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The Saudis are about to deliver an ultimatum to Bush
April 25, 2002 12:02 PM   Subscribe

The Saudis are about to deliver an ultimatum to Bush In a bleak assessment, he [Prince Abdullah] said there was talk within the Saudi royal family and in Arab capitals of using the "oil weapon" against the United States, and demanding that the United States leave strategic military bases in the region. Such measures, he said, would be a "strategic debacle for the United States." How should Bush respond?
posted by Rastafari (58 comments total)

 
Within a few years the Saud Royal Family will be working in various McDonalds restaurants around Mecca and Medina, serving bacon cheeseburgers all day long.
posted by techgnollogic at 12:07 PM on April 25, 2002


My vote? Bush should tell the Saudis that 1. Remember that 15 out of the 19 Sept. 11th terrorists were from his country; 2. We know they fund terrorism; 3. Remember we saved your sorry, cowardly ass from Saddam back in 90-91; and 3. if you insist in usuing "oil-for-weapon" against us, we can always build a better public tranportation infastructure, but you got nothing besides oil, and we'll watch you starve. Now go fuck yourself, you Wahaabist asshole...
posted by Rastafari at 12:07 PM on April 25, 2002


This is posturing on Abdullah's part, nothing more. He knows full well that the only reason his little tinhorn regime even exists is because we back it up in order to keep things stabilized. If they ever pulled something like cutting off the oil supply and trying to throw our troops out of the country at the same time, in the middle of a war situation, we'd either say, "Okay, fine," walk away and watch them get overthrown, or overthrow them ourselves and install a military-occupation government until we could create some sort of working democracy like we did with Japan post-WWII. I'm sure there have been highly-developed plans for just this sort of Saudi Arabia takeover on the shelf at the Pentagon for years, and that it's been constantly updated ever since 9/11.

Anyway, as the article states, we've been moving troops and bases to Kuwait and Qatar for some time now in anticipation of the Saudis trying to clamp down on our military in their country, so that's an empty threat.
posted by aaron at 12:10 PM on April 25, 2002


Yeah, what Rastafari said too. We can get oil elsewhere, even if it means paying more and going through a lean period while we drill more at home and in friendlier countries to make up for it. But Saudi Arabia can never replace the US market for their oil, and oil makes up essentially 100% of their exports, and their economy would completely collapse if they stopped selling or we stopped buying. We have little to lose, they have everything to lose.
posted by aaron at 12:13 PM on April 25, 2002


I personally think the "oil weapon" is not as powerful as it once was. The US imports about half of what it needs, and of that, a little less than half comes from OPEC. With more and more countries getting in on the action these days, we do not have the dependance on saudi oil that we once had. Lets face it - they want our money as bad as we want their oil. I say it's high time to quit buying it. I personally don't mind seeing gas go up to $3 a gallon. Not only would it spark a bit of conservatism at the pump or in heating your house, but it would be a good reminder to the citizens of the US of why it's important for us to explore both oil on our own soil as well as make investments into fuels of the future.
posted by stormy at 12:16 PM on April 25, 2002


Bush should tell this bozo we would consider it an act of war if the Saudis cut off our oil supplies.
posted by mikegre at 12:16 PM on April 25, 2002


Redecorate the 'House' of Saud and welcome the new Hesshimite rulers of Arabia with open arms.
posted by Mick at 12:23 PM on April 25, 2002


I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.
posted by Skot at 12:28 PM on April 25, 2002


Hopefully Bush proves the saying, "Don't mess with Texas."
posted by Werd7 at 12:29 PM on April 25, 2002


America should take back its oil that the saudis nationalized. That would be a proper response.
posted by dagny at 12:36 PM on April 25, 2002


overthrow them ourselves and install a military-occupation government until we could create some sort of working democracy like we did with Japan post-WWII.

Overthrow the Saudi government and occupy? Infidels in Mecca and Medina? Oh yeah, that'll solve everything. No American will be safe anywhere after that.

Despite the House of Saud's corruption and arrogance, I think that "recognition of Israel and normal relations in exchange for a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 territories" sounds quite reasonable.
posted by chuq at 12:44 PM on April 25, 2002


*runs into room*
Shouts: "We could just have our scientists develop alternative fuel sources..."
*runs out of room*
posted by wfrgms at 12:51 PM on April 25, 2002


overthrow them ourselves

Since that worked so well in Venezuela a couple of weeks ago....

