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who wants to give a social studies lesson?

Buzz writes today:

I guess it all started with the whole Idi Amin thing. You know, the coma, the death, the stories of his life (the bastard!). The stories of how the Saudis kept him in relative luxury because he was a Muslim.

The Saudis. That's where my confusion comes in. The more I read about that nation, the more I don't understand why they are our friends. They seem (to my pea brain anyway) like the bad guys. What am I missing? This isn't just because of the oil, is it?

So, can anyone help me out here? *cough* Michele *cough* Anyone at all?

Would anyone like to contribute to the Educate Buzz on the Saudis class today?


Short summary: The Saudis support and fund radical fundamentalist Muslims (specifically the Wahabbi version). We pretend they are our friends because of a) their control of a significant portion of the world's oil supply and b) their control of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. These factors are the reason we want to avoid war with Saudi Arabia.

And because there is a long relationship between the Saudi Royals and the Bush Family.
This is why George W actually proclaims SA as our "friends" despite the fact that the world, including SA, knows better.

Too shy and not well enough versed in history (outside of Texas, like someone else I know), but I am enjoying the discussion and pondering the comments.

The U.S.-Saudi relationship really grew out of the Iranian revolution in 1979. Before the Shah fell, the Iranians were the U.S. 'friend' in that part of the world. And the U.S. provided them with the muscle to make the impact that the U.S. wanted them to make in the power balance in that region. Once Khomeini and his lunatics took over, that was no longer an option. After the Islamic Revolution, the U.S. was looking at an unstable region in an area where they needed influence to counter balance the Soviets and to try to hold off the damage that instability could do to oil supplies to the West. The first choice was Iraq, as you can see from those classic pictures of Donald Rumsfeld going to see Saddam in 1983. However, Iraq wasn't big enough to really swing the weight that the U.S. needed to swing. So the logical alternative was Saudi Arabia. The relationship really took off with the joint operations to support the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, which turned out really well, as we all know. The Saudis were a useful prop to use in the region...but like a lot of the West's Cold War alliances..it was made with a regime that does not share our cultural or political assumptions. And that's understating the case a bit.

Anyways, just some thoughts on the Saudi relationship.

> And because there is a long relationship between the Saudi Royals and the Bush Family.

That's not the only relationship - the Dems have been bought and paid-for too. (No prominent Dem crosses the Saudis.)

It's all about the world economy. Oil is it's lifeblood and fuel. Mr. Bush knows the implacable hatred that the Wahabbi extremists fee for us and will deal with the problem fairly soon.
There are several threats to western society, Iraq was not the most imminent but we went after the Saddam Regime first for several reasons, some publicly stated, some not. The publicly stated reasons were good and sufficient, in and of themselves. the ones not stated are even better. We need the bases in order to deal with both the House of Sa'ud and the Mad Mullahs of Iran. We now have the troops in place to deal with both of these regimes, peacefully if possible, violently if needed. We do need a little longer to replenish the inventory of smart bombs and cruise missiles.
The Iraqi oil fields must be brought up to speed. We cannot go after SA or the Mullahs until those fields are online, not because of the USA's appetite for oil but because of the world economy. If something forces our hand prematurely the Asian economy will completely collapse with attendant famine and huge loss of life. It would sting us a little, we've been adding to the strategic reserve (that's why gas prices are up) and we actually have enough oil in the Gulf of Mexico, ANWAR and off the West Coast to be completely self-reliant, we just can't go get it politicly. This would change in a heartbeat.
It's the world economy that's the sticky point. Asia and, probably, Europe and Africa would completely collapse and we simply don't want that to happen.
The Administration is desperately trying to keep a lid on things until we have those Iraqi fields up to speed. It will do no good to win a couple of battles in this war only to see a world economic collapse. We get Iraq sorted out, those fields will provide the stopgap fuel for the world economy until we can take the next step(s).
This is further compounded by the simple fact that the whole damned U. S. Army is only ten active divisions.

Thanks folks. I think I'm starting to see it now. And it's a little unsettling.

Thanks Michele.

The thing is, the US made a lot of alliances during the cold war that are distasteful to say the very least. Like any mistake, it needs to be fixed.

The situation in SA is changing rapidly. With the removal of US troops and the ongoing stabilization of Iraq, plus the ongoing (gonna get in trouble here) success of the war on terror, the radicals that the Saudi's have been buying off are beginning to turn on their host.

You know, I've been wondering this too. Thanks for the "Saudia Arabia 101" course!

Some of the comments here are insightful, but some are dreadfully simplistic.

The U.S. relationship with the Sauds goes back a long, long way. We treated them as our friends when Clinton was President every bit as much as we do today. In fact, let me be clear about this:

President Nixon was quite friendly to the Saudis. President Ford was too. President Carter practically made love to the Saudis. President Reagan got countless favors from the Saudis. President Bush '41 was practically their best pal, while President Clinton practically made sweaty snugglebunnies with them.

The issue with the Saudis is that our relationship has been solid with them for a long time--unlike, say, Iraq or Iran. They have done us lots of favors, and not always involving oil. For example, President Reagan got the Saudis to help fund the war against the Sandinista thugs in Nicaragua when the U.S. Congress wouldn't go along with his wishes down there.

We don't like the idea of taking down the Saudis for SEVERAL reasons, ONE of which is the deep business relationships we have there. Here are some others:

1) When we ask them for favors, they usually comply.
2) When they say they're helping us round up terrorists, they probably are, even if it's a little reluctantly.
3) They have a lot of people in the Royal Family who were educated here, speak excellent English and understand our ways very well, so they tend to charm our people when they come over here, or we go there.
4) They hold Mecca and Medina, and a war against them would quite possibly be viewed as a war against the entire Islamic world, and thus a very dangerous proposition.
5) And, yes, deep American and British business interests that we'd rather not just flush down the toilet if things go badly.

There's an old saying: when handling a stinging insect, move very slowly. Taking Baghdad has given us breathing room and all kinds of leverage against the Saudis that we have never had before. It also remains that we often do them favors, and they often do us favors.

This is a long-standing, complex relationship. Even many of us who agree that they are treacherous snakes realize that you can't just order the Pentagon to take them out.

All that shnit may be true Dean, but it sure doesn't make me feel any better. In fact, I feel more sick about it now than ever.
All those presidents sucking up to known terrorists for favors.

Your are right in your commentaries