Thank You, Saud, May I Have Another?

If, as the saying once went, the road to Riyadh runs through Baghdad, there was no evidence on display during Crown Prince Abdullah's world-leader-leading second visit to President George Bush's Crawford ranch yesterday. The discussion and coverage was mostly about oil prices; some articles didn't even mention Sept. 11, and I only spotted three containing the word "Wahhabi." So much for that whole "U.S.-Saudi relationship on the rocks" storyline.

Besides making sure that all the Kingdom's 26 million oppressed subjects saw multiple images of their unelected theocrat being physically intimate with the Leader of the Free World, Bush and his pal Abdullah issued a mealy-mouthed joint statement that had this to say about domestic Saudi affairs:

While the United States considers that nations will create institutions that reflect the history, culture, and traditions of their societies, it does not seek to impose its own style of government on the government and people of Saudi Arabia. The United States applauds the recently held elections in the Kingdom for representatives to municipal councils and looks for even wider participation in accordance with the Kingdom's reform program.

That's it. Nothing, say, on the recent Saudi floggings and imprisonment of 100 men for "dancing and 'behaving like women,'" or of the continued imprisonment of three dissidents who dared call for elections and free assembly. (Note, too, how the first sentence, in addition to reeking of relativism, does not actually make sense.) Much more ink was spilled, as is the norm for these foul little gatherings, on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. What's more, the Americans came off as downright apologetic compared to the country from which sprang 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 murderers.

We must work to expand dialogue, understanding, and interactions between our citizens. This will include programs designed to increase the number of young Saudi students to travel and study in the United States; ... The United States recognizes we must exert great efforts to overcome obstacles facing Saudi businessmen and students who wish to enter the United States and we pledge to our Saudi friends that we will take on this effort.

Note the serial use of the word "must." Well, forgive me for being cranky about it, but I'll go ahead and place the speeding-up of visas for young Saudis pretty low on my things-I-must-do list.

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  • ||

    I'm not exactly a dick-swinging imperialist here, but that statement was downright craven. When did we lose a war to Saudi Arabia?

    It's enough to shake my faith in the genuineness of Bush's commitment to Arab democracy. Well, almost.

  • ||

    Let's not get ahead of ourselves people.

    Bush does his regime changes one at a time.

    Next up: Iran!

    Let Hillary do KSA.
    .

  • ||

    So Bush said something blatantly reletavist that doesn't make sense.

    Go figure...

  • ||

    Georeg Bush sucks Suadi cock by free choice, as they might say on Deadwood.

  • ||

    I'm not saying we should pursue violent regime change or anything, but surely we could be a little less cozy. Bush should just nod politely when he sees Crown Prince Abdullah at parties, and if anybody asks he can say "Oh, yeah, Abdullah. OK guy, we've hung out a couple times, but, you know, he's nobody that I know really well or hang out with a lot. He's got some tyranny issues to work on."

  • Matt Welch||

    Fun fact about Abdullah -- last time he came to Crawford he insisted on having male drivers for his entourage from the airport. His wish was granted (just as it was during Gulf War I, when Jewish American soldiers were told they could only celebrate Passover [I think it was] offshore, on a boat, instead of at the American encampment).

  • ||

    Saud-a-mized

  • Doug||

    I wonder if it isn't bewildering and demoralizing to red-blooded Wahhabists everywhere to see their Grand Poobah Abdullah so chummy with the leader of the infidels. I'm also a little in doubt as to whether all members of the Saudi "royal family" are to be considered enemies uniformally. I mean, I understand that there are 7000 of them and that they're arrayed in factions with daggers drawn against each other. It might be prudent to make a great show of support for the current, de facto Saudi ruler so as to make his third cousins, twice removed, think twice about their plan to poison his orange juice. If Abdullah is to be removed, it would be handy for him to be removed at the time of our choosing, to be replaced by rulers more friendly, not less friendly, to us. Nor ought we to overlook the likely effect of this kissy-kissy love fest on the oil markets, and thus on the price of gasoline, and thus on the U.S.'s near-term prospects for continued economic growth. "Paris is worth a mass," and maybe the orderly progress of U.S. policy is worth touching the clammy hand of "Crown Prince" Abdullah.

  • Michael J. Totten||

    I really am getting tired of the president of my country holding hands on his Texas ranch with that fat medieval Wahhabi "prince" whose country is named after his family.

