Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Saturday, January 24, 2015

To Bury King Abdullah, Not to Praise Him

It seems right to mark the passing of one of the more peculiar allies of the US in the war on some forms of terror, but I'm not alone in thinking that the tradition of not speaking ill of the dead might be best honored in the breach than the observance where the record of the Saudi King is concerned. I have a feeling that in a country where currently, atheists are considered terrorists, and public beheadings are still common (although heaven help you if you try to film one), and the human rights record on women especially is pretty lousy, calling King Abdullah a "reformer" is a bit like saying "well, he could have been worse!" But he was, if a reformer, a terribly cautious one; he could have been better. If he allowed some higher education for women or for them to vote in local election, it should be remember that these were things permitted for women if their male keepers also permitted them.

Will things likely change with the new King Salman, a youthful 79 year old whose rumors of dementia may well be exaggerated? It's hard to say--he seems to have been a capable executive in his prime. But it seems like there are a number of other Saud family members who have a lot of say in how things are run, and I don't like the odds of further reforms really taking off in a country run by scads of geriatric millionaires.

The relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia, however, is unlikely to change much, because well, you take allies where you find them, I guess.


mikey said...

Yes, but it's a really complicated deal. The greatest threat to the royal family comes not from people demanding democracy and religious liberalization, but from those (Osama bin Laden famously representing them) who think their rule isn't credible because their not a sufficiently brutal 7th century theocracy.

And you have to remember that they (along with Iran) became a US ally at a time when the struggle for client states in the middle east between the Soviets and the US was at its height. And you can make a compelling case that if the Soviets had ended up with Saudi and Iran along with Iraq, Egypt and Libya the use of oil as a weapon might have brought the world to a nuclear war.

But you're right. Today it's a different world, and for the US to embrace allies like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is a horrific compromise of our so-called values - we could deal with them without supporting them, and make a much more forceful point that there are very basic requirements for a nation to qualify as a US ally. Not that I believe for one second that will happen, it's just another thing on the list of things that SHOULD be...

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

A monster dies and the world mourns

Satchel said...

... I don't like the odds of further reforms really taking off in a country run by scads of geriatric millionaires.

Good line and good point, and might also be applicable closer to home. *coughCongresscough*

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

King Abdullah modernized Saudi Arabia- he introduced stainless steel beheading swords to the country.