The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Hilarious Saudi-Canadian Dispute & The Less Hilarious Terrorism Threat From Saudi Arabia

So, the Saudis are very very upset that Canada dared suggest they not violate human rights.

This is the offending tweet:

It started with a bit of fair tit-for-tat: The observation that Canada doesn’t treat its indigenous people well. Totally fair and true.

But then the Saudis, errr, escalated…

The Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia was expelled. Fifteen thousand Saudi students in Canadian universities have been ordered to go home and Saudi citizens in Canadian hospitals are being airlifted to non-Canadian hospitals.

Saudi Arabia has also ordered all state related organs holding Canadian securities to dump them, causing a drop in the Canadian dollar.

My reaction to all this is amusement, truly at the laugh-out-loud level.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, is hilariously incompetent and foolish. He keeps over-reaching. He tried to take out Qatar with an embargo and failed. He’s got an ongoing war with Yemen which is going to turn into a genocide. He’s selling off income-creating state assets to try and turn around the economy, in a step which will actually reduce state income and not improve the economy enough to make a difference.

He locked up a bunch of his relatives and other powerful Saudis, appears to have tortured them (at least one to death), and forced them to pay ransom to be released.

He’s running Saudi Arabia. He’s clearly an extraordinarily dangerous megalomaniac.

And his people threatened Canada with a terrorist attack!

There is no way that tweet can be taken as anything but a threat.

As Magnier says, any terrorist threat, especially by the biggest source of terrorist funding in the world, Saudi Arabia, should be taken seriously.

But…yeah, I’m sorry, fuck bin Salman. He seems to be confused about how much power he actually has. Canada needs nothing from Saudi Arabia. Nothing. We have plenty of our own oil, and that’s the only thing that Saudi Arabia has that matters in the world today.

Money? We have too much foreign money flooding in. Saudi Arabia’s money is a drop in the bucket compared to the Chinese money that has made housing unaffordable in all major Canadian cities.

Our problem isn’t getting foreign money. Our problem is we need to get rid of most of it. And if the Canadian dollar drops some, that’s fine. We export a lot.

As for the terrorist threat, by the leading terrorist country in the world (the US is it’s only competition), well, I do take it seriously. After all, most of the 9/11 attackers were from Saudi Arabia.

What Canada should do is just let it be known that if any attack that even remotely looks related to Saudi Arabia hits Canada, we’ll start supplying Saudi enemies with weapons–all the stuff that the Saudis don’t want them to have.

Oh, and as NATO members, we’ll blame Saudi Arabia, and state that an attack on one is an attack on all.

Saudi Arabia has only one card left that matters, other than terrorism: Selling oil in US dollars. That is it. Once the petro-dollar is broken (and it is going to be because other countries are moving to sell in something other than dollars), the US has no reason to continue supporting them.

Meanwhile, the rise of solar and electric cars means that the last oil boom is probably done, and if not, there’ll only be one more. Bin Salman’s desperate, and desperately stupid moves to try and diversify the economy won’t work: It’s too late and he’s doing it the wrong way.

The Saudi state will run out of money, and when states run out of money? That is when revolutions occur. Running out of money to pay the citizenry off and the enforcers is when it always happens.

Hopefully Bin Salman will be killed cleanly and not tortured, but I suspect a lot of his victims hope he gets a taste of his own medicine.

Saudi Arabia’s problems have almost nothing to do with foreigners making toothless observations about civil rights. Bin Salman should end his idiotic war in Yemen, stop picking foreign fights, then stand down and let someone competent take the reins. It’s the only chance his family has of keeping control of Saudi Arabia.

But, frankly, his family should lose control. Can’t happen soon enough. It’s just sad that so many people will suffer along the way. But that suffering is the responsibility of the Saudi royal family, not some powerless foreigners commenting on women’s rights who anyone with a sense of proportion would simply have ignored.


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(A Just World) Hang’em High


White Helmet


  1. someofparts

    When the petrodollar goes the way of the dinosaurs, what does that do to the value of the greenback, and what does that do to the value of your Canadian dollars? I would love to move to Montreal, but if the value of my currency lost ground against yours, I would need to grab my walker and shuffle across the border back here to doofus-land.

  2. Synoia

    In another world the US should have take the Saudi Oil Fields in 2012, not the Iraqi oil fields.

  3. Chiron

    15 of the 19 terrorists from 9/11 were Saudi nationals but the Kingdom got scot-free while Iraq, Afghanistan, Lybia, Syria and other countries got ruined. The Saudi royals have powerful friends in the US-UK-Israel axis.

