King Abdallah, Syria and Iran

-

Abdallah.jpg
University of Vermont Political Science Professor F. Gregory Gause, III, writing at the Foreign Policy/Middle East Channel, is pessimistic about Saudi Arabia King Abdallah’s efforts to woo Syria away from Iran and reconstitute the Riyad-Cairo-Damascus Arab triangle.
Gause argues that the Arabs’ divergent threat perceptions vis-vis both Iran’s regional ambitions and the best way to bring pressure to bear on Israel will prevent collective action.
He concludes that:

The recent hopes for a revival of the Arab solidarity of the 1970s are therefore destined to be dashed on all scores. King Abdallah is playing the long game with Syria, hoping over time to move it away from its alliance with Iran. (After failing in his earlier policy, in conjunction with the Bush Administration, of isolating and pressuring Assad.) But until there is a fundamental reassessment in Damascus about its regional role, Arab cooperation is bound to be a limited, issue-specific, and a short-term phenomenon. That means that no one should expect any significant all-Arab initiatives on the Arab-Israeli peace process any time soon. It also means that Iran will not face a unified Arab front in opposition to the expansion of its regional influence or to its nuclear ambitions.

— Ben Katcher

Comments

39 comments on “King Abdallah, Syria and Iran

  1. Sand says:

    “Slow, generational shifts are quite possible.”
    And Congress seems to ‘our’ only way to try and create those “slow, generational shifts” — With the dominance of AIPAC [Israel] in congress with its agents, methods of blackmail, bribes etc. esp. when it comes to our foreign/energy policy — it is a festering boil on our already disintegrating democracy. IMHO.

    Reply

  2. Sand says:

    “…AIPAC is a favorite thing to blame here, but I think it piggybacks on the other issues far more than it controls any thing at all. Lobbying’s effect on Congress is the subject of a lot of research and debate much of which undermines the complaints around here. I think AIPAC is basically a non-issue…”
    Totally and utterly disagree — but what’s new eh!

    Reply

  3. Sand says:

    “…The legacy of the Cold War still dominates US politics in numerous ways and has analogues in all sorts of panics about evil outsiders coming to do us in…”
    Maybe so, but today is different — we need to adapt — see Clemons.
    Also, now the Cold War is over and reviewing the literal state of Israel today, I can’t see how Israel is useful to us as a ‘buffer’.

    Reply

  4. Sand says:

    “…To the extent that I understand it, oil is sold on a world market — you don’t pick a country who gets your oil. And even if you did have such a deal in place, it’s just a matter of substitution. China gets its oil from Iran, so then they don’t need to buy it from Venezuela and that frees up Venezuelan oil for someone else to buy…”
    Yes, you’re right — I should have emphasized the ‘investment’ element.

    Reply

  5. questions says:

    To the extent that I understand it, oil is sold on a world market — you don’t pick a country who gets your oil. And even if you did have such a deal in place, it’s just a matter of substitution. China gets its oil from Iran, so then they don’t need to buy it from Venezuela and that frees up Venezuelan oil for someone else to buy.
    Oil isn’t demarcated for a particular market.
    I think that there are a range of overlapping narratives regarding the ME. Some of them are more persuasive than others, and some of the less persuasive ones are held dear by a lot of people.
    These narratives include “oil,” “Cold War,” “competition with China,” “geostrategic planning,” “AIPAC,” among others.
    Oil doesn’t seem to explain quite enough given how markets work — unless a nation can refuse to market its resources. BUT if it refuses to sell, it makes less money and weakens its ability to rule. Not very sensible.
    The legacy of the Cold War still dominates US politics in numerous ways and has analogues in all sorts of panics about evil outsiders coming to do us in. The latest Angelina Jolie flick is worth seeing just for this bit of cultural meme. The Cold War panic still works its old magic in Congress and the charge that Obama is a commie is part of that as well. It’s useful rhetoric on the right and it helps narrow voting patterns and makes it easier to function in Congress and to run for re-election.
    Competition with China is a newer issue on the energy front. China seems to be engaging all over the place to secure allies and resources. There probably is some strain of US ME policy that worries deeply about this issue and this strain probably drives some of the hyper involvement as well.
    Geostrategic planning encompasses a lot of this. What do we see as our ally-system n decades out? Whom do we wish to court, to force, to beat up, to contain? What resources might we need more direct access to? How do we decide whom to trust and whom to alienate?
    AIPAC is a favorite thing to blame here, but I think it piggybacks on the other issues far more than it controls any thing at all. Lobbying’s effect on Congress is the subject of a lot of research and debate much of which undermines the complaints around here. I think AIPAC is basically a non-issue.
    All of this, and likely many more, come together in a complex system that also has to encompass domestic energy needs, the re-election desires of MCs, the infrastructure we already have and the deeply entrenched interests and ways of life that we are so entangled with that disentangling would be a nightmare.
    The system that arises is one in which it makes a lot more sense for every individual involved to keep the status quo going.
    We jack up gas prices to cut usage, and jack up heating oil prices to cut usage, and jack up fertilizer prices to cut usage, and jack up plastic prices to cut usage, and this recession we’re in will look like a pre-schooler’s game in comparison.
    Transforming as many sectors of the economy as would be necessary to get oil use down is not going to happen from the top.
    Slow, generational shifts are quite possible. The slow introduction of more efficient transit and other kinds of farming practices and manufacturing practices and packaging practices and homebuilding practices and so on are likely as local incentives shift.
    But I think a top-down approach won’t sit well with people, with the economy, with possibility.
    So we’re kind of stuck with the international gaming narrative, the oil narrative and so on. It doesn’t have to be accurate, it just has to make sense to decision-makers. That’s a really sad thought.