  • Mike||

    Can you say OIL?? If your drug dealer tells you to heal bitch, and you're hooked on the stuff? then you "heal like a little bitch"

    Which is just what W did.

    I don't like Bill Maher, he's a prick, but he's got that analogy dead on.

  • Sam||

    Between this and bankruptcy reform, Bush is doing much to bridge the partisan schism in American politics. I monitor all the political frequencies and have to say...the number of Saudi apologists out there is even lower than the number of credit card company apologists. This photo op is seriously shaking my (grudging) respect for the White House image-making team.

    Saud-a-mized. Priceless!

  • ||

    Shoot...I already got re-elected.

    I don't give a crap anymore.

    Yehoo! Ride me like a big dog, princy.

    You too, dicky.

    Now that I've created a crisis, I got a good reason to give tax breaks to Super Big SUV drivers and push fer nuk-yular power plants so we can git back to making bombs ta' blow up the ter'rists and keep 'merica free.

  • ||

    "While the United States considers that nations will create institutions that reflect the history, culture, and traditions of their societies, it does not seek to impose its own style of government on the government and people of Saudi Arabia."

    This guy cracks me up! He throws around double standards like none of us can remember past last week. Hey, chief, what happened to that "consideration" for the "insitutions" of Iraq? Conversely, where's your concern for the oppressed Saudis? Shouldn't we be "liberating" them too? I'm told that tossing "smart" bombs in civilian centers is great way to "liberate" oppressed peoples. You of all people should know that!

    As much as Michael Moore and his stupid movies irk me, the whole bit at the beginning of F911 about Bush's ties to the House of Saud is ringing rather poignent right about now.

  • ||

    "the country from which sprang 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 murderers."

    I see and hear this statement repeated often, in different contexts, none of which in my memory were flattering to the Bush administration. Perhaps the context is unimportant. Anyway, what I would like to know is why? Why is this repeated so often? What is it's significance?

    If these 15 were radical Islamists, like we've all been led to believe, motivated by a desire to see some sort of reestablishment of an Islamic caliphate, and not radical nationalism, promoting the interests of their nation, then isn't their nationality moot?

    However, if one were to argue that Saudi domestic policy creates an environment which promotes the growth of such individuals, is the writer then arguing that it is in U.S. interests to launch some sort of war, trade, diplomatic, actual, or otherwise against Saudi Arabia? Or just adopt a more hostile stance?

    Perhaps, in this context, it is illustrating the relative innocence of the U.S. I would suppose that would make sense given "moral relativism" theme I've seen here over the last few days.

  • ||

    b,

    The phrase gains its relevance in light of Bush's oft-repeated belief that the "root cause" of terrorism is the oppression of backwards governments, and their policy of blaming their problems on the United States.

    Remind you of anyone?

  • ||

    Another thought:

    Considering a stated commitment to democracy in the middle east, there ought to be an expectation of a more hard-line, pressurized position for reform in contrast to the Saudis. Instead we see a far more amiable gathering on the ranch.

    Is this an example of Bush's rich appreciation for irony?

  • ||

    joe:

    Fair enough. I stated a variation of that theme in the 4th paragraph. So can you answer those questions?

    Are you suggesting then that the U.S. adopt a more adversarial relationship w/ the Saudi's? If so, how far are you suggesting the adversarial nature go?

  • ||

    Are the newspapers giving us a not too subtle hint?

    http://www.theagitator.com/archives/020660.php#020660

  • digamma||

    Matt Welch: I hope you didn't miss this Dallas Morning News page.

  • digamma||

    Ah shit, I should have reloaded before hitting Post.

  • ||

    The most ridiculous aspect of the entire charade, appart from making the US appear completely craven, is that the Saudis can really do very little to affect oil prices now or in the near future. Increasing production isn't simply a matter of turning a spigot - most Saudi oil fields are mature and reached their peak production back in the early 1980's, just as M. King Hubbert predicted. There have been very few new oil fields discovered worldwide in the last 10 years, and most of those new discoveries have not been giants. Even if the US had the extra refinery capacity (which it does not), the Saudis would be hard-pressed to supply it. Oil demand is escalating across the globe, and existing supplies are being tapped at accelerating rates.