But let me see if I have this straight...Saddam overruns Kuwait for the oil fields and that's bad....we overrun Saudi Arabia for the oil fields and that's good? Oh, right, whatever we do is good...I forgot.
posted by briank at 12:52 PM on April 25, 2002


Since that worked so well in Venezuela a couple of weeks ago....

I was unaware the US military invaded Venezuela two weeks ago.
posted by aaron at 12:53 PM on April 25, 2002


Access to Saudi oil is only a small part of the reason why we're involved in the region. The larger part is that the U.S., in order to preserve it's status as the main power broker and go-to guy in the world, needs to prevent the conditions under which Saudis might turn to China or even Russia and thus give those two nations a pretext to become ever more involved in the region. This might sound farfetched at first, but I've been reading quite a bit about it in policy journals. I'm currently searching for links on the subject.

I think the U.S. can expect more such bullshit from mideast oil-sellers in the near future, in the wake of Mubarak's snub of Powell, which I think might embolden mideast leaders, if only in the very short term. I keep thinking of the line from "Miller's Crossing," where the Leo, the mob boss, is told by Tom his right-hand man, that "You only run this town because people think you run it. They stop thinking it, you stop running it."
posted by Ty Webb at 12:53 PM on April 25, 2002


Overthrow the Saudi government and occupy? Infidels in Mecca and Medina? Oh yeah, that'll solve everything. No American will be safe anywhere after that.

Why does this argument keep coming up? In case you haven't noticed, they ALREADY HATE US. We're not safe NOW. Are you aware the State Department has been telling Americans in Saudi Arabia for weeks already to stay off the streets as much as possible?
posted by aaron at 12:54 PM on April 25, 2002


Since that worked so well in Venezuela a couple of weeks ago....

I was unaware the US military invaded Venezuela two weeks ago.


Who said we only use our military to overthrow governments? Ask the folks in Chile, Iran, Timor, etc. Seems to me we do a good job inciting other armies to do the job for us.
posted by briank at 12:59 PM on April 25, 2002


This might sound farfetched at first, but I've been reading quite a bit about it in policy journals. I'm currently searching for links on the subject.

Ty, I have a sub to Foreign Affairs, but haven't had the chance to delve into either of the two latest issues. If any of your links are to them, please post. Thanks.

Who said we only use our military to overthrow governments? Ask the folks in Chile, Iran, Timor, etc. Seems to me we do a good job inciting other armies to do the job for us.

Sometimes, things happen in the world without US intervention, too.
posted by aaron at 1:03 PM on April 25, 2002


"It is a mistake to think that our people will not do what is necessary to survive," the person close to the crown prince said, "and if that means we move to the right of bin Laden, so be it; to the left of Qaddafi, so be it; or fly to Baghdad and embrace Saddam like a brother, so be it. It's damned lonely in our part of the world, and we can no longer defend our relationship to our people."

The house of Saud has been an absolute monarchy with nearly unlimited cash flow for 50 years. Good or bad, their country's current condition is entirely of their making. If this is what passes for Saudi "leadership," I honestly see how we can consider them allies. I think the dynasty is ... out of gas -- spent. I don't think we should try to mess with their regime, though.

I think Miller's Crossing is one of the best movies the Cohens have made.
posted by coelecanth at 1:05 PM on April 25, 2002


He should resign.
posted by websavvy at 1:06 PM on April 25, 2002


(Just a note to say that not all Wahaabis are the same :)
posted by Saima at 1:07 PM on April 25, 2002


How did we save their sorry, cowardly ass from Saddam again? Was there an Iraqi invasion of SA that I was unaware of?
posted by rodii at 1:08 PM on April 25, 2002


"We could just have our scientists develop alternative fuel sources..." BINGO. This new drive toward alternates cuts the cash flow to arabia by about 20 years. The Saudi royals are freakin. somethings afoot....BIG TIME.
posted by clavdivs at 1:13 PM on April 25, 2002


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the Saudis ever shared their intelligence information on the 15 hijakers who were Saudi citizens with us as we requested long ago. Perhaps Bush could tell Abdullah to hand the information over finally and quit playing games with us
posted by homunculus at 1:20 PM on April 25, 2002


Essay by Stanley Weiss on why the Saudis are all talk.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:32 PM on April 25, 2002


Who said we only use our military to overthrow governments? Ask the folks in Chile, Iran, Timor, etc. Seems to me we do a good job inciting other armies to do the job for us.

Sometimes, things happen in the world without US intervention, too.


