On 23 October 2017, the Hudson Institute organized a debate called: «Contrasting violent extremism: Qatar, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood».

The Hudson Institute was established by the futurologist, Herman Kahn. It is an organization that makes predictions – forecasts. It brings together many people who follow the philosopher Leo Strauss.

The public audience was composed of distinguished personalities, members of Congress and the Administration, ambassadors and journalists. Leon Panetta, former Head of the CIA and former Defence Secretary and David Petraeus the person that succeeded him as Head of the CIA, had to target Iran. However at the same time, they supported Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood.

For appearance’s sake, the Hudson Institute had also invited Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former special advisor. In introducing his guests, Ambassador Hussain Haqqani, Director of the Hudson Institute, declared that the first two were «enlightened», while their opponent incarnated the « Forces of Darkness» (sic).

Steve Bannon made the final presentation and qualified the New York Times as the “party of the opposition”, refused to be qualified as an « isolationist » the term used by the daily newspaper to describe President Trump’s foreign policy, and reminded the audience of his action against Daesh.

The Islamic Emirate in Iraq (the future Daesh) was established during George W. Bush’s term, under the control of General Petraeus who then commanded troops in Iraq. The purpose behind establishing it: to deflect the anger the Iraqis felt towards the occupation forces and transform it into a civil war. Leon Panetta took office when this measure was only partly complete. He adopted and supported it [1]. John McCain met with Daesh leaders and for a long time maintained strict relations with them, invoking the strategy applied to Vietnam against Syria [2].

During the Saudi Arabian/Qatar conflict, Bannon congratulated himself on Saudi Arabia’s change in attitude vis-a-vis the jihadists and condemned Qatar; yet officially the Trump administration has not taken sides. The public listened attentively to him in silence.

Then Bannon launched into a critique of George W. Bush’s and John McCain’s policy when the Chair of the Session cut him off and rounded off the “debate” with his remarks: “Well, the foreign policy elite here in Washington asked me to give the floor to you today, but it also asked me to close this debate if you start addressing issues other than those that are on our program. This is why we are winding up. Thank you for coming”.

Anoosha Boralessa

[1Sous nos yeux. Du 11-Septembre à Donald Trump, Thierry Meyssan, Demi-Lune, 2017, pp. 125, 146 et 249-250.

[2John McCain admitted he is regular contact with Islamic State”, Voltaire Network, 20 November 2014.