Speaking of “Fake News”…

Well, well….

Despite all his fulminating about “fake news,” it appears that our President–whose definition of “fake” is any coverage (covfefe??) he doesn’t like–isn’t above generating some fakery of his own.

Remember Trump’s preening over his massive, multi-billion dollar “deal” with Saudi Arabia? Bruce Reidel of The Brookings Institution reports that no such deal exists.

Last month, President Trump visited Saudi Arabia and his administration announced that he had concluded a $110 billion arms deal with the kingdom. Only problem is that there is no deal. It’s fake news.

I’ve spoken to contacts in the defense business and on the Hill, and all of them say the same thing: There is no $110 billion deal. Instead, there are a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts. Many are offers that the defense industry thinks the Saudis will be interested in someday. So far nothing has been notified to the Senate for review. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the arms sales wing of the Pentagon, calls them “intended sales.” None of the deals identified so far are new, all began in the Obama administration.

In my ethnic group, this is what we call chutzpah. (Chutzpah is sort of like nerve or gall, but on steroids. The standard example is the guy who kills his mother and father and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan.)

It appears that the “Art of the Deal” braggart, the guy who “makes the best deals,” lied through his teeth again, this time about a huge transaction that doesn’t exist–and to the extent it may exist in the future, it was initiated by his “Kenyan” predecessor.

As Reidel also notes,

Moreover, it’s unlikely that the Saudis could pay for a $110 billion deal any longer, due to low oil prices and the two-plus years old war in Yemen. President Obama sold the kingdom $112 billion in weapons over eight years, most of which was a single, huge deal in 2012 negotiated by then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. To get that deal through Congressional approval, Gates also negotiated a deal with Israel to compensate the Israelis and preserve their qualitative edge over their Arab neighbors. With the fall in oil prices, the Saudis have struggled to meet their payments since.

Reidel isn’t above snark: he says we’ll know the Trump deal is real when Israel begins to ask for money to keep the Israeli Defense Forces’ qualitative edge preserved.

A deal that evidently is coming is a munitions sale to the Royal Saudi Air Force,  which will enable the Saudis to continue air bombardment of Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country.

Finally, just as the arms deal is not what it was advertised, so is the much-hyped united Muslim campaign against terrorism. Instead, the Gulf states have turned on one of their own. Saudi Arabia has orchestrated a campaign to isolate Qatar. This weekend Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt broke relations with Qatar. Saudi allies like the Maldives and Yemen jumped on the bandwagon. Saudi Arabia has closed its land border with Qatar.

This is not the first such spat but it may be the most dangerous. The Saudis and their allies are eager to punish Qatar for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, for hosting Al-Jazeera, and keeping ties with Iran. Rather than a united front to contain Iran, the Riyadh summit’s outcome is exacerbating sectarian and political tensions in the region.

The Middle East has long been the world’s most dangerously unstable area. Now we have put management of the tensions generated there in the hands of the most dangerously unstable person ever to occupy America’s Oval Office–a man who has no ability to distinguish between reality and ego gratifying bullshit.

What could possibly go wrong?


  1. I must give trump some credit – I have been learning more about our relationships with other countries and more about the inner workings of our federal government since he took office. I imagine there are millions of others who have also been getting an education.

  2. The Saudi “deal” like the new privatization of air traffic controllers “order” and Sessions’ “resignation offer” are all political versions of what is known in the sports world as “grandstanding”. All show, all bullshit with no basis in fact; not even “alternative facts”, all “fake news” to distract us from Russiagate. It is getting down to the line and today and the next few days, with special counsel Mueller’s investigation beginning in earnest, the Trump camp is scrambling for a way over, around or out of the situation they have tried to cover up for two years…the Trump/Putin/Russia connection.

    Would an actual resignation by Sessions stop the current investigation as the Comey firing stopped the Senate Hearings? We will have to wait and see; same bat time, same bat channels. A distant memory of the old Batman and Robin TV series came to mind; one of their archenemies had locked them in a freezer and left them to die. They, of course, survived and credited their “super thermal insulated Bat skivvies”. Does the Trump camp have any on hand? If they screw up Putin and Russia’s plans to invade U.S. government, could they end up in Siberia where temperatures are always below zero?

  3. NPR dug into this “billions and billions” (Sorry, Prof. Sagan) deal Trump has been bragging about. As Sheila said, it’s largely memorandums of understanding. What NPR noted is that many of these “deals” started during the Obama administration with the Obama State Department working on them.