Yeah, they do. Just not in those three particular instances.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:34 PM on April 25, 2002


Sometimes, things happen in the world without US intervention, too.

I guess Henry Kissinger didn't think so, but that's another topic.

If you think that way, why so hot and bothered to go stage a military takeover?

Or better still, let's just divvy up the whole region with Saddam and get it over with -- half for him, half for us.
posted by briank at 1:38 PM on April 25, 2002


Well, I'm pretty glad I got the Metro instead of the SUV.

Can we think about this in the real world for a second here? Mr. Abdullah just said, "We'd really like this Palestinian thing dealt with, because it's making people here all upset. We are on the Palestinian side of this because we have to be, but frankly we're as fed up with them as we think you are with the Israelis. We're willing to front you a compelling national interest and be the bad guys for a while if you're willing to go deal with this stupid problem."

What everybody here seems to be forgetting here is that the Saudis, for all that they're Wahabists, are not any more thrilled by the idea of anti-US anti-secular government pro-fundementalist uprisings (at least, in Saudi Arabia) than we are. They want this problem dealt with because they want to stay in power, not because they're Islamist shitheads. They're Islamist shitheads because they want to stay in power.
posted by hob at 1:38 PM on April 25, 2002


off topic but wondering: where does Israel get its oil from?
posted by Postroad at 1:42 PM on April 25, 2002


"We could just have our scientists develop alternative fuel sources..." or design cities around the segway! see, if the saudis were smart they'd put the hit on kamen :)
posted by kliuless at 1:46 PM on April 25, 2002


They want this problem dealt with because they want to stay in power, not because they're Islamist shitheads. They're Islamist shitheads because they want to stay in power.

Hey, not to harsh your wack, weak, prejudiced, superiorist mellow or anything, but can someone be an Islamist without being a shithead? Just wondering.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:47 PM on April 25, 2002


I saw we find the Kwisatz Haderach, and help him lead the Fremen to victory.
posted by RakDaddy at 1:53 PM on April 25, 2002


Hey, not to harsh your wack, weak, prejudiced, superiorist mellow or anything, but can someone be an Islamist without being a shithead? Just wondering.

If I'd believed that the two words were synonymous, I wouldn't have used both.
posted by hob at 1:54 PM on April 25, 2002


How should Bush respond?

"House of Saud, meet my new best friend, Russia. House of Saud, Russia; Russia, House of Saud."
posted by lizs at 2:03 PM on April 25, 2002


march in, take over, and sell the oil to other nations cheaper than they were getting it from the Saudis. But knowing us, we would sign it over to expire in 2034 and we wouldn't retain the rights, ala Panama Canal.
posted by mkelley at 2:12 PM on April 25, 2002


Ty Webb, for a better understanding of the term, please refer to this speech by Graham Fuller of the Rand Corporation given at the US Naval Academy. I couldnt find the transcript though but maybe u can.
posted by adnanbwp at 2:38 PM on April 25, 2002


You people watch a lot of Rambo movies, don't you?
posted by ook at 2:48 PM on April 25, 2002


I agree with the majority of posts that we should kick as much ass as possible in as many ways possible. There's no way to settle disputes without kicking ass. Lots of ass.
Just so long as there is lots of macho posturing during the ass kicking. That's very important because we're better than they are and we have to prove it ever chance we get.
We're better than they are.
The best way to kick ass and pose macho is with simple fixes that arn't well thought out, and might be funny if I thought political cartoons that show Bin Laden getting blown up in various ways were funny. I mean, it's not like Saudi Arabians are humans. They're Saudis Arabians, they don't think like we do.
LET'S ROLL!!!!!!!!
posted by fuq at 2:48 PM on April 25, 2002


It's a real privilege watching you guys discuss foreign policy.



And the last one to come eats the biscuit.
posted by Grangousier at 2:59 PM on April 25, 2002


Bush just finished giving a press conference on TV. Everything is hunky dory between the US and SA and Abdullah is a nice man because he owns a farm and Bush took him for a nice drive around the ranch in his pick up and they saw a turkey.
posted by homunculus at 3:00 PM on April 25, 2002


off topic but wondering: where does Israel get its oil from?
if Sen. Murkowski had his way, it would have come from Alaska. (thanks to tamim for the link)
posted by Dean King at 3:04 PM on April 25, 2002


First, the oil weapon is bogus and they know it. Second, they're posturing ahead of this summit. Third, I don't believe for a minute they are actually threatening us -- as much as the average American (or New York mayor) may want to stick it to the ay-rabs, the White House relations with the House of Saud tend to be quite cordial and there are a lot of longstanding personal relationships (in both parties). Ultimately, we know in advance what the summit substance will probably be, and oil weapon isn't on the agenda. The report that they might be considering the oil weapon, though, is excellent posturing for domestic consumption. Since it's unlikely to be soemthing we really need to worry about, we can perfectly happily let them bluster, especially since most of the reason for it is their people, not us.

