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Jewish World Review August 12, 2002 / 4 Elul, 5762

Robert W. Tracinski

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Blood for oil


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Someone, finally, has stated the truth to the administration and to the world: Saudi Arabia is our enemy.

According to the Washington Post, that was the message of a recent briefing to the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. The presentation, by Rand Corporation analyst Laurent Murawiec, summed up the situation accurately:

"The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader." According to the Post's summary, the briefing suggested a course of action that is almost correct: give Saudi Arabia an ultimatum to "stop backing terrorism or face seizure of its oil fields."

I agree -- except that it is too late for ultimatums. The events of the past year have demonstrated that we cannot allow the world's largest deposits of oil to be controlled by a gang of medieval religious fanatics.

Those who oppose strong action against the Saudis -- or against anyone else in the Middle East, for that matter -- will no doubt take up their Gulf War protest cry: "No blood for oil." But if they really meant those words, they would be the ones agitating for an invasion of Saudi Arabia, because blood for oil is the gruesome equation that has ruled the Middle East for the past five decades -- our oil, stolen by the Saudis and used to spill our blood.

The Saudis did not create their oil fields. The oil was discovered and drilled for by American, British and French oil companies. These firms were the rightful owners of the oil, and until the 1950s, their rights were mostly respected.

The Arab chieftains who ruled the region had no idea the oil was there and no idea what to use it for; they were still riding camels. But once the West discovered the oil and put it to use -- running our factories and automobiles -- the chieftains began to tax the oil. When that wasn't enough, they simply stole the oil fields, beginning with the de facto nationalization of the Saudi oil fields in 1950. The House of Saud did not seize the oil in the name of the "the people"; they seized it to enrich a small gang of princes and hangers-on.

If someone were to propose, today, that such a vast amount of wealth be seized for the sole benefit of a single family of feudal aristocracy, the Western world would rise up to oppose the idea. So why accept such a situation after the fact?

Worse, consider what the Saudis did with their ill-gotten gains. The Saudi common man is still poor; not much of the oil loot trickles down to him. But plenty of money goes to indolent Saudi princes -- and, through them, to the religious fanatics who attack America.

The fanatics who sponsor and commit terrorist acts can't finance these activities on the strength of their own abilities. Indeed, a recent United Nations report authored by Arab intellectuals decried the economically and technologically backward state of the Arab world. Saudi universities, for example, produce more graduates in Islamic theology than in any other field; the Muslim world as a whole has produced fewer than 1 percent of the world's scientists; students in the Saudi-funded religious schools in Pakistan cannot do elementary arithmetic and do not know that man has walked on the moon. At the heart of Islamic fundamentalism is a profound hatred for knowledge, learning, technology and commerce. Left to its own devices, this ideology produces the starvation-level poverty that the Taliban brought to Afghanistan.

For the Saudis, however, stolen oil changed everything. The wealthier the West became, the more we enriched the anti-Western fanatics in Arabia.

The Saudi rulers are vigorous promoters of Wahhabism, a fanatical Islamic sect that preaches -- among other barbaric doctrines -- that Muslims have a duty to hate non-Muslims. They have exported this hatred to the rest of the region, inspiring and sponsoring the Taliban, paying blood money to Palestinian terrorists, broadcasting anti-Jewish incitement and anti-American propaganda in their state-controlled press, and tolerating the free flow of money to organizations like al-Qaeda.

American ultimatums may help, but they won't neutralize this fundamental threat: oil money flowing into the undeserving hands of Saudi aristocracy -- the wealth created by the West being seized by those who want to destroy the West.

I agree with the rallying cry of "no blood for oil" -- but I think we should really mean it: no oil for corrupt Saudi princes, and no more blood spilled by the terrorists they support.

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