Ha'aretz ran this headline the other day: “Saudi king assures Obama of commitment to two-state Mideast solution” – and I was happy, since I needed a good laugh. Saudi Arabia, whose King Abdullah was in Washington this week, is committed to the peace process the way the NRA is committed to gun control.
Sure, its leaders advanced the Saudi Peace Plan, which includes many positive elements. But the plan was designed to be rejected by Israel since it posited a per-determined outcome, without negotiations. A plan no Israeli leader could accept isn't a plan, it's a publicity stunt no matter how many good elements it contains.
More to the point, if Saudi leaders were so blasted interested in peace, why have they done so much over the years to impede it? Why haven't they used their influence to press the Palestinians to be more responsible in their actions, the way they want the U.S. to press Israel?
For that matter, why have they funded Islamic extremists out to get America, as well as Israel? And why, for all their professed concern about the Palestinians, haven't they used their vast oil wealth to ease their plight? I don't see billions of Saudi petrodollars helping the PA build a viable economic infrastructure in the West Bank.
I periodically get peevish about Israel's rather one-side view of what it means to be a U.S. partner – like, Washington should be sensitive to every one of Israel's needs, but Israel should feel free to ignore U.S. needs, since its existence is at stake (but guess what: ours is, too in this dangerous age).
But compared to Saudi Arabia, Israel is a shining example of ally-like cooperation.
I'm not saying we should cast Saudi Arabia into the Axis of Evil category. But in so many ways, it works against U.S. interests while professing great friendship. Our connection with them, in turn, undercuts our credibility when we argue that our foreign policy is driven by values like freedom, democracy and human rights, since the Saudis don't do very well in any category.
Sure, complain about Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. But I don't hear much complaining about the Saudis treatment of women – over half their population. Religious tolerance? Forget about it.
When you take away the oil factor, it's hard to see how their “partnership” helps us much.
But I guess that's the point; as long as we depend so heavily on foreign oil, and as long as Saudi Arabia's oil fields hold out, we'll probably keep heaping on the undeserved praise and talk about our enduring friendship.. The U.S. as the world's only remaining super power? Sometimes we look like more like super-chumps.
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