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March 5, 2002

Our friends the Saudis Via Cut on the Bias, this highly entertaining Mark Steyn rant about the House of Saud and the Westerners who defend them:
There are only two convincing positions on the House of Saud and 9/11: a) They’re indirectly responsible for it; b) They’re directly responsible for it. There’s a lot of evidence for the former—the Saudi funding of extreme Islamist madrassahs, etc.—and a certain amount of not yet totally compelling evidence for the latter—a Saudi “humanitarian aid” office in the Balkans set up by a member of the Royal Family which appears to be a front for terrorism. Reasonable people can disagree whether it’s (a) or (b) but for Americans to argue that the Saudis are our allies in the war on terrorism is like Ron Goldman joining O.J. in his search for the real killers. The advantage of this thesis to fellows like Mr. Freeman is that it places a premium on their nuance-interpretation skills. Because everything the Kingdom does seems to be self-evidently inimical to the West, any old four-year old can point out that the King is in the altogether hostile mode. It takes an old Saudi hand like Mr. Freeman to draw attention to the subtler shades of meaning, to explain the ancient ways of Araby, by which, say, an adamant refusal to arrest associates of the September 11th hijackers is, in fact, a clear sign of the Saudis’ remarkable support for Washington. If the Saudis nuked Delaware, the massed ranks of former Ambassadors would be telling Peter Jennings that, obviously, even the best allies have their difficulties from time to time, but this is essentially a little hiccup that can be smoothed over by closer consultation.
To read some blogs, you’d think terrorism’s biggest allies in the West are those powerful princes of darkness Noam Chomsky, Ted Rall, and Robert Fisk. As it turns out, though, the really active and effective Western defenders of the Saudis aren’t cartoonists, Independent reporters, and left-wing college professors. Instead, they tend to be well-fed, well-connected, highly respectable establishment figures like the “Mr. Freeman” that Steyn mentions—which is to say, Charles Freeman, our ambassador to the Kingdom under, oops, George H. W. Bush. [01:55 PM]
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Comments on Our friends the Saudis:

Zack Weinberg ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2002, 08:43 PM:

Since you mentioned cartoonists, I can't resist plugging a subversive comic which I had some part in the creation of: What's Going On. [Still with horribly bad HTML, alas.]

lakefxdan ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2002, 12:04 AM:

I surely do hope that English-speaking Arabs get a chance to read articles like this one. Borders not sacrosanct? Hand over Mecca to the Hashemites? Somebody's kaffiyah is no longer going to be so white in the lower regions.aaI remember idly suggesting a Kurdish homeland on Metafilter, and the reaction from a Turk was something akin to panic. Even though this stalwart ally has no chance of being carved up like a steak, the fear was there that it could be.