Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The more things change...

King Fahd is dead. Not that much will change. (It's Saudi Arabia, after all.)

Or will Abdullah continue to be the reformer he's made himself out to be these past few years?

That's the question that needs to be asked, and the U.S. needs to step up and ensure that its key ally takes the necessary steps to enter modernity. Nothing less should be acceptable.

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  • Here is where reality gets in the way of utopian goals. Saudi Arabia has no desire to become democratic; at most, it might be seeking to become a sort of China--economically modern and more efficient. To the extent that Abdullah is a reformer, it's aimed more at improving things at the edges, not widespread reform.

    The US and Saudi Arabia have each other by the balls. We obviously need their oil and we need to keep it out of the hands of Islamic extremists. They need us to defend them. So how much real leverage do we really have? And how much do we really want to press them? It's one thing to press an enemy; it's another thing to press a friend.

    My guess is that you will continue to see some very cautious efforts at reform. But Abdullah doesn't have complete control--he has lots of relatives in the royal family that have their own ideas.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:55 PM  

  • Yes, it's a great relationship, isn't it? I, too, doubt that Abdullah will be able to reform Saudi Arabia in any meaningful way, but what of Bush's commitment (in the Second Inaugural) to fight for liberty and democracy against the forces of tyranny?

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 12:02 PM  

  • A reasonable argument can be made that it makes no sense to push for radical change in all contexts. There is nothing inherently wrong with incremental change. But that's not what our president promised,is it? That's why I think grandiose pronouncements and doctrines do more harm than good.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:31 PM  

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