Thursday, July 11, 2002
Our friends the Saudis: If you don't get ticked off at the State Department and the Saudi government after reading William McGurn's piece in today's Wall Street Journal then you've got no heart.
If you want a glimpse at what all of American foreign policy would be like if we made our No. 1 priority getting along with every other country on the face of the earth, look at how we dance around Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, we treat American women, soldiers and not, like the Saudis treat our women. No driving cars. Until recently, women soldiers in the Kingdom had to wear the same head-to-toe covering as Saudi women when venturing off base.
The U.S. embassy is more concerned with assuaging any Saudi sensibilities than it is at protecting the rights of American citizens.
The Saudis need us far more than we need them. Let the Saudis whine and go into conniption fits, but allow these kidnapped American women to return to the U.S. Make them diplomats. Fly them from the country on U.S. military jets.
What can the Saudis do? Two things, one bad, the other worse.
First, the Saudis can refuse to sell oil to us. It still has to sell that oil, we just have to buy from other suppliers -- big deal.
Second, the Saudis can kick our military off their Saudi bases. Of course that's fine too. We just invite Saddam Hussein to invade -- again. Once Hussein has knocked off the Saudi royals, we go back in and knock Hussein off. We put some sort of benevolent dictatorship in place -- as a precursor to eventual democracy. Return the holy cities of Mecca and Medina to Jordan, and after some uncomfortable months/years the Middle East would be a much more peaceful place.
While Saudi Arabia is a particularly evil society when it comes to its treatment of women, it should be noted that the failure of the State Department to fight for the rights of Americans overseas extends to more friendly countries, including Germany.
Neither Republican nor Democratic presidents have been able to shake the State Department out of coddle mode and get it fighting for the rights of American citizens. Despite all of the cries about the U.S. thinking it's above international law with its refusal to join the International Criminal Court, in reality that attitude extends only to vital national security concerns -- individual U.S. citizens who are victimized overseas are left adrift.
When Bush was putting together his cabinet, he made a mistake. It would've been better to put Donald Rumsfeld in the State Department and Colin Powell in the Defense Department. Rumsfeld's take-charge, no-BS approach is sorely needed in Foggy Bottom.