Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:

Corporate media puts the interests of the 1% ahead of all of us. That's wrong. The corporate media and the billionaire class have controlled the narrative for way too long. In totalitarian countries, the government uses state media to manipulate public opinion and squash dissent. In America, corporations use those same tools to convince voters that commonsense, overwhelmingly popular ideas are impossible. But Common Dreams is different. We cover the news that matters. We know another world is possible. But we can’t do it without you. Our critical Summer Campaign is underway. Please—no amount is too large or too small—pitch in to support our people-powered model and keep Common Dreams strong. Thank you. -- Craig Brown, Co-founder

The corporate media defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy. Common Dreams is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. But we need your help. We are coming up short during our Summer Campaign

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. They laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work digging out the truth. Please support this independent journalism today by donating to our critical Fall Campaign. We cannot do it without you. Thank you. -- Craig Brown, Co-founder

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

Despite what the Saudis and blowhards like Benghazi Mike keep alleging, the Houthis don’t take orders from Iran and don’t have that much to do with one another. (Photo: Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Despite what the Saudis and blowhards like Benghazi Mike keep alleging, the Houthis don’t take orders from Iran and don’t have that much to do with one another. (Photo: Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Whatever Pompeo Says, There Is No Certainty Iran Mined the Tankers

It was clear that Trump warmongers would blame Iran and then use the incident as a springboard to war

Juan Cole

 by Informed Comment

The mysterious mines that blew up two tankers, one of them Japanese-owned and operated, on Wednesday, sent a frisson of fear through the Gulf, since it was clear that Trump warmongers would blame Iran and then use the incident as a springboard to war.

Despite the confident pronouncements of “Benghazi Mike” Pompeo at his brief news conference, the fact is that US intelligence hasn’t had time or access to come to a firm conclusion about the author of the mine attack.

Pompeo’s people put out grainy video of some sort of small ship coming alongside one of the tankers and then leaving peacefully. Since this doesn’t look very much like an attack, they are alleging that the Iranians were taking away an unexploded mine. That doesn’t make any sense at all, and the video again needs to be carefully analyzed.

Pompeo alleged that only the Iranians had the expertise to deploy these mines.

We heard this crock for 8.5 years in Iraq– all shaped charges had to be Iran-backed, even those of al-Qaeda, because Iraqis didn’t have the expertise. Shaped charges are a simple WWII technology and the US invaded Iraq out of fears it was so sophisticated that it could construct an atomic bomb. But Iraqi Sunnis couldn’t make a shaped charge. Sure. Had to be Iran, helping those hyper-Sunni al-Qaeda. Very likely story.

In Iraq War days I was told that the Rumsfeld Department of Defense put out so much such arrant nonsense as anonymous news articles planted in the Iraqi press that some Defense Intelligence Agency analysts used to read my blog, confident that I would suss our the psyops horse manure and give an accurate picture. The Bush administration produced so much fake news about Iraq that Bush analysts were in danger of being fooled by it and recommending policy on the basis of it!

So about the allegation that no other forces could have deployed mines in the Gulf area.

Just last December, 86 mines were swept in the Red Sea, the planting of which was attributed to the Houthi rebels of Yemen. The Straits of Hormuz might see far away. But once they’re already on the sea in a small ship, all they’d have to do pack some mines and ply the waters off southern Yemen and Oman over to the Straits of Hormuz, and they could have easily committed this act.

The Houthis have been intensively bombed for four years, with about a third of the targets having been civilian.. Most of the sorties against them have been flown by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the aggressors in the war on Yemen. They do not have an air force and have had to watch helplessly for 48 months as fire fell on their women and children. Some 233,000 Yemenis have been killed in the war, and while the Houthis are responsible for some of those deaths, the Saudis and UAE are responsible for the lion’s share.

The Houthis have in recent weeks tried increasingly to take the fight to the enemy. They droned an oil facility, struck an airport with a rocket, and made incursions over to the Saudi side of the border, claiming, at least, to have taken some villages. That to accompany this pushback and press the Saudis to stop bombing and dicker, they might also try to target some tankers is perfectly plausible.

Despite what the Saudis and blowhards like Benghazi Mike keep alleging, the Houthis don’t take orders from Iran and don’t have that much to do with one another. Zaydi Shiites like the Houthis don’t even have ayatollahs; you can’t just read off politics from common Shiism, anyway, but in this case they aren’t even from the same sect. It would be like assuming that all Methodists would line up politically behind the Baptists because both are Protestants. Iran has slipped some help to the Houthis, maybe a few million dollars worth. Trump says he’s selling $110 billion worth of arms to the Saudis. So US help to Saudis is probably on the order of 10,000 times greater than Iranian aid to the Houthis.

Anyway, I admit that Houthi activity over in the Arabian Sea near the Gulf is a bit of a stretch, but it just isn’t impossible.

I don’t allege false flag attacks. They are rare, since too many possibilities for someone to blab or blow the whistle exist. But that the Houthis would and could take such an action would make sense.

It could also be by Iran, of course. I disapprove of violence, and denounce the attack on civilian tankers. But any reporter who reports that Iran might be the culprit is dishonest to Trumpan depths if they neglect to mention that that the US is stopping 100% of Iran’s oil exports with no warrant of international law, no resolution from the UN Security Council, and in direct contradiction of US obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which Trump breached. A physical blockade of Iran would be an act of war. I don’t see why a financial blockade should be looked at as any different. Trump has committed numerous acts of naked aggression on the Iranian people. I don’t condone a violent response, but anyone should be able to understand it.

© 2021 Juan Cole
Juan Cole

Juan Cole

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His newest book, "Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires" was published in 2020. He is also the author of  "The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East" (2015) and "Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East" (2008).  He has appeared widely on television, radio, and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. 

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

After Getting 'Stealth Bailout' During Pandemic, US Corporations Try to Kill Proposed Tax Hikes

"When it's time to finally put workers first, big businesses are spending millions to maintain their advantage and preserve the status quo," said Kyle Herrig of Accountable.US.

Jessica Corbett ·

'Disgraceful': Just 9 Republicans Join With Dems to Hold Steve Bannon in Criminal Contempt

The vote "reveals just how far the Republican Party has fallen" since Trump took control as GOP's de facto leader, said one pro-democracy advocate.

Jon Queally ·

Top Dem Calls on Biden to Toss Legally 'Erroneous' Trump Memo and Ratify Equal Rights Amendment

The renewed push comes nearly 50 years after Congress passed the amendment.

Andrea Germanos ·

Report Details 'Jaw-Dropping' Abuse of Asylum Seekers by US Border Agents

The accounts of 160 asylum officers portray "DHS as an agency that appears to have normalized shocking abuses at the U.S. border."

Julia Conley ·

'Historic Victory': US Judge Rules Guantánamo Detainee's Imprisonment Illegal

"This is a landmark ruling. For 20 years, successive U.S. administrations have asserted their right to imprison people indefinitely, without charge or trial."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo