The McGill Report
ROCHESTER, MN -- If George W. Bush truly leveled with southeast Minnesotans about his feelings about the war in Iraq -- in the same way that he levels with Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleeza Rice, and others in his inner circle -- he would surely say something like this:
"My fellow Americans, thank God we won in Iraq, because at long last we can begin to extricate ourselves from our lose-lose, co-dependent, morally degrading, and mutually destructive relationship with Saudi Arabia.
"How I hate those photo-op sessions with the Saudi royals. I have to clench my teeth and smile every time, because I know what they're really doing. They're using their billions in oil profits to protect and prolong their corrupt regime. They spend hundreds of millions each year to keep every member of the extended royal Saud family docile in their palaces and their yachts, instead of scheming to take down King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah.
"Worse than that, the Saud family funnels millions of dollars every year to support hard-line Islamic fundamentalists, especially the Wahhabis. This is nothing but a desperate attempt to divert the extremists' attention away from Saudi Arabia -- where the Wahhabi sect was founded -- and toward other countries like Afghanistan, Egypt, Kenya, Bali, Yemen, Morocco, and, of course, the United States. King Fahd's and Crown Prince Abdullah's greatest fear is that they meet the same fate as Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian prime minister who was assassinated by Muslim fundamentalists in 1981.
"To avoid that fate, the Sauds bankroll the Wahabbis, in the same way tobacco companies finance stop-smoking organizations. They want to blunt a surely fatal attack. The Wahhabis, led by Osama bin Laden, hate the corrupt and materialistic Saud family even more than they hate Americans! But as long as they are getting millions in Saudi oil money to fund their terrorist training camps and global operations, the Wahhabis will probably wait a while before attacking King Fahd or Crown Prince Abdullah directly.
"But not forever, as the bombings in Riyadh last week show. Today, the target was Americans living in Riyadh. Tomorrow, it will be the Sauds.
"The fact that our family, a Texas oil family, has extensive business and personal ties with Saudi oil men and ministers -- just as many other major Texas oil families do -- hasn't made my plight any easier. Look, drilling for oil is an expensive proposition, and who's got the money and the expertise to invest in those deals? Could I really have done a background check on every single investment dollar I took in 1979 from a businessman representing Salem bin Laden, one of Osama bin Laden's brothers?
"In 1987, my company got into some financial difficulty and I had to sell a chunk of it to a Saudi investor. How was I supposed to know that those shares would end up in the hands of Khalid bin Mahfouz, who was a principal in BCCI, the bank that defrauded customers of $12 billion in the 1980s and was linked to money-laundering and terrorist funding?
"I was hoping that, once I became president, I could send Rummy to all the photo-ops and disentangle from the Saudi royals. Instead, thanks to OBL and 9/11, those old ties get dredged up again and again.
"Our country's deep reliance on Saudi oil -- they are our second-biggest source of imported oil after Canada and they have a stranglehold on world oil prices thanks to their bottomless reserves -- is now clearer than ever. So even today, I still need to clench my teeth and smile with the Saudi royals. Because a single spike in prices at the pump could send our economy even further into the dumps -- and I'd be looking for another job in 2004.
"So thank God we won in Iraq, which has the world's second-largest proven reserves of oil after Saudi Arabia. We're going to make doggone sure that if nothing else happens in postwar Iraq, the United States will form a good working relationship with the new oil industry that arises there.
"Because once we do, we'll never have to worry about the Saudis tightening the oil price noose around our necks again. Best of all, we'll finally be able to target Saudi Arabia as the major state sponsor of international terrorism that, in fact, it is. Remember, 15 of the 19 terrorist hijackers on 9/11 came from none other than Saudi Arabia. By rights they should be included in the axis of evil. As soon as I'm able to swing it politically, I'll do it.
"And once all this happens, I'll never have to do another one of those grin and bear it, clenched-teeth photo ops with the Saudi Royals ever again."
Copyright @ 2003 The McGill Report