It’s easy to get pessimistic about the US-Saudi relationship. I’ve just spent 15 videos illustrating its many evils, and the incredible costs it has imposed on the world. The amount of money involved is staggering, and generations of US government officials are complicit in this tragedy. But I really do believe it’s about to end. That’s why I started this series with a video entitled “Saudi Arabia Is Finished“. This problem won’t end because of virtue, or justice. It won’t even end because somebody in power makes a decision. It will end because of economics and an inexorable shift in the political calculus.
This week I illustrate this process by talking about another “eternal” lobby. For decades Big Tobacco ruled Washington, DC. Long after everyone knew that cigarettes were lethal, it was business as usual for the large corporations that made them. They owned the congressmen, and they had the money, so things barely changed. They funded think tanks and studies that denied the truth, or tried to hide it. Sure their incredible privilege was slowly chipped away. TV advertising was banned. In the 1980’s it became more difficult to smoke in public buildings. These small losses were easy to ignore, because the relationships were strong, and the US government knew where its bread was buttered. Sort of like a nuclear deal with Iran actually. And then in the 1990s it all changed.
The dragon was slain. Big Tobacco still exists. But in the 1990s they had to admit the lethality and addictiveness of their product. They had to shutter their fake science institutes. They were forced to pay some of the cost of the public health disaster they had created, and they were forced to fund a massive public relations campaign designed to destroy their market. It’s been fairly effective. Only 15% of US citizens are still smoking, down five percent from just a decade ago. Sure, much of their marketing budget and nefariousness moved overseas, but that’s slipping away now too. This video lays out how Saudi Arabia is experiencing it’s own Tobacco moment as we speak. It may not be obvious, but it is happening. Not because of truth or justice, but because the political calculus is shifting.
Video Transcript after the jump…
Hey there. Over the past couple months I’ve laid out the many evils of the US-Saudi relationship, and I’ve expressed hope that it might be about to change. The response has been very positive, but many don’t believe my optimistic read on things. People argue that Saudi Arabia is just too rich, and they have too many lobbyists in Washington, DC for this to ever truly change. I disagree.
Greed and Power are important. But to those who believe things can never change, I have one question for you… Do you remember the Tobacco lobby? Tobacco used to be one of the most powerful industries in the United States. They owned a number of Congressmen, and they put millions of dollars into lobbying and PR. In 1955 over 50% of the US population smoked daily. It’s difficult to imagine now, but before the late 1980s cigarette smoking was allowed essentially everywhere, including public schools.
By the 1950’s it was medically established that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer. But that didn’t stop the Tobacco lobby. They had the congressmen, and they had the money. For decades, everybody knew that cigarettes killed you, and nothing changed.
Until it did. Eventually the cost became too large for even the most corrupt politicians to ignore. In the 1990’s a number of US States were allowed to sue the Tobacco industry. In 1998, that industry was forced to accept a master settlement agreement, requiring them to acknowledge Tobacco’s harmful effects, pay tens of billions of dollars to the states to cover medical costs, and fund for advertising campaigns designed to kill their own market. Smoking in the US has fallen from 50% down to 15% and it’s declining fast.
For decades the Tobacco lobby looked just as invincible as the Saudi lobby looks today. But eventually the truth won out. It wasn’t about Justice. Not really. It’s simply the fact that the cost to politicians got larger than the benefits that the Tobacco lobby could provide. We are getting to that point now. Saudi Arabia’s money is running out, and they don’t control the oil market anymore. As this series indicates, it’s getting harder to hide the truth about that country’s relationship to terrorism. The collapse of Theresa May’s Conservative party in recent polling in the UK may have something to do with her embrace of Saudi Arabia. Last week, one of the viewers drew my attention to something that, more than anything else, convinces me that Saudi Arabia may truly be reaching its Tobacco moment.
Did you hear that? That’s Fareed Zakaria, on fricking CNN, the voice of the establishment, talking honestly about Saudi Arabia. I’d encourage you to watch the whole segment. It of course downplays the US role in supporting terrorism, but there’s almost nothing else in it that would be out of place on this channel. It even points out the ridiculousness of the US Iran obsession. Saudi Arabia’s Tobacco moment is already here.
Thanks for watching, please subscribe, and if you want to know more about Saudi Arabia’s decline and why that’s a very good thing, I suggest you check out my essay “Everybody’s Lying About Islam” now available in paperback and for the Kindle from Amazon. Thanks.