those sweet consulting contracts as opposed to sticking their necks out for the Iraqi NC and Iranian opposition or kidnapped American kids.

Posted by: Lloyd at October 7, 2002 11:37 AM

Lloyd -- So far, I don't have any faith in Dubya's handling of the House of Saud. Like his predecessors, he's done nothing tangible that I can see to alter the eternal suck-up. And unlike Clinton, he has extensive personal/family history & comfort level with Saudi princes and the peninsula oil industry. He has earned the right *not* to be given the benefit of the doubt, and since the Sept. 11 massacre was perpetrated by people with deep and abiding contacts with Saudi Arabia (as opposed to, say, Iraq), the run-up to the war on Iraq, to me, sets off additional alarm bells on this front. I had wanted, before being asked to support the threat of war against Iraq, *some* indication, *any* indication, that this would contribute to, or coincide with, the root-cause issue of Saudi despoticness (despocy? what's the word) & export of Islamic terrorism ... but I have seen no such thing, beyond the (I believe) wishful thinking of "first things first! The road to Riyadh is paved through Baghdad!" etc.

That said, I think there's a strong argument that a *real* threat of war was the *only* way to get *real* weapons inspections back into the realm of the possible. (My thinking on this is very similar to that of Matthew Yglesias, who writes about it often.) The status quo has been utterly unacceptable since December 1998 (and it wasn't so hot before that) .... but then, there are a host of other concerns for me, central among them worries about Bush's new doctrine (both of pre-emption, *and* -- perhaps even moreso -- the idea of deliberately blunting any "strategic competition" from even our best allies). I fret that, in our expanded global role, we are putting ourselves in an untenable position of being damned if we do or don't, and of inviting the inevitable corruption that comes with monopolistic powers.

But this is a subject of another column ... just to say that I don't trust Bush on Saudi Arabia, and I think we need to hold his feet to the fire on this issue more than most.

Posted by: Matt Welch at October 7, 2002 02:17 PM
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