Mark Steyn says the US should stop being so obsequious toward the Saudis. He points out just how absurd the relationship has gotten.
This privileged access to America begins with Prince Bandar. The humdrum rank of ‘ambassador’ hardly begins to cover the special status the prince enjoys in Washington. For one thing, the title implies a posting, and Bandar isn’t going anywhere: he’s the longest-serving ambassador in town; he’s held the job for two decades and he’s still only in his early fifties; he has more homes in America than most Americans do; he’s seen Reagan, Bush Sr and Clinton come and go, and he’s figuring on seeing the back of George W. too. By comparison, American ambassadors in Riyadh are passing fancies. At the specific request of the Saudi government, no Arabic speakers are appointed to the post, a unique self-handicap by the US. Their chaps in the Kingdom spend a couple of years out there getting everything explained to them by the royal inner circle, and then they come home and serve out their day’s shilling for the House of Saud on Middle Eastern think-tanks lavishly subsidised by Riyadh. That’s the way Bandar likes it. ‘If the reputation then builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office,’ he once said, ‘you’d be surprised how much better friends you have who are just coming into office.’ Just so. The columnist Matt Welch observed a while back that, if you close your eyes, America’s ex-ambassadors sound like they’re Saudis. Effectively, there’s no US ambassador to Saudi Arabia but a whole platoon of Saudi ambassadors to the US — Prince Bandar and full supporting chorus.
Does the Bush Administration realize that it needs to get much tougher in how it treats the Saudi regime? I think we won't really know the answer to that question until the US military has defeated Saddam's regime and taken over Iraq. At that point the argument that the US needs Saudi help (or at least acquiescence - and I think this argument is correct btw) is suddenly going to be a lot harder to make.
What is motivating the thinking of the State Department people who continue to support a status quo special status for Saudi Arabia? Do they think that any pressure on the Saudi regime would result in its downfall and replacement by something that is worse? Are they in denial about the extent to which the Saudi regime lets its people support Al Qaeda? Do they not see the big problems that are being caused by Saudi funding of the spread of Wahhabi Islam around the world?
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2002 November 29 02:30 PM|