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September 14, 2010


Well, thank goodness there's no link between the Saudi royal family and the terrorists of 9/11, thank goodness, or we wouldn't be trading arms for petroleum. Right?


But let us probe the Saddam/al-Qaeda connection with Jeffrey Goldberg and Eli Lake.

how is that democracy coming along in Kuwait after we liberated them...thought so.

Drop your bombs between the minarets.

Is it worse that we're making weapons deals with the Saudis, or the Pakistanis? Or India?

This aspect of my job I like the least.

When's the last time the Saudi Air force dropped bombs on anyone? Those planes are safer in their hands than in ours.

Aside from some skirmishing along the Yemeni border last February, I haven't heard anything at all about Saudi military activities.

Mostly, They Have No Enemies.

Damn you slarti

Sorry. Were you going to use that, here?

No, just a general casting of you into the pits of hell for eternity.

Actually, the Saudis do have enemies. bin Laden for one, but there are others.

Their approach has been:
-- buy off the ones that they can (all that oil money, of course). By the way, that explicitly includes the fundamentalist Wahibi clerics at home.
-- get someone else to do the fighting, where possible. E.g. the US vs. al Queda in south Asia.
-- only if nothing else is working, e.g. along the Yemani border, engage with all the fancy military hardware that they have bought from us.

It's a nice deal. All it requires is vast amounts of money that you don't have to work all that hard for. Of course, when the oil runs out (however long that happens to be), there will be a disaster on the Arabian peninsula. But that will be some (future) one else's problem

Littoral Combat Ships ?? Right - JUST what the Saudi Navy needs. For all those amphibious operations they don't carry out?

Well, at least foisting a couple of these ships off on the Saudis will mean full-employment at somebody's shipyard....

You misconstrue the meaning of "democracy." A "democracy" is a government that toes our line, regardless of its domestic institutions or conduct. (Maintainting an electoral facade helps but is not essential. See Saudi Arabia). A tyranny is a government, regardless of domestic institutions, that opposes our interests.

Suddenly it all becomes clear!

There is wisdom in your words oh wise one...

The US forces its allies to buy a bunch of military stuff they can't afford and don't need. Have a look at every Australian military purchase over the last 3 decades. Here's an example.

I would like to hear more about this forcing allies to buy military stuff, and about how that works.

And it is news to me that Australia buys e.g. its submarines from the US (and not from these damn neutral Swedes. They should have bought them from Germany of course). They even intend to build their next generation themselves.

Oh, we can't allow them to do that.

proposed US arms deal with Saudi Arabia... and then,
Merely sitting down at the negotiating table with Iran...

Now that we don't have Iraq to sit on our side of the table vs. Iran we needed somebody in the region with us. C'mon man, we're running out of countries there.

I'm not sure what to make of this post, Eric.

One can deplore both the Iranian and Saudi Arabian regimes. For example: I do.

And, yet, one can also distinguish between regimes who pursue goals consistent with our interests and those who do not.

I may not agree with delivering these weapons to the House of Saud -- I haven't formed an opinion yet -- but it strikes me that my most significant objection relates to my growing concern that the House of Saud (as we know it) is not long for this world.

Incidentally, is "Rock the Casbah" not offensive to the faithful?

Don't get me wrong: I'm close to an absolutist on the First Amendment. Although I appreciate the realpolitik limits, my preference would be for Obama to argue for the right to burn the Koran while calling out detractors of the (so-called) Ground Zero mosque. (The phrase "I appreciate the realpolitik limits" means that my policy position is fairly moderate on this one; however, in a just world, anyone who would kill another just because someone, somewhere, burned some book forfeits his/her life. Kill someone just because a book got burned? Were there not realpolitik constraints, the killer must die.)

I'm not sure what to make of this post, Eric.

One can deplore both the Iranian and Saudi Arabian regimes. For example: I do.

Oh absolutely. But, and this is important, if you rail about not negotiating with the Iranian regime because it is tyrannical, you have to at least address the fact that not only do we negotiate with Saudi Arabia, but we sell them billions of high tech weaponry.

And considering that Saudi Arabia is far more tyrannical in terms of treatment of its own citizenry, you end up looking like an extreme hypocrite if you ignore this.

So, clearly, the objection must be based on some other criteria.

And, yet, one can also distinguish between regimes who pursue goals consistent with our interests and those who do not.

Oh, certainly. But then say that instead.

Acknowledge reality: both regimes have unsavory elements in terms of respecting the rights of its citizenry, Saudi Arabia is considerably worse, yet Saudi Arabia is supportive of our agenda.

What I object to is the whitewashing of Saudi Arabia, and the faux outrage at the Iranian regimes oppression, and the pretense that it is Iran's "tyrannical" nature that precludes negotiating with them.

Some people dignify this fusion of silly walks with trip-hopping, Eric, by calling it "statecraft."

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