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August 8, 2004
Bush Foreign Policy, Patience Pays Off In Saudi Arabia

The Bush administration's efforts in the war on terror gets a boost from an unlikely source today -- the Los Angeles Times. Albeit a silent endorsement, the Times' analysis of Saudi Arabia's evolution from tacit supporter of terror to a key ally of the war on al-Qaeda demonstrates that the Bush strategy of patience and diplomatic pressure have paid off with the Saudis, and has resulted in vital cooperation between intelligence services:

After years of giving tacit support and back-channel financing to Islamic extremists, the Saudi government has joined forces with the United States in an intensive battle against Al Qaeda in the desert kingdom.

For the last year, U.S. intelligence analysts have been sitting side by side with their Saudi counterparts at a secret location here in the capital, sharing raw intelligence and plotting counterattacks, said a former U.S. ambassador to the country, Robert Jordan, and a senior Saudi government official.

Even critics who accuse the Saudis of turning a blind eye to militant Islamic terrorism in the past and who remain skeptical about the extent of their cooperation agreed that Saudi security forces were taking the Al Qaeda threat seriously and responding forcefully.

Early after 9/11, the Bush administration came under tremendous pressure to name the Saudis as accessories to the attacks. Secret files were requested, and when they were release with heavy redaction, critics accused Bush of covering up for his Saudi "cronies". This resulted in a number of ludicrous conspiracy theories about Bush-Saudi connections, mostly trying to paint Bush as a tool of the Saudis even while he launched two wars they opposed. Michael Moore provides the most blatant example in his wildly paranoid movie Fahrenheit 9/11, but even John Kerry on the stump likes to make veiled references to the urban legend of Saudi ownership of the Bush family:

"If we want our security to be in our hands, if we want our destiny to be controlled by America completely," Mr. Kerry said in Kansas City, "we've got to have America have its ingenuity and creativity produce its energy - not the Saudi royal family."

Instead of focusing on feel-good pandering to the paranoid conspiracy demographic, Bush kept his focus on the most important issue: defeating the terrorists. He demonstrated his independence of action to the Saudi royal family, and the world, when he took action against Saddam Hussein and gave credibility to American policies in the regoion, credibility that had been sorely lacking since the cease-fire and the betrayal of the Shi'a in 1991. Among the many positive developments from this change in directions was the clear communication to the Saudis that our security mattered more than their oil, and that opposing us would put them on the losing side of the war.

This message was driven home by al-Qaeda itself when it attacked Saudi sites with carbombs, supposedly for supporting America in its invasion of Iraq. (It gave no real cooperation, of course; it opposed it diplomatically while putting no operational obstacles in our way.) By keeping diplomatic relations healthy with the Saudis, Bush allowed them to join the team -- late, perhaps, but still effective.

Now we face a choice in November. Do we re-elect the man who understood the greater danger in 2001 and acted to attack it, rather than wait for the next attack? Or do we vote for the short-sighted man who continues to pander to conspiracy theorists and the neo-Stalinists of International ANSWER?

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 8, 2004 11:34 AM

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