    Reply

  6. Sand says:

    [1st.] It’s not the cost ‘per gallon’ == I think the whole point is the ‘gargantuan’ amount we use to fruitlessly maintain our military empire — is it worth it? Plus the fact if there was a problem with supply how that cost per gallon would affect our ‘gargantuan’ debt (most of which China owns) and deficits.
    [2nd.] I never believed that Israel ‘solely’ got us into war — From what I’ve read I believe that Israel belonging to PNAC/neocon/MIC alliance strongly favored going after Iran 1st [mainly for Hegemonist [Narcissistic] interests/reasons in the region]. However, I believe they were reassured that Iran was indeed in the mix for conquest and that Iraq would be easier to bring down first [that worked out well!] Israel’s job because of its overwhelming influence in Congress was to arm twist Congress into following the plan.
    [3rd.] “The issue with oil is pretty complicated.” Yes, you’re right and I’m definitely no expert, nor do I totally understand what is involved in the refining process etc.
    Questions: “…oil supplier refuse to bring supplies to market there would be problems. I guess the question is really how likely is such a scenario — these countries depend on the revenue to keep their autocracies going, and they need enough political stability to keep the oil companies drilling and filling…”
    I’m not sure the issue is about these autocracies ‘refusing’ to bring supplies to market, I think the issue in today’s market is who they will court with regards to investing and buying their supply?
    Back to Iran — what I’ve read is Iran is not refining or exporting anywhere near its potential. In fact, because of US sanctions against Iran it’s argued that’s why they are investing in ‘Nuclear Energy’ to fulfil their domestic energy demand. Now that Iran is yet again threatened by a Western invasion [as well as viewing the fate of their Iraqi/Afghanistan neighbors] it kinda makes sense that ‘people might think’ they might be looking to acquire nuclear weapons down the road. Although note, currently we have no evidence they are looking to develop weapons. Us threatening them makes the situation worse not better.
    — “In 2008 Iran has imported nearly 40% of its market needs because of lack of refining capacity and contraband.[6] In 2009, Iran spent paid $11 billion on imported fuel.[7] In 2010, gasoline import declined to 30% of its market needs at 25 million liters of gasoline and 11 million liters of diesel fuel per day.[8][9]
    — After completion of 7 new refineries and improvement to the existing refineries at a cost of $26 billion; along with the implementation of the subsidy reform plan to cut demand, it is possible that Iran will cease being a gasoline importer by 2010-2011 and will become a net exporter by 2013-2015.[15][16][17][18]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Iranian_Oil_Refining_and_Distribution_Company
    [4th] Questions: “Fourth, the fact is that we spend so much “protecting oil” because we are a cheap energy based economy and society. I’m guessing it’s actually a bargain despite the externalities involved.”
    Are you sure? Spend so much “protecting oil” — and yes what about “using it” — esp. in our military? Cost vs. Benefit. And it remains to be seen how ‘Cheap’ (in your eyes) it will be in years to come — when the demand from other developing countries increases.
    IMHO, in general we definitely need to invest and use ‘alternative’ forms of energy not only for cost reasons (inc. your farming eg.) but for environmental and sustainable reasons.
    ‘Plastic’ — well that could lead to another discussion — using hemp as example.
    Questions: “‘Of course, with oil, we have a different set of problems. Transitions between social orders are enormously difficult to muster, so going from entrenched oil to some other sources of energy will entail significant cost to a lot of people.'”
    Agreed — but obtaining it via conquest I don’t think is a good idea either, nor cost effective in the long run.
    Questions: “What would you do?”
    Negotiate with the likes of Iran — work with them instead of dominate them — If we don’t work with them China will. All China is doing at the moment is waiting in the wings watching until we have enough rope to hang ourselves. The major problem we have is trying to build up “Trust” — and it doesn’t help with Israel hanging over our shoulder.
    “Oil” & Hegemony. And yes looming China.
    You know I read Chalmers Johnson.
    http://mondediplo.com/2008/02/05military

