by Reza Zarabi
It has become apparent that the billions of US dollars annually spent on Saudi oil seldom reciprocate loyalty anymore.
The recent military figures made available to The Los Angeles Times by senior American officials state that roughly 45% of all foreign combatants in the Iraq war theatre come solely from Saudi Arabia. However, this should, in no way, be a revelation.
For years, many in the West have overtly expressed their outrage at Wahabbist odium towards religious plurality, the backwards indoctrination of Saudi school children through their public educational system, the apocalyptic conspiracy theories that are rife in Saudi state-run media, and the profound antipathy that the majority in their religious establishment have towards western values.
In 2002, with the images of 9/11 still fresh in the American mindset and approximately nine months before the start of the Iraq war, scholar Victor Davis Hanson wrote a most detailed analysis about Americaâ€™s self-defeating â€œallianceâ€ with the House of Saud.In Our enemies the Saudis, Hanson examines the conundrum of why a western, liberalized society that bases its entire identity on pluralism can have any diplomatic relations, let alone a strong alliance, with the reactionary neo-Caliphate oligarchy of Saudi Arabia. The â€œanomaly raises the key question: why have close relations with the Saudis been a cornerstone of American foreign policy for decades?â€ Considering the complexities and sheer irrationality of Middle Eastern politics, one can imagine that this aspect of American foreign policy must certainly possess some esoteric meaning.
Yet, â€œthe answerâ€ could not be more salient. To Hanson, it is simply â€œoil, and nothing moreâ€ that the keeps the American government reluctantly married to the Saudi royal family. The US clearly lacks what they have and, as a result, practicality trumps the American motto of liberty and justice for all.
Hansonâ€™s analysis was 5 years ago and the brunt of his argument still rings true. Yet, the dynamics in this troubled region have since shifted dramatically. In removing Sadaam, what the US has ultimately done is uncover the unintended consequences and the nonsensicality of its long-held diplomatic ties to certain nefarious parties of the Middle East. The Saudi alliance is only one of several.
Think about it.
When on any given Monday, a sharply dressed official from the US State Department conducts a one hour harangue on the evils of Iran for supplying Shia militias in Southern Iraq with roadside bombs and then, that same official, only a few hours later, attends a â€œworking lunchâ€ with his Saudi counterpart, the utter stupidity of American foreign policy manifests itself to the world.
How can the American government expect to be taken seriously when it applies different standards to two parties, who in essence, commit the same offence? Why is Shia radicalism viewed as somehow more pernicious than Wahabbi fundamentalism when both parties engage in similar activities? In fact, Hanson himself clearly points out that â€œSaudi terrorists have killed more Americans than all those murdered by Iranians, Syrians, Libyans, and Iraqis put together.â€
It is time for the American government to stop splitting hairs and reconcile itself with the byproducts of decades of misdirected foreign policy.
What President Bush must understand is that the same Saudi delegate who is yearly invited to his Crawford ranch, who sits down to dinner with him as they exchange pleasantries, is just as evil and inimical to American interests as any mystic Ayatollah on the streets of Qom.
For years, successive American administrations have courted Saudi allegiance in return for American interests to be played out in the broader Middle East. Yet, they have turned a blind eye to the Saudi governmentâ€™s rampant human rights abuses, support for terrorism, and mass indoctrination of Stalinist ideology upon their public.
It is now a sober reality that the American alliance with Saudi Arabia is of no further use. It is disingenuous of the Bush administration to proclaim that they â€œwill go after the terroristsâ€ all the while attempting to â€œwin hearts and mindsâ€ when they are clearly married to â€˜the makers of terroristsâ€™, those who vitiate young hearts and minds. If blind American allegiance towards the House of Saud stems only from energy concerns, then certain shifts in trade with Russia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Mexico, and dare I say, Iran, can easily alleviate those concerns.
Yesâ€¦Iran, and why not? If the American government can do business with a nation like Saudi Arabia, which has a citizenry that is intoxicated with hate towards the West, teaches its children that Jews are monkeys, and actively supports â€œcharitiesâ€ that send money to the families of suicide bombers, then surely the US can do business with any other rogue regime. Follow the numbers: 80% of those who murdered 3,000 people on 9/11 were Saudis; and now 45% of foreign combatants in Iraq are Saudis.
American credibility is marred, not because of its stance towards Iran, its alliance with Israel, or Saudi subterfuge. The damage to US credibility comes from the schism between American rhetoric and action â€“ because of its inconsistency.
For years, America ignored calls to back away from the serpent that is Saudi Arabia. Therefore, now, it cannot complain if, every so often, it is bitten by it.