Like Texas, Only Without the Christians

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While George Bush was expressing intimacy and friendship with Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Abdullah, there were some other Riyadh-related items in the news:

* Forty Pakistanis were arrested April 21 for practicing Christianity.
* One of Abdullah's entourage was denied entry into the United States because he was on a no-fly list of suspected terrorists.
* The chief justice of Saudia Arabia's Supreme Judicial Council was caught on tape "encourag[ing] young Saudis to go to Iraq to wage war against Americans."

Did these issues come up in bilateral discussions? We'll probably never know; unlike other world leaders who visit Crawford, Abdullah is protected from having to answer questions from the American press. (We wouldn't want to be culturally insensitive, don'tcha know.) And the Americans sure didn't sound like they were busting his chops. "I would rate the trip a success in terms of relationship-building," U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Oberwetter told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "The two countries regard their relationship as an essential relationship, so they want to make it as smooth as possible."

Oberwetter, just like his predecessor, is a Texas oilman with ties to the Bush family and business experience in the Mideast. In a Feb. 14 Cox News Service profile, the American ambassador uttered this remarkable statement, one that I hope (against experience) we will be able to look back on some day, and laugh:

"Saudis aren't all terrorists. They have a lot (of qualities) that Americans admire, especially Texans. They believe strongly in family values. They are very religious. They are proud. They are also conservative," Oberwetter said. "These are values Texans can understand."

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  1. That statement reflects more on the evils of Texas than it reflects on Saudi Arabia.

  2. As a resident of Colorado, I second Richard’s observation.

  3. I rarely let a mention of Texas go by without mentioning that we’d be a lot better off without them.

    …If they want to go, I say we let them.

  4. I rarely let a mention of Texas go by without mentioning that we’d be a lot better off without them.

    LBJ gave us Medicare.

    Bush gave us the largest expansion of the welfare state since Medicare.

    But Bush is considered the conservative….?

  5. If Michael Moore puts all this in his next film, everybody’ll be screaming “Liar Liar”.

  6. Bush is using the “Saudis are our friends” line the same way he uses the “Islam is a religion of peace” line. It means “move this way.”

    You may notice that he tends to back it up with a stick.

  7. As a Texan, I feel the need to put my head between my knees and groan in pain.

    But, free “bite me”‘s for the Texas-haters…

  8. I don’t hate Texans, just Texans who hang out with Saudis leaders who oppress their people and then have the gall to say that Saudis promote peace.

    “Saudis aren’t all terrorists. They have a lot (of qualities) that Americans admire, especially Texans. They believe strongly in family values. They are very religious. They are proud. They are also conservative,” Oberwetter said. “These are values Texans can understand.”

    I challenge anyone who says that Americans should admire Saudis for their family values and religiou to a duel. You see, I don’t want fundamentalist conservatives coming to my home and removing my daughter’s clitoris. I also don’t want them stoning her to death because she had premarital sex (that is my job).

    I sincerely doubt that Oberwetter put any real thought into this quote before he spoke. That frightens me.

  9. The United States Government backed Saddam Hussein in the 80’s. He was using poison gas then, but he was at war with Iran. The United States Government didn’t like Iran, so that justified it. In the 80’s, the government also supported Osama Bin Laden. He was a terrorist then, but he was directing his terrorism against the Soviet Union. The government didn’t like the Soviet Union, so it supported him anyway. The problem is that politicians only think in four-year terms. When the chickens come home to roost, as they always do. The politician will be out of office. Hopefully dead or addled with alzheimers, as the former president was when 9/11 happened.

  10. In Saudi Arabia, there’s no guaranteed right to a defense. Trials are carried out in secret and convictions based on confessions produced by torture.

    Punishments include flogging, amputation of limbs and beheading. Children and women are punished right along with the men.

    Bush has found another world leader to sympathise with. Conservatives have found a splendid example of a Conservative nation to aspire to.

    And let’s hear it for Texas Justice. YeeHa.

  11. one parallel b/w texas and arabia is sending a load people to the chopper every year.

