You think I want to send my teen-age son to die for Kuwait? We have our white slaves from America to do that. --
Unnamed “Senior Gulf Official,” quoted in the pro-war Wall Street Journal prior to the first Gulf War
In clarifying his candid remark that U.S. troops might remain in Iraq for a century or more, Sen. John McCain told the audience of Face the Nation that his projection assumes Americans will remain there "in a support role but they're not [going to be] taking casualties." McCain apparently believes that the Iraqis would assume the responsibility of doing whatever fighting needs to be done, while Americans would be largely unmolested within the permanent bases being built in Iraq at tremendous expense.
McCain didn't explain why Iraqis would be eager to embrace this division of labor, in which their young (and not-so-young) men would be enlisted to protect a foreign occupation force well into the foreseeable future.
The good news -- if we can call it that -- for the Iraqis is that this scenario is facially implausible: Our troops won't be staying in Iraq for a century, since our government will have bankrupted our nation long before then. And we might find ourselves quite literally enslaved by the foreign lenders -- including those charming folks who run Saudi Arabia -- who are financing Washington's imperial foreign policy.
The Word says that the borrower is the servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7). Perhaps that warning would resonate more with certain people if we were to paraphrase it this way: Government debt leads to dhimmitude.
The mental cupboard of the typical warbot is rather barren, so when rhetorical desperation sets in he will often invoke the danger of dhimmitude – a condition generally described as abject enslavement of non-Muslims by the triumphant followers of Mohammed.
A warning of that sort is an invitation to believe that we must wholeheartedly commit ourselves to decades of unremitting war against the Islamic world – with the implicit goal of either liquidating hundreds of millions of refractory Muslims, or terrorizing them into some kind of religious conversion. Failing that, our nation will fall beneath the Crescent; Mohammed's throat-slitting myrmidons will swarm American streets, imposing a Talibanesque social order with all of its attendant horrors.
We are also occasionally instructed to be wary of the symptoms of “self-imposed dhimmitude,” which apparently include any opinion or policy suggestion evincing a lack of enthusiasm for the “Long War” against the entire Muslim world. (For the supposed sin of acknowledging that Muslim antagonism toward the United States was, to some extent, provoked by Washington's imperialist foreign policy, Rep. Ron Paul has been accused of promoting "dhimmitude.")
The fate of those conquered by Muslims has usually been quite grim, at best. But most of those peddling alarmist rhetoric about dhimmitude are working in the service of an ideology – for our present purposes, I'll call it Democratic Imperialism -- at least as destructive as radical Islam. And their preferred course of action is actually making our descent into a form of dhimmitude more likely.
The term “Dhimma” refers to a kind of social contract between victorious Muslims and their conquered subjects. In his book Defeating Jihad: How The War on Terror May Yet Be Won, In Spite of Ourselves, Dr. Serge Trifkovic offers a concise and measured analysis of the historic practice of dhimmitude. After reviewing the text and significance of sura 9, the Koran's “chapter of war proclamations,” Dr. Trifkovic briefly describes the protection racket imposed on conquered non-Muslims:
“The conquered peoples were `protected persons' only if they submitted to Islamic domination by a `Contract' (Dhimma), paid poll tax – jizya – and land tax – haraj – to their masters. Any failure to do so was the breach of contract, enabling the Muslims to kill or enslave them and confiscate their property. The cross could not be displayed in public, the people of the book [that is, Christians and Jews] had to wear special clothing, and they were not allowed to carry weapons. They had to take in Muslim travelers, especially soldiers on a campaign.”
Balkan Christians under the rule of the Ottoman Turks also had to pay the “blood tax” by surrendering their sons to serve as yani ceri -- “new soldiers,” more commonly called “Janissaries.” Originally constituted as an occupation army devoted to tax collection, the Janissaries became a kind of Praetorian Guard with the power to depose the ruling Sultan. But the chief role of these troops – who were stolen at a young age and forcibly indoctrinated in Islam – was to ensure the subservience of the “infidel” community that had produced them.
While granting that dhimmitude, as practiced in the Middle Ages, was an abhorrent system of political and religious tyranny, I'm constrained to point out that in some ways it differs only in detail and degree from the system under which we presently live.
The "social contract" (no, not the Constitution of 1787 -- the Sixteenth Amendment and Federal Reserve Act) defining our current system permits far greater impositions on the governed than the poll and land taxes extracted from dhimmis, and confiscation of personal property on the whim of our rulers is standard federal practice today. In similar fashion, those who enforce the will of our ruling class enjoy broad discretion in the use of lethal force against civilians, who can't so much as touch or even speak brusquely to an enforcer without facing the prospect of immediate torture and summary imprisonment.
And the more deeply mired we become in Middle East conflicts, the likelier it is that we'll see a restoration of the “blood tax” in the form of conscription.
More to the point: There are significant ways in which Washington's foreign and fiscal policies have already made dhimmis out of Americans.
As the quote at the beginning of this essay illustrates, at least some Persian Gulf rulers understand that Washington is prepared to sustain their position at the cost of young American lives. And the increasingly precarious health of the American economy is largely dependent on the willingness of petroleum-enriched Arab rulers to continue propping up the dollar. This Dhimma (or contract) between Washington and the Arab world was forged three and a half decades ago, when Henry Kissinger worked out an arrangement in which the Saudis would accept only dollars for their oil, and Washington in exchange would provide Riyadh with ... well, pretty much anything it desired.