  4. Johnnygl

    It doesn’t matter what currency oil is priced in. It matters where the saudis park their assets. They have to hold a big chunk of their assets in the usa because no one else wants them China, japan, and the EU all actively intervene to sterilize hot money inflows from pushing up their currencies. Negative interest rates was mostly about sending a message to those with deep pockets (like the gulf states): ‘Your money isn’t welcome here as it’s hurting our export competitiveness. Get it out or we’ll take it

  5. Heliopause

    Much as I’d like to see Canada stand up in a sustained way to the psychotic criminals in Riyadh there are a number of reasons I don’t think that will happen.

    Saudi Arabia is thoroughly integrated into the the international system. Everybody in the western world (with an exception I’ll link to below) knows what they are, and have not only accepted it but showered them with advanced weaponry. There will be some tut-tuts but overall I think western nations will mostly keep quiet and hope this blows over. I don’t know exactly how it’s being covered in Canada but here in the US elite media couldn’t care less that the Saudis just made an overt terror threat against our nearest neighbor. Please keep in mind, elite journos in the US are almost all just empty vessels who brainlessly spew what their country club buddies tell them to, and Saudi Arabia is a vital elite ally in their larger plans for the middle east.

    There is a sizable minority here in the US that not only doesn’t care that Saudi Arabia is doing this, they’re actively rooting for them against Canada:
    This is a MAGA person with a fairly big following and his thinking probably reflects MAGA ideology generally. Saudi Arabia is on the team, therefore they are good. Sounds crazy, but this is how many people in the US think, including the President, and most liberals and centrists aren’t put off enough by Saudi criminality to mount a meaningful opposition.

    And that’s not even to mention your Prime Minister, who is skilled at marching in Pride parades and traveling the world, but doesn’t seem much good for anything else. Hope this doesn’t offend.

  6. Darius

    But, I thought Iran was the biggest sponsor of terrorism. That’s what the most famous man in the world, Donald Trump, keeps telling us, and no one in the elite media contradicts him so it must be true.

  7. Webstir

    Canadian-Yemeni National assassinates bin Salman. House of Saud declares war on Canada. The U.S., Russia, Britain, Israel, Egypt, Hungary and all of the strongman MAGA nations back Saudi Arabia. The rest of the westernized world lines up behind Canada. This is how WWIII begins.

    China sits it out until the MAGA heads begin to gain an edge. They then mop up the mess and the chapter written about the ascendance and decline of western civilization comes to a close. Thus begins the chapter where eastern civilization drives the remnants of humanity over the ecological cliff once and for all due to 125 mph GWP growth.

    The End.

  8. I would like to think that the awful rulers of SA are irrelevant to Canada but the deafening silence from other so-called allies bodes ill.

  9. Jerry Brown

    Is this really true? Who sent the students and patients home- was that the Saudis or Canada? As far as the US public- we love Canadians. I mean our biggest criticism might be that they are too polite. Which is really not too much of a criticism.

  10. Hugh

    The KSA is a toxically oppressive dictatorship. It is chronically unstable and potentially, and inevitably, explosively unstable. Its current de facto nutcase ruler Mohammad bin Salman is really just riffing on past Saudi survival strategies. To take attention away from its internal failures and the mindboggling greed and corruption of the Saudi royal family, it promotes terrorism abroad as well as foreign enemies against whom Saudis can vent anger that might otherwise be directed against the regime. In this regard, Iran is a natural: Arab against Persian, Sunni against Shia, and regional power against regional power. The war in Yemen is an extension of this manufactured need for conflict with Iran, a jihad against heretical Shia Houthis.

    You can also see the hysterical reaction of MbS to a fairly mild comment of the Canadian ambassador in this light. It plays to a strong anti-Western, xenophobic element in Saudi society. I think that Trump’s hardline against Iran and his recent incomprehensible posturing toward Canada created an opportunity for MbS to do some posturing of his own. As the Saudi involvement in 9/11 made clear, any terrorist threat emanating from the Saudis needs to be taken seriously. The core truth about the Saudi monarchy is that they don’t give a shit about who gets hurt, or killed, as long as it’s not them. And much like Trump, he sees the chaos he creates as someone else’s problem.

  11. Ché Pasa

    It’s another step toward the inevitable war with Iran. Canada and Western Europe are the weak links in the non-existent global alliance with the US, the Saudi royals, and Israel against the Islamic Republic, and if persuasion doesn’t work to bring them onboard with the US/Saudi/Israel axis, then escalating threats will have to be applied. Anything that Canada — or any other nation — says against the Axis will be used as fodder by the war mongers. There is no escape.

    Yes, it’s ridiculous. Yes, it’s evil. But don’t forget, Trump and nearly all of the US foreign policy/military establishment are fully committed to taking out Iran — eventually. Trump has been agitating for a near-term final solution to the Iran Problem for years, whereas the establishment has cautioned patience and looking toward the long term. Trump has essentially won this contest over near the term/long term war on Iran, and gearing up for the inevitable conflict with Iran has been under way for some time. In effect, the conflict has already been engaged via proxies and renewed sanctions. This puts the lie to the notion that “at least Trump hasn’t started any wars.” Oh yes he has, and he loves it.

