Tuesday, December 23, 2003
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The bargaining strength of weak states, part II
While we're on the subject of coping with the weak leaders of key states, the latest issue of Foreign Affairs has an analysis by Michael Doran on the political struggle taking place within Saudi Arabia. The key part:
One must give the Saudis credit -- they make Pakistani politics look positively transparent.posted by Dan on 12.23.03 at 12:30 PM
“Saudi Arabia is in the throes of a crisis. The economy cannot keep pace with population growth, the welfare state is rapidly deteriorating, and regional and sectarian resentments are rising to the fore.”
Is this the only nation on this planet named after its ruling family? Can you imagine a " Land of Jones?” This should tell you all you need to know about the significance of the Saud family. I see absolutely no way that Saudi Arabia can reverse its rapid economic decline while still embracing its current social policies. How can you be economically viable when you disenfranchise the women living within your borders? They still can’t even drive their own automobiles! This sole factor virtually guarantees an inferior economy.
Thankfully, we invaded Iraq and sent a clear message to the Islamic militants to think twice before confronting our military might. This may persuade those Saud family members infatuated with Wahhabism to give a higher priority to their own self preservation. My guess is that they are similar to those Manhattan “elites” Tom Wolfe so brilliant analyzed in his “Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers.” In other words, they are pretend radicals who will cease with their immature behavior once the bullets start flying around their heads.posted by: David Thomson on 12.23.03 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
Yeah, so who's propping up this regime, smart guy? I'll give you 3 guesses. I'll also lay a bet that if America didn't endorse, support and arm the Sauds, they'd have been thrown into the dustbin by the Arabs of that country many years ago.posted by: Pal. on 12.23.03 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
Er ... "Saud" means "south" -- Saudi Arabia is the southern Arab area (vs Iraq/Arab Persia, for instance).
Anyway ... got here from Lieter claiming there is no hope for the blogsphere, to find an important discussion on the balkanization of Saudi Arabia.
posted by: Steve Marsh on 12.23.03 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
That doesn't seem right, considering that the Ibn
Musharraf's position is not analogous to that of Abdullah or any other Saudi. Musharraf heads a country so large and so situated geographically that we have to deal with him as we have. By contrast our relations with the House of Saud rest on the reality that the American economy is extremely vulnerable to a sudden surge in oil prices, something Saudi oil policy has prevented in the past and a different policy could produce in the future.
A change in American policy to make the economy of the United States less vulnerable to surges in oil prices could reduce our interest in the future direction of Saudi politics. The point is that we have choices where Saudi Arabia is concerned that we do not have with Pakistan. Saudi Arabia is such a problem for us now because we have failed to avail ourselves of the choices we have, and have instead chosen the path of least political resistance over many years and during administrations representing both political parties.posted by: Zathras on 12.23.03 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
Our interests here are simple, but furthering them is not.
Our first priority is to minimize disruptions in Saudi oil production, allowing for matters such as keeping the oil income from being used to finance 9/11 scale attacks on us. Right now we're doing OK here, including setting up a Shiite Arab client nearby. The Saudi oil producing areas have a thoroughly repressed Shiite Arab majority.
I.e., when the Saud clan goes, we'll have a handy replacement ready for the parts of the by-then former Saudi Arabia important to us.
Our second priority is to minimize use of the other parts of the by-then former Saudi Arabia from being used as secure terrorist bases. The millions of gruesome deaths from mutual genocide by the various Wahabbi factions, plus exposure/thirst/starvation/disease, etc., following loss of that oil income (and departure of all the foreigners who do the work necessary to avoid a sudden population drop to that supportable by subsidence agriculture in the world's worst desert) will certainly be a major short-term distraction here. My crystal ball says of the post catastrophe long-term, "Answer Hazy - Ask Again Later."
Now would be a real good time for Saudis to take up long-term residence someplace else.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 12.23.03 at 12:30 PM [permalink]