    Reply

  7. questions says:

    Sand,
    First, a commenter on the site calculates about $1.82 per gallon gas tax for military ventures. Not that terrible all in all. We use a LOT of oil.
    Second, I thought the official word on this site was that Israel ordered the war for some rube goldberg-like reason that I still cannot discern.
    Third, the issue with oil is pretty complicated. there’s a market in place and as long as incentives to market the oil are there, the oil comes to market. Should a major oil supplier refuse to bring supplies to market there would be problems. I guess the question is really how likely is such a scenario — these countries depend on the revenue to keep their autocracies going, and they need enough political stability to keep the oil companies drilling and filling.
    Fourth, the fact is that we spend so much “protecting oil” because we are a cheap energy based economy and society. I’m guessing it’s actually a bargain despite the externalities involved.
    Think about the problems with taxing oil directly — it’s used in farming, so food prices jack up. It’s used in manufacturing, so plastic shit costs more. It’s used in transportation, so everything that moves costs more. Without oil (which is a super efficient energy source), we would have huge huge social problems.
    Of course, with oil, we have a different set of problems. Transitions between social orders are enormously difficult to muster, so going from entrenched oil to some other sources of energy will entail significant cost to a lot of people.
    There’s another round of externalization to pay for. Human misery as we get hungrier and more miserable in a shrinking economy with inflation in food, transportation, energy and manufacturing sectors. Yikes.
    What would you do?
    All this, of course, if it really is “oil” that causes all these ME wars and not some Cold War aftershocks that will go on for some number of years, or competition with China for allies and resources or whatever.

    Reply

  8. Sand says:

    –BBC Documentary: Iran & Britain [In 6 Parts]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJ3bZF0-IN8
    “Documentary in which writer and journalist Christopher de Bellaigue explores the fraught but often surprisingly intimate history of Britain’s relations with Iran, and asks why Iranians think that if something goes wrong in Iran then Britain must have something to do with it.
    De Bellaigue has lived in Tehran, speaks fluent Persian and knows well the phenomenon of ‘Uncle Napoleonism’, the notion that the cunning British are ‘out to get you’ that has been a common attitude in Iranian society for 100 years.
    He looks at some key events in the relationship, notably Britain’s role in the overthrow of several Iranian governments, its control of Iran’s oil and the on-off support for Iran’s democrats.
    Meeting prominent Iranians, including Uncle Napoleon’s inventor and others with direct knowledge of these events, he examines the foundations and justification for these Iranian suspicions and asks if they are still there after 30 years of isolation.
    Broadcast on: BBC Four, 10:00pm Saturday 14th February 2009”
    [oh… the good old days]
    ========================================
    — The Ministry of Oil Defense
    It’s not polite to say so, but if Americans understood just how many trillions their military was really spending on protecting oil, they wouldn’t stand for it.
    BY PETER MAASS | AUGUST 5, 2010
    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/08/05/the_ministry_of_oil_defense