    * One of Abdullah’s entourage was denied entry into the United States because he was on a no-fly list of suspected terrorists.

    Matt is that the same list that had Kennedy on it.

  12. When I was growing up in New Mexico, we had a standard joke –

    “Why do we always get west-to-east winds here?
    Because California blows and Texas sucks!”

    Then California and Texas bought the state, and we weren’t allowed to make that joke anymore . . .

  13. mike2039:

    Yeah, it sucks to have to make hard decisions in the real world. That FDR, what a cocksucker for cozying up to Stalin just to beat the Germans, no?

    I agree completely that politicians rarely think beyond their next election, but please, lets not overlook the fact that both the temporary rapprochement with the Afghanis (and we had a lot more to do with the Northern Alliance types than the AQ types) and with Hussein were part of successful containment strategies that kept two noxious countries (the Soviets and the Iranian mullahs) boxed in. Its not like Reagan-era realpolitik, for all its flaws, was totally ineffectual and feckless.

    Unlike, say, Carter-era defeatism or Clintonian insouciance.

  14. “But, free “bite me”‘s for the Texas-haters…”

    It’s not Texas, per se; it’s Texans. …and Cowboys fans everywhere else too.

    P.S. Go Redskins!

  15. I think Ron Hardin and RC Dean are closest to the truth here. Folks, you’re seeing diplomacy in action. I know this may shock some of you, that means that at times one must politely interact with distasteful regimes and speak with finesse instead of blurting bald truths.

    And, of course, this is another example of how Bush can do no right in the minds of his critics. If he does little or nothing about, say, Zimbabwe, then he’s shamefully ignoring human rights violations. If he deposes a dictator, then he’s overreacting and violating international law for his own nefarious ends. If he practices diplomacy with creepy regimes, then he’s a hypocrite or enabler or something. That doesn’t leave many other options, does it?

    Remember after 9/11 when Bush said this was going to be a long battle, and not always visible? Obviously true, then and now. Saudi Arabia is, to a great extent, the home base of the enemy in this war. For strategic and political reasons, it was best not to deal with them first. (For roughly equivalent reasons, we didn’t invade Germany and Japan in 1942, either.) I have no doubt that the Saudi Arabian regime is on Bush’s hit list, but for many reasons he thought (and I agree) that we needed to deal with Afghanistan and Iraq first, and perhaps Syria and Iran next. (I don’t mean he has plans to invade them all: I mean “deal with” in the sense of “make them no longer a threat”.)

  16. RC Dean ? I certainly see an argument for having allowed the Soviets and Germans to destroy one another without US involvement. Even if we picked a side, there was no reason for FDR to cozy up to Stalin. He could have called a spade a spade, or said nothing? even if he thought is was in our interest to supply the USSR with aid. I think the same can be said of Bush.

  17. “If he does little or nothing about, say, Zimbabwe, then he’s shamefully ignoring human rights violations.”

    Who here (besides, maybe, joe) has suggested that Bush is “shamefully ignoring” the situation in Zimbabwe? Posters here are either glad Bush is avoiding at least one utterly pointless expenditure of American blood & treasure, or merely make reference to it to illustrate what a hypocrite he is.

  18. Folks, you’re seeing diplomacy in action.
    Isn’t there supposed to be a 🙂 or a 😉 after that? You couldn’t possibly have said that with a straight face. Stalin was fighting Germany, our biggest concern at the time. Saddam was fighting Iran and we supported that for understandable reasons. Same goes with Osama and the USSR. Can you draw a parallel between any of these and the chief justice of Saudia Arabia’s Supreme Judicial Council “encourag[ing] young Saudis to go to Iraq to wage war against Americans”? Or what about the wife of Bandar sending money that eventually made its way to some of the 9-11 hijackers? Did they let us use bases in Saudi Arabia to launch our war in Iraq? Did they provide any help? Give me a fucking break Papaya. Did Saddam try to kill your dad too, is that why you were such an Iraq hawk and are willing to bend over for Abdullah right next to Bush?

