By Patrick J. Buchanan

  The New Year’s execution by Saudi Arabia of the Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr was a deliberate provocation.

Its first purpose: Signal the new ruthlessness and resolve of the Saudi monarchy where the power behind the throne is the octogenarian King Salman’s son, the 30-year-old Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman.

Second, crystallize, widen and deepen a national-religious divide between Sunni and Shiite, Arab and Persian, Riyadh and Tehran.

Third, rupture the rapprochement between Iran and the United States and abort the Iranian nuclear deal.

The provocation succeeded in its near-term goal. An Iranian mob gutted and burned the Saudi embassy, causing diplomats to flee, and Riyadh to sever diplomatic ties.

From Baghdad to Bahrain, Shiites protested the execution of a cleric who, while a severe critic of Saudi despotism and a champion of Shiite rights, was not convicted of inciting revolution or terror.

In America, the reaction has been divided.

The Wall Street Journal rushed, sword in hand, to the side of the Saudi royals: “The U.S. should make clear to Iran and Russia that it will defend the Kingdom from Iranian attempts to destabilize or invade.”

The Washington Post was disgusted. In an editorial, “A Reckless Regime,” it called the execution risky, ruthless and unjustified.

Yet there is a lesson here.

Like every regime in the Middle East, the Saudis look out for their own national interests first. And their goals here are to first force us to choose between them and Iran, and then to conscript U.S. power on their side in the coming wars of the Middle East.

Thus the Saudis went AWOL from the battle against ISIS and al-Qaida in Iraq and Syria. Yet they persuaded us to help them crush the Houthi rebels in Yemen, though the Houthis never attacked us and would have exterminated al-Qaida.

Now that a Saudi coalition has driven the Houthis back toward their northern basecamp, ISIS and al-Qaida have moved into some of the vacated terrain. What kind of victory is that — for us?

In the economic realm, also, the Saudis are doing us no favors.

While Riyadh is keeping up oil production and steadily bringing down the world price on which Iranian and Russian prosperity hangs, the Saudis are also crippling the U.S. fracking industry they fear.

The Turks, too, look out for number one. The Turkish shoot-down of that Russian fighter-bomber, which may have intruded into its airspace for 17 seconds, was both a case in point and a dangerous and provocative act.

Had Vladimir Putin chosen to respond militarily against Turkey, a NATO ally, his justified retaliation could have produced demands from Ankara for the United States to come to its defense against Russia.

A military clash with our former Cold War adversary, which half a dozen U.S. presidents skillfully avoided, might well have been at hand.

These incidents raise some long-dormant but overdue questions.

What exactly is our vital interest in a permanent military alliance that obligates us to go to war on behalf of an autocratic ally as erratic and rash as Turkey’s Tayyip Recep Erdogan?

Do U.S.-Turkish interests really coincide today?

While Turkey’s half-million-man army could easily seal the Syrian border and keep ISIS fighters from entering or leaving, it has failed to do so. Instead, Turkey is using its army to crush the Kurdish PKK and threaten the Syrian Kurds who are helping us battle ISIS.

In Syria’s civil war — with the army of Bashar Assad battling ISIS and al-Qaida — it is Russia and Iran and even Hezbollah that seem to be more allies of the moment than the Turks, Saudis or Gulf Arabs.

“We have no permanent allies … no permanent enemies … only permanent interests” is a loose translation of the dictum of the 19th century British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston.

Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian jet and the Saudi execution of a revered Shiite cleric, who threatened no one in prison, should cause the United States to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the alliances and war guarantees we have outstanding, many of them dating back half a century.

Do all, do any, still serve U.S. vital national interests?

In the Middle East, where the crucial Western interest is oil, and every nation — Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Libya — has to sell it to survive — no nation should be able drag us into a war not of our own choosing.

In cases where we share a common enemy, we should follow the wise counsel of the Founding Fathers and entrust our security, if need be, to “temporary,” but not “permanent” or “entangling alliances.”

Moreover, given the myriad religious, national and tribal divisions between the nations of the Middle East, and within many of them, we should continue in the footsteps of our fathers, who kept us out of such wars when they bedeviled the European continent of the 19th century.

This hubristic Saudi blunder should be a wake-up call for us all.

Yanis Varoufakis

In discussion with Phillip Adams, on my favourite radio program (LNL), on my recent Frangy address/manifesto for a campaign to Democratise the Eurozone as well as, of course, on the forthcoming snal Greek election.

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Yanis Varoufakis

YV-Norman Lamont

Further to this piece on my unlikely friendship with Lord Lamont, the BBC’s Radio 4 interviewed us, together. To hear the interview, on World At One, click on the play button below.

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Frau Merkel’s et. al. nightmare “vision” of Greece that is constantly swept out of sight is this:

Germany’s Unpaid Debt to Greece: Economist Albrecht Ritschl on WWII Reparations That Never Were

Yanis Varoufakis

As a fan of the BBC, I must say I was appalled by the depths of inaccuracy in the reporting underpinning this interview (not to mention the presenter’s considerable rudeness). Still, and despite the cold wind on that balcony, it was fun!

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This news item will have HUGE repercussions through the PM markets in the days and months to come. Australian Bullion Dealer ABC Bullion has advised that one of its suppliers has provided them photographic evidence of a tungsten filled 1 kilo gold bar discovered this week. The bar passed a hand-held xrf scan which showed 99.98% pure AU. The tungsten was only discovered when the bar was physically cut in half.
After numerous reports of 400oz tungsten filled bars being discovered in Hong Kong, this is the first documented and verified report with photographic evidence that has been made public.

This from ABC Bullion:

“Many pundits in the gold commentary space have commented on tungsten filled gold bars for many years, most notably Jim Willie, whilst the following does not prove his theories that US Treasury gold is compromised, it certainly makes the case more compelling.

ABC Bullion received the following email from one of our trusted suppliers this week.

Note:
It was not ABC Bullion that purchased this bar, the email and photos were sent to us as a general warning.
I xxxx’ed out the city’s name to avoid any second guessing as to the name of the dealer.

19/03/2012:

Attached are photographs of a legitimate Metalor 1000gm Au bar that has been drilled out and filled with Tungsten (W).

This bar was purchased by staff of a scrap dealer in xxxxx, UK yesterday. The bar appeared to be perfect other than the fact that it was 2gms underweight. It was checked by hand-held xrf and showed 99.98% Au. Being Tungsten, it would not be ferro-magnetic.

The bar was supplied with the original certificate.

The owner of the business that purchased the bar only became suspicious when he realized the weight discrepancy and had the bar cropped. He estimates between 30-40% of the weight of the bar to be Tungsten.

This is very worrying and reinforces the lengths that people are willing to go to profit from the current high metal prices.

Please be careful.”

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