paid dearly while Europe mostly enjoyed social welfare benefits.


Let's not confuse payments with loans (Europe is not Israel). Let's also not ignore the fact that there have been plenty of analyses showing that post-WWII Europe showed a natural recovery independent of US aid in several countries, and let's not ignore the shackles imposed by the winning powers on several technologies, not to be developed further.

This statement is also incorrect when referred to several key places the US have picked over the years (e.g. Pinochet's Chile or Syngman Rhee / Park Chung-Hee's Korea), and of course looking at the constant heavy military occupation of several "allied" countries, a fact without precedents in history, rather than the fable of "exporting democracy" this just looks like version 2.0 of the British Empire :)


What technologies aside from nuclear weapons are you referring to?


If I am not mistaken there have been some restrictions on cutting edge technology of the time (electronics, for instance) but I am not sure whether that has been implemented in practice, especially in Germany and Japan, but also in Italy.

Germany and Japan, though, got heavily de-industrialised and there was a conscious plan to bring the living standards to a much lower level than they used to be. Patents also got seized, and in general Germany and Austria did not recover their pre-WW2 prestige, even, for instance, in terms of the "new Heisenbergs and Schrödingers", which never came.


Encryption was heavily controlled for many years. Sanctions on medical technology also come to mind.


> classical liberal enlightenment values that would eventually lead to a functioning democracy) in Vietnam

That's a strange way to talk about carpet bombing and chemical weapons. Besides, the US lost: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_of_Saigon

"The Vietnamese government officially calls it the "Day of liberating the South for national reunification" (Vietnamese: Giải phóng miền Nam, thống nhất đất nước) or "Liberation Day" (Ngày Giải Phóng)"

.. I don't think the Vietnamese democratic government thanks you for it.


> That's a strange way to talk about carpet bombing and chemical weapons.

It's widely accepted that the US made seriously grave mistakes.

> Besides, the US lost

I was attempting to phrase it as the US supporting values or institutions that would eventually lead to democracy, not that US support means it will win.

> I don't think the Vietnamese democratic government thanks you for it.

They don't obviously and we ended up with the worst of all outcomes. It would've been better for the Vietnamese people if there was never any civil war, even better if the US hadn't supported the South. But, best of all for the Vietnamese people would've been if the South had won. One look at the GDP difference between Vietnam and Korea would create some serious introspection on that scenario. To save you some time, it's $47,000 to $12,000 PPP.


How much do you know about the country post-war? The Vietnamese people paid a very heavy price for the North wining that war. Arguably the communists saw economic light, but plenty of people have been jailed as recently as last year for blogs they’ve written.


How much do you know about South Vietnam pre-war? (for starters: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_crisis)


Oh I know plenty. What, do tell, does the Buddhist crisis have to do with the authoritarian system in Vietnam today?


Right. Europe just loves dealing with the millions of refugees that the US-led destabilization and destruction of the middle east caused.

Also I'm not sure what you mean by "social welfare".


Social welfare as in funds for safety nets and public spending, like free healthcare, education, and improved disability, unemployment, and welfare benefits. US chose to spend trillions militarily that otherwise generally could've been allocated to those types of public spending within the US as well.

Refugees that Europe deals with is mostly Syrian and Afghani. The US supplied weapons and support to Syrian rebels and weapons to anti-communist mujahideen. Now, hindsight is 20/20, but Assad was literally using chemical weapons on Syrian citizens. The Taliban was wantonly wreaking destruction across Afghanistan causing the refugee displacement. These are complex issues when it comes to human rights abuses and geopolitics. My point is that the US paid a price in attempting to be world police, regardless of the outcome. It wasn't economically beneficial as the grandparent comment stated.


> US chose to spend trillions militarily

People in US are free to vote any party that they wanted. They supported the people that spends trillions in the army instead to vote for other options.

If you have presidents that despised healthcare, expressed publicly their preference for the uneducated ones, and loathed the poor, the disabled and the non-white, well... this is what you asked for. Deal with it.

If you have presidents that spend trillions in the army and you don't want it, choose presidents with other priorities.

I'm really sorry, but please don't blame Europe for that.


Vietnam and Korea weren't about ethics or democracy but about influence and control (arguably so was Iraq, Syria) and Afghanistan is mostly a kneejerk reaction to a terror strike that might be quite symbolic, but ultimately pales in numbers.

