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Thursday, August 29, 2002
Some food for thought via Drudge.

I am not an apologist for the House of Saud. But one of their spokesmen has pointed out that:

Osama bin Laden “purposefully chose Saudis in order to give this operation a Saudi face and drive a wedge between us and America,” Adel al-Jubeir, an adviser to the Saudi Government and a key figure in the PR drive, said. “And you know what? He almost succeeded.”

The first part of that statement, that bin Laden chose the nationality of his "soldiers" and that the choice was not random, struck me as true. And if that is the case, then the second part, that his choice was a deliberate attempt to foster ill will between the Saudis and the US, would probably also be true.

There are plenty of things about Saudi occupied Arabia that repel me, from their treatment of women to exporting Wahhabism to funding extremists in lots of places. And that list is far from complete. But the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks were Saudis appears less egregious in light of the obvious (and much overlooked) fact that they were hand picked by a madman with a major beef with both the US and the House of Saud.

I am quite sure that any country in the world with a population of more than, say, a few hundred thousand, will contain 15 people who can be convinced to attack the US. That is especially true if most of them are not informed that their return from the war has not been arranged.

The last part of the PR flack's statement, that bin Laden "almost succeeded" is wishful thinking. The US, outside the beltway, is good and pissed at the Saudis, and that anger is just not going away. They can mount a PR offensive, giving away bin Salman's horse (the daughter will take the beast, if no one else wants it, even though she's not really into thoroughbreds) and dumping a bunch of money on charities or victims, but the relationship between the Saudis and the US has taken a serious hit from which it will not recover anytime soon.

It would certainly recover sooner if the Saudis took the advice of Scott Koenig over at Indepundit:

1. Stop funding terrorist groups. This includes Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, etc.

2. Shut down the terrorist fund-raising and recruiting operations in your country.

3. Arrest every al-Qaeda operative in your country. Don't pretend you don't know who they are, you aren't fooling anyone.

4. Hand over anyone responsible for financing, planning, or supporting the Tragic Tuesday attacks to American authorities.

5. Apologize to the American people for not doing enough to combat terrorism.

6. Pay restitution to the families of the victims of terrorism. Don't try to link these payments to changes in American foreign policy.

7. Stop attempting to spread your hateful brand of Wahhabism throughout the Islamic world. You can't pretend to be our friends at the same time that you teach children to despise us -- we're not stupid.

8. Allow American citizens being held against their will by their Saudi relatives to return to the United States.

9. Stop oppressing your people. Beating women in public for allowing a lock of hair to slip from their veils does nothing for your image in the international community. Neither does forcing little girls to die in a burning school because they aren't properly dressed to venture onto a public street.

10. Stop pretending that Iraq isn't a threat to your security. Imagine what might happen if we took you seriously.

I'd even let them off the hook for numbers 5 and 6 if they honestly did the rest.

I don't think any apology would be accepted, and I'm none too sure that its a good idea to give restitution to the victims of an act of war. And let's be clear about this. The 9/11 attacks were acts of war. Not political protest. Not murder. War. The fact that war is being waged on us by an organization other than a full fledged nation-state does not make it something other than war.

It's not that I don't sympathize with the victims. I do. And its not that I think that they've suffered a loss which can be neither recompensed nor mitigated. I don't. But I think that extracting restitution for victims of an act of war will eventually result in imposing on the loser of a war the same treatment Germany got at the end of WWI, if not now, then at some point in the future. And conventional wisdom holds that the treatment accorded a defeated Germany in the Treaty of Versailles led almost directly to WWII.

I have a great deal of respect for wisdom which survives long enough to become conventional. There is frequently a reason for that longevity.
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