our friends the saudis

I guess all that money the Saudis spent advertising in the U.S. turned out to be a pretty good investment. (And those photos of Bush holding hands with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah probably didn’t hurt.) I just read that our government is planning to give them $20 billion in military aid, and there doesn’t seem to be too much public outrage. I would have thought that giving $20 billion in advanced weaponry to the country that gave us 15 of the 19 September 11 terrorists would piss a few people off. After all, we did declare war on a country just because a hint of a connection to 9/11 was inferred.

I guess I’m OK with it, if everyone else is. Sure, they have an abysmal human rights record, treat women like livestock, actively work to foment civil unrest in Iraq, fund madrassas that are matriculating jihadists by the boat-load, all while seeking nuclear weapons, but, in their defense, they do torture people for us when we ask to. I guess it all balances out in the end, right?

I’m not na

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  1. mark
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Professor Juan Cole passes along a colleague’s theory that the $20 billion to the Saudis is part of an unfolding cold war with Iran

    And, I should have mentioned it in my post, but I’m sure that some Saudis are very nice people.

  2. Dirtgrain
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Wait. Are they giving them $20 billion or selling them $20 billion worth of weapons? I gathered the latter from reading the article.

    Still it sucks. Turkey, Israel, Iraq, Saudi Arabia–aren’t we just making things worse in the Middle East by giving these countries military aid and selling them weapons? Damn defense contractors corrupting our government! I wonder which Democrat presidential candidates will be in support of it.

  3. Ol E' Cross
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    We’re selling the Saudis $20 million in weapons, and then giving $30 million in weapons to Israel as a red-ribboned make-up gift:

    “The $30.4 billion being promised to Israel is $9.1 billion more than Israel has received over the past decade, an increase of nearly 43 percent.”

    So, we’re making $20 billion from the Saudis and giving Israel another $20 billion. (Israel, of course, is another nation with an abysmal human rights record.)

  4. CLP
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    What kind of god would take Tom Snyder, leaving us here with Larry King?

  5. Posted July 31, 2007 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    And the reason this isn’t making a big news splash is because of the “liberal” media? I don’t understand why this isn’t the lead story on every newspaper and news show in the country.

  6. Robert
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Though I agree with you and would also like to see the U.S. transcend beyond serving its own immediate self-interest, I don’t agree at all with suggestion that we are currently seeing a U.S. that IS serving its own interests. I think to be doing that would be a big step up from where we are at now. Currently our government is being used by interests which have taken control of it to simply serve their own immediate financial gain. Their rhetoric is simply cover. They don’t want peace. They don’t want victory. They profit from conditions of tension and war. Where these conditions do not already exist, they will continuously take action to create them, and by any means necessary.

  7. mark
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the corrections. I appreciate it. And thanks, Robert, for reminding us of the obvious…. If I had the time I’d link to the Eisenhower bit on the military industrial complex. It has to be on YouTube.

  8. mark
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Here’s Ike. One of these days, remind me and I’ll put it on the front page.

  9. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 31, 2007 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Fortunatley, all of us with a 401K or other stock-market-based plan are reaping the benefits of the industrial war machine.

    If you have any investments (Fidelity, Vanguard, etc.), odds are your financial growth is thanks to say, Halliburton(98 percent mutual fund funded).

    We should just comfort ourselves with the knowledge that a portion of the arms sales will help us live a comfortable, arm-chair, retirements.

  10. Ol' E Cross
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    Sorry to diverge so far from the original post, but I got myself all worked up.

    If not my top issue, the “moral distance of the stock market” (copyright) is in my top three world-destroying issues. All my other issues (global warming, war, campaign finance, etc.) are fueled by it.

    Think of something you abhor (oil consumption, poor health care, cigarettes, drug companies, war machines, bottled water, tube socks, tube meats…). If you have any investments and what you abhor is A) legal and B) profitable, chances are you’re underwriting and profitting from it.

