Monday, November 14, 2005

U.S.-Saudi Relations

From a recent article in the Washington Post:

U.S.-Saudi Plan Aims To Expand Relations:
'Strategic Dialogue' To Include Energy, Counterterrorism

"JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 13 -- With skepticism still deep on both sides four years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States and Saudi Arabia on Sunday inaugurated a new 'strategic dialogue' to expand cooperation on six key issues, including terrorism and energy.

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Saudi Arabia to play a stronger role in confronting terrorist groups and their financiers. 'I'm certain the Saudi government can do better,' Rice said at a news conference with Prince Saud Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister. 'All of us can do better. But there is, I think, no lack of political will.'

"The Bush administration has been under pressure from both Republicans and Democrats to win greater cooperation from Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the 19 men who carried out the 2001 attacks were Saudi citizens, and the oil-rich kingdom is the birthplace of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden....

"Congressional criticism of Saudi Arabia has been particularly harsh. 'We can't continue this sort of cat-and-mouse game that has characterized the relationship,' Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said at a Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday. At the same session, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said Washington was 'far too cozy' with a country whose citizens were responsible for the deadliest attack ever on U.S. soil.

"After Rice's talks here, the Saudi foreign minister said the kingdom was 'fighting as hard as we can. I would dare anyone to say there is another country that is fighting terror as hard as we are.' Faisal, the U.S.-educated son of the late King Faisal, noted that Saudi Arabia has outlawed incitement and cracked down on Saudi financing destined for militant groups inside and outside the country.

"'There is what I would call a misunderstanding about Saudi Arabia among the U.S. public, as there is a misunderstanding about the United States among the Saudi public. That is why we are trying to influence this,' Faisal said, adding that the news media were partially responsible for image problems...."
What Faisal refers to as "a misunderstanding" and as "image problems" goes much deeper than such innocuous words. The Senate Judiciary Committee is supposed to be investigating Saudi's support of inciteful material distributed at mosques in the United States. Yet our State Department seems to be avoiding those committee hearings, and at the same time, Saudi appears to be lobbying to have the hearing scrapped.

Returning now to the above-cited article from the Washington Post:
"[N]oticeably missing from the dialogue are the issues of political reform and democracy, which are at the top of Washington's foreign policy agenda but are the most politically sensitive issues in the Persian Gulf nation. Six new U.S.-Saudi groups will instead focus on counterterrorism, military affairs, energy, business, education and human development, and consular affairs."
Is it reasonable to expect much cooperation from Saudi, the home of Wahhabism? On page 156 in his bestselling book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), Robert Spencer gives, in the insert "A Book You're Not Supposed To Read," a capsular review of Dore Gold's 2003 book Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism:
"Gold's history demonstrates the foolhardiness of entering into lasting accords with Islamic states that regard bonds with any non-Muslim state not as genuine alliances between equals, but as temporary arrangements that are useful only as long as they strengthen the Muslims, and not a minute longer."

[More on Dore Gold's book here, from Liberty and Culture. More on whether Saudi is our friend or foe here, from Gates of Vienna]

The United States, indeed all Western nations, should be wary of "strategic dialogue" which doesn't further the spread of Islam! After all, strategy may have a definition which differs from that which our State Department means.


At 11/14/2005 11:34 PM, Blogger Pastorius said...

Coulda, shoulda, hudna.

When will we ever learn?

At 11/14/2005 11:41 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I was going to mention hudna in my blog article, but I figured a commenter would. Thanks!

BTW, have you seen the little dispute over the meaning of the word at Wikipedia? It's worth Googling and having a look-see.

At 11/15/2005 6:43 AM, Blogger Mark said...

Our close 'friendship' with the Saudis in particular, and the Islamic Middle East in general is going to lead to our undoing! No friendships can exist betwen two groups which have mutually exclusive goals, and mutually exclusive belief systems. Period! The most that can be hoped for is mutual respect. With Muslims, even that is not on the cards! We are playing with fire!

At 11/15/2005 10:17 AM, Blogger George Mason said...

We really do not need enemies. We have the State Department. Dr. Rice tops Gen. Powell in commitment to national self-destruction. Overcoming what the Saudis are doing to subvert the world seems to pale before surviving those in our own government who see the Saudis as good-buddies-who-just-happen-to-dress-differently, and do not see them for what they are. Clearly the USA uses some of that vast expanse of Saudi sand for ostrich holes.

What irony it is to have to agree with someone like Senator Lahey, at least with regard to Saudi Arabia.

At 11/15/2005 11:00 AM, Blogger Bassizzzt said...

This pre-WWII "League of Nations" mentality has got to stop with Bush and other western leaders who pander to Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Bush has his tongue straight down the back of Faisal's robes. The entire situation and this relationship we have with the Saudis is utterly disgusting.