    Here's a reasonably good article on the subject:

    Oil - the big picture

  • ||

    b,

    If you're sincerely asking what stance the US should take towards Saudi Arabia then I'll leave that to others with more expertise. If you're instead presenting the false choice between cynical realpolitiking and messianic interventionism (a gambit the Bushies have mastered), then double dumbass on you.

    Doug's notion that Bush and Abdullah's romantic stroll strikes a "bewildering and demoralizing" blow against "red-blooded Wahabbists everywhere" is hilarious. What if I'm feeling bewildered and demoralized, Doug? Somehow I never get the memo explaining how the disgusting coziness is all a clever ruse, a small part of our master plan to win the War on Terror.

  • ||

    So let me get this straight...

    Bush invades Iraq and topples a brutal dictator and that's BAD.

    He holds hands and tries to help the Crown Prince keep Saudi Arabia as an ally of the US and that's BAD.

    So, is there some other reasonable route to keeping the alliances we need, encouraging democracy abroad, pursuing our national security interests (and occasionally toppling dicatators for the good of all) that I'm missing here?

    I'd like to see joe, or some of the folks making gay jokes (about as non-PC as it gets, BTW) explain why this isn't an example of diplomatic and political brilliance.

    I'm not claiming Bush is a rocket scientist, but he seems to be pretty good at realpolitik. Admittedly, it probably has a lot more to do with his advisors than anything else, but he seems to be getting the job done pretty well.

    Can someone else remember a time since Reagan was in office when things consistently went our way on foreign policy issues?

  • ||

    Of course, maybe everyone I'm asking these questions of thinks Nixon going to China and hobnobbing with Mao Tse-tung was like putting the official US seal of approval on Mao's democidal Cultural Revolution.

    I'm not one of those guys. I realize that in our imperfect world there are gov'ts that don't usually lean toward liberty and human rights and that sometimes we have to deal with them in an unpalatable manner. (It's funny how people who seem to think war was the wrong answer also turn their noses up at diplomacy...)

  • ||

    "Bush invades Iraq and topples a brutal dictator and that's BAD."

    Actually, it has more to do with how he invaded Iraq that was bad.

    "He holds hands and tries to help the Crown Prince keep Saudi Arabia as an ally of the US and that's BAD."


    Because, Lord knows, the House of Saud would immediately cut ties with the patron that have kept them in power, bought most of their exports, and provided them with their military power, if the Presdident didn't arrange for special puff piece visits to his estate, complete with romantic walks though fields of wildflowers.

    "So, is there some other reasonable route to keeping the alliances we need, encouraging democracy abroad, pursuing our national security interests (and occasionally toppling dicatators for the good of all) that I'm missing here?" What you're missing here, rob, could sink the Queen Mary. Public pressure, rather than defeaning silence, on democracy and human rights. Engagement with internal reform groups, rather than acquiescence in the royals' policy of labelling them "terrorists" and "threats to stability." A cessation of asking for favors that will need to be paid back.

    "Can someone else remember a time since Reagan was in office when things consistently went our way on foreign policy issues?" Does the steady expansion of NATO, the rise of democratic, pro-American governments throughout the former Warsaw Pact and Latin America, a peace treaty brokered between Israel and Jordan, a years-long period without any terrorist attacks in Israel, and an increasing commitment by western European countries to grow their militaries and take on greater responsibility for protect themselves and keep the peace count as "going our way?"

  • ||

    I forgot the part where Nixon invited Mao to his home, scripted a number of photo ops demonstrating their personal closeness, and issued a statement acknowledging that the United States "must" accommodate China on a number of items on its wish list, while denying in writing that we seek to promote democracy there.

    "(It's funny how people who seem to think war was the wrong answer also turn their noses up at diplomacy...)" Now we realize why rob's so hostile to "diplomacy" - he thinks it consists entirely of the ankle-grabbing Bush displayed in Crawford. I don't turn my nose up at diplomacy per se, just the craven, humiliating, counterproductive variety.

  • ||

    George H. W. Bush's one and only term. The fall of the Soviet Union was a pretty big deal at the time, as was the defeat of Saddam and the destruction of his nuclear program.

  • ||

    rob,
    Nixon going to China was slightly different. It�s not like it was US policy to kiss Chinese butt for decades before Nixon�s trip. Nixon�s trip was seen as an attempt to thaw out relations and open diplomatic channels. Bush�s visits with CPA are part of a longstanding American policy that he himself has decried and he has made opposing tyranny a centerpiece of his foreign policy.