    You might well call bin Salman’s rantings and threats “pathetic” –and they are. However, they fit right in with the warmongering and drumbeating of the other Axis partners.

  12. Willy

    Salman has pump envy. How dare Canada service the Americans better. But we all know what forcibly replacing his kind usually results with. So, the best we wee folks can do is highlight the comedic aspects. Not that that’ll learn anybody. They can always point to Trump and tell us to STFU.

  13. amspirnational

    yet another Saudi war crime in Yemen today against a school bus. Trump and US policy are complicit.

  14. jeremy

    The Saudi-led coalition called the airstrike a “legitimate military operation,”

  15. Hugh

    Ché Pasa, the KSA has been mired in Yemen for 3 years. So its capacity to take on a much better armed Iran is doubtful. This brings up another standard element of KSA, and Israeli too for that matter, policy: their willingness to fight to the last dead American. So as long as we can stay clear of boots on the ground in Iran, the Saudis and the Israelis are not going to war with Iran. And I think there are still people at the Pentagon who have a good idea what such a war would require and how difficult it would be to prosecute. The real danger would be in “limited” strikes, and there I am far less sanguine that anyone at State or the Pentagon really understands the knock-on consequences of such strikes would be in Iraq and the Gulf.

  16. A1

    Agree with you Ian. One comment though is the House of Saud has been called unstable over and over. There are many articles calling for their imminent fall for the past 50 years, meaning they will likely last forever. Any strategy to deal with them that relies on them failing is a bad strategy.

  17. Cloud

    I keep thinking Canada should prepare for an American influx. People are assets, as Ian says, and I think Americans would be grateful to live in Canada and would work hard at their jobs.

  18. Hugh

    A1, the KSA is an impossible state. It would have dried up and blown away a long time ago, except for two things: oil and religion. Even so, it has come pretty close. The seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by armed insurgents in 1979 was a severe test for the regime. As per usual, the monarchy got out of this crisis by making a devil’s deal with its enemies with a mix of lead (bullets) and gold (bribes). It retook the Mosque, killed a lot of the insurgents, and then turned the educational system over to the imams backing them. At this point, the regime also began the strategy of relieving internal tensions by establishing radical madrassas abroad, exporting its malcontents (hello, Osama bin Laden) to fight and hopefully die in foreign conflicts, such as Afghanistan, and eventually turning a blind eye to support of terrorism as long as it was not directed at the regime (again the example of Osama bin Laden).

    What is different this time is that population is beginning to tell. The KSA has a population of 33 million in a country that probably can only sustain about 5 million. The KSA’s pre-eminent position in oil markets has passed its zenith. The regime is having increasing difficulty buying off its citizens. Diplomatically, the well deserved stigma of 9/11 has caught up to it. And the quality of Saudi leadership in the person of Mohammad bin Salman has really taken a nosedive. I give the KSA the following survival chances: 80% over the next 5 years, 50% over the next 10 years, and 20% over the next 20 years.

  19. Stirling Newberry

    Nothing works instantly in SA. It is embarrassing to the Riyadh regime to admit it.

  20. highrpm

    technology to the rescue. ksa and others are betting $bn’s on the planned tech mecca city of neom in the desert.

  21. Hugh

    Completely OT, the BLS report on real (inflation-adjusted) wages covering July came out today. For production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls, i.e. the lower 82.5% of workers in the private sector, average hourly wages declined one cent from June, and average weekly wages declined 4 cents. Over the year, average hourly wages have declined 0.4% and average weekly wages have decreased 0.1%. That is people are working slightly longer for slightly less. So much for all the talk about a “tight” labor market putting upward pressure on wages.

  22. Tom

    Well NATO won’t likely hold together much longer.

    Trump is going out of his way to push Erdogan into Putin’s arms over a blatant CIA operative involved in the 2016 Coup attempt. Even the opposition rallied behind Erdogan, except HDP, in taking a hard line that Brunson face justice.

    If Turkey leaves NATO, it takes the second largest NATO Army with it, leaving Greece as next Largest Army, closes the Bosporus to NATO Military Shipping, opens the corridors to the EU for Refugees, and completely leaves Europe defenseless to Russia.

  23. Ché Pasa

    It would be nice to think that incompetence and depravity will somehow prevent the US/Saudi/Israeli war on Iran, but I suspect that thinking is off base. In fact, those are precisely the qualities that lead to conflicts that are only resolved through war.

