I was dubious at first. But now I think Dick Cheney has it right. Making the case for going to war in the Middle East to war veterans on Monday, the US Vice-President said that "our goal would be . . . a government that is democratic and pluralistic, a nation where the human rights of every ethnic and religious group are recognised and protected".
OK, I'm on board. Let's declare war on Saudi Arabia! Let's do "regime change" in a kingdom that gives mediaeval a bad name.
By overthrowing the Saudi monarchy, the Bush-Cheney contingent could realise its dream of redrawing the Middle East map.
Once everyone realises that Americans are no longer being hypocrites, coddling a corrupt, repressive dictatorship that sponsors terrorism even as the US plots to crush a corrupt, repressive dictatorship that sponsors terrorism, it will transform America's relationship with the Arab world.
If America is going to have a policy of justified pre-emption, in Henry Kissinger's clinical phrase, why not start by chasing out those sorry Saudi royals? If the US is willing to knock over President Saddam for gassing the Kurds, it should be willing to knock over the Saudis for letting the state-supported religious police burn 15 girls to death last March in a Mecca school, forcing them back inside a fiery building because they tried to flee without their scarves.
And shouldn't the US pre-empt them before they teach more boys to hate American infidels and before they can stunt the lives of more women?
The Vice-President declared on Monday: "This nation will not live at the mercy of terrorists or terror regimes." I am absolutely with him.
Why should we Americans (and our motor cars) be at the mercy of this family that we arm and protect and go to war for? The Saudis have never formally apologised to America for the 15 Saudi citizens who came to New York and killed 3000 people as they went to work one sun-dappled September morning. They have never even tried to re-write their incendiary terrorist-breeding textbooks or stop their newspapers from spewing anti-American, anti-Semitic lies, like their stories accusing Jews of drinking children's blood. They brazenly held a telethon, with King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah giving millions, to raise money for families of Palestinian suicide bombers, or "martyrs". Last week the Saudi embassy in Washington put out a glossy brochure hailing their "humanitarian work" at the telethon.
It was embarrassing on Tuesday, given President George Bush's swagger on Iraq, to watch him fawn over the Saudis. At lunch at his Texas ranch he entertained Prince Bandar, the man who got private planes to spirit Osama bin Laden's relatives out of the US after the September 11 attacks. Bush also called Crown Prince Abdullah to assure him of the "eternal friendship" between their countries and to soothe hurt Saudi feelings over a lawsuit filed by September 11 victims charging Saudi support of terrorism.
Cheney argues that the US must invade Iraq while America has a strategic window for action, while Saddam's army is still reeling.
But attacking the Saudis would be even easier. They are soft and spoilt.
Only this week Jerome Socolovsky of the Associated Press wrote about how King Fahd brought thousands of members of the House of Saud to Marbella, Spain, where they stocked up on luxury items and hired North African servants. Women in veils and waterproof robes rode jet-skis and members of the royal family talked about the September 11 attacks as an Israeli-CIA plot.
A Saudi invasion would be like the Panama invasion during Bush senior's presidency. America already has bases to use there. And this time Cheney won't have to beg the royals to use their air space, or send American forces.
Once Americans turn Saudi Arabia into their own self-serve petrol pump, its neighbours will get the democracy bug.
The Saudis would probably use surrogates to fight anyway. They pay poor workers from other countries to do their menial labor. And they paid the Americans to fight the Iraqis in 1991. The joke among the American forces then was: "What's the Saudi national anthem? Onward, Christian Soldiers."
Americans haven't been hit at home by any of Saddam's Scud missiles. But the human missiles launched by Saudi Arabia have taken their toll.www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/08/28/1030508071043.htmlE-mail this article