June 23, 2005

Turning Up The Heat

One gaping hole in the Bush Doctrine has been the administration's ongoing game of footsy with Saudi Arabia. The royals talk a good game of assistance in fighting terrorism, while their country continues to provide much of the funding, manpower, religious fanaticism and indoctrination that sustain Islamic terror against the West. There are of course all kinds of reasons, diplomatic, geo-strategic, and economic why our options are limited in dealing with the Saudis. But it is frustrating to many of us who supported and continue to support the President in the implementation of his doctrine to observe the blatant duplicity of the Saudis and the administration's tepid response to it.

In an essay at Front Page Magazine, Robert Spencer examines Saudi behavior and expresses his support for the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act of 2005, a recently introduced Senate measure sponsored by Rick Santorum among others, that is intended to...

“halt Saudi support for institutions that fund, train, incite, encourage, or in any other way aid and abet terrorism, and to secure full Saudi cooperation in the investigation of terrorist incidents, and for other purposes.” It calls on the Saudis to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 1373 of 2001, which directs all nations to “refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts,” as well as to take “the necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist acts” and “deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts.” It cites a 2002 report by the Council on Foreign Relations that notes that “for years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for al-Qaeda, and for years, Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to this problem.” A June 2004 CFR report lamented that “since September 11, 2001, we know of not a single Saudi donor of funds to terrorist groups who has been publicly punished.”

Unlike Egypt, the Saudis don't need our foreign aid money, so there's not a lot of leverage in Congress to impact Saudi behavior, but I suppose doing something is better than doing nothing. My concern is with the ongoing tradition of Saudi dollars flowing to former U.S. government officials, especially State Department officials, which has the intended effect of influencing the behavior of current State Department employees who don't want to jeopardize their own potential retirement nest eggs. If this is not corruption, what is?

Joel Mowbray, author of "Dangerous Diplomacy", quotes it from the horse's mouth:

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador the United States, was quoted in the Washington Post as having said, "If the reputation then builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office, you�d be surprised how much better friends you have who are just coming into office."

Read the whole Mowbray piece for the names. It's a bi-partisan arrangement of forty years duration, and one largely hidden from public disclosure. And it contributes greatly to the "special relationship" we share with the Saudis.

American striped suits keep cashing checks and lobbying for their paymasters, while Saudis keep blowing up Marines in Iraq. How special is that?

Posted by dan at June 23, 2005 11:01 PM