    News flash, the Saudis need us just as much as we need them. Oh wait, never mind. We eliminated the only country in the region that was a credible threat against them (which they objected to) so now they have nothing to fear. One of the few things Saddam was good for was scaring the living daylights out of other countries in the region so that we were useful to them. No Saddam, now they have something we want and there’s nothing much we have to offer.

  19. I’m an Iraq hawk because we got drawn into a war on 9/11/01, and I’d rather our military fight the bad guys over there than over here. So I encourage all Islamist nutcases, like the Saudi judge you mention, to head for Iraq. Better they’re all in one place, far from here, and close to our combat units.

    Obviously Saudi Arabia has some complicity in all this, but I think Bush is waging the war with far more finesse than he’s given credit for. We can’t invade everybody at once, and any military strike at the Saudis probably means $100/barrel oil. So, we knock off a few aggressive regimes in the general neighborhood (Afghanistan and Iraq), neutralize via intimidation some others (Libya), and lean hard on the rest (Syria and Iran). With the Saudis, we talk nice in public and lean hard in private. You don’t think the Saudis have been sweating heavily since 9/11, in fear that we’re going to knock down their little royalty racket? They know it and we know it. Although “we” doesn’t necessarily include everyone reading this thread….

    One area were the WWII comparision fails. Back then, FDR was attended by numerous Soviet sympathizers and outright traitors, who really wanted the US to more like the USSR. That led to some bad decisions. But there’s no non-Muslim in the US (even in Texas) who wants the US to be more like Saudi Arabia. It’s naive to take some polite public words from an ambassador as a policy statement.

  20. So I encourage all Islamist nutcases, like the Saudi judge you mention, to head for Iraq. Better they’re all in one place, far from here, and close to our combat units.

    I’ve got a great idea! Let’s take up a collection to fund jihadis who want to fight US forces in Iraq!

    It’s all part of the Master Plan…

  21. Oh, I should add that I agree 100% with this statement:

    It’s naive to take some polite public words from an ambassador as a policy statement.

    That said, maybe Bush could at least be a little less affectionate with Saudi leaders. War might not be the best idea, but surely there must be some middle ground between war and ass-kissing.

  22. “Obviously Saudi Arabia has some complicity in all this, but I think Bush is waging the war with far more finesse than he’s given credit for.”

    He’s probably right–I haven’t given Bush any credit for waging the war with finesse.

    “We can’t invade everybody at once, and any military strike at the Saudis probably means $100/barrel oil.”

    I hate to be the naysayer here, but who says we can’t invade everybody at once? He’s probably right about the oil though–once Iraq simmers down (assuming it does) and we get back to that zero cost war idea Wolfowitz told us about, we can start bombing other oil producers while the Iraqi barrels just keep rollin’ in!

    “You don’t think the Saudis have been sweating heavily since 9/11, in fear that we’re going to knock down their little royalty racket?”

    If one of ’em gets scared, President Bush will hold his little hand.

    “One area were the WWII comparision fails. Back then, FDR was attended by numerous Soviet sympathizers and outright traitors, who really wanted the US to more like the USSR. That led to some bad decisions.”

    It’s a dang conspiracy’s what it is!

    “But there’s no non-Muslim in the US (even in Texas) who wants the US to be more like Saudi Arabia.”

    Bullshit.

    “It’s naive to take some polite public words from an ambassador as a policy statement.”

    Well call me naive, but who said it was a policy statement?

  23. For strategic and political reasons, it was best not to deal with them first. (For roughly equivalent reasons, we didn’t invade Germany and Japan in 1942, either.)

    Ummm . . . this is so wrongheadedly stupid, I almost wish Gunnells was here to deal with it.

    Those “strategic and political reasons” are best summed up as, “actual, physical impossibility.”

  24. I think what’s missing from this conversation is something like the following:

    On 9/1/01 the United States of America was attacked by a group financed, educated and supported by the Saudi government.

    In instance after instance major individuals in this government have repeatedly supported this conflict with the US.

    Authorities around the world have documented the continued support of radical members of the Saudi backed religion receiving financial support from the Saudi Government to continue the battle against the American infidels (that’s you and me kids). As a matter of fact, almost all terrorist activity against our government (well, those actions not undertaken by the guys like Tim McV) find their source in Saudi Arabia and the House of Saud.