Some dare call this “dhimmitude,” however cunningly disguised. That corrupt pact is having tangible, tragic consequences as the dollar's decline accelerates. And should the Gulf States decide to dispose of the “dollar peg,” our faltering economy may collapse outright. It is that prospect that puts a swagger in the step of the likes of Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, and it should trouble the sleep of any reasonably intelligent and well-informed observer of current events.
Unless they've been abroad recently, or are involved in international commerce, most Americans have no idea how far the dollar has fallen during the past year.
As an American residing in Paris, fashion designer Erica Nevins has experienced the unpleasant consequences of the exchange rate between the dollar and the euro. She had apparently made peace with the fact that as an expatriate paid in dollars, her standard of living and social standing were rapidly declining among her Parisian friends. She was probably not ready to learn that her insistence on using dollars would put her near the bottom of the pecking order in a third world slum.
While visiting Marrakech a few weeks ago, Miss Nevins was moved by the plight of a street beggar and handed the little girl a dollar. The young Moroccan mendicant looked with disdain on the greenback, telling Nevins: “I don't want this. This is nothing.”
Nothing. What was it Ahmadenijad said? Oh, right: The dollar is just a “worthless piece of paper.”
The per capita GDP of Morocco is almost exactly one-tenth that of the United States. It stands to reason that the income of a child beggar in that country is so small it could only be detected through the use of an electron microscope. Yet such people understand a reality Americans will eventually have to confront: The dollar is “nothing.”
When Moroccan street beggars turn up their noses at the dollar, you know we're in for some rough times right away. The most privileged among us will be able to defer the day of reckoning for a while by selling off key assets to Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) controlled by Arab petro-despotisms.
SWFs are huge, State-controlled financial entities that are used by governments to buy key financial or infrastructure assets from other countries. The world's largest SWFs are controlled by energy-rich countries -- such as the petroleum-exporting kingdoms of the Persian Gulf, and Russia, which has huge reserves of natural gas. Those countries have also acquired immense reserves of currency, particularly dollars.
On November 27, an SWF controlled by the government of Abu Dhabi, an oil-rich member of the United Arab Emirates, spent $7.5 billion to buy a roughly five percent share in Citigroup, America's largest and most prestigious bank. Like most of the banking system, Citigroup is in potentially mortal peril from the collapse of the Federal Reserve's housing/mortgage/debt bubble. The willingness of Abu Dhabi to pump billions – the legal limit – into Citicorp prompted a brief but significant market rally, as the investor class prostrated itself with gratitude before its Arab benefactors.
A half-century ago, Abu Dhabi was a desert wilderness populated by itinerant tribes of Bedouin camel herders. Now it is seen as a potential savior of Wall Street.
The ever-mordant Dr. Gary North put this matter into proper perspective:
“A small percentage of a gigantic pool of oil-generated capital, which is managed by government bureaucrats in a city-state whose nation did not exist as recently as 1970, was used to buy 4.9% of the largest bank in the United States because this purchase was perceived as a better deal than buying T-bills denominated in a falling dollar.”
“The stock market will need many more interventions by Abu Dhabi and other Arab oil states, which now control the flow of funds America's capital markets,” continues Dr. North (my emphasis). “The great fire sale has begun. Senior American managers have begun to sell the nation's seed corn to the Arabs. They will continue to do so as the economic agents of American people. The sale of 4.9% of Citigroup is a visible turning point.”
Colin Barr of Fortune points out that earlier this year, Abu Dhabi bought a small but significant share in the enigmatic Carlye Group, an investment fund whose representatives are a veritable boutique of Power Elite types, including George Bush the Elder. This is one illustration of the way that foreign interests – particularly Arab petro-despots – are “becoming stakeholders in US businesses and, by extension, in American society, like it or not.”
James Post, a management professor at Boston University, points out that this is a logical and inevitable consequence of the recent orgy of borrowing from abroad. Most of it in recent years has gone to fund the Idiot King's war of choice in Iraq, and the construction of his Homeland Security State here at home. Now the foreign creditors who have lent Washington that money are coming for the collateral, and, as Post points out, “inevitably we'll see Middle East political influence rising” in Washington.
...well, no, it won't -- but it will profit handsomely from the self-inflicted collapse of American power, for at least a little while.
In fact, Washington has been bending to that political influence for some time, in terms of its military and strategic priorities. As Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker reported months ago, beginning about a year ago the Bush administration has become involved in an effort to create a regional Sunni power bloc in the Persian Gulf. This includes intimate collaboration with al-Qaeda-connected radicals in Iraq and elsewhere, as well as with Saudi princes who, in the words of Middle Eastern affairs expert Frederic Hof, “still see the world through the days of the Ottoman Empire, when Sunni Muslims ruled the roost and the Shiites were the lowest class” -- except, of course, for the infidels who paid in both money and blood to sustain the Ottoman ruling elite.
So now, behind the rhetoric of promoting democracy in the Middle East and protecting our nation from radical Islam, Washington is promoting the interests of the Sunni rulers who fund terrorists and keep the dollar afloat.
How is this anything other than financial dhimmitude?
After a lengthy and frustrating delay, my new book, Liberty In Eclipse: The War on Terror and the Rise of the Homeland Security State, is available; my friend and colleague Tom Eddlem has offered a limited quantity for sale on-line at e-bay.
As soon as possible, ordering information will be posted in this space, and at The Right Source as well. It will also be available through most familiar retail book outlets.
Also, following a long hiatus, we are preparing a new edition of the Pro Libertate e-zine. Expect to see it sometime late this week, or early next week.
Dum spiro, pugno!