    Buy, hey, Trump will say anything so long as it makes him a) look like a winner, or b) look like a victim treated unfairly.

  4. Let’s try and keep our eye on the ball. Does anyone else see something wrong with selling billions of dollars in military equipment to a totalitarian, theocratic dictatorship like Saudi Arabia??? Saudi Arabia is not the only totalitarian, theocratic dictatorship in the Middle East that billions and billions of arms sales from the USA are sold to.

    Bruce Reidel of The Brookings Institution says per above: “None of the deals identified so far are new, all began in the Obama administration.”

    Damn that Trump trying to take the credit for an arms sale away from our Nobel Peace Prize winning President. AHH, so we should give Obama the credit for selling billions of dollars in armaments to Saudi Arabia!!! Oh that gives me a warm fuzzy feeling knowing the arms sales were started by the Obama Regime, just as long as the Wall Street, Security-Military-Industrial Complex can profit.

    None of these totalitarian, theocratic dictatorships could satisfy our First Amendment – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Maybe we should export our First Amendment rather than weapons of death but then where is the profit in that.

  5. In my Webster’s Random House dictionary are 13 definitions for the word “fake” and Trump is guilty of all of them. That’s why, for several months, I’ve been referring to him as “Fake President Donald Trump.” It doesn’t seem he’s capable of telling the truth … about anything.

    Trump has proved capable of providing fodder for all the late night comics on a daily basis (or a nightly basis). Humor writers thrive on negativity and Trump thrives on spreading it … or on spreading something. There has to be a way to give this man something else to do. Maybe he could be put on a ranch so he could be in charge of bull shipping.

  6. It’s worth reading the Wikipedia articles on PT Barnum, and the apocryphal “There’s a sucker born every minute” for a better understanding of who trump is channeling.

  7. The problem with the Saudis is them being able to assimilate all the training that goes with these arms purchases, largely revolving around munitions that can be delivered by their fleet of Boeing F-15SA Peace Eagles (similar to our air force’s Strike Eagles) so that collateral Yemeni civilian non-combatant casualties can be avoid or at the very least minimized.

    Please see the following State Department document –

    Saudi Arabia – Blanket Order Training
    In-Depth Coverage
    Media/Public Contact: pm-cpa@state.gov
    Transmittal No: 16-77

    WASHINGTON, Jun. 5, 2017 — The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a blanket order training program for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) and other Saudi forces. The estimated cost is $750 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on June 2, 2017.

    The Government of Saudi Arabia requested a possible sale of continued blanket order training program inside and outside of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that includes, but is not limited to, flight training, technical training, professional military education, specialized training, mobile training teams (MTTs), and English language training. These blanket order training cases cover all relevant types of training offered by or contracted through the U.S. Air Force or Department of Defense (DoD) Agencies, to include participation in CONUS DOD-sponsored education, as well as MTTs that will travel to Saudi Arabia. Program management, trainers, simulators, travel, billeting, and medical support may also be included. The estimated program cost is $750 million.

    This training for the RSAF and other Saudi forces will include such subjects as civilian casualty avoidance, the law of armed conflict, human rights command and control, and targeting via MTTs and/or broader Programs of Instruction (POIs).

    This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of an important partner which has been and continues to be a leading contributor of political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.

    This training would support the United States’ continued commitment to Saudi Arabia’s security and strengthen the U.S.-Saudi Arabia strategic partnership. Assisting the RSAF supports Saudi Arabia in deterring hostile actions and increases U.S.-Saudi Arabia military interoperability. It also helps their ability to work with coalition partners during training, exercises, and operations. Saudi Arabia will have no difficulty absorbing this training and support.

    The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

    Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Saudi Arabia.

    There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale. All defense articles/services have been approved for release.

    This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

    All questions regarding this proposed Foreign Military Sale should be directed to the State Department’s Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, pm-cpa@state.gov.

    From: GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

    The problem stems from Saudi incompetence in dealing with the Yemeni insurgency and while their air crews are trained by use they are subject to Saudi (SAF) command and control.

    This makes me remember reading an AEI study from the mid-1970’s recommending the de-militarization of the Persian/Arabian Gulf Region to tamp down these sorts of problems but instead the region has become the play and testing ground for every major arms manufacturer in the world. The idea of making the area safe and not a major flashpoint has completely given way to the arms bazaar and thus it is far less safe and potentially an even bigger potential flash point.

