WASHINGTON — 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 veterans on Monday, the 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 recognized and protected."
O.K., I'm on board. Let's declare war on Saudi
Arabia! Let's do "regime change" in a kingdom that gives
medieval a bad name. By overthrowing the Saudi monarchy, the Cheney-Rummy-Condi-Wolfy-Perle-W.
contingent could realize its dream of redrawing the Middle East map.
Once everyone realizes that we're no longer being
hypocrites, coddling a corrupt, repressive dictatorship
that sponsors terrorism even as we plot to crush a corrupt, repressive dictatorship that sponsors terrorism,
it will transform our relationship with the Arab world. We won't need Charlotte Beers at the State Department,
thinking up Madison Avenue slogans to make the Arab avenue love us. ("Democracy! Mm-mm, good.")
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 we're willing to knock over Saddam for gassing the Kurds, we 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 we 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 (and our S.U.V.'s) be at the mercy
of this family that we arm and protect and go to war for?
The Saudis have never formally apologized to America for the 15 Saudi citizens who came here and killed
3,000 Americans as they went to work one sun-dappled September morning. They have never even tried to
rewrite 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 here put out a glossy brochure hailing their
"humanitarian work" at the telethon.
It was embarrassing yesterday, given President
Bush's swagger on Iraq, to watch him fawn over the Saudis.
At lunch at his ranch he entertained Prince Bandar, the man who got private planes to spirit Osama bin Laden's
relatives out of the U.S. after the attacks. Mr. Bush also called Crown Prince Abdullah yesterday to assure him
of the "eternal friendship" between their countries and to soothe hurt Saudi feelings over a lawsuit filed by 9/11
victims charging Saudi support of terrorism.
Mr. Cheney argues that we must invade Iraq while we have a strategic window for action, while Saddam's army is still reeling.
But attacking the Saudis would be even easier.
They are soft and spoiled. Only yesterday Jerome Socolovsky of
The A.P. 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 9/11 attacks as an Israeli-C.I.A. plot.
A Saudi invasion would be like the Panama invasion
during Bush I. We already have bases to use there.
And this time Mr. Cheney won't have to beg the royals to use their air space, or send American forces.
Once we make Saudi Arabia into our own self-serve gas pump, its neighbors 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.' "
We haven't been hit at home by any of Saddam's
But the human missiles launched by Saudi Arabia have taken their toll.