SMALL WARS COUNCIL
Go Back   Small Wars Council > Conflicts -- Current & Future > Other, By Region > Middle East

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-17-2011   #41
Bob's World
Council Member
 
Bob's World's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Florida
Posts: 2,703
Default

Also worth considering here are the strong parallels between the US relationship today with the Saudi family and that we had with the Shah of Iran in the early 70s.

There too we balanced the extreme amount of capital we were shipping to the Shah in exchange for Iranian oil with massive sales of military hardware.

There too the Shah (with no help from us, not needed, just as the Saudis do not need our help in this mission so long as the people remain cowed) acted ruthlessly to keep an extremely oppressed and insurgent populace in check with one hand, while he entertained US dignitaries in opulent excess with the other.

There too, as late as 1977 the DIA predicted that the Shah would remain strongly in power for at least another 10 years; as I suspect estimates for the Saudi family are at least as bold.

But in such a powder keg of oppression it only takes a spark, and with Arab spring burning brightly all around the Kingdom, such sparks are easily found.

These were and are complex and important relationships. We bite off our nose today to spite our faces over our anger and embarrassment at being rebuked by the Iranians over 30 years ago; can we afford risking a similar 30 plus years of national sour grapes when (and it is when, not if) the Saudis meet their come uppence from their populace as well?? We need to work to get straight with the governments AND the populace of both of these important nations sooner than later.

All I have ever advocated is that we need to focus less on attacking and defeating symptoms, and spend more energy focusing on repairing the flawed dysfunctional relationships that I see as the causal roots of those same symptoms. So what if I am wrong, what do we lose by getting straight with our own professed principles? Nothing. We can begin to repair our reputation in the region, and an honorable reputation is a hard commodity to put a price on.

We Americans can be generous and honorable and self-less to a fault; we can also be self-serving, callus, arrogant and petulant. The problem is that sometimes we act like the latter while seeing ourselves as the former. We can be better than this. We are better than this. But the first step to getting better is to recognize we have a problem and to take responsibility for our actions that contributed to bringing us here.
__________________
Robert C. Jones
Intellectus Supra Scientia
(Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
Bob's World is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2011   #42
Dayuhan
Council Member
 
Dayuhan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Latitude 17° 5' 11N, Longitude 120° 54' 24E, altitude 1499m. Right where I want to be.
Posts: 3,136
Default

The comparison with the Shah of Iran is I think a bit strained. To an American it seems absurd and incomprehensible, but throughout the Gulf, even when there's criticism of a monarch, there's enormous respect for the monarchy, which is widely perceived as having inherent traditional legitimacy. That respect isn't universal - nothing in a populace ever is - but it's very widespread and is a real factor. A ruler who claims traditional power without actual blood right (the Shah) or rulers such as a Mubarak or a Saddam, who simply seized power, are seen as fundamentally different from a true traditional ruler. To us they're all just despots, but the distinction is meaningful in these places.

I've never noted any great enthusiasm for the idea of democracy in the Gulf, except among a few western-educated individuals, most of whom tend to keep it quiet. There's a very widespread perception that democracy would bring chaos and open the door for foreign domination. In much of the Gulf it's simply taken as a given that the American enthusiasm for promoting democracy is a vehicle for gaining power: the CIA would manipulate the elections (the ability to do so is presumed) and reduce them to US puppets.

It's easy to say this, and it sounds good:

Quote:
We need to work to get straight with the governments AND the populace of both of these important nations sooner than later.
but when you get down to specifics, it always seems to presume influence that we haven't got, and to involve a level of interference in domestic affairs that's likely to be seen as unacceptable by both government and populace.

The cold war paradigm of dictators that are dependent on the US is not applicable here: these despots do not depend on us, and our influence over them is very limited. They are not client states and we cannot dictate policy changes or exert substantial influence over domestic policy. Neither governments nor populaces want us meddling in their domestic policies, no matter how high-minded our declared objectives are. These are peer-peer relationships, and if we treat them as patron-client relationships we will achieve nothing and antagonize everyone in the picture.