At 11/15/2005 11:12 AM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

"Gold's history demonstrates the foolhardiness of entering into lasting accords with Islamic states that regard bonds with any non-Muslim state not as genuine alliances between equals, but as temporary arrangements that are useful only as long as they strengthen the Muslims, and not a minute longer."

Yeah right, unlike every other nation on earth. All nations have interests and act on those interests.
If the administration feels that giving the Saudi royal family a safety valve to vent their "extremist problem" then that's what you'll get.

However, this talk about financing terrorism is odd. You can "finance" a strike with pocket change. That can't be easily stopped but what needs to be controlled is the spread of madrassas and other indoctrination. That is not a military objective but we will foolishly try to make it one.

At 11/15/2005 11:17 AM, Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Mark is right. I’d put it as follows: Friendship is founded on shared values. Saudi Arabia and America have completely different values stemming from diametrically opposed philosophies.

Thanks for linking to my summary of Gold Dore’s book. It’s a great book. I wrote that summary so that we can link to it to remind others (and ourselves) of the full nature and legacy of the House of Saud. (I too can’t remember all the details.)

At 11/15/2005 11:38 AM, Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Actually, Ducky, I agree with you that the problem is more than mere “funding” of covert operations. It certainly is the spread of a vicious mindset - a worldview or ideology. We can argue about what to actually call it and how widely it is shared. However, Saudi Arabia is in the lead spreading the infection.

At 11/15/2005 12:34 PM, Blogger A Christian Prophet said...

I'm not sure that any agreements between any countries are anything more than temporary expediencies. On the other hand, individuals can decide to live in peaceful brotherhood and from a message on The Christian Prophet it seems that this is about to start happening in the Middle East.

At 11/15/2005 12:49 PM, Blogger Esther said...

george mason, well said. Great topic, AOW. The relationship with Saudi Arabia is incredibly dysfunctional.

At 11/15/2005 1:41 PM, Blogger G_in_AL said...

My God Duck... I agree with you.

Look up quick, there is a pig flying!

We play nice with Saudi because they have alot of oil that we want, and because a good deal of the money in this nation is tied up with them. They play nice with us because we are makig them rich.

As soon as that stops, it's game on.

At 11/15/2005 1:50 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Well it might not be that simple, g. If the Saudis ever started taking Euros or Yen as oil payment (something Hussein threatened) then we would be in serious financial trouble.

When your balance of payments is putting you over a half trillion a year in the hole you have to depend on the kindness of strangers to some extent.

We have limited options with the Saudis and pissing them off is probably a recipe for trouble.

At 11/15/2005 2:28 PM, Blogger John Sobieski said...

I know Bush and Rice 'misunderstand' Saudi Arabia. How could they not when they agree to 10,000 Saudi students on our campuses, influencing those campuses, and pushing, pushing and pushing hard. What a foolish thing to do.

Look at the Euro-Arab 'dialogue' and 'cultural exchange' - look at what that has done to Europe. We need less interaction - oil and only oil. Cultural, no, immigration, no.

At 11/15/2005 2:31 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

Saudi Arabia is trying to walk a tightrope.
By allowing the United States to place troops in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Mohammed, the Saudi leadership has come under attack by Islamist groups. In response, the Saudis have often sponsored terrorist organizations.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Wahhabi radicals in Saudi Arabia both arose out of an Islamic religious movement called the Salafiyya, which believes that the practice of Islam has become corrupted and must be reformed to reflect the seventh-century form of Islam practiced at the time of the Prophet Muhammad.

Sooner or later they will be caught up in their duplicity. The United States isn't going to allow this to continue forever. Why should we be keeping troops to protect the Royal Saudis while at the same time they are trying to placate extremist groups?

At 11/15/2005 2:38 PM, Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

I totally disagree, Ducky and G. That is a pre-capitalist way of thinking. In free markets, the economic players have little power individually. If one changes his course of action, others will change to compensate.

Saudi Arabia has to sell oil in order to eat. They aren’t doing us a favor. But we’re suckers thinking that we have to placate them for their oil. It doesn’t matter who they sell oil to. As long as they sell oil, the economics of oil doesn’t change. Oil is sold “into the market.” I’ve discussed this here. At most, you’ll see a rearrangement of the path of oil from producers to consumers – perhaps through European intermediaries – but no change in the economics of oil.

Aside from food and other consumer goods, the Saudis invest some of their money. So what? Once again, it’s the earnings potential of a company that attracts investment. If one person decides to boycott a company it will become a buying opportunity for others. Everyone will just rearrange their investments.

We can completely break all diplomatic and trade relationships with Saudi Arabia and nothing will change in economics – except for a transient effect when the Saudis bluff and pretend for a short while that they can eat without selling oil.

