February 10, 2002
12:32 AM   Subscribe

Message to Pres. Bush: Please stop kissing Saudi butt and kindly tell them to go to hell!

Bandar was instructed to cut off further discussion between the two countries. The time had come to "get busy rearranging our lives in the Middle East." Bandar's message was a shock to the Bush administration... But over the next two days, the United States went to extraordinary lengths to try to repair the relationship, its closest with any Arab country, finally satisfying the Saudis with a personal letter to Abdullah from the President himself.
posted by Rastafari (8 comments total)
IMHO, in the middle eastern conflict, both sides are as bad as each other.

Oh god, I'm gonna get the hell flamed out of me for that... but that's my 2p worth anyway.
posted by robzster1977 at 12:44 AM on February 10, 2002

Well, the main content of the article happend prior to Sept. 11, but for Bush to appease the Saudis in the face of their threat to sever military and intelligence ties is incredulous. I mean, wouldn't they be the bigger losers in this game of chicken little? Basically, though, it has always come down to this:

Saudi Arabia wants, and has always received, American protection. The United States needs, and has nearly always received, Saudi oil.

And that, seems to be the name of the game! If this isn't a call for greater research for alternative fuel, then I don't know what is. And personally, I would have told Prince Abdullah to go stick it!
posted by Rastafari at 12:59 AM on February 10, 2002

Great Link, Rastafari! Our unquenchable thirst for oil has lead to some of the most evil alliances in our history. Look at what we are doing in Columbia right now:protecting the Caño Limón-Coveñas pipeline, oil owned by Occidental Petroleum. We trade with and protect despots and dictators, in direct contradiction of our own basic principals.
As for the Saudis, they are a bunch of trouble making cowards: they have never had direct involvement in the many arab-israeli wars, but they have spent billions financing others to do the dirty work and they are the chief financial backers of most islamic terrorism. It would not surprise me that binLaden has been in Saudi Arabia since early September. I believe their duplicity will be their undoing...soon.
posted by Mack Twain at 2:03 AM on February 10, 2002

I am with Mack on this...what a great link! It was an interesting read (and I'm not biased by the fact that it's the middle of the night!) and the sort of thing that needs publicizing. This shouldn't surprise me, I suppose, but just when I think I've seen all there is to see, I refresh the front page of MeFi...(:

Stuff like this is what makes me give up on the news altogether. OK, well, not ALL news, exactly. heh.
posted by verso at 2:30 AM on February 10, 2002

Hrm. Seems like a lot of the trouble may be being caused by the current leader of SA. Not to say that Bush is a fantastic leader or anything, but its probably not a good idea to have a leader prone to these kinds of outbursts. I mean, bush did write the guy a letter.

One of the nice things about 'politicians' running a country is that we have people who are willing to cede their ethics to smooth things over, a-la the bush letter.
posted by delmoi at 3:48 AM on February 10, 2002

Saudi Arabia has a problem with the fundies within and a problem thus in allowing Westerners on their soil--where Mecca and Medina are and which are for Muslims sacred and off limits to non-Muslims. On the other hand, the US desperately needs oil, and the Saudis have a large portion of this.
while it is perhaps nice to "kick ass" and tell them off, we have yet to be able to replace this source of oil, and though measures can and ought to be taken to reduce our dependence upon oil, we have neither the will nor the leadership to move us in that direction.
Meanwhile, we are going to stay in Afghanistan because pipelines to Caspian Sea oil will run through there; and we are going to move into Sudan because there is lots of oil there that can and will be developed; and we will do even more in Columbian, labelling our war on drugs thre now a war on Terror (to make it more nearly legiitimate).
But till lsuch time......
posted by Postroad at 3:56 AM on February 10, 2002

My visceral response to learning about these behind-the-scenes machinations echoes Rastafari's sentiment exactly: Stop kissing Saudi butt and kindly tell them to go to hell! (Well, not *exactly* -- I'd prefer to deselect the "kindly.") But, having said that, and attempting to go into diplomacy mode...

Those of you who think Bush's writing of that letter was a mistake -- do you really feel that the US would be better off now in our international relations (and, specifically, in our ability to have assembled and maintain, as we have thus far, the nearly unanimous global coalition Colin Powell put together practically overnight following the events of Sept. 11) if the letter had not been written?

I'm not flame-baiting here; I'm sincerely asking what you think, 'cause I can see it going either way. It seems obvious that the letter has done a world of good in assembling said coaltion; but it's possible that the Arab nations would have rallied behind the US anyhow, post-Sept. 11, in an attempt to send out an unequivocally anti-terror PR message since, as stated in the article, the Saudi leaders were horrified, when they first heard news of the attacks, of the poisoning effect the attacks would have on the global community's perception of Islam.

Also, while I agree (how can one not?) that the US's dependence on foreign oil has led to some dubious, if not downright dangerous, alliances, keeping those pipelines open was certainly not the only critical reason the US State Department was so shaken by Abdullah's veiled (and not-so-veiled) threats. As the article mentions, but for obvious reasons doesn't detail, Arab nations are crucial allies to the US in terms of intelligence gathering. (For example, the US's [utterly transformed] post-Sept. 11 relationship with Pakistan has played an irreplaceable role in support of the US's anti-Taliban/al Qaeda efforts.)
posted by verdezza at 11:08 AM on February 10, 2002

Excellent series of articles, but I don't agree that it's time for more shrieks, growling, and severing of US communications with the Middle East. As frustrating as the situation is these days, Saudis of all political stripes are in a tough spot too. (Same goes for Iran.) I hope the tone remains civil enough on all sides so that the unpleasant facts necessary for negotiated solutions keep coming out into the open.
posted by sheauga at 11:40 AM on February 10, 2002

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