Meddling in the past hasn't given good results, but the answer to bad meddling isn't good meddling, the answer to bad meddling is less meddling. That won't change perceptions overnight, but neither will anything else. Attempts at good meddling will just reinforce the perception of self-interested interference: no matter what we say we're trying to accomplish, our actions will be interpreted as a self-interested attempt to gain control.
__________________
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

H.L. Mencken
Dayuhan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2011   #43
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default Ahem...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
There (Iran) too we balanced the extreme amount of capital we were shipping to the Shah in exchange for Iranian oil with massive sales of military hardware.
We bought very little oil from Iran -- our relationship involved the extraction of oil and the concomitant money from the soil of Iran. Those massive sales of military equipment did not start until the US and the Saudis sabotaged oil prices and inadvertently (on our part, almost certainly deliberately on the part of that Saudis) Iran and the Shah at the Doha Conference in 1976, mostly at the behest of William Simon -- the Shah then began to realize that the US was perfidious and decided to embark on his own program, telling us he preferred to buy here but was going to buy what he wanted from somewhere. Speak to Zbig and Jimmy -- they sold him everything and then pulled the rug out from under him.
Quote:
There too the Shah (with no help from us, not needed, just as the Saudis do not need our help in this mission so long as the people remain cowed) acted ruthlessly to keep an extremely oppressed and insurgent populace in check with one hand, while he entertained US dignitaries in opulent excess with the other.
Where do you get this stuff? The Shah played rough, no question -- but Khomeini killed more people in his first two years than the Shah had in the previous 25. Opulent excess. Poetic -- and wrong. the Shah didn't like American and didn't entertain much, the minions did and not all that opulently.
Quote:
There too, as late as 1977 the DIA predicted that the Shah would remain strongly in power for at least another 10 years...
Accurate at the time but that was before Carter told the CIA to get him dumped in late '78. I wish people who decide to use Iran as an example for much of anything would get their facts together before they write...
Quote:
But in such a powder keg of oppression it only takes a spark, and with Arab spring burning brightly all around the Kingdom, such sparks are easily found.
Sounds good. Idealistic but good. We'll see.
Quote:
These were and are complex and important relationships...
But Bob, you just told me we over complicated things and that this was simple. Which is it?
Quote:
But the first step to getting better is to recognize we have a problem and to take responsibility for our actions that contributed to bringing us here.
I'm not at all sure that will be enough, taking responsibility is just saying things -- actions completed are hard to undo. Particularly in an area that throws words around willy nilly and operates on Ta'arif -- tell people what they want to hear. They're subject to think that we're doing just that. Rather than trying to re-do the past, better to just move on.
Ken White is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2011   #44
Bob's World
Council Member
 
Bob's World's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Florida
Posts: 2,703
Default

Ken,

I know you have history with Iran, so I trust your insights. I am currently working through "Reset" by Stephen Kinzer; and while I am sure it has its own bias and inaccuracies, I believe it to be an important and generally fair position.

Note, in my condemnation of the Shah I never praise the Mullahs. As I often state, insurgency is natural, and when certain conditions come to exist within a populace due to the nature and actions of their government as assessed by the populace, insurgency becomes inevitable. WHO shows up to lead the people is another matter. Iran began moving toward more modern and democratic governance with the Revolution of 1906, and yes it is and will be a bumpy ride. Our action to take out Muhammad Mossadeq at Britain's request and elevate the Shah back into power ultimately pushed the people into the hands of the Mullahs. Who else was going to help them??

Similarly our blind support of the Saudi family is helping to push elements of the Saudi popualce into the hands of AQ. Again, who else is going to help them??