The main substance of this summit will turn out to be Abdullah's "peace plan" (as outrageous a negotiating position as anything the Israelis have ever put forth), and the Iraq problem. And, oh yes, making it look like we're pals for the appropriate people to drink in.

Israel's oil? 40 percent from Egypt; another 50 percent from the Persian Gulf. (Before Camp David, the North Sea and Mexico figured heavily.)
posted by dhartung at 3:14 PM on April 25, 2002


This civilized lecture series outlined the challenges facing Abdullah as of 1999. [In the unlikely event anyone actually cares enough to consider what the situation might look like from Mr. Abdullah's viewpoint, the latter article would get you started. But why bother to listen to anyone who actually lives in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, or Iraq when you can spout hot air, cast blame, warblog, and demand the deaths of both innocent and guilty alike?]

Ucan get Graham Fuller's transcript for $45 from C-SPAN. Ucan also get the transcript from your librarians if you are part of a university. Ucan hear Mr. Fuller if you can afford to take off work and attend your nearest "Great Decisions" or "World Affairs Council" lecture series. Ucan forget about ever reading that transcript or hearing Mr. Fuller speak if you are a poor or unauthorized (non-university) person. This is how freedom of information works: Mr. Fuller talks sense, and it would be a political disaster if we unwashed, unauthorized masses heard the frank perspectives with which our fearless leaders must contend.

(I've been wading through Google looking for that US Naval Academy speech by Mr. Fuller for more than 1/2 hour. The part I heard was excellent.)

Here's a bootleg e-mail cache of a Graham Fuller article, 1/29/02, on "Root Causes," from the LA Times.

Combating terrorism and its causes : A lecture delivered to the Gulf Culture Club, By Graham Fuller on October 30, 2001

The new US administration and the future policy in Iran and the region
" ... you know I have worked in government for a long time, but I have been away for 13 years and I am now one of the leading critics of American foreign policy towards the Middle East. "

Here's a quick search for Mr. Fuller on the RAND website.
posted by sheauga at 3:16 PM on April 25, 2002


I'm glad the crown prince has put forward a peace plan. It can only help create possibilities, and those who say it is only p.r. don't know what they're talking about." - Thomas Friedman, NYT, 4/24/02
posted by sheauga at 3:31 PM on April 25, 2002


adnanbwp, if by "the term" you mean "Islamist," I've got a good idea of what it means, thanks. I took issue with hob's gratuitous appelation "shithead" which he has since explained to my satisfaction.
posted by Ty Webb at 3:32 PM on April 25, 2002


How did we save their sorry, cowardly ass from Saddam again? Was there an Iraqi invasion of SA that I was unaware of?

Well, there wasn't an Iraqi invasion, and THAT'S precisely my point. Where do you think Saddam was going to next if the US didn't step in to kick him out of Kuwait? You think he just would have been satisfied with taking over Kuwait? Why do you think the Saudis were so quick to let us in and use their soil to launch Desert Storm, if they could have defended themselves? Saddam may be an asshole, but he's probably the strongest asshole in the Middle East, second only to Israel, thank God...

I think we should let Saddam take over BOTH Kuwait and Saudi Arebia. And do ABSOLUTELY nothing. Let the Arabs take care "of their own." Let's see how good they would do. This would do a couple of things. First, it would kick the corrupt monarchist out of power from SA (to be replaced by curroupt military power, for some time anyway), and second, it would force us to invest in public transportation and alternate fuel research, which we should be doing already. We've kicked his ass once (Saddam, that is) and we can do it again, but this time we should wait until he takes over the middle east, so that when we go in, we can replace the existing government structure with some type of working democarcy, or something other than what it is.
posted by Rastafari at 4:15 PM on April 25, 2002


Thats kinda the opposite of Divide and Conquer, now isn't it?
posted by bittennails at 4:28 PM on April 25, 2002


NUKE THEM ALL AND SHOVE NUKES DOWN THEIR THROATS AND MAKE 'EM EAT BACON DOUBLE BACONBURGERS AND PUT A MCDONALDS IN MECCA THE FUKKERS WELL TAKE THEIR OIL AND KICK SADDAMS ASS WOOT!!!!!!!

