It's not just that they're venal; some of the ex-ambassadors appear to be crazed. Charles Freeman, in response to a question about whether the US government should pressure the Saudi government for greater rights for women, said... well, I quote:

If we knew what Saudi women wanted in an incremental way, then perhaps, to answer the question, we could be helpful by supporting those in the kingdom who are trying to promote change of a nature that is congenial to our values. But we donít know that. Is it that they want to give up their chauffeurs and drive around? That might be good for American automobile manufacturers. Saudi Arabia is the only society outside the United States where the American automobile still dominates. And some of us who have been thinking for years about this issue would look forward to participating in building the separate road system that would be required if women could drive.

One honestly doesn't know where to start.

The notion that the only issue for women in Saudi Arabia is that they're forbidden to drive, and the quick deflection of the general question into that one issue?

The assumption that all Saudi women have "chauffeurs", and it's just a question of who does the driving, rather than a question of whether they're permitted to be mobile at all?

The bizarre idea that the fortunes of American auto manufacturers are an important factor in determining US human-rights policy?

The notion of a separate road system (a separate ROAD SYSTEM)?

The whole document's pretty amazing, but that one statement just left me openmouthed, and not just because of the hint of personal profit in the last sentence. (Yeah, I'll just bet he'd like to get a piece of the pie in building an entire segregated road system. Eeesh.)

Posted by: jeanne a e devoto at August 25, 2002 02:39 PM

Jeanne -- Good God. Thanks for that, though it certainly doesn't help my digestion.

Posted by: Matt Welch at August 25, 2002 02:57 PM

(I seem to have somehow left the link out of that - let me try again:

Middle East Peace Council Capitol Hill Briefing)

Posted by: jeanne a e devoto at August 25, 2002 08:54 PM
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