According to Robert Baer, the center of the global economy is a "kingdom built on thievery, one that nurtures terrorism, destroys any possibility of a middle class based on property rights, and promotes slavery and prostitution." This kingdom also sits on one quarter of the world's oil reserves, thus ensuring that it receives the full support and protection of the U.S. government. Sleeping With the Devil details the hypocritical and corrupt relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and the potentially calamitous economic consequences of maintaining this Faustian bargain.
As Baer makes clear, the U.S. has been aware of problems within the bitterly divided Al Sa'ud family for years, but has ignored the facts in order to keep lucrative business deals afloat. (The amount of money the royal family spends to influence powerful American politicians and lobbyists is staggering.) Particularly damning are his details regarding Saudi Arabia's support of militant Islamic groups, including al Qaeda. The ruling family funnels millions of dollars to such groups in order to dissuade them from overthrowing the monarchy--a protection scheme that is shaky at best, given the hatred most citizens feel for the ruling family. To prevent economic disaster that could come from either a local uprising or an interruption in the flow of oil due to terrorism, Baer raises the possibility of the U.S. seizing the Saudi oil fields and forcing a regime change on its own terms: "An invasion and a revolution might be the only things that can save the industrial West from a prolonged, wrenching depression," he warns.
Baer spent 21 years with the CIA, much of it in the Middle East, so he is an informed guide to this complex subject. His alarming book deserves to be read for raising many important and troubling questions. --Shawn Carkonen
From Publishers Weekly
In his blustering second book, former CIA officer Baer (See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism) targets Saudi Arabia's corrupt leadership and cozy relationship with Washington. He argues that because the Saudis pay vast sums to powerful Americans, often in the form of lucrative defense contracts, those U.S. agencies that could help stop terrorism are thwarted by their own side. For example, CIA superiors tell Baer that they have no operating directive to look into Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia in the early '90s. He is deeply disappointed in both the CIA and the State Department, which he says looked the other way throughout the '90s as widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo took root in Saudi Arabia. While Baer's attacks on Washington's "consent of silence" sometimes beg for clarification, his many working years in the Middle East and Central Asia give him great believability, and he makes a strong case that Saudi Arabia-with skyrocketing birth rates, growing unemployment, a falling per capita income and a corrupt ruling family draining the public coffers-is a powder keg waiting to explode. To prevent being overthrown, Saudi rulers channel money to violent fundamentalists, including al Qaida, via Islamic charities. Baer's radical solution is guaranteed to stir debate and make many skittish: "An invasion and a revolution might be the only things that can save the industrial West from a prolonged, wrenching depression."
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