    Reply

  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/only-we-re-allowed-1.306104
    Only we’re allowed
    After Tuesday’s border clash, Israel will continue to ignore UNIFIL and the Lebanese army.
    By Gideon Levy
    Those bastards, the Lebanese, changed the rules. Scandalous. Word is, they have a brigade commander who’s determined to protect his country’s sovereignty. Scandalous.
    The explanation here was that he’s “indoctrinating his troops” – only we’re allowed to do that, of course – and that this was “the spirit of the commander” and that he’s “close to Hezbollah.” The nerve.
    And now that we’ve recited ad nauseum the explanations of Israel Defense Forces propaganda for what happened Tuesday at the northern border, the facts should also be looked at.
    On Tuesday morning, Israel requested “coordination” with UNIFIL to carry out another “exposing” operation on the border fence. UNIFIL asked the IDF to postpone the operation, because its commander is abroad. The IDF didn’t care. UNIFIL won’t stop us.
    At noon the tree-cutters set out. The Lebanese and UNIFIL soldiers shouted at them to stop. In Lebanon they say their soldiers also fired warning shots in the air. If they did, it didn’t stop the IDF.
    The tree branches were cut and blood was shed on both sides of the border. Shed in vain.
    True, Israel maintains that the area across the fence is its territory, and UNIFIL officially confirmed that yesterday. But a fence is a fence: In Gaza it’s enough to get near the fence for us to shoot to kill. In the West Bank the fence’s route bears no resemblance to the Green Line, and still Palestinians are forbidden from crossing it.
    In Lebanon we made different rules: the fence is just a fence, we’re allowed to cross it and do whatever we like on the other side, sometimes in sovereign Lebanese territory. We can routinely fly in Lebanese airspace and sometimes invade as well.
    This area was under Israeli occupation for 18 years, without us ever acknowledging it. It was an occupation no less brutal than the one in the territories, but whitewashed well. “The security zone,” we called it. So now, as well, we can do what we like.
    But suddenly there was a change. How did our analysts put it? Recently there’s been “abnormal firing” at Israeli aircraft. After all, order must be maintained: We’re allowed to fly in Lebanese airspace, they are not permitted to shoot.
    But Tuesday’s incident, which was blown out of proportion here as if it were cause for a war that only the famed Israeli “restraint” prevented, should be seen in its wider context. For months now the drums of war have been beating here again. Rat-a-tat, danger, Scuds from Syria, war in the north.
    No one asks why and wherefore, it’s just that summer’s here, and with it our usual threats of war. But a UN report published this week held Israel fully responsible for creating this dangerous tension.
    In this overheated atmosphere the IDF should have been careful when lighting its matches. UNIFIL requests a delay of an operation? The area is explosive? The work should have been postponed. Maybe the Lebanese Army is more determined now to protect its country’s sovereignty – that is not only its right, but its duty – and a Lebanese commander who sees the IDF operating across the fence might give an order to shoot, even unjustifiably.
    Who better than the IDF knows the pattern of shooting at any real or imagined violation? Just ask the soldiers at the separation fence or guarding Gaza. But Israel arrogantly dismissed UNIFIL’s request for a delay.
    It’s the same arrogance behind the demand that the U.S. and France stop arming the Lebanese military. Only our military is allowed to build up arms. After years in which Israel demanded that the Lebanese Army take responsibility for what is happening in southern Lebanon, it is now doing so and we’ve changed our tune. Why? Because it stopped behaving like Israel’s subcontractor and is starting to act like the army of a sovereign state.
    And that’s forbidden, of course. After the guns fall silent, the cry goes up again here to strike another “heavy blow” against Lebanon to “deter” it – maybe some more of the destruction that was inflicted on Beirut’s Dahiya neighborhood.
    Three Lebanese killed, including a journalist, are not enough of a response to the killing of our battalion commander. We want more. Lebanon must learn a lesson, and we will teach it.
    And what about us? We don’t have any lessons to learn. We’ll continue to ignore UNIFIL, ignore the Lebanese Army and its new brigade commander, who has the nerve to think that his job is to protect his country’s sovereignty.

    Reply

  10. JohnH says:

    Nadine refuses to admit that Arab nations almost never attack each other.
    In fact, the number of Israeli wars against Arab states far exceeds the number of Arab nations that engaged in wars against each other in the last 60 years.
    Now that Turkey has started the process of economic integration, Arab leaders are likely to sign on.
    Of course, the prospect of this petrifies Israel. They will use all proxies possible, starting with Kurds, to prevent Arab unity, peace and prosperity.

    Reply

  11. JohnH says:

    Funny how the NY Times rarely if ever prints pictures of the large numbers of Afghan women killed by American drones.
    But you can’t expect people like Nadine, who want to save women by killing lots of them, to understand that war is about the worst thing that can happen to women and children. About the only thing that’s worse is prolonged war–like Afghanistan.

    Reply

  12. Pahlavan says:

    “Sweeping under the rug in one go: the Algerian civil war, the various Yemen/north Yemen civil wars, with Egypt taking part, the Suez Crisis when Nasser nationalized….”
    Take away the CIA’s budget for activities in funding and arming rogue groups, and conflicts in the middle east will end over night.

    Reply

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, Emily wants her eye back too. And while we’re at it, perhaps you can talk the Israeli nazis into giving Tristan his life back.
    You defend Israel dumping white phosphorous on women and children. And we are supposed to believe you give a shit about this Muslim woman?