EDIT: spelling


> has by far been a net negative economic interest

Yeah, maybe for the population of those countries and the US budget. But think of all the military suppliers, they must be very happy!


Afghanistan? Really?

You may want to look up who installed the Taliban in the first place.


The russians by indiscriminately killing 1.5 million ppl so that only the hard core extremists survived?


Nope. Try again.


You mean Pakistan. US provided some weapons to mujahideen earlier in countering the soviets and Communism, aligning with my previous statement about "classical liberal enlightenment values." Once they had taken over Afghanistan, the US might have mistakenly thought they would be better than alternatives, but that ended quickly. Then:

"During their rule from 1996 to 2001, the Taliban and their allies committed massacres against Afghan civilians, denied UN food supplies to 160,000 starving civilians and conducted a policy of scorched earth, burning vast areas of fertile land and destroying tens of thousands of homes."[0]

[0]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taliban


It's quite a bit more than "some weapons". Click a few of the links off that Wikipedia article, particularly about Lady Taliban. Another familiar name that will pop up is Osama.


For every example of this you give me, I can give you a pertinent counter example. This should tell you that these actions aren't altruistic.


Yes, the U.S govt does good things abroad. They also do lots of bad stuff. We can criticize them for the bad things they do and appreciate them for their good deeds, at the same time.


Agreed! In fact, that's basically what I said.


Definitely, but it's very clumsy and many times it backfires.


> America and our democratic allies spent half a century fighting totalitarianism

Maybe they weren't fighting totalitarianism in the first place.


Maybe the real totalitarianism was the friends we met on the way...


underrated comment.


In America, it’s easy to find a party.

In Soviet Russia, Party finds you!

What a country!!


> Now authoritarianism is on the rise again as a result.

Perhaps this is an indirect result of the US providing military support to totalitarian regimes, but I don't see how it accounts for a rise in totalitarian/authoritarian tendencies in Russia, China, and other countries that don't receive such aid.

Nationalism and authoritarianism/totalitarianism tend to have more support when economic and other factors make people worried about their futures. In such situations, the natural human instinct is to crave stability at any cost, which opens the door for nationalism and authoritarianism/totalitarianism.


>Russia, China, and other countries that don't receive such aid.

Russia and China received immense amounts of US aid.

After the USSR fell, the US was concerned about their nukes proliferating, and gave billions in foreign aid, financial/credit support, and technical assistance to Russia to help them rebuild their economy and maintain nuclear security.

For China, we opened our markets and brought them into the WTO, which massively enriched and empowered their economy and government, and without which they would not have developed nearly as quickly.


The GGP was talking specifically about direct/indirect military training leading to the rise in totalitarianism, which I broadened to military support (to which the "such" you quoted refers). It sounds like you're talking about direct and indirect economic aid.


Thats the american way of doing things forbidden for a government. Censorship, blocking demonstrations, torture. It is not a problem for a private company and if it is, the company goes bankrupt and reopens under a new name. I'm looking at you Blackwater.


Many drug cartels in Mexico get their training from the retired army personnel from Israel, USA. So, what can the USA/Israel do in such a case? Either ban any training given by retired folks; or give fat pensions to such people and make them sign agreements that prevent any private training whatsoever.


> Four Saudis who participated in the 2018 killing of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi received paramilitary training in the United States the previous year under a contract approved by the State Department [emphasis mine]

Likewise, the death squads trained by the School of the Americas were not there by some mistake or bureaucratic misstep -- it was known who they were working for, and their training was quite intentional.

Sure, we can argue that unapproved training will still take place, but it doesn't let us off the hook for the "counterinsurgency" training that was and is still consciously given to known repressive regimes.


Why would the US or Israeli militaries be powerless to say "you can't use your training to help train up cartels and if we find out about it, that's your ass"?


Same reason that Congress has not said to ex-congress members “you can't use your influence to help train up lobbyists and if we find out about it, that's your ass.” That reason would be … money and power for their “retirement” years.


Probably the same reason the US is powerless to say "cartels can't sell traffic drugs or humans into the US or it's their ass"


Because the military can’t tell people no longer in the military what they can and can’t do?

I mean, Congress could pass laws, but then you’d need to define a cartel, prove it in court, prove they were training, etc.


basically, either we are ignoring the law or bypassing it through corporate acts.




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