AND IMPEACH CLINTON AND JANE FONDA, AMERICAN TRAITOR BITCH!@#@###!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by solistrato at 4:40 PM on April 25, 2002


In case you haven't noticed, they ALREADY HATE US. We're not safe NOW.

Oh, okay. So we should go ahead and invade Mecca and Medina and make it six hundred billion times worse?

Brilliant.

You completely ignored the primary statement of my post, which was that recognition of Israel by the Arab world and "normal relations" in exchange for a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 territories is not at all unreasonable.

Discuss.
posted by chuq at 4:41 PM on April 25, 2002


Sounds reasonable to me, chuq. Beats me why we can't discuss instead of ranting. You would think there could at least be some sort of a "general agreement, in principle," that there will be a Palestinian and an Israeli state, that leaves details on how they will be governed, how movement between the two will be regulated, the status of Jerusalem, compensation for displaced residents and property owners, and water issues to be resolved at a later date.

(I'd like to hear what municipal government people from Hong Kong, Berlin, and Havana have to say about how the lessons learned from their own local government transitions could be valuable for Jerusalem. There are some practical issues regarding sewage, electricity, transit, property records, taxes etc. that aren't going to magically disappear by dividing the city, granting autonomy to selected areas, giving the city international status, or excluding non-residents from entry.)
posted by sheauga at 5:04 PM on April 25, 2002


"How did we save their sorry, cowardly ass from Saddam again? Was there an Iraqi invasion of SA that I was unaware of?" I guess so. My neighbors grandson: Marine Lance Corporal Michael E. Linderman, Jr., 19 of Douglas.
Killed on January 30, 1991 in fighting around the Saudi border town of Khafji.
He is Survived by his wife.
Is remembered at: Row 5 Block 3 on The Gulf War Veterans Memorial. I'll only add that he was survived by his pregnate wife, and that he was killed by "friendly fire". And his family have never got over it. And it was for nothing.
posted by Mack Twain at 8:01 PM on April 25, 2002


"But when it was Barak and Arafat, there was a problem. When it was Peres and Arafat, there was a problem. In fact, when it's been every Israeli leader for the last twenty years and Arafat there's been a problem. What's the constant factor in there?"

My favourite new quote, courtesy of Steven Den Beste, USS Clueless.
posted by Zool at 9:20 PM on April 25, 2002


Zool: Boy, that's certainly smug, and also not strictly rational. Another constant may involve the Israeli position over the years, ya think? Is there no other way of looking at this? No other constants over time? If not, please explain why, rather than printing a little self-satisfied, pithy bit of Internet punditry again. I'd honestly like to learn something here.
posted by raysmj at 10:31 PM on April 25, 2002


raysmj, thank you for that comment. Rarely, but every so often, I learn a little something or find a ray of hope when I visit these zones of foreign policy expertise.
posted by y2karl at 11:13 PM on April 25, 2002


YOU'VE ALL GOT IT WRONG!!!

I say we just get someone to remote-pilot a drop ship down from the Su-Lako, dust off for immediate evac, and nuke the entire site from orbit.

It's the only way to be sure.
posted by matty at 1:46 AM on April 26, 2002


When it was Rabin and Arafat, there were problems -- problems that both believed might be solved. And Rabin was a braver, more honourable man than any of those to share his office in the past 20 years, and a braver, more honourable man than the one he faced at the negotiating table. Which is perhaps, just perhaps, why he could have made a trustworthy man out of Arafat. And why he's so badly missed. When you have two scoundrels at the table, there's no risk of either giving the other the benefit of the doubt. (And while Peres is no scoundrel, he's not halfway brave.) So, Zool, your quotation, while apparently designed to sound clever, is neither smart nor accurate.
posted by riviera at 1:57 AM on April 26, 2002


Marine Lance Corporal Michael E. Linderman jr. God bless him, God bless his wife and child. thanks mack, I'm sure The LC might differ, but your entitled to your opinion.
posted by clavdivs at 8:43 AM on April 26, 2002


How should Bush respond?

Well Abdullah, I'm sorry but haven't you heard I'm Sharon's bitch. :)
posted by onegoodmove at 12:59 PM on April 26, 2002


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