Monday, July 20, 2009

Sympathy For The Devil

I agree that many of the Al Qaeda folks would like to impose Islamic culture, with the religion that comes with it. But part of their rhetoric involves pointing out the compromised nature of Islam in places like Saudi Arabia, where U.S. interests have corrupted the ruling elites (in [Osama] Bin Laden's eyes). But again, I doubt that it is fully 'U.S. interests' being served there, rather than the interests of the financial elite whose bases of operation are, unsurprisingly, New York and Washington. -- Boethius
There's a lot to respond to in Boethius' latest, but I wanted to note this train of thought tends to legitimize the likes of Osama as the legitimate leadership of that area of the world. Not that we should reject it out of hand necessarily but it is problematic. It's especially topical in Bin Laden's case because he is a non-state actor who lacks control over the machinery of a state, in contrast to Saddam, eg.

And not that it makes much difference, but Bid Laden's gripes against the US-Saudi relationship are pretty weak anyway. He doesn't like the fact that Saudi Arabia has relied on US petroleum engineers to help drill its oil and that the US stationed soldiers on the Arabian peninsula. But the US pays fair market value to everybody it trades with, and there wouldn't have been any US soldiers in Saudi Arabia if Saddam Hussein didn't invade Kuwait, with the threat to invade Saudi Arabia shortly thereafter.

Just like in relations between neighbors, in relations between nations we want to mind our own business and avoid giving offense unnecessarily. That doesn't mean it's plausible to do it.

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