The Ayatollah and the Mullahs are a curse on the people of Iran; as is AQ on the Sunni Arab populaces of the Middle East today. The truth of that in no way excuses the actions of the respective governments whose actions and policies have pushed their populaces into the arms of these shady "saviors." Similarly, it does not excuse US foreign policy that has in many cases empowered and enabled these same governments to act with the impunity that sped them on their collision course with their own populaces. We love to blame ideology, or point out the truely evil aspects of these men and organizations that step up to exploit conditions of insurgency for their own gains, particularly where it challenges positions that we seek to nurture and advance for our own interests. We need to be less petty in our analysis, more intuned to the true grievances of the popualces involved; less risk adverse in terms of letting others self-determine their own governance; and less blindly supporting of "allies" in the form of protecting specific dictators or regimes.

Desprate situations call for desperate measures.

So, yes, these relationships are complex; but the fundamental principles of human nature and insurgency that provide the foundation they are built upon are indeed simple. I generally pick my words carefully, though rarely edit them to avoid taking positions that are unpopular or contrary to what people want or need to hear.

As to Dayuhan, the comparison of Iran in the 70s vs Saudi Arabia today is not a strain at all. In fact, it is shockingly on point. The more you research the topic the more you will see that to be true. Or you can just wait a few years and read it in the newspaper if we continue on our current track.

Cheers!

Bob

(Oh, and my research shows that in 1974 the US purchased 463 thousand barrels from Iran to 438 thousand from the Saudis; by 1978 we were indeed buying twice as much from the Saudis (1142 to 554); but to minimize the importance of Iran to our energy economy in that era is not accurate; nor would it be fair to minimize how the Iranian people felt about the Shah and our role in squelching their quest for democratic reforms by bringing him back as part of Ike and the Dulles brothers program of covert regime change and manipulation to wage the Cold War.)
__________________
Robert C. Jones
Intellectus Supra Scientia
(Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

Last edited by Bob's World; 10-18-2011 at 12:30 PM.
Bob's World is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2011   #45
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default Sigh...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
I am currently working through "Reset" by Stephen Kinzer; and while I am sure it has its own bias and inaccuracies, I believe it to be an important and generally fair position.
Read it. Agree with your first statement, not so much with the second -- though I suspect you will like the book.

The WaPo says sorta correctly that Kinzer is "among the best in popular foreign policy storytelling." I'm quite sure that Kinzer's suggested tripartite effort wouldn't be nearly as smooth as he envisions -- I am reminded of Hillary Clinton's 'Reset' button.

I suggest the issue is not how and with whom we should 'partner' in the middle east but whether we should at all...
Quote:
Our action to take out Muhammad Mossadeq at Britain's request and elevate the Shah back into power ultimately pushed the people into the hands of the Mullahs. Who else was going to help them?
There you go, over simplifying again. Way over...
Quote:
Similarly our blind support of the Saudi family is helping to push elements of the Saudi popualce into the hands of AQ. Again, who else is going to help them?
You assume they need or must have help. Careful with assumptions; you know what they say...
Quote:
Desprate situations call for desperate measures.
Avoid the Kool Aid. What desperate situation?
Quote:
I generally pick my words carefully, though rarely edit them to avoid taking positions that are unpopular or contrary to what people want or need to hear.
Of course you pick your words carefully, you're a Lawyer and a Colonel -- that's not an insult, merely an observation that both categories are noted for relatively careful choosing of words. Thus one can be sure you're doubly careful...

Unpopular is in the eye of the beholder. So is the selection of things people "need to hear." Been my observation that users of such phrasing are on 'missions.' Self assigned, usually.
Quote:
(Oh, and my research shows that in 1974 the US purchased 463 thousand barrels from Iran to 438 thousand from the Saudis; by 1978 we were indeed buying twice as much from the Saudis (1142 to 554); but to minimize the importance of Iran to our energy economy in that era is not accurate; nor would it be fair to minimize how the Iranian people felt about the Shah and our role in squelching their quest for democratic reforms by bringing him back as part of Ike and the Dulles brothers program of covert regime change and manipulation to wage the Cold War.)
Your research should also show that the 1974 oil purchase figures were influenced by the Saudi driven OPEC cut in exports to raise the price and 'punish the US for supporting Israel in the Yom Kippur War.' Fortunately our then friend the Shah willingly upped Iran's production just to support the US and cock a snook at the Saudis by temporarily making up for the Saudi cut. We never imported much oil from Iran other than that spike.

