Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald explains how the U.S. ought to be behaving toward the Saudis:
The Administration continues to believe it needs Saudi goodwill, and is afraid of offending it. This is wrong. This is getting it backwards. Saudi Arabia sells oil. All of its income comes from oil. Until recently it could play a bit with production; as the swing producer, it would try to calculate a market price X at any time Y that would maximize the total value of its reserves in the ground. It might miscalculate, of course — sellers often do. They put the price too high (so that consumers would find other supplies of oil, develop other sources of energy, manage to conserve more, find the political will to support mass transit, tax gasoline, and so on) or too low (when it could put it higher without changing long-term demand). That’s it. That has always been it. That is how Saudi Arabia sells its oil. Had we added a tax Z (rising in regular increments) on oil and gasoline, then the Saudis would have at any time Y had to charge a price that, if not exactly X-Z, would probably have been somewhere between X and X-Z. The consumers would thus have managed to grab some of that money for ourselves that would otherwise have gone to the Saudis and other sellers.
What about the stocks, bonds, and money Saudi Arabia has in America? Couldn’t the Saudis just pull it all out and harm us? Answer: No. For that money from those investments has to be parked somewhere. Suppose the Saudis were to sell everything and put their money into a French or German or Ruritanian bank Those French, those Germans, those Ruritanian bankers, would promptly buy up the artificially low-priced stocks and bonds that the Saudis had sold (money flows hither and yon, wherever its directors list).
But Saudi Arabia is completely dependent on the West to supply doctors and other professional workers. Its rulers depend, in the end, on access outside their country for medical care. They need access to every kind of Western technology: medical equipment and supplies, electronic playthings, the people who can in a pinch put out oilfield fires or pump the last drops from declining fields. The Al-Saud also have a good many illiquid assets — real estate — all over the West, including those escape-houses that the rulers have bought in such places as New York City. The Saudis just arranged to have 10,000 Saudis study in America — doesn’t that sound like they want access to our educational system? If their children were unable to come to the West, if they had all sorts of limits on the movement of their money and their own movements, they could be brought to heel.
But no one in this Administration is able to conceive of Saudi Arabia as anything other the shot-caller. Yet the Saudis can in reality call almost nothing, and are at our mercy — if we only realized the thousand ways we have to pressure them and their rulers.
But what if there were some kind of revolution in Saudi Arabia, and the Al-Saud threatened with overthrow? It doesn’t matter. For they behave as malevolently in the end as any group that were to follow, save Bin Laden himself. Indeed, if the loot taken by the Al-Saud were now spread around to everyone, that would leave less discretionary income to pay for mosques, madrasas, and Jihad propaganda everywhere.
And what about the oilfields? Instead of being inhibited by Saudi Arabia, officials should simply treat it roughly. When the Saudis claim that “we might lose control of the oil,” say nothing, do nothing. Simply make plans to seize, in a case of necessity, the oilfields of Hasa, conveniently located right on the Gulf, for loading onto waiting ships. It may never come to that — but the U.S. could and should proceed on the understanding that there is no need to worry about such a phony threat because, in the end, we would simply act on the basis of necessity. And we could make such an act palatable by immediately announcing that the oil revenues would be kept in trust and doled out to the poor in Saudi Arabia so that they would not be taken and used to fund “terrorism” (i.e. the Jihad) worldwide.
It would be easier to seize those fields, if necessary, than it has been for the past year and a half to create that absurd Light Unto the Muslim Nations in Iraq. That project will not and cannot work, and shows the obstinacy of people who once had an idea — the more foolish and more obsequious and more timid in this administration — and now the idea has them. Few seem willing to say, not from the Cindy-Sheehan-idiotic point of view, but from the only view that makes sense, that it is a tremendous misallocation of men, money, and materiel. And that it dampens army and civilian morale, and misinterprets the situation in Iraq. And that it presupposes the existence of an “Iraqi” people that the entire history of modern Iraq belies.
The President’s treatment of Saudi Arabia is one more example of his complete misunderstanding of Islam, and the larger problem. Bush turns out to be just as stupid as he can be. As stupid, and as obstinate. And all those who go silently along with him because they are politically afraid not to “support the troops” and to analyze things, are little better. From Rice’s self-assured demands on the Kurds and the Israelis, from someone who has never studied Islam but has been a dutiful parroter of party-lines on Soviet Communism, and who always aims to please her bosses, to Karen Hughes with her little mis-mission as a “we hear your pain about us” and are “just here to listen” sob and sorority sister, the whole thing is a tremendous waste. It is a waste of lives and money, as well as time, while demographic conquest, Da’wa, and every other instrument of Jihad proceeds largely unchecked, and everyone runs about wondering what, what, what can they do — it disgusts.