    The State Department and their DOD counterparts have largely become rubber stamps only and are complicit up to their eyeballs in the further erosion of stability in this critical area of the world. While they balance it via qualitative improvements to Israel’s long-range strike capabilities by continuous upgrading to their Strike Eagles and the acquisition of F-35A Lightning II strike aircraft among other military systems, none of this helps mitigate the underlying security problems that infest the entire region. All of which are egged on by the continual involvement of the superpowers for reasons that fail far outside their concentration of the strategic balance of this region and the nation-states that are there.

  8. I didn’t use to believe in most of the bizarre “conspiracy theories” out there. But just when one think things couldn’t get any more bizarre or strange in the era of Trump here comes this new split in the Arab Mideast between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia are supposedly U.S. allies.

    Trump — with his damn incessant “tweets” — appears to be supporting and encouraging this rift and attempt by the Saudis to isolate Qatar because Trump claims it supposedly shows that Arab nations are getting tough with those who support the Isis terrorists as the Saudis claim Qatar has. The only problem is that the Saudis’ and Trump’s claim Qatar has and is supporting Isis now appears to be based on false news stories planted by Russian hackers. Gosh, that again!

    Other than the fact that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are both supposedly U.S. allies, the very extremely strange thing about Trump’s supporting the Saudis in their confrontation with Qatar is that the largest U.S. Air Force and military base in the Mideast, where the U.S. war planes bombing Isis in Syria and Iraq in support of our own troops and allies are based, is located in and hosted by Qatar government.

    So what if the Qatar government decides to kick the U.S. military out of Qatar? Who stands to gain the most if the U.S. has a greatly diminished capacity to fight Isis in Syria and Iraq? Could it be Russia and it’s close ally Iran? Now add in the fact that our other ally, the Saudis are in a battle with Iran for control of the Mideast. And all at a time that Trump and his Generals have already sent more and are reportedly contemplating sending even more U.S. troops there to fight Isis.

    How does any of that make any sense?

    A “conspiracy theorist” type might just conclude one of two things from Trump’s seemingly working at cross purposes — sadly either seems to be possible. That either Trump and his Trumpite Generals and State Department are totally clueless, and have no idea even who’s who or who is supposedly on our side in the Mideast. Or could it just be that Trump is secretly working in concert with Putin and Russia to keep Assad in power in Syria and boost Iran to be the major Arab player in the Mideast? Either is bad, but working in concert with Putin to deliver the Mideast to Iran is on an entirely different level.

    For some reason, all things in the Trump White House seem to come back to Putin and Russia. Or maybe it’s all just “fake news.” Hope we find out which before it’s too late.

  9. I have been watching the ultimate in “fake news”; the Senate Hearing into the Trump/Russia connection. The garbled responses and refusals to answer until the closed hearings after taking the oath for this hearing to “tell the truth, the WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth” is ignored. Does “executive privilege” cover the president’s refusal to answer questions (as the 5th Amendment protects citizens from incriminating themselves) AND also cover any and everyone who has contact or spoken with the president to protect themselves as well as the president?

    More slow down and coverup with Trump at the center of this maelstrom.

  10. The 911 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, but, somehow, Saudi Arabia isn’t on the “travel ban” list. This is because Chump wants to look like a winner if an arms sale to them goes through, not because of any threat from terrorists in that Muslim, theocratic society. If we had Chump’s tax returns, we might discover that he owns property in Saudi Arabia, too.

    According to Eric Trump the only people who oppose his dear Daddy are Democrats, and they aren’t human, so they proceed accordingly.

  11. Fake news is news with which you disagree, usually because they make you look bad politically. Trump, of course, is a serial liar but wants to take credit for anything regarded as positive by some such as the Saudi arms deal (which is not a deal). After all, a consumated deal would be good for the defense industry and they would be expected to react accordingly on the campaign contribution front in the quid pro quo industry – first things first! Next thing you know, Trump the serial draft dodger will want to take credit for winning WW II but, in deference to his KKK backers, will not take credit for the North’s victory in the Civil War. Thanks for nothing, Don!

  12. Natacha: “The 911 terrorists were from Saudi Arabia, but, somehow, Saudi Arabia isn’t on the “travel ban” list. This is because Chump wants to look like a winner if an arms sale to them goes through, not because of any threat from terrorists in that Muslim, theocratic society.”

    You can’t blame a lack of travel ban with respect to Saudi Arabia on Trump. Bush Jr. refused to employ a ban, as did Obama during their entire terms.

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