    Bush invades Iraq and topples a brutal dictator and that's BAD.
    He holds hands and tries to help the Crown Prince keep Saudi Arabia as an ally of the US and that's BAD.


    Much like it wasn�t Clinton�s BJ that was bad, it was the perjury, the false pretenses to the war was the �BAD� part. When you consider that (9-11) Bush kept (9-11) bringing up 9-11 (did I mention 9-11) as justification (9-11) for toppling Saddam. Ignoring the country where the mastermind, a great deal of the money and the manpower all originated from, not to mention their half-assed assistance in the WOT and opposition to the war and they get rimjobs for their trouble.

    France voted against us in the UNSC and conservatives boycott their products, give them the diplomatic cold shoulder (not to mention have our SecDef insult them), change the name of french fries and write books about how they�re our oldest enemy. SA, which is right next door, gives us the finger for staging the attack (which presumably protects their interests as well) and the President acts like they�re our bestest friends that we wronged. Don�t you see anything wrong with this?

    * For the record, prior to Iraq, I felt that toppling and replacing the Saudi regime with a democratically elected government would knock over far more dominos than Iraq. Where does most of the money for extremist Islam comes from? Saudi Arabia. Who funds the misogynistic, anti-Semetic, anti-American madrassas? Saudi Arabia.

  • Peter K.||

    It should be remembered both Michael Moore and Saudi Arabia were against toppling Saddam Hussein.

    If Iraq's oil fields ever get up to speed, they'll break the Saudi's monopoly.

    The rise to power of Iraq's Shia (see the new cabinet) will embolden the minority Saudi Shia who are treated like dirt.
    As Fareed Zakaria writes, the King of Jordon is warning of a "Shiite crescent" including Hezbollah of Lebanon, Iraq and Iran.

    http://www.fareedzakaria.com/articles/articles.html

    Saddam Hussein was a buffer against Iran until he went all Scarface and slaughtered the Kurds and annexed Kuwait.

  • ||

    Mo is right. Bush brings this on himself with the constant �with us or against us� talk. The invite and hand holding at the ranch clearly tells the world (especially the Saudis) that SA is with us. That makes a mockery of Bush�s own foreign policy shtick. How many times do you think Bush would have mentioned 15 of the 19 highjackers were Iraqi had that been the case? How much would we have heard about �follow the money� if it was Iraqi government sanctioned fundraising that financed so much terror? Anyone who supports Bush�s liberal change-the-world interventionist policy has to be disappointed that he is holding hands with a tyrant.

  • ||

    Matty,

    Yes, i am sincerely asking, and whatever gave you the idea that I suggested that cynical realpolitiking and messianic interventionism were mutually exclusive? Double dumbass right back at ya.

  • ||

    Mo:

    "France voted against us in the UNSC and conservatives boycott their products, give them the diplomatic cold shoulder (not to mention have our SecDef insult them), change the name of french fries and write books about how they�re our oldest enemy. SA, which is right next door, gives us the finger for staging the attack (which presumably protects their interests as well) and the President acts like they�re our bestest friends that we wronged. Don�t you see anything wrong with this?"

    Well, no. If we are to apply the same logic you just presented here:

    "Much like it wasn�t Clinton�s BJ that was bad, it was the perjury, the false pretenses to the war was the �BAD� part."

    Much like it wasn't the war that was bad, it was the false pretenses, the vote it self wasn't the bad part, it was the motivation.

  • ||

    I gotta call bullshit on that, b. The administration and its echo chamber press were pummelling the French for voting wrong long before oil-for-food came out, or even before the "France just wants Iraq's oil contracts" line, wayyyyyyyyy back when France was obviously motivated by its ingrained pacifism, exhaustion, anti-Semitism, and anti-American strategic orientation. Remember "old Europe" and "the chocolate makers?" Don't try to pass the embarrassing anti-French freakout as a consequence of the years-away-from-breaking oil for food scandal.

  • ||

    b,
    I seem to remember that Americans were also involved in the Oil for Food scandal. And what about the Russians? They are worse than the French is about a dozen different ways (and just as involved in OfF), most of the Iraqi arms were Russian built, but we all we got is that Bush looked into Vladimir "The Soviet Union�s collapse was a terrible thing" Putin�s soul and said all was fine.