    Reply

  14. nadine says:

    The New York Times reports on the debate stirred by Time’s cover portrait of a young Afghan worman without a nose — can feminism ever trump the Left’s anti-Americanism? Until now, the answer has almost always been no.
    Warren, just a reminder of the typical behavior of the side you don’t mind helping to win in Afghanistan.
    __________________
    Portrait of Pain Ignites Debate Over Afghan War
    KABUL, Afghanistan

    Reply

  15. Carroll says:

    Oh, poor little settler terriers….sob. Getting evicted from land they stole. Just heart breaking.
    But wait, I have a job and a place for them to live..if they can dance…can they dance?
    Lebanon is looking for a dance crew like the IDF boys who did that cute dance routine in the streets of occupied Palestine. All they have to do is that same hippy hop dance all around the cluster bomb fields in Lebanon.
    Free room and board in a refugee camp…but unfortunately no accidental death coverage insurance.

    Reply

  16. nadine says:

    Carroll, get your indignation machine ready again, Israel is razing even more buildings. Maybe Steve will post on this “disturbing” development:
    “West Bank demolitions lead to clashes
    By JPOST.COM STAFF
    08/05/2010 08:31
    Civil Administration razed 6 structures including a synagogue.
    The Civil Administration reportedly razed several structures in the West Bank early Thursday morning, leading to clashes between settlers and police in the area.
    It was reported that at least six settlers were arrested in Kiryat Arba, and were taken for questioning.
    RELATED:
    Border police disperse settler protesters with stun grenade
    Settlers attack Palestinians near Har Bracha
    According to Israel Radio, six illegal structures were demolished, including a synagogue. Four families were living in the structures.
    A number of settlers from the area reportedly attempted to block entry and prevent the demolitions, setting tires on fire and throwing stones which punctured the tyre of an army jeep. It was reported that the settlers also torched fields in the area in protest. ”
    http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=183711
    Oh wait. Those buildings belonged to illegal JEWISH settlers.
    Oh never mind. Nobody will report it but the Israeli papers, it never happened as far as the world media are concerned, it doesn’t fit “the narrative” so there is nothing to report.

    Reply

  17. nadine says:

    Carroll, are you trying to one-up JohnH’s comedy act?
    By all means, let’s summon a war crimes trial for the deliberate provocation of brush clearing on their own side of the border, with due notice given to the UNFIL peace keepers.
    The provocation of using snipers – not somebody who would be on a random patrol, they must have come on special order – to shoot the IDF officers in the head is clearly nothing in comparison, right Carroll?

    Reply

  18. nadine says:

    “Nadine,
    If you add up the casualties described in the US Army reports, by maybe you don’t have time to read 92,000 documents, you arrive at a figure greater then 20,000. And in Iraq, it was several hundred thousand.”
    So you are counting everybody the enemy killed as well. What is this, the “deep pockets” theory of culpability — all to the US, none to the Taliban or Al Qaeda? They massacre hundreds at a time, you blame the US. It was not several hundred thousand in Iraq, btw, except according to the Lancet’s survey in October 2006.
    “A bit more than any number of collaborators that will die. If any die.”
    The “collaborators” — boy, does that tell whose you’re on! — have already started to die. Wikileaks gave the Taliban the hit list.

    Reply

  19. Warren Metzler says:

    Nadine,
    If you add up the casualties described in the US Army reports, by maybe you don’t have time to read 92,000 documents, you arrive at a figure greater then 20,000. And in Iraq, it was several hundred thousand.
    A bit more than any number of collaborators that will die. If any die.

    Reply

  20. Carroll says:

    Now comes the real story…..
    NYT ….
    “Israel told the United Nations around 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday that it was planning to trim a tree on a narrow strip of land the Lebanese believe should be on their side of the border, Mr. Le Roy said. The United Nations then informed the Lebanese, who objected. Mr. Le Roy said that his troops began negotiating between the two sides, but that Israel had decided to go ahead after a few hours, leading to a clash around 11:40 a.m. on Tuesday’
    Business Week today

    Reply

  21. Carroll says:

    Blah,blah.
    First Saudi has nothing useful or valuable to offer Syria. Saudi isn’t going to protect them from Israel or the US or anyone else. Or offer them anything the US doesn’t want them to offer. Syria knows that.
    Syria isn’t a particulary powerful country on it’s own and if it’s gonna have an alliance it’s going to be with the country or countries that have the same concerns/ threats/ situtation and who will pledge some support to Syria.
    Saudi doesn’t want any change in the neighborhood, others in the region do, sides are being chosen.
    Looks to me Saudi’s influence in their own regional is minimal…and they see Saudi hasn’t been able to influence the US for the Syrians so where’s the benefit of moving away from Iran and allying with Saudi?

