The Scandal of U.S.-Saudi Relations - Daniel Pipes

(National Interest) What lies behind this pattern of obsequiousness? Where is the normally robust pursuit of U.S. interests? It is one thing when private companies bend over backwards to please the Saudis (Starbucks in Saudi Arabia does not show the female figure that normally graces its logo), but why does the U.S. government defer to the Kingdom in so many and unique ways? The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, helpfully hinted at how he cultivates powerful Americans: "If the reputation then builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office," Bandar once observed, "you'd be surprised how much better friends you have who are just coming into office." Hume Horan, himself a former U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom, is the great and noble exception to this pattern: "There have been some people who really do go on the Saudi payroll, and they work as advisers and consultants. Prince Bandar is very good about massaging and promoting relationships like that. Money works wonders, and if you've got an awful lot of it, and a royal title - well, it's amusing to see how some Americans liquefy in front of a foreign potentate." Over-the-top support of Saudi interests by former ambassador James E. Akins (who has criticized Arab governments for not being tougher with Washington and despaired that Arabs did not withdraw their money from U.S. banks) has caused him to be described as occasionally appearing "more pro-Arab than the Arab officials." According to the Washington Post, Walter Cutler, who served two tours as the U.S. ambassador in Saudi Arabia, now runs Meridian International Center in Washington, an organization that promotes international understanding through education and exchanges. Saudi donors have been "very supportive" of the center, Cutler said. This culture of corruption in the Executive Branch renders it quite incapable of dealing with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the farsighted and disinterested manner that U.S. foreign policy requires. That leaves Congress with the responsibility to fix things. The massive pre-emptive bribing of American officials requires urgent attention. Steps need to be taken to ensure that the Saudi revolving-door syndrome documented here be made illegal.

2003-01-13 00:00:00

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