Scott Horton Interviews Gareth Porter

Scott Horton, February 04, 2011

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Gareth Porter, independent historian and journalist for IPS News, discusses the cascading failures of US foreign policy in the Mideast; the preemptive measures being taken by US client states all over the region to ward off regime change: Jordan’s government sacked, Yemeni President Saleh foregoing reelection, and Kuwait increasing bribes to citizens; and how the Israel lobby and military-industrial complex erect huge barriers to changes in foreign policy, to the detriment of everyone else.

MP3 here. (18:22)

Gareth Porter is an independent historian and journalist. He is the author of Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam. His articles appear on Counterpunch, Huffington Post, Inter Press Service News Agency and Antiwar.com.

11 Responses to “Gareth Porter”

  1. I'm a big fan of antiwar.com and antiwar radio, and I'm not here representing the Kuwaiti government, but I happen to live in Kuwait, and I'd like to correct some of the things that have been said recently. I assume that you strive for accuracy, but some of these things are said by people who obviously have no actual information about the country. You can't lump 'the Middle East' or 'Arab countries' together; each country has its own characteristics.

    For one thing, Kuwait does not have a king; it has an Amir. (Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco have kings, and the ruler of Bahrain recently decided to call himself a king instead of an Amir. Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have Amirs.)

    The Amir is giving each citizen a one-time grant of 1000KD (about $3500) at the end of this month. It is not a monthly payment. He said it was for the National Day and Liberation Day celebrations at the end of February. (This year, it's 50 years since Kuwait gained independence from the British empire, 20 years since Iraq was forced out of Kuwait, and 5 years since this Amir took office.)

    I assume that the Tunisian uprising had something to do with this, but the previous Amir also gave grants like this twice to citizens during the time I've lived here (albeit smaller, at 200KD each). One, at least, was given at a time when oil revenues were high, and there was some demand for raising the salaries of government workers as a result. That would have been a bad idea because once raised, they probably couldn't be lowered again, and it would have caused consumer prices to rise… so the decision was made to give everyone a one-time grant instead. It's essentially like the practice of the Alaskan government of sharing the oil revenues with state residents. Would you rather that the ruling family kept all the money for themselves?

    Contrary to what you've sometimes mentioned on your show, I doubt that there will be uprisings in Kuwait similar to what's happened in Tunisia and Egypt. The government here provides free health care (including sending people overseas, with accompanying family members), free education (including university, either in the country or overseas for those with good grades), housing alternatives for families, etc. There are no taxes. You can call that a welfare state, but again, would you prefer that the government got rid of the benefits for the people and kept the money? The government also gives large amounts of money to poorer countries and is always one of the first to start sending money and supplies when there's a natural disaster anywhere in the world.

    Unlike other countries in the region, Kuwait has an elected National Assembly and a media that is free to a degree that would be shocking in some of these other countries. The newspapers are full of direct criticisms of the government. People do not live in the state of fear , afraid to say anything because of secret police, as in countries like Egypt, Syria and Jordan. There is also religious freedom, so that Muslims can be practicing or not, women can wear hijab (the Islamic headscarf), no hijab, niqab (the face veil), etc. There are many Christian churches, and Christians worship freely.

    One more thing – the Kuwaiti women are highly educated (the proportion of women with with graduate degrees is higher than that of men, I think), almost all of the younger women work, and they drive…

    You can call all these bribes, but the point is that the government takes care of its people, so the people are not scared and hurting like they are in some other countries. And I've often thought that the Amirs I've seen here are more in tune with their people than, for example the American president. It's a small country, so he actually interacts with citizens; he even drives his own car when he wants to.

    Of course, there are things to criticize, so criticize if you like, but let it be based on reality.

  2. Well dang, me and my wife are movin to Kuwait!

  3. for decades the egyptians have lived under harsh, repressive dictatorship, most recently courtesy of the camp david accords.

    with u.s. money and arms flowing in to the country, the u.s. had a sort of veto power over things generally, to say the least.

    during this time, there was no hand wringing over egyptian democracy or lack of it.

    now that the u.s. minion/client is falling down, democracy appears to be the whole of the discussion in the u.s.–"worrying" that somehow all this events may result in democracy-not, as if the u.s. has been totally uninvolved and irrelevant up to now.

    of course it is all about israel, and we all know it, but it is amusing to see american righteous hypocrisy on display.

  4. Dude!!! Have yo ugot an enlightened policy towards illegal immigrants????

  5. Msreyoon wants jobs, but the only jobs r in XOarmy or UsamaMasajidarmy. In a time where corps r replacing man with robots..the only job left driving Oilee ZoO to death-u owe yr janaza&grAVE to WB

    Vote UE NOW

  6. It turns out after all these years of praising democracy that in fact we needed police states. Just as we have a 'nuclear umbrella' protecting (?) us we are now advised that we need a 'police state umbrella'. Otherwise the mad muslims of Egypt might vote for a government hostile to Israel. The police states are a kind of barrier protecting western democracies from the hooligans of the world. So, though we praise democracy in the daylight, by the dark of night our secret police (CIA) sneaks around doing everything it can to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy democracy wherever and whenever it springs up.

  7. The two of them are doing exactly what mubarak is doing. They are discounting the voice of the masses.

  8. They admit that the vast majority of their readers understand that it is zionism or oil which shapes our middle east policy, YET, YET, they have to lessen the will of the people by saying that no that is not the case, (when in fact it certainly is the case.)

  9. Well, that all sounds nice. but sounds like a bunch of big government to me, even though its good things. Not my kind of thing. depending to much on the government. can lead to bad things possibly.

  10. Translation:

    Msreyoon = Al Malyseyoon = a newspaper that belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood (so could mean something like 'the people's voice')

    XO army = Executive Officer? X =Chi (like X-mas)? Possibly related to "Bu$h army" that is referred to in other posts by UE Khalifah

    Usama Masajid army
    masjid = mosque
    Usama = Osama bin Laden? 'Modernist Extremist' Usama Hasan?

    Oilee ZoO = ???

    janaza = funeral prayer

    UE = Umar Empire

    khalifah = the civil and religious leader of a Muslim state considered to be a representative of Allah on earth

    Umar = Umar (died 644) was the second Sunni caliph, regarded by Sunnis as the second of the four Rashidun and one of the greatest personalities of the history of Islam. Sunni and Shi'a hold diametrically opposite views of `Umar, the Shi'a viewing that he and Abu Bakr usurped authority that properly belonged to Ali. (wikipedia)

  11. all these many small countries, and so many Kings, and other heads of so called countries. I say the only answer is for one government for all, Its the only way. Just too many people making some real terrible decisions. It is too bad we cant all live under one government , that would solve all of our problems.

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