    Reply

  22. Dan Kervick says:

    I wish Gause had written in more concrete terms about the precise nature of the interests that Saudi Arabia is pursuing, instead of draping it all in the abstract categories of IR textbooks: e.g. influence, fronts, rollbacks and long games.

    Reply

  23. nadine says:

    “We have killed over 20,000 civilians in Afghanistan, who knows how many Taliban, and killed and injuried many of our troops. ” (WM)
    Warren, where do you get that number? Is this one of those numbers that assigns all the dead killed by the Taliban to the US?

    Reply

  24. nadine says:

    “Nadine, likes to talk about how unstable the ME is. But in fact, there have been very few wars between Arab states during the past 50 years. Iraq was the major exception.”
    You’re a comedic genius tonight, JohnH!
    Sweeping under the rug in one go: the Algerian civil war, the various Yemen/north Yemen civil wars, with Egypt taking part, the Suez Crisis when Nasser nationalized the canal, the Lebanese civil war with Syrian participation, the Iran-Iraq war, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the resulting Gulf Wars I and II. Which is not to neglect the internal campaigns with casualties in the thousands or tens or hundreds of thousands: Saddam’s Anfal campaign, his slaughter of the Shia and the Kurds, Hafez al Assad’s destruction of half of Hama in 1982, King Hussein’s Black September in 1970 etc, etc.
    The casualties from these “non-existent Arab wars” that don’t involve Israel run into the millions. Far higher than the totals from all the Arab-Israeli wars put together. But then the Israelis don’t go for massacres when they win. The Arabs do.
    Really, JohnH, if your aim is to display your utter ignorance of Mideast history, then you are doing well.

    Reply

  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “But it is clear that war and terrorism are a foundation of Israel’s economy”
    And the foundation of the collective psyche of its society.
    And don’t let the bigot hasbarist Nadine confuse and deflect the issue.
    Israel KNEW that the Lebanese would react to the tree trimming.
    Unifil tried to defuse the situation, and requested more time to do so, but in a mere five hours Israel decided to go ahead with the provocation.
    Five people died, and many more might yet do so, because these fuckin’ wackjobs running the show in Israel supposedly wanted to trim a tree???
    More likely, Israel needed an incident because they are jonesing for the smell of incinerated Muslims.

    Reply

  26. rc says:

    “JohnH, Aug 04 2010, 6:39PM” — I agree, you are very likely close to the truth in your analysis. The biggest risk for the US is if peace breaks out.
    “nadine, Aug 04 2010, 7:19PM” — I’ve no liking for any systems of monarchy, being of a republican mindset myself (in the generic sense of the word), but if the people want a symbolic monarch then that is their choice.
    However, in cases such as Saudi Arabia, it is not the people who choose, but rather an imposed dictatorship supported by external forces (following WW1) and not hard to guess which ones.
    My objections relate to this anarchic system of governance as an imposition on the people. In the case of Mr Abdallah Saud, his family’s regime is not based on democratic principles. Perhaps when you are over in Jeddah next you could drive (ooops, sorry nadine, you’ll have hide under a tent and not drive) past the mosque where they do the Friday hand cutting for petty criminals and the odd execution for whatever the Wahhabi deviancy consider necessary for their form of ‘good’ governance. Makes Iran look like freedom central.
    In respect to the Handshakes — it is just the blatant and obvious stage management of it for propaganda purposes … although I’m not sure if it is more for US or Saudi domestic purposes. That, and the blatant hypocrisy of the US it shows.
    To be honest, I put Saudi Arabia as a bigger obstetrical to democratic peace in the ME than Israel. But that in not way excuses the tyranny of the Zionist regime in the Israel-Palestine region for the vast majority of the people there.

    Reply

  27. JohnH says:

    Nadine, likes to talk about how unstable the ME is. But in fact, there have been very few wars between Arab states during the past 50 years. Iraq was the major exception.
    Israel is what drives instability in the ME.
    And, yes, the security industry drives Israel’s economy. And Israel stands to gain handsomely by perpetually maintaining the tensions of terrr-rrorr-rrism, as Israeli government officials like to pronounce it.
    This report estimates that approximately 25% of Israel’s exports ($10 billion) are generated by arms and homeland security products.
    http://qspace.library.queensu.ca/bitstream/1974/1941/1/The%2520Political%2520Economy%2520of%2520Israel%25E2%2580%2599s%2520Homeland%2520Security.pdf
    The exact figures are hard to determine exactly because they are put into other categories, such as high tech products.
    But it is clear that war and terrorism are a foundation of Israel’s economy.

