Saturday, January 06, 2007

Saudi Arabia: The REAL Reason for Troops in Iraq?

It's a long article, but you ought to read it. It's far more interesting and informative than listening to Belling read-alouds from the Wall Street Journal or VD Hanson.

(By the way, when did Belling adopt the "Ding-Dong School" method and become Miss Frances?)

In brief, the family Saud (30,000 members and growing) is a wreck; some of the family has been actively supporting AlQuaeda and the "reformist"/jihadi/Muslim extremists; the oil-spigot can be severely crippled with 80 pounds of Semtex (!!!), and both State and the CIA seem to be ignoring it.

Unless, of course, you factor in the presence of 160,000 US ground troops in Iraq.

The good news: there's a LOT of money at stake in keeping Saudi oil fields running, and developing new oilfields with Saud partners. That money has been recycled to a number of US and foreign notables, including:

...the Carlyle Group—a private investment company, founded in 1987, that almost since its inception has been conducting immensely profitable business with Saudi Arabia. From 1993 to 2002 the chairman of Carlyle was Frank Carlucci, who served first as Ronald Reagan's National Security Adviser and then as his Secretary of Defense. Carlyle's senior counselor is James Baker, who served as Secretary of State under George H.W. Bush—who in his post-presidency also happens to be a Carlyle adviser. Others who hang their hats at Carlyle include Arthur Levitt, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission under Bill Clinton, and now Carlyle's senior adviser; John Major, a former Prime Minister of Great Britain and the current chairman of Carlyle Europe; William Kennard, who chaired the Federal Communications Commission during the second Clinton Administration; Afsaneh Mashayekhi Beschloss, a former treasurer and chief investment officer of the World Bank; and Richard Darman, who ran the Office of Management and Budget under the first President Bush and also served as deputy secretary of the treasury under Reagan.

Carlyle isn't the only company in this business. Halliburton, run by Dick Cheney between his stints as Secretary of Defense under the first George Bush and Vice President under the second, has been a frequent beneficiary of Saudi money. In late 2001 Halliburton landed a $140 million contract to develop a new Saudi oil field. For many years Condoleezza Rice, now President Bush's National Security Adviser, served on the board of Chevron, which merged in 2001 with Texaco. The new corporation, ChevronTexaco, is a partner with Saudi Aramco in several ventures and has recently joined forces with Nimir Petroleum to develop oil fields in Kazakhstan. Currently on the board of ChevronTexaco are Carla Hills, who served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Gerald Ford and as a U.S. trade representative under George H.W. Bush; the former Louisiana senator J. Bennett Johnston, who made a specialty of energy issues while in Congress; and the former Georgia senator Sam Nunn, who served most notably as head of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Elsewhere, Nicholas Brady, the Secretary of the Treasury under the first President Bush, and Edith Holiday, a former assistant to the first President Bush, serve on the board of Amerada Hess, which has teamed with some of Saudi Arabia's most powerful royal-family members to exploit the rich oil resources of Azerbaijan. In 1998 Amerada Hess formed a joint venture, Delta Hess, with the Saudi-owned Delta Oil to explore and exploit petroleum resources in Azerbaijan. The Houston-based Frontera Resources Corporation joined the Azerbaijan hunt the same year, teaming with the newly created Delta Hess. Among the members of Frontera's board of advisers: the former Texas senator, former Secretary of the Treasury, and 1988 Democratic vice-presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen; and John Deutch, a former CIA director.

Not likely that all that oil-money will be endangered too soon.

Of course, keeping oil flowing also benefits the USA in general terms; certainly, if that Semtex bomb were to cripple Saudi output, reducing oil-flow by 30% worldwide, there would be serious repercussions on the US economy, not to mention that of PRChina and Europe.

So it is an interesting conundrum, eh?

Of course, the relationship w/the House of Saud has had some rough spots:

...after 9/11 he began to experience some difficulty in maintaining a positive Saudi image

In mid-2002 word leaked to the press that the semi-official Defense Policy Board, chaired by the notorious cold warrior Richard Perle, had sponsored a report declaring Saudi Arabia to be part of the problem of international terrorism rather than part of the solution. Saudi Arabia, the report stated, was "central to the self-destruction of the Arab world and the chief vector of the Arab crisis and its outwardly-directed aggression." It went on to say, "The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader." Within hours Colin Powell was on the phone to the Saudi Foreign Minister, assuring him—and through him, the royal family—that such apostasy was not and never would be the official stance of the Bush Administration. To reinforce the message, President Bush invited Bandar down to the family ranch at Crawford, Texas.

And now a familiar refrain:

Washington's answer for Saudi Arabia—apart from repeating that nothing is wrong—is to suggest that a little democracy will cure everything

It's utter nonsense, of course. If an election were held in Saudi Arabia today, if anyone who wanted to could run for the office of president, and if people could vote their hearts without fear of having their heads cut off afterward in Chop-Chop Square, Osama bin Laden would be elected in a landslide—not because the Saudi people want to wash their hands in the blood of the dead of September 11, but simply because bin Laden has dared to do what even the mighty United States of America won't do: stand up to the thieves who rule the country.

Not a particulary desirable outcome.


Anonymous said...

Big question is, if the Republicans are so intimately entwined with the corrupt Saudis, who is there to support on the conservative side? More generally, if Saudis would support an Osama because he's the only one to have stood up to the Saudi thieves, how do Americans effectively persuade Saudi people that there are alternatives to this extremist murderer? Especially when another murderer has just been made into a martyr, that being U.S.-created Saddam Hussein?

Dad29 said...


I think that, going forward, the strategic objective of ANY US government will be to maintain the flow of oil from Saudi Arabia--even HRC will not risk $150/bbl oil-prices to rub Pubbie noses in sand.

Of course, a Dim president will also have the advantage: little baggage with Saudi princelings.