2004 September 16 Thursday
State Department Finally Admits Obvious Truth On Saudi Arabia

Who would have suspected that there is no religious freedom in Saudi Arabia if the US State Department hadn't said so?

The United States for the first time named Saudi Arabia yesterday as a country that severely violates religious freedom, potentially subjecting the close U.S. ally to sanctions.

"Freedom of religion does not exist" in Saudi Arabia, the State Department said in its annual report on international religious freedom. "Freedom of religion is not recognized or protected under the country's laws and basic religious freedoms are denied to all but those who adhere to the state-sanctioned version of Sunni Islam," the report said, adding that "non-Muslim worshippers risk arrest, imprisonment, lashing, deportation and sometimes torture."

Did Saudi Arabia suddenly take a turn for the worse in the religious freedom department? Or has the place been a repressive Wahabbi Islamic theocracy since its creation?

More fundamentally, why should anyone take seriously any US State Department report on religious freedom by country?

President George W. Bush, a man who professes to believe that the spread of democracy is the cure needed to stop terrorism, looks at Vladimir Putin, a man who is systematically disassembling democracy and press freedom in Russia and sees a man to admire.

On Sunday, President Bush visited the Russian Embassy to pay his respects to the victims of last week's terrorist attack at a Russian school and to express his admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Please pass on my very best wishes to President Vladimir Putin, a man who I admire," Bush told the Russian ambassador.

It is worth noting that Russia is one of the biggest oil exporting countries and that it has more energy reserves in the form of natural gas than Saudi Arabia has in the form of oil. Plus, the US military finds it helpful to be able to ship stuff across Russia to get to Central Asia and Afghanistan.

I've argued a lot for a great increase of the scale of federal funding for energy research in order to improve national security. Look at US policy toward Saudi Arabia (and to a lesser extent Russia as well) and see how much US policy has been bent by concerns about energy supplies. It took the 9/11 attack plus 3 years just to get the State Department to admit a glaringly obvious truth which it would not refrain from admitting about some country deemed less important to American interests. The world's dependence on oil is creating a distortion in US policy toward the Middle East that continues to damage US national interests.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 September 16 01:30 PM  MidEast Saudi Arabia

Luke Lea said at September 16, 2004 6:38 PM:

Maybe Bush admires Putin because he recognizes a kindred soul, somebody who is as clumsy and callous as he is?

Invisible Scientist said at September 17, 2004 4:24 AM:

As the world oil consumption increases, oil dependence will increase, and
this will make various countries hostile to the US more powerful.

But at the risk of repeating myself like a broken record, I am pasting below once
again, some sites about the Integral Fast Reactor, which is an evolutionary design that
got upgraded for many years. This new reactor has the property that
A) It is 100 times (1,000 %) more uranium fuel efficient than the current reactors in operation,
meaning that the world would have enough uranium for many hundreds of years, even if all the
future energy is from nuclear plants, and this will be competitive with coal and oil if we
use this energy to charge new fuel cells like zinc-air batteries for vehicles (these are working now.)
B) It totally consumes as fuel, the long term nuclear waste generated inside the reactor, leaving
behind only low level waste which has a half life less than 300 years, making Yucca mountain

What we need is a "Bronx Project" for alternative energy sources, before it is too late. Even if
we start now, it will take at least 5 to 10 years to see economic benefits.


Invisible Scientist said at September 17, 2004 4:47 AM:

There was a typographical error in my second paragraph above:
100 times more uranium fuel efficient is 10,000 % instead of 1,000 %.

Engineer-Poet said at September 17, 2004 4:56 PM:

IS:  The IFR is somewhat of a footnote to the main issue, which is how to package abundant non-petroleum forms of energy in ways good for use for transportation (the main use of petroleum).  For national security purposes it does not matter if that energy comes from coal, nuclear, wind or some miracle engine tapping Dark Energy.  (Environmental interests will weigh differently.)

It is somewhat ironic that the IFR is a side issue while the technology which may be key, the zinc-air fuel cell, is very old and a few seemingly-minor technical improvements are all that was required to unlock its potential.

Uirte said at September 19, 2004 10:24 AM:

It is always in the US self interest to not have a religious leader in the ME, especially royals(we DO favor these becase of this reasoning. The problem would be unification based on religion in the ME and problems with our ability to control the ME. Saddam is a typical example of how this is done. The royals in the Moslem countires may be figuring out that Saddam is about to be executed by his own people and we are pretty much done with him. Next, will be the royals because they allowed us to operate in their countries and entrench. After the royals, we will probably go after religious leaders like Iran. That is the State Department, of course. If the Sate Department moves aside, we may go after Iran first.

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