    Reply

  28. Warren Metzler says:

    And more. Enough of this nonsense that Julian Assange has blood on his hands. We have killed over 20,000 civilians in Afghanistan, who knows how many Taliban, and killed and injuried many of our troops. And all because Bush put us there so he could convince us to go into Iraq. And also because Obama needed a war to convince us he was commander in chief material.
    All for a worthless cause: supporting criminal warlords, and extremely graft greedy politicians, and wasting billions of our tax dollars on rarely existing infrastructure projects.
    If a few people die because the recent leaks list them as collaborators with our criminal exercise over there, that is way less then the many we kill and maim.
    Wikileaks absolutely, as Daniel Ellsberg, did an heroic act. Far more Americans now know the travesty we are creating over there, then before those leaks came out.

    Reply

  29. Warren Metzler says:

    I suggest that we step back and look at reality. Syria is a dictatorship, Saudi Arabia is a theocracy, Iran is a theocracy, Lebanon lives in the dark ages with the concept that democracy is giving every last little group the ability to ensure the government doesn’t work. And Israel is a ethnocracy masquerading as a democracy. So don’t expect any rational behavior from any of the players. Each government mentioned is always looking for diversions, so as to cover up that they are extremely irresponsible and oppressive as governments.
    Until most of the countries of the Middle East develop secular democracies; which, of course, American foreign policy for sixty years has been doing its best to ensure never occurs (too many fewer countries for our corporations to rip off to allow that to happen); we will continue to see an never ending comedy of errors. Where else in the world do people fight over trimming a tree?
    It is a travesty that any country with oil, except non-subservient countries like Venezuela, is allowed to have a government that is totally oppressive, living based on a consciousness that is many centuries old, and yet treated by our government as a viable country worthy of respect.
    Is it ever going to be possible for the US government to base its foreign policy on we favor those who promote freedom for their people, and we don’t favor those who oppress their people, regardless of how much of our government securities a given country buys. I perceive that would be really ensuring the protection of our national security.

    Reply

  30. nadine says:

    “After all, the “security industry” is what fuels Israel’s economy these days.”
    Actually, no. The high tech and tourist sectors are both larger.
    You speak as if either side in the Lebanese civil war were going to buy arms from Israel, which is another gem of unintended comedy.

    Reply

  31. JohnH says:

    Nadine is hoping and praying for more war. After all, the “security industry” is what fuels Israel’s economy these days. And conjuring up “existential threats” is what results in massive amounts of aid from US taxpayers and from the diaspora.
    Of course, the next round will be mutually destructive to both the Israeli and Arab side. The Israeli side wants it anyway, the Arab side doesn’t.
    Europe also used “the lens of conflict, division and conquest”…until it realized that peace and economic union were the path to prosperity.
    Too bad Israel will be totally left out in the cold, desperate for more existential threats.

    Reply

  32. nadine says:

    Haaretz reports that the Reserve officers who were shot were not doing the tree trimming, but standing apart on higher ground. Haaretz also says they were wearing helmets and flak jackets and were shot by snipers.

    Reply

  33. Marcus says:

    Israel should post the picture of the Reserve Officer who was shot, he looked like a good-guy, I liked his face, not to smart,but strong-like-bull and dependable.

    Reply

  34. nadine says:

    rc, I cannot tell from your comment whether you actually object to Saudi autocrats, or only to the fact that American President shake hands with them.

    Reply

  35. nadine says:

    “Interesting that both Gause and Nadine view Abdullah’s efforts through the lens of conflict, division and conquest, reflecting American foreign policy tradition.
    But it may well be that they are wrong. Abdullah and the whole region (Israel excepted, of course) may have decided to proceed down a path totally foreign to American and Israeli policy makers. That path, like Europe 60 years ago, may be the road to peace, stability and prosperity.”
    Bwahahahahahahahaha! (gasp) Hahahahahahaha!
    You missed your calling, JohnH. You should have been a comedian.
    What your self-induced myopia prevents you from seeing is that “the lens of conflict, division and conquest” is the way the entire Middle East has always looked at its own politics.
    What King Abdullah is doing is acquiescing in the Iranian/Syrian conquest of Lebanon and trying to salvage what he can out of the situation. I know, you call it “peace” as long as the winners hate America as much as you do. And when the war comes, as it is coming in Lebanon, you will find a way to blame Israel instead of the parties who are doing the fighting, or the parties who support them.