You seem to not only choose your words carefully but also your research quotes...
Ken White is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-18-2011   #46
Dayuhan
Council Member
 
Dayuhan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Latitude 17° 5' 11N, Longitude 120° 54' 24E, altitude 1499m. Right where I want to be.
Posts: 3,136
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Similarly our blind support of the Saudi family is helping to push elements of the Saudi popualce into the hands of AQ. Again, who else is going to help them??
Is AQ helping "elements of the Saudi populace", or is it the other way around? AQ has traditionally drawn support from the Saudi populace when it has taken the role of resistance to foreign occupation of Muslim lands. AQ's efforts against the Saudi government have drawn much less support: they've developed a very small core of vigorous opposition, but failed to gain traction with the broader populace or to gain anything close to the critical mass needed to drive a credible insurgency. AQ's efforts to generate a Saudi insurgency in the 90s fell flat, despite highly conducive conditions (economic crisis and a prolonged US military presence). That doesn't mean the Saudis love their government, but it strongly suggests that very few Saudis see AQ as a desirable alternative.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Similarly, it does not excuse US foreign policy that has in many cases empowered and enabled these same governments to act with the impunity that sped them on their collision course with their own populaces.
You have yet to demonstrate that anything the US has done has "enabled or empowered" the Saudis to act as they do toward their populace. The Saudis don't need our help or approval to oppress, and they would do it no matter what we said or did. The comment above suggests that without US help the Saudis would be forced to take a more accommodating stance toward portions of their own populaces, which seems an unsupportable contention that presumes a dependence that is not in fact there. The danger in assuming that we enable or empower is that it implies that we can force policy changes by ceasing to enable or empower. That's not the case in Saudi Arabia, and basing policy on the assumption of influence or dependency that does not in fact exist is a good way to devise ineffective policy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
the comparison of Iran in the 70s vs Saudi Arabia today is not a strain at all. In fact, it is shockingly on point. The more you research the topic the more you will see that to be true. Or you can just wait a few years and read it in the newspaper if we continue on our current track.
I've looked into the topic. Been looking at it for well over a decade, since I started spending time there. Oddly, I started out from a frame that is not too different from yours. Had to change my mind. Embarrassing, but it happens.

I think political disruption and forced change is ultimately likely in Saudi Arabia. I do not think it's going to involve AQ. I doubt that it will happen in the next few years. I don't think anything the US says or does is going to have any bearing on it. We do not have the capacity to change - or even significantly influence - Saudi domestic policy.
__________________
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

H.L. Mencken
Dayuhan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2011   #47
Bob's World
Council Member
 
Bob's World's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Florida
Posts: 2,703
Default

Well I will agree with Dayuhan that AQ is largely moot. They do not create insurgency with either their actions or their ideology. They are opportunists who seek to leverage the conditions of insurgency that already exist. Those conditions are shaped by the perceptions of distinct and significant populace groups within a wide range of countries that are primarily Sunni Muslim in religion, and Arab in ethnicity. That is their core target audience. Obviously others who buy in to their message and mission get on board as well. Those popular perceptions are based on how those populace groups feel about certain key aspects of their governance situation and their perceived lack of effective legal options for addressing the same.

The Saudi people, like people across the Middle East, will either pressure their government to evolve or will openly revolt (violently or non violently, that is a tactical choice) because of how they feel about their government, not because of how they feel about AQ.

For the US, the critical question is not how we perceive our role, it is how these same populaces perceive our role. This is where the material questions lie for the US; and there are shocking similarities between Iran-US in the 1970s to Saudi Arabia-US today. Just something for Americans to consider. As Ken points out, we were not all that reliant on Iranian Oil, so when we got PNG'd from that country by the revolutionary government we could simply buy more oil from our remaining "friends" in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and our new friend (a guy named Don Rumsfeld was sent by Reagan to make nice with a guy named Saddam and offer any help we could provide in Saddam's new war with Iran) in Iraq, etc. If we are PNG'd by a revolutionary government in Saudi Arabia we will not have the same options. In fact, we will be much like the Brits were when they were PNG'd by Iran in the early 50s.

In the evolving conflict-competition ecosystem the nature of conflict remains fairly stable, but the characteristics are evolving on the back of evolving technologies (primarily of the Information variety), and what worked for centuries in many cases is becoming obsolete today. It is my opinion that "friendly despots" are obsolete. (and like "friendly fire," are not all that "friendly" either).


Yes, there are millions of differences between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Noted. It is the critical similarities that cause me to raise the red flag.
__________________
Robert C. Jones
Intellectus Supra Scientia
(Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

Last edited by Bob's World; 10-19-2011 at 09:54 AM.
Bob's World is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2011   #48
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Exclamation Or...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
If we are PNG'd by a revolutionary government in Saudi Arabia we will not have the same options. In fact, we will be much like the Brits were when they were PNG'd by Iran in the early 50s.
We could shrug our shoulders, recall that we buy Saudi Oil not because we must but because it was cheap at one time -- and then and now it enables us to keep a nominal economic interest for blundering about in the region. We could easily get by with no middle eastern oil.

The real question is whether we need to keep blundering there. We could also easily get by with no middle eastern turmoil...
Quote:
It is my opinion that "friendly despots" are obsolete. (and like "friendly fire," are not all that "friendly" either).
Agree they are obsolete and that they aren't really friendly -- but then, neither are we...
Ken White is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2011   #49
Bob's World
Council Member
 
Bob's World's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Florida
Posts: 2,703
Default

All true. It comes down to our risk tollerence and degree to which we are willing to relinquish control.

Historically, when the US was a small, developing country, and the Middle East was dominated by the Ottomans primarily, and major European powers secondarily, we were able to build tremendous influence by working within the frameworks established by the Ottomans (Trade, Schools and hospitals ok, even the odd raid to mitigate KFR operations, but don't come in preaching or looking to establish any type of colonial presence). We were always going to be an outsider, but as outsiders went we were far away and less inclined to attempt to estabish colonial controls, and all worked fairly well.

As WWII worked to disrupt European Colonial Controls, FDR's message of "end of colonialism" and free trade was well received by the populaces and governments of the region as well.

It was only as we got into the Cold War, and began creating states, manipulating, changing, and backing governments that the tide began to turn...tolerated to a degree while the Soviet threat existed, but less so ever since that faded.

I don't know if we can take our hand completely off the reins in all cases, but certainly a much lighter hand is necessary in all. But we see the Cold War as the normal we measure by. So much of our national and international systems were designed by the West to promote the West, with the US in the lead, all in the name of winning a Cold War that is long over. Thus the "good Cold Warrior" syndrome. We need to break this, but that is about changing ourselves, and we are still hard set on changing others...
__________________
Robert C. Jones
Intellectus Supra Scientia
(Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
Bob's World is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2011   #50
Dayuhan
Council Member
 
Dayuhan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Latitude 17° 5' 11N, Longitude 120° 54' 24E, altitude 1499m. Right where I want to be.
Posts: 3,136
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
Well I will agree with Dayuhan that AQ is largely moot. They do not create insurgency with either their actions or their ideology. They are opportunists who seek to leverage the conditions of insurgency that already exist.
AQ leverages a good deal more than conditions of insurgency. AQ plays on a huge and widespread generic resentment of "the West" that runs back to the colonial period and beyond; what Bernard Lewis calls "aggressive self-pity". They play on anger at Israel and western support for Israel, and most effectively at all they play on anger at foreign military forces occupying Muslim land. The rallying cry and recruiting pitch for foreign fighters is "expel the infidel from the land of the faithful", not "break American support for your own government".

I feel at times as though you dismiss driving factors behind AQ that don't involve insurgency because you're determined to fit AQ into an insurgency-based model, rather than adapting the model to circumstances where it does not entirely fit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
The Saudi people, like people across the Middle East, will either pressure their government to evolve or will openly revolt (violently or non violently, that is a tactical choice) because of how they feel about their government, not because of how they feel about AQ.

For the US, the critical question is not how we perceive our role, it is how these same populaces perceive our role.
The feelings of the Saudi populace about their own government and their perceptions of the Saudi-US relationship are not nearly as monolithic as you make them out to be. They run across a wide range, as perceptions within a populace typically do. I think you may be imposing your own perceptions and assuming that they are shared by the populace.

As I said, I think in the long term a popular eruption is possible in Saudi Arabia, but I don't see it on the near horizon. As long as the oil and the money keep flowing, I suspect they'll carry on a good deal longer than you think, not because the government is loved, but because fear of instability, disunity, and foreign intervention is for many people greater than the fear of tyranny. The devil you know, and all that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
This is where the material questions lie for the US; and there are shocking similarities between Iran-US in the 1970s to Saudi Arabia-US today.
On a superficial level, yes. When you get to details the differences are so numerous that a comparison is pointless: they are unique cases and must be managed as such.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
As Ken points out, we were not all that reliant on Iranian Oil, so when we got PNG'd from that country by the revolutionary government we could simply buy more oil from our remaining "friends" in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and our new friend (a guy named Don Rumsfeld was sent by Reagan to make nice with a guy named Saddam and offer any help we could provide in Saddam's new war with Iran) in Iraq, etc. If we are PNG'd by a revolutionary government in Saudi Arabia we will not have the same options. In fact, we will be much like the Brits were when they were PNG'd by Iran in the early 50s.
The danger is not that the Saudis will stop selling us oil. As long as the Saudis are selling oil into the world market there will be oil for the US to buy. The danger is that instability will significantly impair production capacity and reduce output, a risk that's shared equally by all consumers.

Ken says this:

Quote:
We could shrug our shoulders, recall that we buy Saudi Oil not because we must but because it was cheap at one time -- and then and now it enables us to keep a nominal economic interest for blundering about in the region. We could easily get by with no middle eastern oil.
But we have to recall that our interest with Middle East oil, often misinterpreted, is less in keeping that oil flowing to us than it is in keeping it flowing. As long as it flows, there will be oil to buy. If the flow is cut, there will be a lot less oil to buy, and the price - for everyone on the buy side - will be a lot higher. As long as the Gulf remains a key producer and the home of the world's only surplus production capacity, the US will have an interest, even if we don't buy a single drop from the Gulf.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
It is my opinion that "friendly despots" are obsolete. (and like "friendly fire," are not all that "friendly" either).
Very likely so... but again, our cold war reflex tends to assume that "friendly despots" refers to despots installed and/or maintained by us, indebted to us and to some degree controllable by us. In SDaudi Arabia we deal with a rather different situation. These despots are outside our control and we have no influence at all over their domestic policy. If we urge reform (as we do regularly) they ignore us. Call them friends or something else, we have to deal with them. We will defend them from foreign aggression, not because we're friends but because it is in our interest. We will sell them arms, not because we're friends but because their money keeps much of our defense industry afloat.

Any policy suggestions built on the assumption that the Saudis are a dependency or a client state that will hop when we say hop and reform when we tell them to are flawed from the start, because they don't have to, and they won't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
It comes down to our risk tollerence and degree to which we are willing to relinquish control.
If we're speaking of Saudi Arabia, we have no control to relinquish.
__________________
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

H.L. Mencken
Dayuhan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-26-2011   #51
Bob's World
Council Member
 
Bob's World's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Florida
Posts: 2,703
Default

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth...844479817.html

This short article provides a glimpse into the very critical topic of succession of Saudi government and perceptions that are evolving, exposing, challenging, questioning, etc in this age of information empowered populaces.

No telling where this all leads, but at some point, and I suspect that point is near, the wheels will come off
__________________
Robert C. Jones
Intellectus Supra Scientia
(Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
Bob's World is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-08-2013   #52
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 11,055
Default A pivotal relationship we don't need?

The Indpendent's ME writer, Patrick Cockburn, has a stinging article today:
Quote:
Mass murder in the Middle East is funded by our friends the Saudis
World View: Everyone knows where al-Qa'ida gets its money, but while the violence is sectarian, the West does nothing
Link:http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/...s-8990736.html

Religious hatred is now rare in the West, rightly he asks can we remain blind?

I do wonder, as a profound non-expert on KSA and the region, whether the gradual bloody wars in Iraq and Syria could deliver a jihadi refuge and one day see them attack us. Or the KSA itself has a violent revolution. There appears to be little official consideration - in public - what would we do then.
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-22-2014   #53
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 11,055
Default Underrated the KSA, surely not?

Almost a year later Patrick Cockburn's writing on the region has been spotted again. This article is taken from his forthcoming book and the headline gives you a hint:
Quote:
Why Washington's war on terror failed: the underrated Saudi connection
Link:https://www.opendemocracy.net/opense...udi-connection
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-16-2015   #54
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 11,055
Default Rogues in Saudi Arabia: surely not?

Via Vox a short article 'The CIA finally declassified its report on Saudi links to 9/11. Here's what it says.':
Quote:
The report claims no conclusive answer, but states it found no evidence that "the Saudi government knowingly and willingly supported the al-Qaeda terrorists." However, its sources speculated that rogue Saudi officials may have been involved — a long-running suspicion.
Link:https://www.vox.com/2015/6/13/877556...d-saudi-arabia
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-10-2015   #55
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 11,055
Default The King and ISIS: an necessary muddle

A scathing but all too FP realistic review by Professor Daniel Byman of the Saudi-US relationship:http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/09/10/...ia-egypt-iraq/

The sub-title:
Quote:
King Salman came to Washington touting military and counterterrorism cooperation. But can the U.S.-Saudi relationship survive the House of Saud’s sponsorship of Islamic radicalism across the globe?
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2016   #56
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 11,055
Default Start Preparing for the Collapse of the Saudi Kingdom

I assume someone in the USG has thought about this. Meantime this article pointedly says "hurry up":http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2016...rabia/125953/?

This thread refers to US policy an should be read alongside the thread on Saudi Arabia's search for security:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...read.php?t=546
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-25-2016   #57
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 11,055
Default The Kingdom will muddle on

A short article reviewing the relationship the KSA has with the USA:https://www.lawfareblog.com/saudi-ar...ed-flawed-ally

Here is a taster:
Quote:
But critics of the partnership with Saudi Arabia often confuse the costs of tactical disagreements – which are many – and the benefits of strategic alignment. Viewed through this lens, it is a necessary, if difficult arrangement. Indeed the alternatives are worse: a collapsed or enemy Saudi Arabia would be much more damaging to U.S. interests, and it would not be more democratic.
__________________
davidbfpo

Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-25-2016 at 09:05 PM. Reason: 22,648v
davidbfpo is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
HVTs/Political Assassination Rex Brynen Global Issues & Threats 75 06-06-2016 12:43 PM
A career in security policy - advice needed Rearviewmirror RFIs & Members' Projects 31 08-18-2009 01:29 AM
SOCOM and the CIA Uboat509 Government Agencies & Officials 60 04-11-2009 06:15 PM


All times are GMT. The time now is 07:35 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9. ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design © 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation