The Prince

MBS, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and effective ruler of the country, has been a busy, busy boy. He tried to drive our frackers out of business by flooding the market with oil, but it turned out that Saudi Arabia would go broke first. That may be, in part, what’s motivating some of his recent capers.

He has a vision [weed is more potent that it used to be] of a future in which the Saudi economy has diversified away from oil, relying more on sectors like tech and entertainment. Sure: And I’m a Chinese jet pilot. If the Saudis had to make a living from their talents (and more sand than Pismo Beach), they’d be as poor as mosque mice.. Something like Jordanians – probably worse, because the Saudis have picked up a ton of expensive bad habits.

He’s running an original foreign policy. Intervened in Syria and Yemen – losing. Kidnapped the pro-Saudi Prime Minister of Lebanon. Picked a fight with Qatar. Angling for a war with Iran: The beginning of every war is like opening a door into a dark room – what could possibly go wrong?

The high point has been his purge of many of the richest and most influential members of the Saudi royal family. The claim is that he’s trying to take back much of the elite’s ill-gotten gains. Perhaps he’s been listening to Alicia Munnell. This has meant torturing the Swiss bank account numbers out of various fat thieves. It’s possible that the Saudi financial [ and oil?] reserves are in worse trouble than officially admitted: MBS may be trying to steal some cash to keep the show on the road.

Torture, arbitrary arrest, confiscation, kidnapping, warmongering: Naturally, Tom Friedman thinks this is great. A true Arab Spring!

It seems to me that MBS is in need of some good advice. There is an obvious source: let us look at what a few relevant chapters have to say.

Chapter 2, Concerning Hereditary Principalities:

MBS is the hereditary monarch (soon): his position is (was?) inherently pretty secure, and all the purge crap is unnecessary. ” I say at once there are fewer difficulties in holding hereditary states, and those long accustomed to the family of their prince, than new ones; for it is sufficient only not to transgress the customs of his ancestors, and to deal prudently with circumstances as they arise, for a prince of average powers to maintain himself in his state, ”

Chapter 3: CONCERNING MIXED PRINCIPALITIES

Torturing billionaires and seizing 70% of their assets is never a smart course. ” one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.

Chapter 4: WHY THE KINGDOM OF DARIUS, CONQUERED BY ALEXANDER, DID NOT REBEL AGAINST THE SUCCESSORS OF ALEXANDER AT HIS DEATH

Power was fairly widely distributed (among the AL Saud, and the religious establishment) until the other day. There is no tradition of absolute obedience to a single, all-powerful Sultan or King of Kings. Which means that rebellion due to perceived slights ( like torture and confiscation pf wealth ) is conceivable. ” The examples of these two governments in our time are the Turk and the King of France. The entire monarchy of the Turk is governed by one lord, the others are his servants; and, dividing his kingdom into sanjaks, he sends there different administrators, and shifts and changes them as he chooses. But the King of France is placed in the midst of an ancient body of lords, acknowledged by their own subjects, and beloved by them; they have their own prerogatives, nor can the king take these away except at his peril.”

Chapter 6: OF NEW DOMINIONS THAT HAVE BEEN ACQUIRED By ONE”S OWN ARMS AND ABILITY

MBS is inheriting a kingdom, but if he really is determined to transform its economy and ruling structure; it’s as more as if he’s trying to found a new regime. Like Gorbachev. ” It must be considered there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.” Risky. And the problem is, his goal is not just difficult, but unattainable. The human capital just isn’t there.

Chapter 12: THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF MILITIA AND MERCENARY SOLDIERS

Some sources have claimed that MBS has been using Blackwater-type Western mercenaries to kidnap & torture the local fat thieves. ” I say, therefore that the arms by which a prince defends his possessions are either his own, or else mercenaries, or auxiliaries, or mixed. The mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous, and if anyone supports his state by the arms of mercenaries, he will never stand firm or sure”

Another insoluble problem: the Saudi armed forces suck, and everybody knows it. Means that the state is fragile. “The chief foundations of all states, whether new, old, or mixed, are good laws and good arms. And as there cannot be be good laws where there are not good arms, and where there are good arms there must be good laws”

Chapter 17: OF CRUELTY AND CLEMENCY, AND WHETHER IT IS BETTER TO BE LOVED OR FEARED

Again, it’s a mistake to wildly piss off powerful guys without entirely destroying their power. Being loved is nice but you definitely need to avoid being hated. “men more easily forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony. Then also pretexts for seizing property are never wanting, and one who begins to live by rapine will always find some reason for taking the goods of others”. Not a secret: nobody will want to risk much capital in Saudi Arabia for a generation or so, after which people forget.

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83 Responses to The Prince

  1. Skeptic says:

    Yeah ,agree–this ia basically Saudi swirling down the drain.

    • David Pinsen says:

      I think this is too pessimistic a take on Saudi Arabia.

      Greg’s right that it doesn’t inspire confidence when a country shakes down billionaires, but:

      A) Saudi Arabia already nationalized Aramco, which used to be an American joint venture, decades ago.
      B) When oligarchs have ill-gotten gains and the country needs money, sometimes you’ve got to claw some back. Was Greg against Russia doing that?
      C) Hope repeatedly triumphs over experience for international institutional investors, as Argentina’s bond offering earlier this year showed.

      As for “pissing off guys without destroying their power”, that Al-waleed bin Talal is still under arrest despite being friends with global elites suggests his power has either already been destroyed or wasn’t that strong to begin with. You don’t need to kill a man to destroy his power. Mikhail Khodorkovsky is alive and well in Switzerland and yet is no threat to Vladimir Putin.

      As for what the Saudis should do now, for starters, they should stop blowing money on worthless degrees for their young men. When I was driving for Uber a few years ago, I gave a number of rides to Saudis who were studying at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Instead, the Saudis ought to train them to do the jobs Filipinos and other expats are doing in the country now. Maybe the average Saudi isn’t a genius, but to the extent possible, the Saudis ought to replace foreign nurses, maintenance men, etc. with their own people. Once most Saudis are working, they can start taxing them, which will improve their fiscal picture.

      • reinertor says:

        The problem is they don’t like to work. Especially since they’re probably well adapted to nomadic lifestyles, which doesn’t make them especially hardworking. Quite the opposite, actually.

  2. Jacob Robino says:

    Any obvious implications for us Yankees?

  3. ... says:

    I always wondered – what path should a country like Saudo Arabia, UAE need to follow to achieve long-term prosperity instead of short-term prosperity while the oil still has some value? While it is obvious you need social capital for that, there is no short way to acquire it (well, ignoring the option to settle Westerners en masse).

    • protokol2020 says:

      There is no way, really. At least no realistic, achievable way. Nobody is going to buy their solar energy, nobody is going to buy their sand, either. They are about to become refugees. 20+ million refugees. But who will want them?

      • Jim says:

        Doesn’t the UAE have some potential for a resort location like Bermuda? Also like Bermuda they could try to develop the tax-avoidance and money laundering industries.

        • Jim says:

          Then there’s piracy.

        • Janet says:

          Ever been to the UAE?

          No, there is zero potential for a resort in the UAE. It is a playground for rich Saudis (and some Qataris) because it’s close by and notionally Arab, but if the Saudis lose their money, that will crash hard. The climate is genuinely awful– scorching hot with continuous blowing dust; there are virtually zero other attractions (not even plants!), no historical sites worth mentioning, the locals are (ahem) not charismatic to Westerners…and, they’d be competing for tourist dollars with honest-to-God island paradises (in the Mediterranean or Indian Oceans), or countries with millennia of history and culture, or just about anywhere with more welcoming people.

          There’s a genuine benefit in being an air hub between Europe and Asia, somewhat less in being a transshipment point (as cargo ships must transit the Straits to reach UAE). There’s the old-fashioned path of piracy, or the newer incarnation of fraud and sanctions-busting (particularly on behalf of Iran). The only pre-oil, legal export industry was pearl cultivation. So no, they’re basically along for the ride with whatever Saudi does. About 80% of their workforce is expat, and they would leave instantly if the money dries up… the Emirati locals couldn’t keep the power on or the water flowing without them.

          • Irate eye rater says:

            the locals are (ahem) not charismatic to Westerners

            The Saudis don’t seem to leave much of a positive inpression either. None of the military guys I’ve known who had contact with them during their careers had anything nice to say at the least.

    • gcochran9 says:

      That’s an interesting question. Let me add the side-condition that the solution can’t fuck the United States. Harder still.

      Still, it may not be impossible. Someone make the right offer, I would take a stab at it.

    • akarlin says:

      Banning cousin marriage would be a good start.

      Getting in early on the CRISPR + genomics of IQ game. Though really that applies to anyone.

      • NobodyExpectsThe... says:

        That would take at least a generation to start to see a payoff. Do they have a generation?