    Reply

  36. JohnH says:

    Interesting that both Gause and Nadine view Abdullah’s efforts through the lens of conflict, division and conquest, reflecting American foreign policy tradition.
    But it may well be that they are wrong. Abdullah and the whole region (Israel excepted, of course) may have decided to proceed down a path totally foreign to American and Israeli policy makers. That path, like Europe 60 years ago, may be the road to peace, stability and prosperity.
    Abdullah saw what happened to Iraq as a result of America’s “good intentions.” Abdullah has seen what happened to Lebanon as a result of decades of civil conflict. And nobody but Israel wants a repeat of the bloody conflicts of the past.
    Abdullah has watched as Turkey adopted a “no problems” policy for dealing with its neighbors. A trade union is already in the works among Turkey, Syria and Jordan. The obvious intention is to bring in the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and perhaps even Iran.
    Economic growth would be fueled by Gulf oil, Gulf oil money, and Turkey’s agricultural and manufacturing base.
    Israel, by its own choice, will be left out as the region finally takes matters into its own hands.

    Reply

  37. nadine says:

    Newsweek reports that Julian Assange already has blood on his hands, with more to come:
    “After WikiLeaks published a trove of U.S. intelligence documents

    Reply

  38. rc says:

    Ah, so we had the ‘holding hands with the Arab dictator’ photo-op with GWBush, the bowing and scraping by Obama, and now young Barak is ‘leading’ the old goat down the path … perhaps in case he steps on a crack in the concrete I assume.
    And an absolute scandal that a woman’s hair and naked face is seen … horror! (well two actually)
    And what does American democracy think of the treatment of women in the non-democratic autocracy of the Saud Family’s Arabia?
    Zip, zero, silence … just like Mr Saud’s comments about helping his fellow Moslem Palestinians live in peace in their own land.
    And we might add his support for the bin Laden family that, according to the US intelligence,is one of the prime sources of the 9/11 — I think the ‘devil in incarnate’ son was called Osama bin Laden — a subject of this clown? BTW: How’s Patty Hearst going these days?
    Yes, the Prophet of Islam would be mighty impressed with this ‘protector’ of the two sacred mosques I suspect (not).
    Hope old Obama had the golden toilet seats out for the ‘royal’ butt to squat on! Almost as good as a good olde golden calf’s arse blowing bonanza.
    So, what was his little trip to chat with Syria in Lebanon about? Offering up his US airforce support for the Islamic world? Doubt they could even turn the engines on without Washington’s ok.
    Business as usual all round. No change ‘we need’ here.

    Reply

  39. nadine says:

    When I read Ben Katcher’s summary of Professor Gause’s article
    “University of Vermont Political Science Professor F. Gregory Gause, III, writing at the Foreign Policy/Middle East Channel, is pessimistic about Saudi Arabia King Abdallah’s efforts to woo Syria away from Iran and reconstitute the Riyad-Cairo-Damascus Arab triangle.”
    I was going to say that Professor Gause’s was very wrong-headed to believe that King Abdullah was even thinking of wooing Syria away from Iran under present circumstances. Syria has a defense pact with Iran, Syria is joint-patron to Iran’s foreign legion Hizbullah, and has gotten control of Lebanon back directly through Iran’s patronage. The idea that Abdullah is going to try to woo Syria away right now (with what threat or promise?) is absurd. It just ain’t gonna happen.
    Then I read Prof. Gause’s article, and I saw that Gause knows perfectly well the idea is absurd. Gause says King Abdullah is visitng Assad to try to use his influence to prevent another Lebanese civil war:
    “Abdullah likely wanted to use his trip to Beirut to repair his relationship with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria in order to make sure that the anticipated indictment of Hizballah operatives in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri does not blow up Lebanese politics. A return to violence in Lebanon would, in Abdallah’s view, redound to the benefit of Iran, the containment of which is currently his central goal. ”
    The brewing Lebanese civil war hasn’t registered on Ben Katcher’s radar screen, apparently. So Katcher misses the main point, joins the Saudi press in nostalgia for the Arab politics of 40 years ago, and continues to indulge his fantasy that Mideast politics is everywhere and at all times about the Israeli/Palestinian peace process, even when nobody is even thinking about it. This is just silly.
    Some more relevant commentary on Lebanon from the Jpost:
    Why is Lebanon So Tense?
    By BENJAMIN JOFFE-WALT / THE MEDIA LINE
    08/04/2010 18:04
    The war that may be brewing is not with Israel.
    Lebanese leaders referred to Israeli

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *