Saudi Arabia, “Ally” of the United States

The USA has many allies in the world. Many are natural due to common language or culture between the countries (such as United Kingdom and Canada). These allies have deep relationships that extend beyond military ties between the governments. The connections extend to the populations where there are natural flows of business and tourism. The relationships extend to the founding of the countries.

Other American allies developed over time for a number of reasons. A country may have discovered valuable natural resources (such as oil) or the geographical location of the country may have grown in significance because of evolving military dynamics. Other than such practical (sometimes temporary) reasons, the countries may share little in common. Saudi Arabia is such an example.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has one of the most repressive governments in the world. Minorities have virtually no rights and women have few freedoms. Still, the US government chooses to ignore Saudi policies and distrust between the populations, and focuses narrowly on Saudi oil and military cooperation between the countries.  US President Obama underscored the point again on September 10, 2014, with an announcement of strategic military cooperation.

On the 13th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11/01, it is worth remembering that 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Countries with few common values will always remain tenuous friends.

A political music video (music by The Cars):




US Hypocrisy – “Reasonableness and Restraint”

Thirteen years ago, on 9/11/01, 2,977 innocent civilians were murdered in the United States by terrorists armed with nothing more than pilot licenses. Since that time, the US has deployed over 1 million troops and waged two wars in countries thousands of miles from its shores. Over 100,000 Iraqi civilians were estimated to have been killed in the US-led war in Iraq, over 30 times the number of civilians killed on 9/11.

President Obama was critical of that war and pulled the US out of Iraq as he thought the US went to war with the wrong enemy. But when it came to Afghanistan, he engaged fully.

By the time Obama became president in 2009, an estimated 8,500 civilians had been killed in Afghanistan. Under his watch, from January 2009 until June 30, 2014, an additional 15,487 civilians were murdered, including 1,995 children. These totals were a fraction of the number of militants killed over those years.

Why has the Obama administration waged a war for so long? Why has it continued to fight – even though it knows of the terrible collateral damage – years after Osama bin Laden was killed?

The US continues to fight because the enemy still exists and intends to do harm.

President Obama was clear that the destruction of the terrorist infrastructure was one of the goals of his war. In November 2012 he said: “Thanks to sacrifice and service of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over, the war in Afghanistan is winding down, al Qaeda has been decimated, Osama bin Laden is dead.”

Obama clearly articulated his war goals: to get the US out of a war which did not have an enemy threat; destroy the enemy (al Qaeda); and take revenge on the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

However, Obama seemingly does not feel that such priorities relate to Israel. For him, the goal in the region is limited to one thing – stability (which is laughable considering the total instability of Syria, Iraq, Egypt…). Israel, in his mind, is strong enough to take a few murdered teenagers and qassam rockets. Israel’s stability is secondary to that of the region generally.

Witness Secretary of State John Kerry’s prepared remarks towards Israel after the murder of three Israeli teenagers coming home from school: “the perpetrators must be brought to justice. This is a time for all to work towards that goal without destabilizing the situation.”

Obama himself added: “At this dangerous moment, all parties must protect the innocent and act with reasonableness and restraint, not vengeance and retribution,”

America has been fighting with “vengeance and retribution” for 13 years (and counting), even when the collateral damage meant thousands of civilians murdered. Obama is actively seeking to defeat an enemy, even one thousands of miles away, that poses no existential threat to the USA.

So, how can Obama chide Israel, which has an enemy on its borders that is sworn to the country’s destruction, which fires missiles that can attack 80% of the population? How can he not understand Israel’s need to “decimate” its enemy?

The appropriate “reasonableness and restraint may be limited to a polite response from the civilized world to Obama’s comment, while Israel actively engages Hamas and protects its citizens.