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Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude Hardcover – July 15, 2003
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The Amazon Book Review
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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."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Baer shows no insight into the tribalism in the region that dominates the policies and politics and behaviors of people in every country in the region and like others, he mistakes religious differences as the core driver when it is but an excuse. The United States was instrumental in the overthow of democratically elected governments in Iraq and Iran and Egypt and this is overlooked by Baer who looks only at current events and not the efforts by the British after World War I and II to force national boundaries that igored tribes and ethic factions entirely.
The ignorance shown by Baer in his book is quite overwhelming and I would be embarrassed to admit having been on the government payroll for decades and having learned no more than a reporter outside of the services. Baer is evidently unaware that the version of the Quaran that the Saudi Arabian government publishes and distributes by the millions each year targets the infidels in the United States. It was their Wahhabism that incited bin Laden. Also overlooked to a large degree is the extent to which men like GH Bush work directly for the bin Laden clan through the Carlye Group. GW Bush denied the FBI any opportunity to question any member of the bin Laden family after September 11 and saw to it that they left the country on a charted jet.
Baer is also politically naive and culturally ignorant and oblivious to the history of the past 100 years in the region in his beliefs that Saudi Arabia and the Middle East countries should outlaw righteous murder. The United States is actively dropping bombs on civilians in 6 countries at this time and providing Saudi Arabia with bombs and fuel to drop bombs on civilians on a 7th country. The US bombed and shelled hospitals and schools and water treatment and power plants in Iraq and killed more than 1 million men, women, and children, while leaving behind tons of fine radioactive dust to damage future generations for many many years.
Baer writes about the Muslim Brotherhood as though it develop spontaneously and he ignores the Mubarak kleptocracy and brutality and suppression of the press that created the perfect environment for this group to flourish.
Let's get something straight; unlike most of his contemporaries Robert Baer makes no socio-political argument within his text. The truth, as he sees it, is his only cause. Regardless of your political persuasion and the vagaries of your opinions on the social contract of the individual vis-a-vis the state "Sleeping with the Devil" will make you take a second look at the party you favored with your vote. In fact, Baer refers to the last half century of corruption within Washington to be "the greatest bi-partisan effort in the history of Washington politics". A period which began with a briefcase containing one million dollars accidentally "forgotten" by Khashoggi, a Saudi billionaire (who is still active in Washington today), in the Nixon White house and has continued unabated and in ever growing depth to the modern day.
The road to corruption is paved in black gold it seems. Baer leads us down this miasmic path and walks us through backroom deals of Washington's K Street lobbyists, intrigues in sub-Saharan Africa, the 4.6 billion dollar palace of the most corrupt Saudi Prince and pool-side meetings with Russian Mafiya arms-traffickers. How does it all come together? Baer's brutal truth should make every American reader shudder; it is our nation's political elite who have blindly subsidized the very terrorism of which we have recently become victims.
Through our alliance with the House of Saud (the Saudi Royal Family) we have seen billions of petrodollars go to regime who has returned that money to us via graft and commissions to buy all the influence it needs. The rest of the western money is largely spent in two fashions. The lion's share goes to funding their own decadent excess. A Baer gives us insight into a lifestyle of depravity which includes almost ten-thousand princes, twice again as many palaces, the thousands of Filipino and Moroccan women who serve at their pleasure, and a lifestyle in which there is open competition for the greatest amount of excess.
The Saud royal lifestyle has not gone unnoticed by the people of Saudi Arabia and it brings us to the far more disturbing second use of western oil-money. The Saudi's own people have suffered the most at their hands; they have no rights and referred to as property on their own passports. Religious fundamentalists have long decried the `heretical' lifestyles of their "rulers" and here lies the truth of things. The despotic Saudi regime is holding on by the most tenuous of grips. In attempt to placate the fundamentalists who want to drag them into the streets the Saudi's have spent countless billions funding their actions. After fourty-years of such protection payoffs the largest Arab nation has been transformed into a breeding ground for militant fundamentalism. The Saudi educational system has been entirely conscripted, all children save for those of royalty and their retainers are educated in madrasahs, schools of Islamic hate that enforce faith with brutality, ignorance, and censorship. 75% of all collegiate graduates earn degrees in Islamic Studies, which creates a working class who are unqualified to hold any job. This majority of educationally indoctrinated, poor, and religiously fanatical citizenry is the source for much of the destabilization of the Arab world and is a reality that is about to boil over. Is it any wonder than nearly all of the 9/11 hijackers were born and raised Saudi subjects? Worse, the Western world (and more recently China and Russia) were the ones, by proxy, responsible for its funding. This is the picture Robert Baer paints for us.
These accounts aren't after-the fact punditry and are only the tip of the iceberg, Baer was there. In fact, prior to publication the book was vetted by the CIA and significant sections were deleted due at their demand. Rather than leave gaping wholes in his arguments and making note of their removal in his epilogue Bear leaves the blacked out print in place, giving the reader a tantalizing contextual insight into just what `the company' wanted removed. The reality Robert Baer shows us is a disturbing one and like a modern Paul Revere, "Sleeping with the Devil" is his clarion call, here is the enemy and they're coming.