    Tell me again why Iraq is our enemy, while the ones who want to kill us are our friends. Please tell me, cause I really don’t get it.

    The Stalin comparison is probably wrong. Imagine if in WWII we had sided with Germany. That would be an appropriate comparison.

    As a matter of fact I’ll go farther. You cannot be for our country and the Sauds at the same time. They are the enemy and they want to kill us. And it is telling the Bush loves them so much. Very telling.

    WAKE UP.

  25. You don’t think the Saudis have been sweating heavily since 9/11, in fear that we’re going to knock down their little royalty racket?

    No fucking way they are. Why should they? The only people the radical element in SA hate more than the royal family are the US government. The royal family provides a vital shield in the ME; if we knock them down, not only do we have to step in and deal with the radicals directly, but when the people reject the idea of being a subsidiary of Haliburton and pull a Vietnam, we lose 20% of our oil.

    Back at the beginning of this Iraqi adventure, Bush made a statement; “You are either with us, or with the terrorists.” Tell me, how exactly is letting the Saudi royal family get away with funneling money and giving a free hand to, uh, terrorists consistant with this?

  26. hay guys religion is stupid and oppressive am i rite?

  27. I don’t claim to know how best to handle the House of Saud. But let’s stop claiming that they are our friends. At best they are people that we can’t afford to piss off.

    And let’s stop pretending that the Dear Leader has a well-crafted strategy for some giant chess game. Or that every insurgent attack is part of The Big Plan.

    I’m tempted to get really paranoid over the fact that our President is such good friends with people who sponsor terrorism against Americans. Sometimes it’s hard to resist the urge.

  28. this is so wrongheadedly stupid, I almost wish Gunnells was here to deal with it.

    Can we bring him back on an as-needed basis?

    Jean Bart: “Holy unsupported statement Gary! There’s an idiot making analogies with no basis in history!”

    Gary: “To the blogmobile!”

    Anyway, maybe I should send money to terrorist groups that want to fight the US in Iraq. The Big Plan is apparently to use Iraq as flypaper, so if I fund a camp that trains terrorists to fight in Iraq, I’m really supporting the US in the War on Terror. Right?

    I mean, look how well our gambit in Afghanistan worked: We supported mujahedeen to go fight Communists, resulting in battles where Commies and jihadis both died. OK, a few battle-hardened jihadis survived, but it’s not like they caused any trouble afterward.

    Right?

  29. Throughout the last century, both the Republicans and the Democrats have consistently defended their intimate, mutually beneficial relations with totalitarian governments and even downright terrorists. They argue that the larger conflicts involved could not have come to beneficial ends without providing mass murderers with a variety of vital resources. (Personally, I find the argument that it would have been more difficult to attain any foreign policy goal without aiding and abetting mass murder to be dubious, at best.)

    Considering this philosophy of moral convenience is prevalent in both parties, I don’t think it’s really surprising to hear Republicans defend friendly relations (intimate, really) with totalitarian regimes anymore than it’s surprising to hear Democrats hypocritically denounce them.

    Maybe I’m a radical, but it seems to me that Democrats should never be taken seriously when they denounce such relationships until they can take responsibility for having had exactly those kinds of relationships themselves.

  30. Let me make this real easy for all of you over thinking folks in hit and run land… Bush is a lying piece of shit.

  31. “I’m an Iraq hawk because we got drawn into a war on 9/11/01, and I’d rather our military fight the bad guys over there than over here. So I encourage all Islamist nutcases, like the Saudi judge you mention, to head for Iraq. Better they’re all in one place, far from here, and close to our combat units.”

    Yeah, man, them dang ol’ terrorists, man, flyin’ low, hit the buildings, probably…dang ol’ bin Laden, I tell you what, man. Don’t need none of that in Texas, man. Send ’em all over there…look for lemon cake…better over there, man, I tell you what.

    “Obviously Saudi Arabia has some complicity in all this, but I think Bush is waging the war with far more finesse than he’s given credit for. We can’t invade everybody at once, and any military strike at the Saudis probably means $100/barrel oil.”

    Yeah man, I tell ya what, man…..That dang ol’ Saudi, man…..You just go on there to Iraq and bomb…..Talk about 9-11….An’ lotsa oil over there, man… Drip… Drip… Drip… Drip.. Drip.. It’s real easy man.

    “With the Saudis, we talk nice in public and lean hard in private. You don’t think the Saudis have been sweating heavily since 9/11, in fear that we’re going to knock down their little royalty racket? They know it and we know it.”

    Yeah man, Dubya’s thinkin’ what we’re thinkin’…I tell you what. That dang ol’ Saudi over there…sweatin’ Drip… Drip… Drip… You know he talked about destiny and the our side or no one’s side? Well, I’m gonna be standin’ there, man… just like dang ol’ Tammy Wynette.

  32. Don’t over do it . Go with your gut …. Bush is a piece of shit.

  33. Thanks “Boomhauer,” LOL. At least half the reason I spend too much time here are the hilarious senses of humor. I tell you whhhhhut.

    For more hilarity, compare and contrast our relationship with Cuba with our relationship with the House of Saud.

    Perhaps if Dearborn, MI up and relocated to a high electoral vote state like Florida, we would be able to get an embargo of Saudi Arabia going 😉

  34. “But there’s no non-Muslim in the US (even in Texas) who wants the US to be more like Saudi Arabia.”

    i really wish this were true.

    to de-religionize or de-politicize this idea for a bit, don’t you think there are a tremendous amount of political and social policy operators who wish they could rule by fiat? deep in their heart of hearts, to protect us from sin and heart disease and the missaplication of sexuality.

    the sort of people who read brave new world, stopped halfway through and said “this sounds like a great fucking place to live!”

  35. I sincerely doubt that Oberwetter put any real thought into this quote before he spoke. That frightens me.

    I’m frightened that he DID think about it.

  36. We eliminated the only country in the region that was a credible threat against them (which they objected to) so now they have nothing to fear. One of the few things Saddam was good for was scaring the living daylights out of other countries in the region so that we were useful to them. No Saddam, now they have something we want and there’s nothing much we have to offer.

    Bingo. I’m surprised that fewer people haven’t made that point when talking about the reasons behind the surge in oil prices. I think Kerry alluded to it once during his campaign, but that’s about it. Not that the surge in demand from China hasn’t played a role, but the gap between production capacity and actual production levels for SA and certain other Gulf states clearly demonstrates that they don’t feel too pressured to bring oil prices back below $40/barrel.

    The Gulf states (particularly SA and the UAE) still feel a little threatened by Iran, and they’re still glad to be able to count on US support in the event of a domestic Islamist uprising, but they definitely don’t feel as dependent on the US as they did before. And the world is paying more for oil as a result.

  37. I went to bat for John Kerry any number of times on this board last fall, but I hope to God I never sunk the depths of blind, craven apologetics displayed by the Bushies on this thread.

    Good lord. “That’s diplomacy is action.” You’ve got to be freaking kidding me.

  38. This is rich, to see libertarians who complain that “spreading democracy” is a foolish goal for the U.S. government to undertake getting upset about the U.S. government practising its logical opposite, e.g., realpolitik by cozying up to some bad Saudi assholes. Unless someone here can explain what the U.S. can realistically do with the Saudis that will not make the problem worse, the peanut gallery should probably keep a little quieter. If you are into going in there and taking them out, that would be refreshing if not wise.

  39. Realpolitik is not the “logical opposite” of “spreading democracy”. It only seems that way as a result of the shameless manipulation of the American popular mind by warmongers in the Bush administration. Bomb the Saudis or bow down before them in the hope they’ll increase their oil production? Is that a choice dictated by logic?

  40. “Unless someone here can explain what the U.S. can realistically do with the Saudis that will not make the problem worse, the peanut gallery should probably keep a little quieter. If you are into going in there and taking them out, that would be refreshing if not wise.”

    GI JOE! A REAL AMERICAN HERO!

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