    Michael Moore’s next film needs to document the scattered investments of politicians, activists, filmmakers and ordinary citizens. (Michael, no need to credit me, just make it.)

    We’re all hypersensitive about how the government spends our money. It torments us that our taxes go to fund “X.” But, we’re largely unconcerned with how our investments fund the very same X to our reward.

    That I would stand outside an office shouting, “Don’t fund X,” while reaping a personal profit from X strikes me as either the essence of hyprocrisy or the height of irresponcibility.

    In the spirit of “no taxation without representation” we need to demand a system where we have a say in where our money is invested. (I.e., check this box if you don’t want to invest in parochial pantie producers.)

    If 98 percent of stakeholders pulled out of X company, I suspect it would have greater impact on corporate misbehavior than any number of Dingells could muster.

    And, each of us would have the constructive exercise of putting a literal value on our ideals: “If I invest in Shell Oil I can retire when I’m 60. If I invest in Shellfish I can retire when I’m 162.”

    It’s a choice I’d like to have the chance to live with.

    (This post sponsored by the portion of OEC’s net worth invested in Saudi oil and arms.)

  11. mark
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    We each do what we can. Right after the attacks on September 11 happened, I had two thoughts. One was to fill my car up. The other was to buy stocks in companies that produced weapons. I did one and not the other. I knew I’d probably double my money, but I couldn’t live with myself. I didn’t, however, go into each of my 401k funds looking for those that owned stocks in such companies. Maybe I should have. You raise a good point. We could each probably do more.

    I had a really great post once that never got put online. It was an analysis of the holdings of the Ave Maria Fund. Unfortunately, a computer crash claimed it. It was interesting to look where a purportedly “Catholic Values” fund chose to put their money.

  12. Posted August 1, 2007 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I remember the first time I actually looked at my IRA’s mutual funds’ holdings, and discovered that ExxonMobil and Walmart were the two largest shares of my investment. Sigh.

    (And, of course, this is still the case. Double sigh.)

  13. Ol' E Cross
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    Murph, I share you sighs. I thought I was free of the stockmarket but recently discovered my employer had been investing on my behalf for a few years. I didn’t know due to a routine “clerical error.”

    So, I have a spot more blood money waiting for me than I thought. I don’t know what to do with it.

    My intent isn’t to accuse all us lucky folk with investments as much to call for educating the public on their investments and rallying for a solution. (Hence, my call to Michael Moore, I know he’s one of the hundreds reading this blog who are too shy to comment.) This seems to me to be one of the great areas in need of awareness.

    But, finally drifting back to Mark’s Saudi issue. I don’t want to spark a long debate on the merits of burkas vs. bikinis, but, having co-mingled with the Saudis a fair bit of late … we may feel they treat their women like livestock, but they see girls-gone-wild ads and believe we treat our women like livestock.

    There are many nice Saudis and many nice Americans. But, are we so confident in our society’s treatment of women, minorities, and people in general, that we can claim they are far less deserving of F-16s than ourselves? Will they use them any worse than we’ve used them in bombing Iraq? I’ve been reading the hype about what if one of those terrorist arabs sneaks behind the wheel of a jet sold to Saudi A. (What if homegrown Timmy MacVey had been a pilot?)

    I have immense disagreement with much of the Saudi way. I’m also painfully beholden to the old get-the-plank-outta-your-eye before laying blame on anyone else ideology. (At least the Saudis have national health care.)

    The issue for me (as narrowly related to the arms deal) isn’t whether Saudi women wear burkas. It’s that the U.S. is funding both sides of a (for the moment) cold war.

    I’m not a fan of burkas, but burkas vs. bikinis seems small potatoes compared to a nation giving bombs to both, so either burka and bikini blow each other to bits or they buy more of our missiles for mutual bluff.

    Of course, either way, my stock goes up.

  14. UBU
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Patti Smith commented on this story at her concert Thursday night…I guess great minds think alike…I am pretty sure she was wearing Ypsipanties too….

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