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Everybody's Lying About Islam Kindle Edition
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Using their oil wealth, the Saudis have tried to impose their version of Islam throughout the Muslim world. They have also received support from the US government. Morris argues that clerics in Saudi Arabia practice an extreme, fundamentalist version of Islam. He points out that while the Bible contains many barbaric laws, like those in Leviticus, most Christians tend to ignore the rules they don’t agree with. Few Christians today would advocate stoning to death someone who worked on the Sabbath or committed adultery. Saudi clerics still support a literal interpretation of the Koran, called Wahhabism. Many Muslim countries are poor and have welcomed Saudi money for schools and mosques. The BBC recently investigated the Saudi textbooks which are being used in British Muslim schools. The books created a stir because they were anti-Semitic, anti-Western, and advocated the killing of homosexuals. Morris claims that politicians like Rudy Giuliani, who tell us that the Saudis are helping in the war against radical Islam, are wrong.
Until relatively recently, Saudi Arabia was poor and medieval. Then, Standard Oil discovered oil in the 1930s. The US entered into partnership with the Saudis and provided protection in return for oil. Morris maintains that Saudi Arabia became an American protectorate. It has also kept our leaders sweet by buying lots of military equipment it did not need, and could not use. In May, President Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal in Riyadh. Unfortunately, the Saudis have also helped destabilize various Muslim countries. Wahhabis were active in the Algerian and Tajikistan civil wars and in Chechnya. They have also infiltrated Muslim communities throughout the world. Eventually, our friendship with the Saudis will turn into a toxic liability, but for now, not enough countries are complaining. Recently, the British also signed an arms deal with Riyadh.
In recent years the economic dynamic has changed. The US no longer needs Saudi oil. The US now exports oil and sets the price, as the swing supplier. The golden years of the Saudi oil industry are in the past. The days of $100 a barrel oil probably won’t return. The Saudis are quickly running through their cash pile. Bloomberg reported in April that Saudi cash reserves stood at just over $500 billion – having been $737 billion in 2014. The country could go bust in the 2030s. The country is also running out of oil. It wastes far too much generating electricity. It has a population of 33 million which is growing rapidly. These people are mostly unemployable in the modern world and rely on government handouts. The Saudis have created no new industries. Morris believes Saudi Arabia is finished and the House of Saud will eventually be overthrown. Morris argues that the Jihadis will inherit, and they are unlikely to be friendly towards the US given they are fed a diet of anti-Western propaganda. The Saudis will soon have little use as an ally and Morris wants us to pull the plug before the country falls apart.
Before 9/11, the Saudis funded the Taliban and Osama bin Laden was an intermediary. The US was supportive because in those days the Soviet Union was the main enemy. Not a lot of thought went into the Frankenstein’s monster that was being created. Morris argues that Wahhabism is destabilizing countries ranging from Russia to Mali. Morris reports that the population of Russia is now 14-20% Muslim. Unlike its European region where the population is dropping, Russia's Muslim population is growing rapidly. The US has been happy to let Saudi backed radicals sow dissension in Russia and other places. The Washington bureaucracy still seems to need the Russian menace to give it purpose. Putin has accused the US of cooperating with Jihadists. If there is a civil war in Russia, that won't be good for the West. The Jihadis will be on a roll. Lee Kuan Yew, whose Singapore, is next to Malaysia, a majority Muslim country, claimed that America's failure to win its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq helped empower the Islamists.
Trying to apply logic to what Washington has been up to since 9/11 is difficult. Morris believes that Washington still has a grudge against Iran and Russia. He also blames that old bogeyman the Military Industrial Complex, which always needs enemies to justify its existence. Traditional foes still have a useful role to play because there is less explaining to do. Assad became an enemy because he was too friendly with both Russia and Iran and had to be punished. Crushing Assad was considered helpful in the struggle against Putin, even if it meant a victory for the Jihadists. For Morris, the bottom line is that the US has been fighting the wrong wars and has picked the wrong horse in preferring Iran over Saudi Arabia.
An older generation of American diplomats has been confused and perplexed about American policy towards Russia and Iran, for some time. They have advised inclusion and bringing both in from the cold, but the policy has been to keep them at arm’s length and antagonize them. George Kennan, who advised Harry Truman and devised the strategy to contain the Soviet Union, complained in an op-ed in the New York Times in 1997 that Clinton risked turning Russia into an enemy. Two years later Putin was elected.
William Polk advised JFK and LBJ on the Middle East and worked closely with Kennedy during the Cuban missile crises. The neocons in the Bush administration wanted to invade Iran and Polk called them dangerous crackpots. He believed that Iran could be reasoned with. Robert Kaplan has pointed out that the Iranians were supportive of the US after 9/11 and wanted to improve relations. In Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance was Iranian backed. It was the Iranians who encouraged the Northern Alliance to support the US and fight the Taliban. Yet Iran received no credit or thanks when the Taliban was defeated. Instead Iran was inducted into Bush’s “axil of evil.” Kaplan believes the Iranians were hard done by, and the moderates in Iran who suggested helping the US looked stupid. This resulted in the election of the anti-American Ahmadinejad. Iran later began working with the Taliban in Afghanistan and worked towards building a nuclear bomb.
Bush blamed Saddam for 9/11 and did not mention the role of the Saudis. Morris believes that there was Saudi government involvement, but this has been hushed up. Iraq is a predominantly Shia country, like Iran. By getting rid of Saddam, who was a Sunni, Bush created an opening for Iran. We shot ourself in the foot if we thought that Iran was the main threat. Despite their expensive equipment, the Saudi military is hopeless, as they are currently proving in Yemen. They can’t stand up to Iran, or anybody else, on their own. Morris points out the Iranians have just re-elected a moderate in Rouhani. There is a chance for the US to start talking to Iran again. I found Morris’ essay very helpful, but it does not seem to have been reviewed in the mainstream press. The issues he raises need to be widely discussed.
This essay has been an immense help in giving me the right starting point to sift through the noise.
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