Challenging ‘the Foreign Policy of the One Percent’


Sec. of State John Kerry Greets King Salman at Andrews Airforce Base. Photo by Department of State


By Peter Bogdanich

April 1st, 2016

On March 5th and 6th, over two hundred scholars, activists, and concerned citizens gathered at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law in Washington, DC, for CODEPINK’s 2016 Summit on Saudi Arabia.

This first of its kind event brought 20 speakers together for six panel discussions on topics including U.S. arms sales, human rights, migrant labor, and the broad implications of Saudi foreign policy. Participants also used the forum to brainstorm new strategies for supporting positive change in the country.

As author Vijay Prashad summarized in his keynote address, big business interests historically determined the nature of the U.S.-Saudi relationship. From the discovery of oil in the early 20th century to multi-billion dollar arms sales in the 21st, incredible profits made it easy for those in positions of power to argue that this partnership was vital to maintaining American security and prosperity.

Image by Carlos Latuff

But as more Americans examine the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, more are beginning to see it as problematic rather than helpful. More are beginning to realize that unquestioning U.S. support for Saudi Arabia is undermining values that many American voters care about – democracy, freedom, and human rights. This brings us to a question that was the focal point of the two-day summit: how can ordinary Americans and people living in the U.S. change our relationship with Saudi Arabia while encouraging respect for human rights there?

With Saudi Arabian representatives spending lavishly on Washington PR firms and think-tanks to whitewash the government’s reputation here, many panelists agreed that spreading awareness of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia might be the most effective tactic.

It was Daniel Arshack, the American lawyer for imprisoned Saudi human rights attorney Waleed Abulkhair, who best summed up this sentiment: “What can we do in the face of such clear injustice? For one thing, we must not allow our own government, indeed the majority of the international community, to turn a blind eye to the Saudi government’s flagrant violation of human rights.” CODEPINK’s Summit on Saudi Arabia is an important first step in that direction.


Peter Bogdanich is a research associate with Freedom Forward, an organization focused on ending U.S. support for dictators, kings, and repressive governments.

Is the Ironman Triathlon Becoming a Sport for Dictators?

By Peter Bogdanich

December 4, 2015

This Saturday, the U.S. triathlon promoter Ironman will hold its first competition in the Middle East. But by choosing Bahrain as its host, Ironman is teaming up with a royal family that has arrested top athletes and thousands of others who called for political reforms.

Bahrain_map_-_2 (1)Ironman’s half-marathon “Middle East Championship” is set for December 5th in Bahrain, an island monarchy located off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf. The local partner for the event, Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad al-Khalifa, is a prince who stands accused of calling for and overseeing the arrest of major Bahraini athletes who participated in demonstrations for democracy and reform.

In February of 2011, thousands of Bahrainis took to the streets of the capital city to call for democratic reforms in largely peaceful protests. Security forces responded with tanks, tear gas, and live ammunition. Dozens of peaceful protesters were killed, and thousands were subjected to arbitrary arrest.

2011 Bahrain protests. Photo by Lewa’a Alnasr.

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About Freedom Forward

Freedom Forward seeks an end to U.S. support for dictators, kings, and nondemocratic governments. We envision a world in which U.S. foreign policy is fully aligned with the hopes and aspirations of people who desire freedom.

For too long, U.S. foreign policy has directly contradicted U.S. government rhetoric. While U.S. officials talk about freedom, the U.S. government maintains alliances with other governments that brutalize critics and silence dissent at home.

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Analysis: A US Diplomat Ignores Israel’s Occupation

In a speech delivered last month, US diplomat Andrew J. Shapiro revealed the enormous extent of US military aid to Israel — including his goal of increasing that aid and reducing Congressional oversight.

Freedom Forward Analyst Patrick J. Finn, PhD, has written an insightful review of Shapiro’s speech — as well as what Shapiro failed to mention.  While Shapiro spent an awful lot of time talking about the “unwavering commitment to Israel’s security,” he didn’t once mention the word occupation.

In his speech, Shapiro also didn’t mention that the gift of US weapons is what helps Israel maintain that brutal occupation of Palestinian communities.

Shapiro is the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs — the man whose team is the US State Department’s “principal link to the Department of Defense.”

Click here to read Patrick Finn’s insightful analysis.

US Authors Urge Sec. Clinton to Stand Up for Bahraini Freedom

In a  Freedom Forward letter released today, prominent US writers Khaled Hosseini, Nafisa Haji, Aisha Sultan, and Susanne Pari are urging US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to support Bahraini activists who have faced a government crackdown.

The authors urge Secretary Clinton to secure the freedom of Bahraini poet Ayat al-Qarmezi and other peaceful Bahraini reform activists.

The authors state, “We are concerned that the US military relationship with Bahrain’s unelected government may be coming at the expense of our support for democracy activists in the country.  The sentencing of Ayat al-Qarmezi and countless others requires us to take a stand for their freedom.

The letter is signed by:

  • Khaled Hosseini, Author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.
  • Nafisa Haji, Author of The Writing on My Forehead and The Sweetness of Tears; Freedom Forward Boardmember.
  • Aisha Sultan, Journalist.
  • Susanne Pari, Author of The Fortune Catcher).

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Let’s stop calling Egypt’s dictator a “president”

Why are major US media organizations using the term “President” for Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak?

Mubarak is a US-funded dictator who has ruled Egypt for 30 years.  He is not a president by any democratic definition of the word.

This is important because US taxpayers are forced to give $10 each in annual military aid to Mubarak’s dictatorship — a dictator tax.  Americans need to know the true nature of the dictatorship they are forced to fund.

Urge key US media organizations to stop using the word “president” when reporting on Hosni Mubarak.  He is a dictator.

Click here to urge US media to stop calling Mubarak “president.”