        Instead of non-existing at the time, high-tech approach, they should had tried the “backyard breeder style” in the late 70s.Ei, importing as many cheap university educated chinese women as posible, to marry as second wives to anyone possible in the Kingdom.

        By now, they would have people that learnt something from the ultra expensive educations on western unis. Or Sandhurst…

        • Frau Katze says:

          I suspect that wouldn’t work socially. Even if they could find Chinese women prepared to be second wives (the women would have to be desperate) a strong stigma would attach to the offspring.

          Saudi Arabs are very proud of being of same genetic stock as Mohammed. They are extremely tribal too.

          • Ursiform says:

            There is a huge surplus of men in China. Some import foreign brides. Any Chinese woman who wants to get married and can’t find a man in China probably isn’t choice breeding stock. (Not intended to demean women, but’s basically that’s the topic here.)

            • Frau Katze says:

              Being forced to convert to Islam and becoming a second (or higher) wife sounds so unappealing I can’t think of any way it could happen.

              I’d forgotten about the excess of Chinese men.

              And really, how smart of the Chinese leaders was it to permit such a thing to develop anyway?

              Seems incredibly stupid to me. They might have a talent for math but not for anything else.

              The leaders who permitted this were dictators too. They could have stopped it.

              • another fred says:

                They did try to discourage the abortion of females, but the cultural values they were up against were too strong. I don’t think it is misogyny. A son is old age security in the Confucian tradition, a daughter goes to the husband’s family.

      • Frau Katze says:

        They’re already getting into genetic counseling.

        http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S235264671600003X

        If they copy the Orthodox Jews, the most common bad genes are tested for in high school. The data is kept in the lab in Israel. If the parents find a potential match and both kids are OK with it, they submit a request to see if it’s a good match. If it’s not (ie, both kids are carrying the same bad recessive gene) they are notified it’s a “no match” and that’s the end of that.

        They’re not told what gene they are carrying, nor are they told after the test if they are carriers. This is completely contrary to Western norms but they don’t care. The man who set it up suffered several affected children and made it his mission to end the suffering. The restrictions on telling people about the test result is to prevent a person or family being stigmatized. It seems a good idea to me.

        The Ashkenazi diseases are really awful. Tay-Sachs disease has been all but wiped out. (Secular Jews would know to be tested.)

        But this is a small population.

        I don’t anything about Saudi Arabia except that they interested in it. I read about it several years ago, but I have not followed the topic since.

      • Smithie says:

        Eugenics is political suicide, IMO. Unless you secretly create supersoldiers first, but as Spock said in Space Seed, “Superior ability breeds superior ambition.”

    • Sean Fielding says:

      Genes are to culture what arms are to law in Machiavelli, so right now these sheiks have only one option for their human capital problem: breed a better upper class by impregnating the daughters of the White/Asian managerial class with the small amount of high quality Arab genes available. Probably too late though, cause of what Greg alluded to: bad habits. The minor nobility are too busy humiliating Instagram thots and pedestalizing their own ugly 85 women to do it. Better they disappear from the stage of major history anyway.

    • Rodep says:

      The oil-wealthy arab states already import human capital. Indian engineers who can’t make it to the states build oil infrastructure in the Middle East. I wonder if Saudi Arabia could just encourage their high-skill foreign labor to settle permanently. It wouldn’t be a complete solution, but ensuring that at least a subset of the population is able produce non-oil wealth would be a good start.

  4. Peter Lund says:

    But didn’t it work quite well for Henry VII and Octavian? And Sulla?

    (Besides, France did become very centralized later.)

    • NobodyExpectsThe... says:

      Those are examples of bold leaders, that took risky decisions, but while leading real nations. Saudi Arabia is not a real nation.
      A very interesting tribal saga, that got restarted from almost complete anhilation by a very brave daring prince, but thats it.

      The thing that got them to be an important nation, is just pure randomness.

      They won the lottery twice in a row. The strip of coast the brits didnt want under their influence, turned out to have the biggest oil lake in the world, and that happened meanwhile the dominant culture, happens to be the most lenient, benevolent and stupid of all times.
      So much, that they allowed such pitifull and nasty people as the saudis to keep that oil.

      • Peter Lund says:

        but while leading real nations. Saudi Arabia is not a real nation.

        Sounds a bit Whiggish to me.

        Was Wales, England, and the Lordship of Ireland a real nation? Especially considering the marches (border areas) and their powerful lords?

        Octavian and Sulla had to handle not just Rome, the city, or the Italian peninsula (which still consisted of many different Italic tribes with varying interests and loyalties and a patchwork of treaties between them) or even just the Roman Empire with all its provinces and tribes and peoples and strongmen who may be Roman senators or Patricians but may have regions with strong local support. They also had to handle a patchwork of vassal states and enemies.

        All three also had to work with realms with quite porous borders.

        Were they just “real nations” because Henry/Octavian/Sulla succeeded?

        • Ursiform says:

          Germany and Italy have only been countries for about a century and a half, but have mostly made it work. Yugoslavia didn’t. India and Pakistan may not. Even Spain, after half a millennium, still has issues.

          Then there’s Africa.

      • Frau Katze says:

        What culture is “dominant” and also “lenient, benevolent and stupid”? You might have left out a phrase. Easily enough done.

        WordPress still does not permit previewing or editing comments.

  5. MawBTS says:

    In 2018, Saudi Arabia will sell off 5% of their national oil industry, Aramco. The goal is to finance reforms, and save their dwindling cash assets.

    You hear claims that this is the “biggest IPO ever”, based on Saudi Arabia’s self-assessment that Aramco is worth two trillion dollars. (This is why Trump has been so friendly to them – he wants this mega-IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.)

    Impressive, but they won’t hold the title for long. In 2019 I will sell my personal Lego collection, which I’ve self-assessed as being worth THREE trillion dollars. Please keep my upcoming Lego IPO on the hush-hush: this may constitute insider trading.

    More realistic appraisals of Aramco’s worth put it at around $400bn, and 5% of that is $20bn. If this is accurate, it will not be the biggest IPO. Adjusted for inflation, it wouldn’t even be in the top 5.

    It’s hard to tell whether the Kingdom is trying to con the world or some government functionary is trying to con the prince. Probably the latter. No doubt there’s some guy saying “sire, I’ve figured out a way to fund your lavish public spending! I have spreadsheets!” and doing very well for his career. For now.

    Matt Taibbi once compared stock speculation to taping a price tag to a watermelon, throwing it out a high-rise apartment window, and finding some sucker to buy the watermelon before it hits the pavement. This kind of pump-and-dump scheme can work, but you need the ability to walk away from the splattered watermelon. In Saudi Arabia’s case, the watermelon is their entire country. Things will get very bad when it goes boom on the sidewalk.

  6. Jaim Jota says:

    This Prince is following the advise of Chapter Six. His Western speechwriters made him talk about a moderate Islam, female rights, modernization, anticorruption. He is doing something else: Shaking down a rich and investing the proceeds in a Leonardo painting, buying a fancy French palace, and the world’s biggest yacht (very useful in the desert). He is spending on his army (not mercenaries). Bedouin armies (see Jordan) are the King’s personal bodyguards.

    • reinertor says:

      investing the proceeds in a Leonardo painting, buying a fancy French palace, and the world’s biggest yacht

      I cannot really understand things like that. Is he that stupid? I mean, he could have all the comfort in the world, and he could even have a few dozens of expensive luxury cars and a couple of palaces. I understand that a billion dollars in a year are smaller than the rounding error in the Saudi budget, but still. Hasn’t he heard of leading by example and similar management concepts?

  7. akarlin says:

    I made the comparison to 1780s France.

    Even as its debt payments mounted, the ancien regime lavished money on the military (including a failed military harbor at Cherbourg – the SDI program of that time) and pursued bold and generally successful but fiscally ruinous geopolitical adventures aimed at checking its eternal rival, Britain (Iran).

    It also engaged in profligate construction spending – the Finance Minister, Calonne, called it “useful splendor,” on the dubious theory that it would inspire confidence and attract more credit. Didn’t really end up working that way. But at least the Court got to enjoy nicer palaces for a short time, and perhaps their modern equivalents, the globalist Davosites, will likewise get to partake of VR tours of Neom for another decade or two.

    Of course France had considerable human capital, and was able to resurge in a spectacular way once the Revolution finished eating its children. Saudi Arabia might look more like this at the end (minus the cyborg):

  8. Anon says:

    Are there strong reasons to believe that the “MBS arrested his cousins, had foreigners hang them upside down and beat them until the money fell out” narrative isn’t just an elaborate hoax, at least regarding the top level royals?

  9. Chase says:

    Is this a direct rebut of Thomas Wictor on Twitter? That insane man is constantly talking up the brilliance of Saudi Arabia and MBS. I don’t see how that fits with the country losing (bein devastated really) a war with Yemen.

    • Peter Lund says:

      They are fighting a proxy war with Iran and Hezbollah.

      • gda says:

        A few good things about the MBS moves:
        – the money spigot into the US Congress from SA has (temporarily?) been shut down
        – He (apparently) will no longer permit jihadi funding and is willing to call for reform
        – He recognizes that Iran is THE problem and is a willing partner with the US in countering them.

        Kind of nice to have a Saudi ruler who’s not surreptitiously allowing funding for radical Mosques all over the US and the world.

        Methinks he’s no dummy and GC’s opinion may be (shall we say) slightly overwrought. But we shall see.

        • gcochran9 says:

          The default assumption is that famous people aren’t particularly smart or knowledgeable, because few people are. Start with a Saudi prince and expectations are naturally lower.

          Do I see evidence for any of the positive things you suggest? I know of none.

        • Frau Katze says:

          So you assume that the Wahabbi mullahs can be brought under control? Look what happened to Iran after the Shah tried controlling the Ayatollahs.

          Granted the Shah was in a bad position, including being terminally ill. He counted on American help. He’d been a reasonably good ally. (Hindsight might be affecting my judgment.)

          Still, the Saudi mullahs are (or at least, were) very powerful. I haven’t been following Saudi news very carefully (although I did for a while).

        • Chase says:

          As far as the US is concerned, why is Iran THE PROBLEM? I remember 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers being from Saudi Arabia. All the terrorism in Europe seems to emanate from Sunni, not Shiite sources. Am I missing something? I understand Iran is Israel’s mortal enemy, but I’m having a hard time trying to understand why I, as a US citizen, should be regarding Persians as the big bad here.

          • Jim says:

            15 were Saudis, 2 were from the UAE, one each from Lebanon and Egypt. But I remember being astonished back at the time of Bush’s invasion of Iraq at polls showing that 70% of the American public believed that the 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis. I lost all faith at that time in the media which clearly had no interest in informing the American people of anything resembling the truth.

  10. Sean says:

    Saudi may be counting on CO2 fracking in the future, and Iran being toppled soon. William S. Lind says Iran will be hit by Trump and Israel will use the ensuing chaos to expel the West Bank Palestinians back to the country whose passports they travel on.

    • Frau Katze says:

      That sounds rather drastic. I wouldn’t count on it.

      I predict Iran won’t be attacked by anyone. The country is too big and leadership more diffuse than was the case with Saddam.

      Plus we know the terrible consequences of attacking Saddam (and Libya).

      Never assume things are so bad they can’t get worse.

  11. sam57l0 says:

    I knew a pharmacist who worked in Saudi; he said the locals did not want to work. How many princes are there in Saudi? I seem to recall reading “more than 1000”, and I’m pretty sure they don’t want to work. Likely don’t need to work.

    • Frau Katze says:

      That confirms my sister’s opinion of Saudis, after try to teach them Math. She said they were the worst foreign students she had ever encountered.

      • reinertor says:

        They don’t even try. When hearing or reading anything about Saudis, I usually feel embarrassed for them. It was probably a mistake letting them have the proceeds of the oil which they didn’t discover and didn’t (and still don’t) know how to produce.

        It would’ve been better for them, too. They wouldn’t have had a few generations being rich, but they wouldn’t crash so hard. Benevolence (not taking the oil from the natives) produced sub-optimal outcomes for everyone.

        • Frau Katze says:

          Correct. One pair didn’t come to classes and failed the final exam. They came to her office and sort of just sat there… she thought they were for her to name her price for a passing grade. They finally left, with failing grade unchanged.

  12. J says:

    I see the old order of Saudi Arabia as much more fragile. The country is running out of oil, the youth know it and know they have gotten a rotten deal. There are also tens of thousands of jihadis who want to return to the kingdom.

    MBS is pursuing a two-fold plan, “liberalizing” to a pre-Grand Mosque seizure Saudi Arabia, which is really popular with the youth. Secondly, cracking down on “corruption,” which are the same billionaires who have been funding islamist extermist. Al-waleed bin Talal is still under arrest and many of those under arrest may never be released. Bin Talal at least publicly is opposed to islamist extremism, but it is unclear if he actually supports MBS’s vision. Bin Talal’s arrest sends the message that no one is beyond MBS’s reach.

    MBS on the one hand is generating enormous goodwill with his subjects by both liberalizing Saudi Arabia, which is very popular and by being seen as tough on billionaires. This will make it very hard for those who oppose him to gain support of the people. On the other hand, he is cracking down harshly on his opponents. Although, publicly he may only may be asking for 70% of ill-gotten gains only a handful of people have been released. I think the Saudis have every reason to lie and say they will release these princes once they pay up. No one is allowed to talk with the arrestees who are allegedly being tortured, I think it is extremely unlikely that any who have been seriously tortured will ever be let truly free. But by obfuscation of what has happened MBS has essentially avoided almost all international criticism for the crackdown. Three months ago anyone would have said bin Talal is too big to jail, too well connected, etc. now none of his extremely powerful friends (Bill Gates, the Clintons, etc.) have even come out in public opposition to his jailing.

    If Saudi Arabia is headed to an inevitable revolution in 20 years as the oil dries up, MBS in my view is doing his best to position himself to survive. I see the situation in Saudi Arabia as even more unstable than in North Korea. MBS is only 32, he will be in charge when the oil money runs out. Trying to reform your way out of a revolution almost never works, but what alternative does he have? Gorbachev is still alive, living comfortably, and was never persecuted.

  13. Sid says:

    The Saudi family regime was surprisingly stable because it followed “dynastic monarchism,” in which the family as a whole dominated state institutions, instead of singular monarchs.

    The problem, however, is that the Saudi family grew much too large, and power sharing agreements grew too tenuous and expensive to hold together.

    MBS is trying to turn Saudi Arabia into a more classic autocratic regime, with the bureaucracy being completely subservient to him. So far MBS has shown a lot bravado but not much cunning.

  14. Space Ghost says:

    So did “we” (define that however you want) PSYOP this guy into this craziness or what?

    • gcochran9 says:

      TED talks, probably.

      • Space Ghost says:

        LOL

        Reminds me of the idea (I think I got it from Walter Russell Mead’s God and Gold) that Progressivism is a memeplex that is merely harmful to Anglo- societies, but fatal to non-Anglo ones – they haven’t had enough time to adapt. Maybe this guy drank the rationalist/individualist Flavor Aid and assumed the Saudi people were ready for it too.

        • Cantman says:

          There is a lot of truth to that. See “could be better” fertility rates in the UK vs “extinction level event” in most other Euro countries apart from France.

      • Mik says:

        I choked on my gluhwein reading this. Merry Christmas, prof Cochran!

  15. Greying Wanderer says:

    Saudi has been funding jihadist mosques and preachers all over the world for the last 30+ years.

    I don’t know but assumed this business with MBS was someone finally telling them to stop it.

  16. Smithie says:

    I read quickly, and my brain skipped past the title reference. Never read Machiavelli either, but I began to suspect it was him when I saw a pithy quote next to Gorbachev’s name.

    • Peter Lund says:

      Machiavelli is definitely worth reading, still. Il Principe is actually still part of the political science curriculum in many universities. Another good one to read is George Kennan’s Long Telegram. If you want a completely different take, try Kant’s Zum ewigen Frieden. A lot of Kant’s stuff is clearly well thought out and written by a very intelligent person — and yet, it is so idealistic and useless. All his moral philosophy seems to have been written by someone biologically incapable of understanding game theory.

  17. Maciano says:

    Enjoying read. That’s why I come back and donate every year.

  18. Cantman says:

    The most likely outcome is that Saudi will fall over and degenerate to the level of lesser oil countries such as Nigeria. Meanwhile, the upper middle IQ Saudi elite will all be parachuted into the United States where it will form yet another parasitical non-national minority within America’s own ruling elite (is there still anyone else in it?).

  19. Kim Jong-Un says:

    What’s the lowdown on North Korea?

    • MawBTS says:

      DEFCON 1 meme war. Trump’s “rocket man” tweet was good. Kim Jong-Un’s “mentally deranged US dotard” speech was even better. The ball’s in Trump’s court now – may he not disappoint.

  20. thomas hahn says:

    Lesson one: Since we all wanted cheap oil, the Saudis have a lot of (the wests) gold.
    Lesson two: This is not a sustainable state of affairs.
    Lesson three: Lets (more or less slowly, better slowly) reverse the flow of gold.
    Answer: A challenged diaper-head.

  21. reinertor says:

    But now, it turns out that you were wrong. You merely wrote he was dumb. You didn’t imply he was that dumb. LOL

  22. gkai says:

    Would be nice to folluw up on this post, given the recent developments…Maybe after tomorrow?

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