Sunday, August 5, 2007

Lower Expectations

by Jonah Goldberg from National Review

If all we need in Iraq is a strong state with a moderately pro-American government, we should all be delighted with the behavior of, say, Saudi Arabia over the last few decades. Saudi Arabia has one of the most pro-American regimes in the region. It largely controls its borders and society, and at least technically, it is not a safe haven for terrorists. Indeed, al Qaeda is chomping at the bit to behead the royal family. And yet, you’d have to be crazier than a Jewish deli owner in Riyadh to think what America needs most is another Saudi Arabia. If you recall, the 9/11 hijackers were overwhelmingly Saudi. Osama bin Laden is a Saudi. Al Qaeda’s bankrollers are often Saudi. The Saudi government funds the exportation of Saudi-style Wahhabism, which is serving to radicalize Muslims around the world, particularly in places like Pakistan. Of course, Iraqi culture is very different from Saudi culture, and a pious Sunni theocracy isn’t in the offing in Iraq. But that misses the point. Even Jordan — which is a far cry better than Saudi Arabia in virtually every respect — suffers from high levels of anti-Americanism and support for terrorism.

Embattled Bangladeshi Journalist Choudhury Visits AJC

from The American Jewish Committee

Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, editor of the Weekly Blitz a major English-language weekly in Bangladesh, has been on trial in Bangladesh for sedition because of his writings on radical Islam and his attempt to visit Israel. His newspaper offices have been bombed, and he has been physically assaulted. If convicted, he could face the death penalty ... Choudhury described in detail the ongoing efforts of Islamist groups, funded by Saudi Arabia, to take over Bangladesh. “They are patronizing the culture of jihad,” he said. Saudis are investing in every sector, including banks, education, hospitals and “trying to capture Bangladeshi politics,” he said. There are 64,000 madrassas in Bangladesh, 70% of them dedicated to Koranic education, said Choudhury. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has provided $20 million to establish a television station in Bangladesh to “combat secular-Western media.” While most Bangladeshis are moderate, their leadership and educational system have been radicalized, he said.

'Realist' Policy Built on Sand

by Jonathan S. Tobin from the Jewish Exponent

The idea is that providing the Saudis with more hi-tech weaponry will both deter Iranian adventurism and enable the Saudis to defend themselves if it does not. But this theory also underpinned past arms sales to the Saudis when it was Iraq and Saddam Hussein that scared them and us. Yet the Saudis did nothing to stop Saddam. So why will they be any more willing to confront the Iranian mullahs and their frontman, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? If push ever comes to shove with Iran, the Saudis will keep their toys at home and wait for an overburdened American military to bail them out ... The bottom line here is that neither fear of Iran, loyalty to Bush or deterrence to the current political climate in Jerusalem ought to deter any American from speaking out about the insanity of putting more sophisticated weaponry into the hands of the home office of Islamist extremism.

Romney backs Saudi deal with conditions

from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency

The former Massachusetts governor, a front-runner in the race for the Republican presidential candidacy, addressed this week's announcement by the Bush administration of a $20 arms deal with the Saudis and their neighbors. "Saudi Arabia is an important strategic ally," Romney said in a statement solicited by JTA. "We share mutual interests, particularly in helping dissuade Iran from nuclear ambition. Sale of military equipment is consistent with our relationship. However, prior to a sale of advanced military armaments, it is essential that we reach an understanding with the Saudi government that it will not undermine the elected Iraqi government, that it will support the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and that it will not fund Wahhabi schools and mosques that are shown to be incubators of terror."