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Monday, November 29, 2010

In whose interest is it to stop Iran?

Greg Scoblete argues that an American attack on Iran should not necessarily be carried out just because 'our friends, the Saudis' want an American attack.
Now, we learn something else from these cables, namely:
Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda, and the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar, a generous host to the American military for years, was the “worst in the region” in counterterrorism efforts, according to a State Department cable last December. Qatar’s security service was “hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals,” the cable said.
There may be good reasons for the U.S. to use force to delay Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon, but to do so because the chief financiers of al-Qaeda asked us seems like a pretty lousy one to me. So the next time you hear some pundit or politician moan about American power or leadership in the Middle East, or how our "allies" are doubting our resolve, this is what it's about: having American men and women die on behalf of decadent monarchs and presidents-for-life who are unwilling to fight their own battles.
There are a lot of good reasons for the US not to support the Saudis other than the Saudis' support for terror. There's the fact that Saudi Arabia has no shared values with the US, has a monarchy that lives in the 8th century, finances strict Islamist education around the World, and has goals and aspirations that are anathema to most Americans. And that's only the start!

Despite all that, the US has been supporting the Saudis for many years, even though it causes many Americans to hold their noses in contempt. The reason is simple: Oil. Would the US be better off with Saudi Arabia's massive oil supply under Iran's control? If the answer to that question is no, the US ought to be thinking about a military strike against Iran, because that's where things are headed.

It also goes without saying that the US has a lot of other interests in the region that would dictate that it ought to be stopping the Iranian nuclear program. Those interests ought not to suffer because of the Saudis.

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At 11:08 PM, Blogger John Burgess said...

Sorry, but oil isn't the top of the list for why the US supports Saudi Arabia. It's actually third.

First is the fact, like it or not, that Saudi Arabia represents orthodoxy on many issues for the Islamic world. If the Saudis approve of a US policy--or at least don't knock it--then it becomes immensely easier to sell that policy in other countries with large or majority Muslim populations.

The second reason is military logistics. The US needs to be able to get over-flight permission from Saudi Arabia if it is to project forces east of Suez. Without over-flight permissions, the US would need to fly around the Arabian Peninsula. The US does not own and is not able to lease sufficient tanker aircraft to meet its needs. Without over-flight, the US would have to support efforts in SW and S Asia from the Pacific.

At 1:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

um, John, tho' Saudi Arabia makes interesting noises about Iran you realize that the kingdom's "Islamic orthodoxy" defines most of us here as offspring of pigs and monkeys?

The subtext question is why truckle to Arab petrodollars at all other than inertia or the desire to finagle a skim without sparking direct conflict either with Arabian aristocrats or competing skimmers? Just as the Saudi mucky-mucks periodically emerge from the perfumed bordellos of Europe to denounce Israel as "America's garbage in the Middle East" why not just try naked intimidation. End the obsequious bowing and scraping and ring-kissing and call them, I dunno, "history's excrement in the unwashed Levant" and then start moving carrier task forces around. They seem more like lovers than fighters and might just cave. Like it or not.


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