    Of course the Saudis and their minor allies in the Gulf along with the Israeli government are eager to send US fighting forces against their Persian rivals, and they have seen abundant evidence that now/soon is the time since it is so easy for them to manipulate the White House through flattery and cajolery. I would say it’s so easy for them to manipulate Trump, but there’s more to it than that. In fact, there is a whole cadre at State and Defense and the various think tanks that serve them that have long advocated smashing the Persians as revenge for their rebellion against the Shah and Anglo-American suzerainty, among other reasons. This goes back a long way, and these are the kinds of grudges that do not fade over time.

    Bin Salman operates a failing — in many ways a failed — state teetering on the perpetual brink, but that does not substantially change the dynamic in the region, except, perhaps to accelerate the inevitable.

    There may be cooler heads somewhere but only in the sense that they urge slowing down, not a different course.

    Canada is on notice as an example to anyone else who might opine on these matters. Matters which they apparently cannot affect.

  24. O/T

    “5 Justice Democrats Win Primary Elections!” (last Tuesday) @

    Still no word about why there weren’t hundreds of Justice Democrat candidates, instead of about 50.

  25. Hugh

    As far as I am concerned, Erdogan and Putin deserve each other. As long as we get our 50 or so H-bombs (thankfully without their triggers) out of Incirlik, Turkey can fall into the Bosporus. There are a few points to be made. First, the world is learning that Trump isn’t controllable. He’s totally erratic. Putin probably thought he completely gamed Trump at their summit and won all kind of concessions from him, –which Trump promptly forgot 5 minutes after he made them. And being a one on one, there’s no record. Ooops! Same thing with Erdogan. Trump likes dictators generically but individually they are pretty interchangeable for him and he is too ignorant to keep them straight anyway. Something that Erdogan is now learning the hard way. Also Turkey is Moslem and if you have difficulties recognizing the obvious, Trump is a bigot that way.

    Second, Erdogan had been honking off a lot of countries he actually needs. The US has always been Turkey’s biggest supporter in NATO. Indeed the US is the principal reason Turkey became a NATO member. But Erdogan has been completely duplicitous with regard to US actions in the Middle East. So Turkey’s usefulness to the US has been seriously undermined. At the same time, in consolidating his dictatorship, Erdogan has gutted the officer corps of the country’s armed forces. So while Turkey may have a big army, it is an increasingly ineffective one. As for Europe, European leaders were always more skeptical of Turkey, and racist, than the US. So while the US pushed for Turkey’s inclusion in the EU, the EU largely demurred.

    Third, Erdogan had already played the immigration card once. It will more difficult to play it again. Europe is closing or has already closed its doors on immigrants, especially in the East and Southeast. And while Syria remains a failed state, it is no longer in full collapse mode. Not that Turkey has treated those fleeing the conflict there very well. About the only “friends” Turkey has at the moment are German bankers, who having learned nothing from their Greek experience, loaned the Turks a lot of money which they could well lose because of Trump and the decline in the lira.

    What Trump inadvertently exposed in his bumbling egomania is how vulnerable the Turkish economy is, and how dependent it is on Europe and the US. Erdogan can posture all he wants toward Putin and Moscow, but the Turkish economy has no future there. Turkish GDP is around $850 billion, Russia’s is about twice that, $1.5 trillion, while the EU’s is $17.3 trillion, and the US’s, $19.4 trillion. As the saying goes, do the math.

  26. David

    Talking about megalomania, I read an interview with the clown prince
    where he refers to the country’s GDP as his GDP. He actually said that
    “My GDP is …”. Perhaps he should read about a certain French king who
    also said that the monarch was the state.

  27. nihil obstet

    David, just because I’m something of a trivia nut on history, I’ll note that the king who said “I am the state (L’etat, c’est moi)” was Louis XIV, who was an extraordinary king, breaking the power of the nobles and increasing the national wealth and productivity. It was his great great great grandson Louis XVI who lost it all, because the French government did not continue the modernization and got involved in too many wars, especially with England. He also had the bad luck to be king during some crop failure years. First principle of keeping your head: feed the mobs. They’ll put up with a lot, but not being starved.

  28. Hugh

    In 1685, Louis XIV revoked the edict of Nantes which protected Protestants in France. This action decimated large segments of the French middle class, tradesmen and merchants on whom the nation depended.

  29. Kosh

    There is a very interesting factoid about Saudi Arabia that everyone should be aware of that shows just how much the House of Saud is blowing smoke up everyone’s rear. I can’t remember where online I found this factoid but it was eyeopening since this this country has the largest oil fields on the planet and the largest conventional reserves of oil. You would think that this country would be a much richer country and have a much higher GDP due to this fact.

    Here is the factoid: This country’s economy and therefore GDP is no bigger than that of Holland. Holland!!! Of all countries!

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