  • ||

    Wow, you'd think I was defending ALL of Bush's foreign policy, rather than just being savvy enough to realize that maintaining alliances when you need them and discarding them when they become intolerable is just smart foreign policy.

    "Actually, it has more to do with how he invaded Iraq that was bad." - joe

    And you're argument against my point is what?


    "Because, Lord knows, the House of Saud would immediately cut ties with the patron that have kept them in power, bought most of their exports, and provided them with their military power, if the Presdident didn't arrange for special puff piece visits to his estate, complete with romantic walks though fields of wildflowers." - joe

    Actually, those things actually might happen in a scenario where the House of Saud is toppled because they are seen as caving in to US interests and joe's route of "Public pressure, rather than defeaning silence, on democracy and human rights. Engagement with internal reform groups, rather than acquiescence in the royals' policy of labelling them 'terrorists' and 'threats to stability.'"

    Besides, the public pressure route has been SO successful in the past, right? Yeah, Putin took his public humiliation from Bush and properly chastised, went right on to remove all barriers to freedom. (If only foreign relations worked the way joe envisions it, rather than leaders struggling to stay in control and in power and could actually be shamed into doing what's not in their best interests.)

    joe, your examples of foreign policy coups aren't particularly convincing. "the steady expansion of NATO," - isn't necessarily a plus if we're going to violate international law by bombing Kosovo. "the rise of democratic, pro-American governments throughout the former Warsaw Pact and Latin America," - brought about by Reagan's administration's defeat of the USSR "a peace treaty brokered between Israel and Jordan," - good stuff, but not spectacular. "a years-long period without any terrorist attacks in Israel," - prove there were no attacks in Israel and I'll believe it. Not being in the news doesn't mean there weren't attacks. "and an increasing commitment by western European countries to grow their militaries and take on greater responsibility for protect themselves and keep the peace" - you're actually going to ttake the position that stronger militaries in the areas where WW1 and 2 were fought is a good thing? You'd argue that arms control is only a good thing when it's individual citizens being disarmed, then?

    "I forgot the part where Nixon invited Mao to his home, scripted a number of photo ops demonstrating their personal closeness, and issued a statement acknowledging that the United States "must" accommodate China on a number of items on its wish list, while denying in writing that we seek to promote democracy there.

    "Now we realize why rob's so hostile to 'diplomacy'" - What gave you that idea joe?
    I'm the LAST guy to want to go to war.

    "I don't turn my nose up at diplomacy per se, just the craven, humiliating, counterproductive variety." - Prove that this was counterproductive. The rest is just your opinion. Apparently you only turn up your nose at diplomacy when it's Bush conducting it.

    joe and Mo - The US hasn't made a policy during and since the Nixon era of turning a blind eye to China's human rights record and according it a laundry list of wishes? I seem to remember a LOT of howling about espionage, human rights violations and Most Favored Nation trade status.

    "Bush�s visits with CPA are part of a longstanding American policy that he himself has decried and he has made opposing tyranny a centerpiece of his foreign policy." - Mo

    Hmmm... Maybe we should go ahead and take them ALL on right now, then? There's a difference between opposing tyranny and trying to take on all tyrants at the same time.

  • ||

    It should be remembered...Saudi Arabia were against toppling Saddam Hussein.

    If Iraq's oil fields ever get up to speed, they'll break the Saudi's monopoly.


    Even though Iraq under Saddam was a part of OPEC, they constantly produced beyond what their Saudi (OPEC) brothers wanted (not unlike the constant cheating done by farmers with US agri-subsidies). The Sauds were against toppling Saddam only because they thought his replacement would be a competitor rather than a colluder. Iraq's oil fields won't ever get up to speed if Dubya's military is around.

  • ||

    Doesn�t the US space program need a place to test equipment and personnel in a hard radiation environment? Especially on unusual terrain involving resource extraction?