At 11/15/2005 2:40 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

I noticed a thread throughout many of the previous post about not wanting to to anger the Saudis. They depend on us. Yes we import large amounts of Saudi Arabian oil, but there are other sources. Plus, look around at where American military personnel are stationed. Does anyone really think we would allow someone to shut down our economy? Right now American troops are a stability factor for the region. Without us, I can see the whole region being enveloped in a civil war. Iran and Saudi Arabia are not on the same side. Saudi Arabia does not want Iran to come a nuclear power. It wouldn't be the Islamic bomb, it would be the Shi'ite bomb.

At 11/15/2005 2:59 PM, Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

AC introduces another factor – disruption of oil production by war. That’s quite another matter. Iran does pose a threat to just about everyone. And that’s obviously an important point.

However, we shouldn’t particularly worry about a war where Saudi Arabia falls to, for sake of argument, Jordan. Nor should we worry about Saudi Arabia getting another “big brother” to insure its defense, say France, for example (and comic relief). We don’t need to do business with Saudi Arabia and they don’t need to sell their oil to us. “Captive market” is a concept that went out with Mercantilism.

At 11/15/2005 3:48 PM, Blogger samwich said...

General Motors Teeters on Bankruptcy
gm_bankruptcy fears.

If the Arabs stop depositing oil payment money in New York Banks the world econmomy will will tank.

If payment is changed to the Euro or Swiss Francs the US economy will tank and the world will follow suit.


At 11/15/2005 4:00 PM, Blogger Dymphna said...

All right you guys, since everyone here seems unlikely to be hauled in for a sanity check, I can dare ask this question:

I have heard that the Saudis have wired their oil wells so that if there is any trouble they can set them off, figuring if the Saud crowd has to go, then everyone else is going with them --economy-wise, anyway.

Do any of you know anything about this?

At 11/15/2005 5:43 PM, Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

That link didn't work, Samwich. The dollar isn't the world's currency because of the Saudis. It's the soundness of our economy. And our wealth doesn't depend of others suffering. A good European or Asian economy and currencies is good for everyone. It's not a zero sum game.

I heard that rumor, dymphna. I think Daniel Pipes has written something about that. I don't know if anyone has confirmed it. Of course, we worried about Saddam doing somthing like that. Anyone else hear more about our "friends" the Saudis?

At 11/15/2005 6:29 PM, Blogger samwich said...

Daniel Pipes is a member of the Council on Foriegn Relations.
So is Jimmy Carter, Jesse Jackson,
Diane Fienstien and a slew of other public enemies, private friends members of the world's ruling class.

The link worked fine for me.


At 11/15/2005 7:42 PM, Blogger samwich said...

Jason, Google General Motors Bankruptcy fears. several links to AP and the story will come up.
Yahoo's link has expired.


At 11/15/2005 11:55 PM, Blogger Purple Avenger said...

Why should we be keeping troops to protect the Royal Saudis while at the same time they are trying to placate extremist groups?

They're not doing that anymore. Quiting their economic embargo on Israel isn't going to placate any of the extremists.

The only possible conclusion after that move is that they're 100% on board now.

At 11/16/2005 12:52 AM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...


I doubt it. Saudi Arabia's oil wells are maintained and operated by internationally contracted employees, primarily from American oil and engineering companies.

But even if SA were to blow up all of their own oil wells, they'd only hurt themselves and much of Asia. The US only imports around 12% of all the oil we need / use from the Middle East. We'd still have over 88% of our suppliers on tap in a seller's market.

At 11/16/2005 3:22 AM, Blogger David Schantz said...

I'm sure glad that Samwich mentioned the CFR. I listened to a broadcast last night that ask how long our Republic could survive treason from within. It's the CFR members that are bringing our Republic down.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

At 11/16/2005 4:08 AM, Blogger samwich said...

David, think Gadianton

One calling as a Sniper in Vietnam and Cambodia, 1970.
Two callings as a Set Apart Veil Worker in the Seattle Temple and one calling as a Temple Ordinance Worker in the Jordan River, Utah Temple.


At 11/16/2005 5:32 AM, Blogger samwich said...

The UN Summit to wrest control of the Internet from the US failed.

Now the rest of the story,

Wresting control of the US from the UN failed also.


At 11/16/2005 10:19 PM, Blogger David Schantz said...

Samwich, Since you mention Gadianton and the Temple, I assume you are a member of the LDS Church. My wife and I have been members for just over a year.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

At 11/17/2005 6:02 PM, Blogger samwich said...

David, Joseph Smith lived with my great great great grandfather for six months in Kirtland Ohio.
Isaac Morely Later founded Manti Utah and over saw building the Manti Temple.

S....sixth generation

At 11/27/2005 10:08 PM, Blogger forrestshalom said...

they should be discussing how its going to feel to be destroyed by Jesus when they foolishly decide to attack israel.


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