  • ||

    Sorry, bad cut&paste. Should ahve read like this:

    "I forgot the part where Nixon invited Mao to his home, scripted a number of photo ops demonstrating their personal closeness, and issued a statement acknowledging that the United States 'must' accommodate China on a number of items on its wish list, while denying in writing that we seek to promote democracy there." - joe
    "Nixon going to China was slightly different. It�s not like it was US policy to kiss Chinese butt for decades before Nixon�s trip."- Mo

    joe and Mo - The US hasn't made a policy during and since the Nixon era of turning a blind eye to China's human rights record and according it a laundry list of wishes? I seem to remember a LOT of howling about espionage, human rights violations and Most Favored Nation trade status.

  • ||

    Joe:

    "Don't try to pass the embarrassing anti-French freakout as a consequence of the years-away-from-breaking oil for food scandal."

    You misunderstood joe. That is not what I said at all. I did not in any way, shape or form state anything like what you just said. What I suggested was that the French motivation for its vote was hardly due to noble reasons, as you seem to have agreed, and offered the oil-for-food as an example of those less-than-noble reasons. I made no statement such as that you have put in my mouth.



    Mo:

    "I seem to remember that Americans were also involved in the Oil for Food scandal. And what about the Russians? They are worse than the French is about a dozen different ways (and just as involved in OfF)"

    First, which ways are those? And secondly, why does that matter? Is this tu quoque or red herring or both? I thought we were talking about the French.

  • ||

    I'm reminded of a quote (don't remember who said it):

    "Diplomacy is the fine art of saying 'Nice doggie' while you look for a stick."

  • ||

    Joe:

    More on this.....

    "Don't try to pass the embarrassing anti-French freakout as a consequence of the years-away-from-breaking oil for food scandal."

    Years-away-from-breaking? It appears you may have a distorted perception of time....

    "On January 20, 2003, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said, "We think that military intervention would be the worst possible solution," although France believed that Iraq may have had an ongoing chemical and nuclear weapons program. .... France also suggested that it would veto any resolution allowing military intervention offered by the U.S. or Britain, even if a majority of the U.N. Security Council members voted for it."

    source

    Yet, only 3 months later (that's months, not years)....

  • Matthew Goggins||

    The President holds hands with the Crown Prince.

    He invites him to his ranch for the second time, and gives him the royal treatment.

    Does this mean he supports the Prince's brutal and undemocratic government?

    Well, on the surface that's exactly what it means. But President Bush is boldly and repeatedly on the record, in his speeches and by his actions, in favor of democracy and democratic reform in the Middle East and around the world.

    How`should we resolve the apparent contradiction?

    One way is to decide that the Bush Doctrine of democracy promotion as a national policy is just an empty promise, convenient propoganda for covering up our imperialistic ambitions.

    Another way is to decide that President Bush is biding his time with Saudi Arabia while he deals with Iraq, Iran, Syria, and North Korea. And that if Saudi Arabia isn't planning to turn around like Libya's Khadaffi has turned around, then they are on a long-term collision course with the U.S. And if they end up colliding with us, then the House of Saud is fated to collapse and disappear.

    So President Bush's very accomodating diplomacy in the second scenario above is merely serving to protect our western flank in Iraq while we try to coax the Saudis to dismantle their family oligarchy before its too late.

    I'm not sure why so many commenters are willing to assume that President Bush is doing his closet imperialist act when he's being diplomatic, but I guess conspiracy theories are more titillating than looking at what President Bush has been doing on the ground in the Middle East and Afghanistan and elsewhere.

  • ||

    "And you're argument against my point is what?"

    I didn't realize you had a point, rob. I was just pointing out the glaring error in your assertion that people who were against the war are opposed to working to toppling dictators.

    Oh no, the House of Saud might be toppled if we don't prop them up? Hold me!

    Seriously, rob, don't you feel just a little bit dirty suddenly swinging over to the "rabble in the street must be kept in line for our realpolitik" side, after having spent the last few months declaring that Bushies alone care about democracy in the Arab world? And crowing about your moral superiority for agreeing?

    "Besides, the public pressure route has been SO successful in the past, right?" Berlin Wall speech, anyone? Bush's heated rhetoric about Syria over the past couple of months? FYI, both of those instances of the American bully pulpit paying off involved cases of American Presidents speaking out in support of existing, active resistance/reform movements, which the leaders of the targetted countries had to deal with for exactly the reasons of self preservation you mention.

    "joe, your examples of foreign policy coups aren't particularly convincing" You didn't ask for coups, you asked for a period since Reagan when foreign policy has gone our way for a while.

    "you're actually going to ttake the position that stronger militaries in the areas where WW1 and 2 were fought is a good thing?" As a liberal hawk, I believe that it is a good thing for stable, liberal democracies to have robust militaries. It's a jungle out there. You should real a little bit about 30s-era disarmament movements in western Europe. They used exactly your logic, and things didn't turn out so well.

    "You'd argue that arms control is only a good thing when it's individual citizens being disarmed, then?" I don't want individual citizens to be disarmed (with the obvious exceptions for particularly dangerous individuals), though I support limits on how heavily they can be armed. But then, I don't want Britain to start building germ bombs, either.

    "Prove this was counterproductive." Impossibe to prove a negative. When nothing happens in Saudi Arabia for the next few years, there will be no way to definitively prove that it would have happened if Bush has been more of a man.

    "Apparently you only turn up your nose at diplomacy when it's Bush conducting it." I've come out in favor of some of Bush's diplomatic efforts - for example, his public statements on Syria, and his decision to co-sponsor a UN resolution with France insisting that they withdraw. And I've opposed diplomatic actions taken by Democrats, such as Bill Clinton's lobbying to prevent the UN from taking action in Rwanda.

    BTW, if Bush had disinvited the Prince, and put out a statement explaining that he was doing so because of the imprisonments and executions of dissidents and religious minorities, THAT would have been diplomacy as well. I don't think you have a good working definition of the term.

    I'm not going to defend the wimpy pro-Chinese stance our country has taken towards China since Nixon, but at least we haven't been treated to the level of presidential dictator-coddling that just took place in Texas. Seriously, that guy Bush walked hand in hand with, and who's wish list was released as a series of things America "must" do, endorses a legal system that executes women in public for giving birth to their rapists' children.

    "There's a difference between opposing tyranny and trying to take on all tyrants at the same time." Nice try, rob, but the suck-fest we just witnessed is NOT the only alternative to an immediate policy of regime change.

  • ||

    rob,
    I�m not happy about our current foreign policy in China, but what Nixon did with China is completely different than what Bush is doing with Saudi Arabia. Granted, Nixon�s visit led to us turning a blind eye. A better analogue would be if Bush went to China today and held hands with the high ups.

    Nowhere did I say that we should invade SA, China and Russia (I did say I would have preferred an invasion of SA over Iraq, but now we can�t very well do that). But there�s something to be said for a little political pressure. Condi skipped out on her visit to Egypt due to imprisoning democracy advocates. THAT was a good bit of diplomacy and it happened to work. It wasn�t a declaration of war, but it let them know we mean business. Granted, Egypt isn�t as important, resource-wise, but politically, it�s just as important as SA in the region. Of course, Egypt doesn�t quite have the shady funding history and only 4 of the hijackers were Egyptian. Plus they have trade relations with Israel and are actually trying to crack down on Islamists, at least more than SA.

    My beef isn�t that we�re not invading Saudi Arabia, but that we�re letting them run the show and set the diplomatic mood when it goes against everything Bush�s foreign policy stands for.

    What bothers me is the striking hypocrisy in Bush�s democracy promotion. I bring up Russia to show the striking difference between two nations that acted identically wrt Iraq in the UNSC, have the same potential conflict of interest wrt Iraq, yet one is a liberal democracy and the other barely is a democracy. Yet we play nicer with the one that�s less democratic. How is this democracy promotion?

  • ||

    "Bushies alone care about democracy in the Arab world? And crowing about your moral superiority for agreeing?" - joe

    Find a place where I've said that. Or take it back and apologize for grossly mis-representing my position. I'm not going to call you a liar, yet, because I want you to have the opportunity to retract and apologize.

    "I didn't realize you had a point, rob. I was just pointing out the glaring error in your assertion that people who were against the war are opposed to working to toppling dictators." - joe

    No, what you did was not address what I wrote, and pretend that you did. For someone who screams bloody murder at what he considers the slightest mis-representation of one of your arguments, you sure are fast and loose in mis-representating other people's arguments.

    I think my position is best represented by Matthew Goggin's last two paragraphs, and I appreciate the fact that he is able to say it more succintly than I did.

    (BTW, joe... liberal hawk? To channel another thread entirely, is that like a gay Republican?)

    "I was just pointing out the glaring error in your assertion that people who were against the war are opposed to working to toppling dictators." - joe

    Big supporter of Kosovo, were you? So, if it's a Democrat leading the charge you're all for it? You know that wasn't my assertion, so knock it off. (I'm not a fan of either of the two major parties, so my opinion on this is certainly not for the sake of BS partisanship.)

    "Oh no, the House of Saud might be toppled if we don't prop them up? Hold me!" - joe

    You think the House of Saud is the worst scenario for Saudi Arabia? Man, you really DO see the world through rose-colored glasses.

    "I don't think you have a good working definition of the term." - joe

    Maybe you're right. I'm sure that your definition is superior to mine, since you're SO much smarter than me. Maybe it would be easier to take you seriously if you didn't mix your snide attacks amongst your arguments. (I try to keep my posts poking fun at your more questionable tactics as "stand-alones.")

    Surely your definition of diplomacy includes the reality that you may have to do something distasteful in the short-term to accomplish your long-term goals. I don't like the taste of our Saudi Arabia policy, nor our China policy. But I realize that engagement works better than isolation, and that we may be better off dealing with the devils we know at this point than the potential disaster of not dealing with them. (Tho I look forward to the day that we can call tyranny out to its face, there are plenty of reasons that day is not today).

    "Nice try, rob, but the suck-fest we just witnessed is NOT the only alternative to an immediate policy of regime change." - joe

    No, it's not. But it might be what best meets our long-term goals. The alternatives might be worse than this, as I've discussed above.

    Mo, if your "beef isn�t that we�re not invading Saudi Arabia, but that we�re letting them run the show and set the diplomatic mood when it goes against everything Bush�s foreign policy stands for" then yours is a complaint of type, not of kind. Frankly, I don't get that wrapped around the axles about who drives the car as long is it eventually gets where we need to go. We don't have to rub it in that we're in charge for the sake of our tender national pride or whatever - that's probably the worst idea for relations with ANY other sovereign nation. Let CPA take the lead, as long as we're tangoing diplomatically towards the right conclusion.

    "What bothers me is the striking hypocrisy in Bush�s democracy promotion... How is this democracy promotion?" - Mo

    You fight the battles you can win, not every single battle that presents itself. This holds as true in diplomacy as it does in war.

  • ||

    "American Presidents speaking out in support of existing, active resistance/reform movements, which the leaders of the targetted countries had to deal with for exactly the reasons of self preservation you mention." - joe

    And just for the record, public pressure only works when the pressure exerted HELPS those who are in reform movements. I think the general foreign policy consensus is that the ruling House of Saud types are about as liberal as they can get away with and still keep a grip on power without losing it like the Shah of Iran did.

  • Matthew Goggins||

    Thanks for the compliment, rob.

    I like reading succinctness, so I try write it too.

    Of course, actions are even more succinct than words, which makes President Bush a great communicator to those who are willing to listen to what he does.

  • Matthew Goggins||

    Oops, "I try write it too" was a little too succinct.

  • ||

    So, is there some other reasonable route to keeping the alliances we need, encouraging democracy abroad, pursuing our national security interests (and occasionally toppling dicatators for the good of all) that I'm missing here?

    There is an unstated premise in this question that is not valid.

    Namely, that the critics are reasonable, and give a damn about keeping the alliances we need, encouraging democracy abroad, or persuing our national security interests. Once you realize that they aren't, and don't, the logic is clear.

    But if you bring that up, or they'll get indignant and accuse you of questioning their patriotism.

    Debating such people is a waste of time.

  • ||

    MG - I on the other hand, have a real problem with succintness lately.

    OTOH, I think I'm going to start abbreviating my quotes of other people's posts to keep my posts shorter.

    I'm sure it would suck a lot less bandwith. In fact, considering some of the arguments I'm quoting, it would suck a lot less, period.

  • ||

    How long do I have to give joe before I can declare that his total failure to respond is because he knows he doesn't have a leg to stand on and would have to apologize?

    We're almost into Day 3 of the "Joe Apology Watch." Good thing I'm not holding my breath! ; >

  • ||

    I'm sure no one is still reading this, but today is Day 5 of the "Joe Apology Watch." Maybe I'm being petty, but I think that rounding off on someone with a bunch of nonsense and running away is rather Sir Robin-esque (of Monty-Python fame).

  • ||

    Day 6.

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